Saturday, December 31, 2011

What Are Ya Doin' New Year's Eve?

Or does the song say New Year's Day? Anyway, what are you doing? Whatever it may be, however you choose to celebrate, I am wishing you a wonderful 2012. We're having a quiet day; this has never been a big holiday for me. I'm catching up on laundry, working on the perpetual disaster that is our kitchen, and after that I'll plant some tomatoes and lettuce in our itty bitty garden. I'm feeling the need to get ready for the busy times to come once DH goes back to work and the kids are in full stride with their activities again. We'll do a little celebrating, though- I picked up the SUPER pack of fireworks, although sparkle and noise makers would be a more accurate description, at the grocery yesterday.

This holiday season was busy all the way through up until today. In addition to all of the holiday-specific activities and travel, we were running errands, Moving our Money, signing our updated wills, and on and on and on. Never ending.

The Move Our Money project turned out to be quite time consuming but I'm glad we did it. I've done my banking with a credit union for years and years, but a while back they went through a period where their customer service was not good. I got aggravated and moved a lot of our funds over to Wachovia; not everything, but a lot, like the kids' college savings accounts. I also had another checking account there and some other savings, Girl Scout troop accounts, and so forth. I liked Wachovia. They were very nice, they had fantastic customer service, (I was on a first name basis with my favorite bank person), they had branches EVERYWHERE, and they didn't charge fees.

Well, not so much now that Wells Fargo has taken over. They still have very good customer service as far as the employees I've interacted with, (even though my favorite bank person left or was fired during the transition) but they started charging fees. Um, no. I'm done; DH and I went and pulled all of our accounts (the Girl Scout accounts are still there for the time being) and moved everything back to the credit union. Thank heavens the credit union has improved in recent years! I think the lapse in customer service had to do with growing pains- they went from a one-company-specific credit union to one that is open to anyone who lives in the area, and that was a difficult transition. Well, maybe that's not the cause, I don't know, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. Since I continued to maintain a relationship with them I've seen improvement. They even have some free standing branches now that aren't too far away, which is convenient.

Now that it's done and our Money has Moved we can go into 2012 as proper hippies and Occupiers, with all of our money out of the evil big banking industry.

Occupy Wall Street!!! Power to the 99%!!!! :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Current Read: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

I just finished Part 1 of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Yes, the one that was made into the movie staring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack way back about 100 years ago. Did you know it's a non-fiction book? Neither did I, but it is! So the story goes like this. The author, John Berendt, was from New York but took a liking to Savannah and started hanging out there off and on. More on than off as time wore on. He met, interviewed, interacted with, and partied with many of the more colorful locals, and during the time he was there Jim Williams was accused of murder. He was already writing about this guy, then the guy goes out and kills somebody. (Allegedly.) Wow, that can make a big impact on a story; talk about being in the right place at the right time! Well, not for the murdered guy, but for the writer. A total scoop, and well written, at that.

I'm starting on Part 2 for a little pre-bedtime reading. If you read this book, one note of caution. If you are at all faint of heart, do NOT Google the Lady Chablis, a major character so far in the book, like I did. There are You Tube videos; they are... interesting. (And look- no links this time! This is a G rated blog, after all.) ;)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Happy holidays to all. We've been busy around here, mainly cooking for the last couple of days. Christmas prep has been woefully inadequate otherwise, but there are only so many hours in a day. Not pushing myself too hard (maybe a little bit, but not excessively) or getting overly stressed is always a goal for me over the holidays. They are supposed to be fun and special- how can that be the case if I'm wiped out and stressed to the max? So I let things go. We got to travel, so the trade off was decorating at home. Much to Martha Jr.'s chagrin, I might add. She wanted me to pull out the second box of ornaments (the one with all the Hallmark ornaments that are individually boxed) but I just couldn't do it. She's willing to put the ornaments on the tree but I'm the one that has to get them re-boxed when the holiday is over!

There are a few things I haven't given up! We are hosting a "Christmas After Party" tonight. (Name credit goes to The Wild Child.) A few friends, desserts, hot chocolate, and a fire in the patio fire pit where we'll be toasting s'mores and popping popcorn. I think the fire is turning into one of our family traditions- we started a few years ago and I really enjoy it. Before all of that, however, we have our brunch. We started brunch a bazillion years ago back when I had a lot of family in the area. It was a way to claim part of the holiday for myself; now it's tradition. We open presents first then laze around for a while, then we'll go eat eggs and french toast and home made cinnamon-raisin bread and fruit salad, as if all the calories we consumed yesterday (when we have our big, traditional meal) weren't enough! I splurged, I binged, and I'll be paying for it, but for now we feast!!!

Merry Christmas to you and yours! (Or Happy Hanukkah, or whatever you celebrate in your family.) With love and hugs.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Travels and Some Thoughts About Nutrition

The Eldest finished up her first semester as an official college student on the 9th so we packed up and headed out on a journey to cold northern climes. It was a challenge to pack since we don't really have winter clothes but we got by. Can't let a little thing like that stop you! It was cold the first few days but then it warmed up by the time we left. It was great to see my family. I miss everyone so much- it's hard to live so far away from all of them.

Now that we've returned home I can assess the damage- to my weight, that is! I managed to do OK. I went up a little bit but nothing significant in spite of the fudge I bought in the mountains; now I have to continue the battle to get back down to my goal weight. The holidays and traveling are no excuse! I stopped walking for about a week to a week and a half since we were so busy but I got right back to it today. I feel so much better when I walk every day so it was important to get that going again.

My cousin and I had a great discussion about nutrition while we were visiting. We talked about how important it is to make sure our food is nutrient dense, among other things. After that conversation, DH ran across an article today about how food companies are lying to us. It boils down to this- processed food isn't food at all, it's chemicals made to look like food. (Michael Pollan writes about that quite eloquently.) Our taste buds may not know the difference but our bodies sure do, and if you are consuming empty, non-nutritive calories then your body will just send out the order for MORE, MORE, MORE in an effort to get the nutrients it needs to function properly. You'll only know you're hungry and you'll over eat, but you're still not giving your body what it needs, so you aren't satisfied, so you eat more, and so on. When I gained all the weight in the first place I was eating a "Standard American Diet" (aka SAD), I was stressed out, I wasn't exercising, and I didn't know much of anything about nutrition. I ate junk food, processed food, and fast food on a regular basis and my portions were out of control. I was a mess; it's a wonder I didn't gain even more than I did.

My Nutritional* Influences

I went to Weight Watchers several years before my big weight gain. I gained a little after I graduated from college and wanted to get it off before my wedding, which I did thanks to Weight Watchers. (I walked all over campus when I was in college. Once I graduated and got a regular job I didn't walk everywhere any more and that's all it took.) I learned a little about nutrition from Weight Watchers but not enough, obviously, since I didn't stick with it and gained back all the weight I lost and then some. I still like WW and think they have the best commercial program out there, but it didn't work for me long term. They are a good starting point since they do teach you about portion control and they encourage exercise, which are important components to a weight loss program, but they don't get into the importance of eating REAL food enough. I went on from there. I took a class at a local hospital wellness center on nutrition and weight loss called the LEARN program which was fantastic. I lost some on that program too, but life got in the way and for one reason or another (having babies, problems with my feet that meant I couldn't walk for exercise, etc.) I wasn't able to lose and maintain on that program AT THAT TIME either, but a lot of what that class taught me went into the program I came up with for myself. When The Eldest was little I was involved with La Leche League, a nursing support group that is so much more than just nursing support. They also talked about nutrition for the breastfeeding mom and for your children once they transition to solid food, and one of their main principles was EAT WHOLE FOOD. Sound familiar? Michael Pollan says the same thing, basically. Real food, whole food, whatever name you have for it, it means NOT PROCESSED. Cook from scratch. It's the best thing you can do for your body.

I've also done quite a bit of reading about nutrition. One of the best books I've read is by Brian Wansink called Mindless Eating. He's a researcher who is figuring out why we eat what we eat and you'd be amazed at what he's found out. I first heard about him on a TV show; I can't remember which one, but I was impressed enough that I bought his book. He gives you really great strategies on how to avoid mindless eating traps, like how to handle a buffet without over eating. Michael Pollan, whom I've already mentioned, has the right idea. I didn't discover him until after losing the weight, but he's got some good ideas that will help me maintain. La Leche League titles first brought my attention to the importance of real food back when The Eldest was little, and even though I didn't follow through with that at the time, I sure do now!

Articles in magazines like Cooking Light, tips on Oprah, healthy eating shows on Food Network, (although they don't seem to like the healthy shows too much- they are into selling FOOD so there should be no hint that it can cause anything negative like weight gain, diabetes, and other food related illnesses), articles on-line, and everything I can get my hands on about nutrition have all influenced me and enabled me to put together my own program. I've been successful too, even if I've gained a little back. I've kept off the majority of what I lost and it's been over four years now. I've already beaten the odds; the numbers say I should have gained all of the weight back a long tome ago. It's not easy, there's no denying that, but it's not impossible either and I'm living proof. Even with fibromyalgia, even getting up there in years, I'm still doing it. You can, too! :)

*Is that a word? If not it should be!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Neti Pots

Jinkies! Maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to recommend Neti Pots in my post about dealing with colds.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NPR's Backseat Book Club

NPR's All Things Considered is sponsoring a kids' book club aimed at the age level of my younger two. I love it because it's a great source for new titles for the kids from a reliable source. So far, the books have been The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, all winners. DH read The Graveyard Book aloud to the kids about a year ago; I listened in a few times and was hooked- I read it myself when they were done. I finished Breadcrumbs a few days ago and now I'm in the middle of The Phantom Tollbooth. I don't read everything the kids read but I enjoy children's literature so I'll read anything good. (I'm passing on Martha Jr.'s Warriors books, thanks.)

I'm fortunate enough to be part of a grown up book club. I love it both for the company of some really great women and for the book suggestions. I haven't enjoyed all of the books (and even HATED one I suggested!!) but they've almost all been books I wouldn't have found otherwise. There are so many titles out there these days that it's hard to narrow it down to just the exact book you want to read at any given time. Now that it looks like bookstores are going away (sob) I don't know how I'll pick out books because I do, in fact, judge books by their covers. It's easier to choose a book if I can see it, pick it up, and leaf through a few pages. I read the back cover and the flaps. That doesn't always work, but it helps "sell" me on a book. That's not the case with choosing books on my Kindle. I find it's a lot harder to make selections in the Kindle "store" than in a real store; a lot of the time I wind up not choosing anything. Sometimes I'll see a book in the bookstore (or Costco or wherever) and then go back and buy it on my Kindle. They need to have stores with "sample books" you can go and hold and look over, then decide on whether or not to buy them electronically. (And I think Barnes & Noble is going that way.) I just pray that, even though I love certain things about my e-reader, that actual, real, paper books will continue to abound on this planet.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Busy Night

It's Vita Mix time at a local store! I've been by twice during the demonstration period (just by happenstance) and stopped for the samples both times. Since I have a Vita Mix and love, love, love it, I am always on the look out for more recipes. The lady running the demo is the same lady I met running the same demo around the time I got my VM about a year or so ago. She gave me a yummy smoothie recipe that I've made regularly since then and a few new recipes tonight. There were some other very cool people hanging out watching the demo and sampling the smoothies; it was fun to chat with them and tell them how much I enjoy my Vita Mix.

While the little ones, DH and I were watching the Vita Mix demo, The Eldest was in her art class getting her final critique. The assignment she had to complete was an "altered book"; I think she did quite well with it. She chose the book "The Blade Itself", one of her favorites. She went through the book and cut out key quotes, arranged them on paper, and decorated accordingly. That doesn't begin to describe the time and effort she put into it; she was working down to the wire this afternoon. I am very proud of her.

Speaking of my artistic Eldest, here's a pic of her from back around Halloween. She was going to a laser tag event with a "Lady Gaga" theme.

Since Martha Jr. helped her out (with things like feeding her dog while she was working on projects and studying for finals) The Eldest promised to get both of the younger ones going on World of Warcraft. They're sitting over there now designing characters and getting started. My computer nerds! Well, guess that's what happens when Dad is a computer engineer. They cut their teeth on computers so it was only a matter of time before they all got on WoW. I'm surprised I've been able to hold them off this long; sigh.

PS: The Eldest says to look here for a pic of her in her normal state.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cold Comfort

I still have this stinking, rotten, sniveling miserable cold and I'm about tired of it already. I got it from DH (thanks, Hon) over the Thanksgiving holiday. I've canceled or modified just about everything, but life goes on. At least there are coping strategies that can help lessen the misery a bit. Other bloggers have given practical advice; I'll add a few things I find helps.

First of all, get that Vitamin D from the sun. Go out and sit in the sunshine a few minutes every day if you possibly can; making your own vitamin D is better than a pill any day. Don't forget that other vitamin, too, the one that comes from oranges! Vitamin C, of course. Load up on the citrus fruit. I don't know if either of these vitamins are proven to lessen the length or severity of colds, but they are good for you regardless. Can't hurt!

Secondly, remember that steam is your friend. I feel the absolute worst when I first wake up every day so a nice, long steamy shower is a soothing way to get everything going. I also use my neti pot in the shower and it seems to keep things clear for a while. If you can't do the long steamy shower, try the stick-your-head-over-a-bowl-of-hot-water-with-a-towel-drape trick.

Warm liquids are also helpful. My high school drama teacher taught me the benefits of hot tea with honey and lemon and I swear by it for easing a sore throat. Although milk isn't really recommended (dairy tends to create more mucus and yucky stuff, or so I've heard) I treated myself to a hot chocolate the other day that hit the spot. We've also been eating a lot of soup. I would recommend chicken soup but we're vegetarian so I've chosen not to do that anymore. Ramen noodles are good, but I can't find a vegetarian version that doesn't have soy in it; that may not be an issue for you like it is for me. We make what we call chicken-less chicken soup quite often; it's basically the matzoh ball and soup mix from the grocery (which is vegetarian) with added onions, carrots, celery, and noodles. Liquids in general are a good idea- drink more than you normally do.

I use over the counter medications at night before I hit the hay. You need to talk to a doctor or pharmacist for any advice about particular medications, but I tend to like the one or two ingredient stuff. If you are mixing multiple medications with multiple ingredients you could wind up over dosing on something so you have to be careful.

Cough drops are invaluable but a lot of them contain soy lecithin so I have to read the labels. I like Ricola lemon mint, which is like candy but it does calm down a moderate tickle; DH likes Fisherman's Friend, which is really nasty and super strong. If the Ricolas aren't working I'll take one of his Fisherman's Friends; shudder.

Lotion tissues. I normally hate, detest, and despise lotion tissues, but when my nose is runny and sore I switch to lotion tissues and they are suddenly wonderful! They make it bearable to wipe your nose yet again.

Last but not least, you can always try some spicy food. We went out for Indian last night but I wound up with the least spicy thing on the menu, dadgummit. DH made chili for lunch today and that was about right. A little spice just helps with clearing things out, I find.

While none of these suggestions will shorten or cure your cold, maybe a little self-pampering will help you get through it with more grace. Also remember to get as much rest as possible, take it easy, wash those hands, and toss anything disposable that might be contaminated when the cold is over (like chapstick and toothbrushes). Here's hoping this is advice you won't need this winter!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Busy Days and Fibro Flare Ups

I didn't join NaBloWriMo (National Blog Writers' Month) so I haven't posted daily. In fact, I haven't been posting much at all lately. I've noticed that with blogs, there seems to be a point where the writer gets burnt out. All of my favorite bloggers eventually slow down, stop posting as frequently, and even sometimes stop posting altogether. It makes me sad; it's like losing touch with a friend. And here I'm doing the same thing. (Not that I have more than a few readers, mainly relatives, but still.)

I get it, though. Life just gets too busy sometimes. The more you have to blog about, the less time you have to write it up. I've been through some really hectic weeks lately, so much so that I was getting worried about having a bad fibro flare up. I did have a couple of (thankfully short lived) flare ups and now I've got a really nasty cold. (Fevers, chills and sweats, body aches, coughing, coughing, coughing. Blech.) I knew I was over-doing it, I knew I was making myself vulnerable to getting sick, but I couldn't seem to say NO and cut back. There were so many important and valuable and enriching activities for my children, from helping with a friend's fund raiser for her wonderful non-profit to my daughter's 11th birthday, which she donated to a dog rescue organization. (Instead of presents, she asked for donations for the group.) Then there were the every day things on top of that, like driving around The Eldest, running Girl Scout meetings, getting The Wild Child to his tutor, among the many other things we do in a week. To top it all off, I started physical therapy for my shoulder impingement. (Which is helping, thank goodness.) Errands and a Thanksgiving vacation smooshed in between. All wonderful, but all TOO MUCH!!! Not good for a fibro patient at all.

And now I have a cold, and I have to slow down. I've canceled activities left and right, most of them things I was really looking forward to, but what can you do? Sometimes you can soldier through a cold, but this one came with a fever so not so much. Plus I don't want to infect anyone else; that wouldn't be very nice. Taking it easy for a few days is probably the best thing I can do both for the cold and the fibro. In fact, I'm not sure that I wasn't experiencing a fibro flare up yesterday when I had horrible body aches. I've found that when I don't walk regularly I get achy. Well, for obvious reasons, I haven't walked in a few days. It was either that or the fever or a combination of both that led to the aches, but whatever the cause it was miserable. I made sure to get out of the house today, as rotten as I was feeling, and walk for about 10 minutes and the body aches have mostly subsided. That's a really important lesson for fibro sufferers- if you don't move every day, things get worse. You have to be careful not to over-do it, but it's equally important not to under-do it as well.

Anyway, I'm under the influence of cold meds so I'm probably more rambly than usual, so I think I'll end here and go lay down for a while.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Updates; Thoughts on Fibromyalgia

We've been busy around here! Hopefully things are calming down a little bit, just in time for the holiday craziness to pick up. Here is a list of things that we've had done lately:

1. All of our windows and doors were replaced. This job started waaaaayyyy back in early summer and carried over to just last week, when the last adjustment was made to try to get the new front doors to close properly. The final inspection is complete, the final check has been written. We are energy efficient (satisfying one of my Earth Day resolutions) and hurricane resistant.

2. We have a new A/C, also upping our energy efficiency. This one was an emergency replacement; couldn't be worse timing. The final inspection is delayed a bit, but I think all of the work is done.

3. The leak in the roof over The Wild Child's bedroom has been repaired... again. Hopefully this time the repair will hold.

4. The Wild Child's bedroom has been completely ripped apart and made over. That involved moving him out (everything went in the living room), ripping out the ceiling, putting in a new ceiling, re-texturizing it, repainting the whole room, having the carpets cleaned, and moving him back in after sorting through all of his toys. (And the sorting process can take up an entire post of its own.) His room looks like the "AFTER" on one of those organizing shows. He's so proud of it now- he picked the wall color and his new ceiling fan, and decided where all of his furniture would go. He's got a new dresser since his old one was NOT "boy proof"; we found a modular one at Ikea that he's very happy with. It's a really cool room for a big kid.

*This was not a DIY project- we found a great contractor to do the construction, thanks to our next door neighbors. We did the moving in and out!! DH installed the ceiling fan and put together the modular dresser units. I sorted through the mountain of toys and put the ones he kept back in the room. DH and I both went to Goodwill to drop off the toys he's outgrown/doesn't need. (And it's embarrassing how much there was.)

5. Since the carpet cleaners were here, we had them clean our room too. While they were cleaning our room, the guy said we should have the carpet stretched and he knew a guy...

6. So we had our carpet stretched. You have to move even more out for a stretching than for a cleaning, so our living room held all of The Wild Child's things plus a good chunk of my things for quite a while. (The carpet is still old and even the professional cleaning didn't get out all of the stains, but it looks a LOT better.)

7. And then we put the house back together again.


I'm so thankful all of this happened after my dad got out of the hospital, where I was visiting him almost daily over the summer, and into a rehab facility. He's still there; my brother filled me in yesterday since I haven't been able to visit him lately. He had some damage to his spine from all that happened and his legs are partially paralyzed. I don't know what his chances are for recovery or for walking again, or living on his own. Time will tell. What I do know is that I haven't been down to see him in some time and I feel awful about it, and so thankful for my amazing brother who is handling all of this on his own.

As for everything else, we keep perking along. Girl Scout, 4H, and homeschooling group meetings, piano lessons and tutors. Homeschooling lessons. Our two new dogs to take care of. Doctor's visits and grocery runs. Driving The Eldest around to her classes. (She's driving to her local classes; I'm still taking her to two night classes that are further away.) I've also started physical therapy for my bum shoulder; hopefully it will resolve quickly.

With the fibromyalgia it all gets to be overwhelming, but it's a good life. I wish I had the energy to do more, but it is what it is. I think I manage pretty well considering. Sometimes I shut down; sometimes my brain shuts down for me. When I get overwhelmed I tend to forget things, appointments and so forth, and I think it's my subconscious taking over and saying SLOW DOWN!! The "fibro fog" takes over too; I get spacey, have trouble articulating my thoughts, and when it's really bad I feel dulled down. I think that's the worst part of fibro for me, the fog. Did you know researchers found that there is an actual loss of gray matter in the brains of fibro patients? That's scary. That's also why I take a few minutes out of almost every day to do my "brain exercises". Don't know if it's helping, but it can't hurt, and it's fun. Sudoku and concentration games, trivia quizzes, and jigsaw puzzles. (I have the links listed over there on the right for you if you want to give any of them a try.) Physical therapy for my brain.

I wish someone would come up with a comprehensive program for fibromyalgia. If I could design an intervention, it would include an exercise program tailored to the individual that consists of gentle cardio and strength training, cognitive therapy like my brain exercises, (although there are better programs out there than I can find for free on-line), stress/time management, organizational skills training, relaxation therapy, a nutrition program, and, oh, throw in a life coach or something. I've done a lot on my own but there's a lot of room for improvement. On the positive side, I walk almost daily (cardio) and I try to eat healthfully and maintain my weight. I do those brain exercises. Where I'm falling short and could use guidance- weight training, relaxation therapy, stress/schedule management, and organizational skills. (Although I can be organized when I put my mind to it, it just doesn't come naturally for me.)

Of course, this won't happen. No room for drugs in a program like this, and that's where the money is. Sigh. But now I'm tired and tomorrow is a busy day, so I'm off to bed so I can get some sleep therapy!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Have a Heart

Girl Scouts has been in the news. There is a girl in Colorado who wants to join, only technically she's a he. I'm on a national leader's forum where they are debating the issue. A lot of the comments have been so negative and show a complete lack of understanding and compassion. I explained it to my kids like this- there are girl brains and boy brains, and they are different. (Neither is better than the other, they are just different.) There are also girl bodies and boy bodies. Most of the time, the boy brains go to the boy bodies and the girl brains go to girl bodies, but some times the girl brains get in the boy body and the boy brain goes in a girl body. That's what happened to this child; she's got a girl brain but a boy body.

My kids were able to understand the concept. A lot of the leaders, sad to say, don't. You are what your parts say you are, pure and simple. No room at all for understanding that there are differences in people.

Why does every single group have to fight for acceptance? Why was the civil rights movement necessary? Why do gays have to fight for the right to marry? Just live and let live- it's no skin off your nose if two men or two women fall in love and want to live their lives together. It's no skin off your nose if some child who is living as a girl, because that's who she feels she is regardless of the "parts", wants to be a part of a girls' organization.

Now, I understand that there are boys who would take advantage of this to be around their girlfriends, or find a girlfriend, or otherwise get up to mischief. I am not talking about those boys. Here's the statement released by the Girl Scout council in question:

"Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization, and we accept all girls in kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child lives life as a girl and the family brings the child to us to participate in Girl Scouts, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her. Girl Scouts of Colorado respects the privacy of all girls and families we work with. When a family requests membership for their daughter, we do not require proof of gender, we respect the decisions of families."

The key part of the statement is "If a child lives life as a girl". This would rule out boys looking for trouble. The child must live as a girl all the time, not just to join Girl Scouts. Of course there will be issues to be dealt with. The child has special needs; the other girls in this child's troop would also have to have their needs respected. Bathroom and sleeping arrangements would need to be worked out to the satisfaction of girls, leaders, and parents before any over night field trips. It's do-able as long as everyone involved acts with care, compassion, and understanding, as we all should in all aspects of our lives.

In conclusion, here is the post I sent to the leader's group. (In the first paragraph, I am responding to a post that equates Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, when they are not the same at all.)

Excuse me, but Boy Scouts is NOT for all boys. They are a discriminatory organization that would NEVER allow a transgendered child into their ranks. They do not even allow boys who are gay or the children of gay or atheist parents to join. (Technically- I will allow that there are probably some leaders who are OK with it, but as an organization they do not. One Greenblood-er sent in a quote from their bylaws a few years ago so it is on the books.) That means that there is only one inclusive scouting organization out there, only not so inclusive since they gender-discriminate. This is something I was OK with for my first two children, both girls, but now I have a son who wants to be involved in a scouting program like his sisters (he's secure in his gender, he just wants to go camping and attend all the cool field trips) but he can't. (We don't meet the Boy Scout criteria.) So the statement "there is one for girls and one for boys" is incorrect. They are not equivalent organizations; Boy Scouts is not for all boys.

As for this one child, I am so sorry to hear all of the negative comments from women who are supposed to know better and live by the Girl Scout Law. How can we judge? This is a child who is one sex in her brain, another in his body. This is a real condition, it's not "in the child's head". It has nothing to do with how much counseling is available to the family or having men around. (If that were the case every boy raised by a single mom would have gender identity issues, and such is not the case.) As a teacher for emotionally troubled kids, I beg you all to have a heart. Please don't be so judgmental. This is a child struggling in our world, a child who is not going to go out and intimidate the girls into pretending they are bad at math and all of those other things that happen when boys mix with girls. I agree with the council's statement- if the child presents as a girl, is living as a girl, has parents who are open minded and loving enough to accept that this child is a girl in spite of the "parts", then there should be a place in Girl Scouts for this child and other transgendered girls. I would take this child in my troop in a heartbeat- it's the only thing to do, according to our law, especially the parts about fair, friendly, respecting others, and making the world a better place.

The Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yer Doin It Wrong

I was in a buffet line yesterday behind two lovely plus sized women. I couldn't help but see what they were choosing to eat, and yes, I passed judgment, horrible as that is. They were doing it wrong. Well, one of them was, I didn't really see what the second woman chose to eat. What I saw was a plate LOADED with lettuce from the "salad" they served at the buffet. (Which was really just a big bunch of romaine lettuce with a few bits of shredded carrot and the odd crouton.) That was topped with a HUGE scoop of ranch dressing. All that was fine, but what killed me was what they were saying to each other. The gist of it was that they were making a sacrifice by eating only lettuce this time (topped with a huge scoop of a high fat, high calorie dressing), then they would get all skinny and be able to eat whatever they wanted the next time. Oh, that spoke volumes. I know from personal experience, having walked in their shoes, that this strategy won't work.

Where to begin? First of all, you have to make peace with food, but still be able to control portions. There were some good, healthy options at that buffet that they ignored. (Or not, I didn't follow them to see what else they may have chosen; I'm assuming, for the sake of argument, that they only chose the salad.) I had a little bit of everything I was interested in. As a vegetarian, I avoided the meat and went with beans and rice. I also chose one small plantain, a small half scoop of a noodle dish, a decent serving of the salad with just a tiny bit of vinaigrette, (I even scored a crouton- ha!) and followed it all up with two very small bites of dessert. (And it was a very sweet, rich dessert- I didn't want any more than that.) I am far from perfect, but I think my odds and my attitude toward food are much healthier and will lead to long term success in the end because I have changed the way I eat. While I don't diet, I do watch my portions and I try to make healthy choices. I also understand that this is something I will have to do for the rest of my life, because if I don't I will gain and gain and suffer all of the consequences that go with obesity. I rebel sometimes, but I usually come to my senses and realize this is the choice I make, the choice to be as fit and healthy as I possibly can be.

As for the far from perfect part, I continue to struggle with some weight I gained back after going veg, which I've written about so I won't rehash it again. I keep track of my weight every day; I find it easier than tracking my food. I thought I was hanging in there right around my "red flag" (RF) weight, a little under some days, a little over other days, but, ummm, no. I finally went back through my weight journal and realized I haven't really been under my RF weight since the beginning of the year. That woke me up. I've gotten back on track and I've been working at getting back down under the RF weight consistently once again. I'm doing it not by eating lettuce for every meal, but by limiting and measuring my carbs, planning low fat/healthy fat meals, and eating healthfully over all. Carbs are my weakness; I'll take a bag of salty tortilla chips over dessert any day of the week. The low/healthy fats thing isn't a sacrifice at all for me, nor is giving up sweets for the most part. I find a good piece of fruit satisfies my need for sweetness as well as any candy or cake ever could.

The second place where the women in the buffet line were fooling themselves has to do with their long range plans- "we'll eat like this now then when we're thin we can eat whatever we want". Well, no. Once you lose the weight you can't go back to your old eating habits, I mean, HELLO, that's how you got heavy in the first place! Once you lose the weight you still have to eat the same way as when you were losing. You can't go and just eat everything in sight. You're setting yourself up for failure if you think that's how it's going to be. Maintenance is the hard part because it's for the rest of your life. It's hard to keep it up unless you have, and here it comes again, CHANGED THE WAY YOU EAT. My failures, the times when I gained, had to do with slipping from the patterns I established as I was losing. I gained on a long vacation and I gained again when I radically changed my diet to cut out meat. (And subsequently used that as an excuse to OD on carbs.)

Now I feel like I'm finally re-adjusting. I've gotten a grip on how I have to eat as a vegetarian and it's basically the same as when I ate meat. I have to measure bread, pasta, rice, and all of those starchy, carb-y things I love to munch on, I have to eat lots of fruit and veggies, and I have to keep up with walking for exercise. It's so simple, yet so hard at the same time. It's hard to pass on the bag of tortilla chips sitting open on the counter every time I walk by. (I have kids; they like the organic tortilla chips with salsa. It's not a bad choice for them, it is a bad choice for me.) It's hard not to dip into the crouton container, also sitting on the counter when I walk by, but I can't do it and maintain my weight loss. I can have a few croutons on a salad, I can't eat them like chips the rest of the afternoon. Sometimes it's hard to keep fresh fruit around the house, wash it up, and eat that instead of those tempting, oh so easy and always at the ready carbs. But I know it's what I have to do. I want to live a long, healthy, vital, vibrant life, so that's the cost. It's worth it. I'm worth it. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pet Adoptions

I didn't think I was a dog person but now that we have two of them... I AM a dog person after all. I am amazed at how much I enjoy these two goofy creatures who are sharing our home with us. We never had dogs before because our lifestyle as a young married couple was more suited to cats. Our last cat, a stray I took in as a kitten before we had kids, died in June at the age of 21. Once he went that made room in our home for a dog. See, I think we humans owe it to companion animals to give as many of them homes as we can.

We made the world they have to live in. We shaped them to what we wanted through selective breeding and made them dependent on us, we took away many of the skills they need to survive on their own, we changed the environment they have to survive in, and now we allow them to over populate and over breed. We tolerate puppy mills and other forms of irresponsible breeding. We don't adopt when we can. We don't spay and neuter when we should. It's a problem we created and the animals suffer for it. The most obvious way we can make a difference is one animal at a time. Adopt from shelters or rescue groups or take in a stray. Have your pets spayed or neutered; do not breed them. Support legislation to prevent puppy mills.

To make even more of a difference, volunteer with a rescue group or shelter. Take in foster animals. Donate to animal causes.

It's our responsibility as part of the human race who created the problem to take part in making life better for the animals who so adore us. Dogs especially are owed a debt. They work for us in countless ways, they pay attention to us, and they bond with us in a way no other animal is capable of. My Queen Bee is a sweetheart of a dog and I can't imagine not having her in my life now. Sure there's some work involved; she continues to have occasional accidents in the house, she can be a pain in the neck on walks, and we have to figure out how to schedule our lives so that we aren't away from home for too long at the time. It's worth it though because she brings love and laughter and devotion. She follows me around from room to room in the house. She gets excited that she might get to go with me whenever I leave. She gets restless and lets me know when it's time to go out on my daily walk. (Which keeps me motivated and healthy!) She plays with the kids. She's amazing and she's giving us so much more than we can ever repay.

So, if you think you aren't a dog person, give it a try. Research the breed you are considering or work with a reputable positive trainer before you select a dog. (A trainer can help you make a good choice for your family.) A mutt from the pound can be the best dog of all, but do choose carefully. Open your heart to strays you encounter. There is a perfect dog for everyone out there, but it can take some time to find it. Once you have your dog, make sure he or she is a good canine citizen. Teach your dog manners. One of the reasons I thought I wasn't a dog person was because I HATE it when dogs jump on me. Hate it, hate it, hate it. That's because it's rude dog behavior and the owners need to teach the dog better. (Which is something we've worked on with The Queen Bee; she's getting there.) Be responsible for messes and scoop the poop. But most of all, love your dog. They'll love you right back.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Growning Things

Friends gave us some cherry tomato seedlings last year that did very well in our garden. We're starting up again this year but we didn't get any seedlings. I'm trying to start some on my own and so far, so good, although I did start a few weeks later than I should have. (Hopefully that won't matter too much.) I started a bunch of seeds in a 50 block starter kit, and not just tomatoes. I planted a variety of veggies and I mapped it all out so I know what's what. (We had issues with that last year when we planted seeds directly into the garden. We didn't use markers at first, then we used markers for later plantings but they faded. Don't use sharpie markers on plastic tabs that will sit in the sun.)

So here's what I planted on September 16th:
(I put several seeds in each pot so I'm listing the contents per pot, not per seed)

In the first tray I planted:
3 Brandywine tomatoes
3 Jelly Bean tomatoes
4 Red Cherry tomatoes (we have better luck with the smaller tomatoes; we never seem to be able to get the big ones to maturity without splitting)

In the second tray I planted:
4 Roma tomatoes
3 broccoli
3 yellow squash

In the third tray I planted:
5 Paris Island Romaine
5 Bibb lettuce

In the fourth tray I planted:
4 Kale
3 Spinach (which didn't sprout; wrong time of year but I was trying anyway)
3 Swiss Chard

In the fifth tray I planted:
10 Tendergreen Improved Beans (bush)
These did well for us last year when The Wild Child planted them, but we never had more than a few beans at a time. With more plants, maybe we'll be able to harvest enough for a side dish at some point!

Now that almost everything has sprouted I'm transplanting. I put the lettuce in a large round decorative clay pot with legs. I put the tomatoes from tray 1 in 5" peat pots until they get bigger. I don't think they're ready to go in the ground yet, but they definitely need more room to grow. I haven't gotten to the other tomatoes or seedlings yet. I'll put the rest of the tomatoes in the 5" pots within the next few days. I want to get the beans and squash in the ground since they are BIG. That leaves the broccoli, kale, and Swiss chard; I haven't decided what to do with those yet. If I want spinach I'll have to watch the calendar a little more closely; it's not going to sprout now.

I have a lot of prep work to do in the actual garden. The Wild Child and I planted watermelon at the end of the last season, a little late in the year for them to be any good. Those 2 or 3 plants took over, however! They produced for us, just nothing that tasted decent, darn it. They provided a complete and total ground cover that I'll have to dig up over the weekend. I'm also expanding from 6x8 to roughly 12x6. (Due to the shape of the yard it won't be a perfect rectangle.) I have to buy more edgers and dirt to fill it in. It's a raised bed, sort of. It's only a few inches higher than the yard but it worked last year. I'm planting the tomatoes in the new section since I've heard that you shouldn't plant the same kind of plant in the same spot two years in a row.

All in all, I'm pleased that almost every seed came up. Now if I can only get it all going and producing veggies! I'm kind of worried about the squirrel who's taken up residence in one of the palm trees in our back yard, but he didn't seem to bother the garden last year so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The dogs chase him off but they're only outside for a limited amount of time every day. (And keeping the dogs out of the garden is another issue; hopefully the border fencing I bought will work.)

We really enjoyed the tomatoes last year. We ate tomato/basil/cheese sandwiches on baguettes at least once a week, sometimes more. We haven't eaten them since the tomato plants stopped producing good fruit; grocery store tomatoes don't cut it. Nothing else grew successfully for us. We got a few yummy beans and a few yucky watermelons, and that's about it. I didn't pay attention to planting times and I threw the seeds right into the ground, which could have been the problem. Ahem. I'm paying more attention this year so I'm hoping for more variety than just the tomatoes. (And basil, but I don't really count that since I bought it at a good size and didn't grow it from seed, and I didn't get it to grow much at all after I bought it anyway.)

We'll see what happens this year!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

2 Dogs are Better than 1!!

The Eldest decided to volunteer with the Greyhound rescue group where we found The Queen Bee. Big mistake, really big, huge. She, of course, being the tender heart that she is, fell in love with a dog, we'll call him The Old Guy, the one that spent the longest time of any dog at the kennel. She begged, she pleaded, she bargained, she even turned on the water works to get us to agree to let her have that dog. I caved first, of course, since I'm a sucker for a sob story. Then we had to wheedle DH, 'cause he was holding out. We kept working on him though, and he finally caved.

We've had The Old Guy since Monday and I consider him my first grand-dog. He's fitting in nicely. He's very different from The Queen Bee. He's old, for one, and mellow. She's not exactly a hyper dog, although she has her moments, but he makes her look like a puppy. He's sweet as can be and we all fell in love with him instantly. He's got some issues. He's 7 years old and he raced a LOT, over 100 times, so he's got an old athlete's body with all the resultant aches and pains. He's stiff when he moves around, and he has a lot of trouble getting up from his dog bed. He really has a hard time on our fake wood floors; they are too slippery for him and he just slides right back down when he tries to get up.

He LOVES his dog beds, even if he has trouble getting up from them. The Queen Bee wouldn't lay on the beds we had for her at first but he had no problems with that. He tried to settle on her bed but she fussed at him. He even tried to settle on my good yellow "company couch" so I fussed at him. (NO DOGS ON THE COUCH!!) He quickly figured out which bed was for him, though, and now he keeps it warm all day. He's also a water dog; he LOVES the pool. That was very exciting for him his first day here. The Queen Bee won't have anything to do with the water at all, no way, no how, but he loves it. He's also got bad teeth- yuck. We're taking him to have them cleaned tomorrow but I think we're going to have to have more done than that. He's going to need some cavities filled, possibly a couple of teeth pulled, since he's got some spots that look cavity-ish and some teeth that are gray. The Queen Bee's teeth are all shiny white; Martha Jr. keeps them all sparkly clean with regular brushings. His teeth probably hurt; he prefers soft food and treats to crunchy.

He's a good boy and I'm sure we'll learn a lot more about him as he gets settled. I'm glad my kid has a tender heart; her dog is a welcome addition to our home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Water Bottle Controversy Again

This is my response to an article on the Bag It web site:

Encouraging people to switch to reusable is a great way to go. I'm not sure that legislating bans on water bottles is the right thing to do. There are too many instances where bottled water is a necessity, not a luxury, and "hydration stations" aren't going to be the answer 100% of the time.

I live in a hurricane prone area; I store up bottled water for emergencies. I also have refillable containers for tap water, 5 gallon water bottles, and so forth, but there isn't always warning. We had a recent contamination event, unrelated to hurricanes, where we couldn't use our tap water for several days; I was so relieved to have my supply of bottled water on hand. I use glass and/or refillable containers for drinking on a day to day basis, but for emergencies it's good to know that bottled water is readily available. Ask hurricane Katrina or Andrew survivors- bottled water meant the difference between life and death to a lot of people.

Legislation should look at reducing the use of plastic packaging, perhaps, or bottling water in some other type of material. Cans, possibly? Something biodegradable? Go back to glass? Soda should not be left out- when you pick on water bottle users, look at soda bottles as well. They are also made of plastic and any plastic bottle bans should include soda as well as water.

As far as comparing bottled to tap, I go by taste- I can taste the difference. There are some brands of bottled that taste like tap; I don't buy those. I can taste a HUGE difference between my preferred brand and tap, however; I easily passed a "blind taste test" for a frugal relative once. (He felt I shouldn't be wasting the money on bottled water.) I do not like tap water; I do not like brands of bottled water that taste like tap. There are even some pricey brands that taste of plastic; don't like those either.

In case you were wondering, I used to drink regular bottled water but I currently drink seltzer water that comes in glass. I will pour some into a refillable bottle when I go out. I'm not using plastic, but there is the impact of shipping to consider, but then again the glass is recycled.

I exist, I matter, and I have a right to drink SOMETHING I like!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tahini-less Hummus, Roasted Garlic

If you leave out the tahini, is it still hummus? Because I came up with my own spin on hummus that leaves out the tahini, so is it now just a garbanzo bean dip? I still call it hummus; it has all the other traditional ingredients but I find the tahini to be a bit, I don't know, bitter or something. It used to be hard to find in the grocery but they've started stocking it recently. I also use roasted garlic; yum. The result is not quite as good as the hummus at my favorite restaurant, but it's the best I've ever been able to make at home. I've tried several different recipes too since I have friends who make excellent hummus. I have used their EXACT recipes, but I can not get it to turn out the same way as theirs does. Very frustrating.

So here's the recipe, but it's not a measure-it-out recipe, it's a throw it in there until it looks right recipe.

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Roasted Garlic*, maybe 4 good sized cloves
Juice from 1/2 a lemon, possibly a squeeze or two from the other half as well
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil to taste
Water, just a little to keep everything the right consistency in the food processor

Throw the beans, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend away. Scrape the bowl down a few times, add some olive oil, and process some more. Repeat with the olive oil and the scraping as needed. When you start feeling like you've added too much oil (OH, THE CALORIES!!!!) add a little water until it gets to the consistency you like. Taste as you go; have some toasted baguette, no, I mean carrot sticks, on hand for the taste tests. Add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice if needed. The Wild Child says to garnish with mint leaves or something interesting if you want.

I've made a couple of batches so far. I put the hummus in the refrigerator to have on hand for my afternoon snack, and I really do eat it with baby carrots, carrot sticks, or celery. That little boost of protein helps me get through the evening without going so crazy on the carbs, a HUGE weakness for me.

* To roast garlic, I cut the bulbs in half and put them cut side up in a muffin tin. (Don't remember where I got the muffin tin tip.) Brush with olive oil and cover with tin foil. Bake at 450 degrees for about an hour. Test by taking the foil off the tin and sticking the tip of a knife in several of the cloves. If the knife goes in easily, it's done. If the cloves are still a little tough, cook a little longer. I find the purple garlic gets done faster than the all white garlic.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years

I remember watching the coverage of the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago today. It was a weekday and my grandmother called to wake us up. (DH works nights; we're all on his schedule so we were still asleep.) We turned on the TV and I watched from my bedroom. Martha, Jr. was a little thing, less than a year old. We didn't understand the full horror at first, and how our lives would change. We didn't understand the extent of the evil in the hearts of other people on this earth we all have to share.

So now it's 10 years later. I watched a little of the coverage this morning but I couldn't watch for too long; I had to stop before I started to cry again. I've talked to my kids about what happened. I explain to them, about this and other bad things that happen, and to warn them about strangers in general, that there are a lot of bad people out in the world. I also tell them that there are a lot of good people too, and that the good outnumber the bad by a lot. Just look at all the fire fighters, police officers, and others who rushed to the towers to save people; they outnumber the terrorists by the hundreds. That's what we have to focus on- the good people. Protect ourselves as much as we reasonably can from the few bad, and focus on the many, many good. That's all we can do.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

National Days of Service

Did you know we have two official national days of service? We do! First there is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, and, coming up tomorrow, there is the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. Two days to get people thinking about how they can help others. I've grown to value year round service as a mom and Girl Scout leader; I feel it's important to teach my kids to help others and give of their time and resources and this is one area where I teach by example.

Of course the kids have various projects they get involved with as well. We participate in a park clean up now and again as a family. The Eldest is volunteering at a dog adoption kennel. (She's there as I type, actually.) We've also participated in a lot of activities through Girl Scouts over the years. DH and I talk to the kids about the charities we donate to as well.

I'm happy to see the national emphasis on service. Kids in our area have been required to perform community service in order to graduate from high school for a while now, which I think is wonderful. Some kids just put in their hours as quickly as possible and get very little out of it, it's just another chore, but so many others find meaning and purpose through volunteering. Non profit groups have been created out of kids performing their service hours, and you know those kids went above and beyond the required hours. It's good to see.

Now adults are being encouraged, through the national programs, to give of their time as well. There are so many areas where you see selfishness and a "me me me" attitude from the general public now (like the whole tea party and libertarian movements- it's all "me, first" in that rhetoric) that it's a refreshing change to see people pitching in and helping others. There was a story on the news yesterday (sorry, don't remember the channel, possibly a CNN everyday heroes story) about how survivors of 9/11 have committed to helping out at least once a year in other states that have faced disasters of their own. Stories like that make me proud to be human, proud of my fellow man.

So on this day, the day before the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, I am taking a few minutes to spread the word and encourage others to get involved, and to teach your children to get involved as well. Everyone can help in some way. Our local community has a clearing house for volunteers; I'm sure there are other organizations out there like that. They match your abilities and time availability to ways to help, even things like making phone calls to people who are shut in. Almost anyone can do that, even the shut ins. You don't have to go building houses to contribute, although that's a wonderful thing if you are able to do it.

So get involved!! It will benefit YOU more than you know!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Still Here!

Things have been so hectic lately that blogging has fallen by the wayside, and there's no let up in sight. (Well, maybe a little let up if The Eldest passes her driver's license test on Monday!) Girl Scout meetings start later today. (I should really be prepping for that right now.) 4H starts next week. We're in a new co-op; we'll have our second meeting on Friday and we have some serious prep for that. The kids are back to the academics. The Wild Child will be working with a reading tutor twice a week starting today; more driving. My dad is still in pretty bad shape but he's on the mend in a rehab hospital; I've cut back from almost daily visits to check on him to once a week. The Eldest has classes every day which means lots of driving. Even if she passes her test, I'll still drive her to her twice a week classes at the campus that's farther away from us. (Lots of busy highway between here and there; she's not ready for that highway yet.) She's also volunteering at a kennel. The lady that runs the adoption program has taken a liking to her and has done some of that driving, thank goodness. I've also spent a little bit of time volunteering there; the dogs are so darn sweet. We're also working with a trainer for The Queen Bee (our dog) once a week or so. Piano lessons, but the teacher comes to us so that's easy on me. Hurricane prep since they seem to be forming like crazy now.


I love my life, though. I wish things were a little more spread out and there was more down time, but I guess just about everyone with kids can say the same thing. I was feeling a little over-whelmed and my fibro was flaring up for a while but I've felt better the last few days so hopefully that will be better.

There's been time for fun, too. I was able to attend my grown up book club last week, even though I didn't read the book. (I read the sample on my Kindle and didn't like the author's style. Too pretentious for my taste.) DH and I have seen a few movies thanks to Netflix. I wanted to see almost all of the most recent best picture Oscar nominated films so we finished up with "Black Swan" a couple of weeks ago and "The Fighter" last night. That leaves only "127 Hours", which we'll skip. A guy getting trapped while hiking and having to saw off his own arm doesn't sound like a movie either one of us would enjoy. Blech. As far as "Black Swan" and "The Fighter"... meh. They were both OK. DH and I came to the conclusion that we don't really like movies about boxing all that much. I liked the dancing in "Black Swan" and Natalie Portman is amazing, but I wasn't all that crazy about the story. Self destructive behavior is never something I enjoy seeing on screen. OK, she was probably schizophrenic or something and therefore couldn't help the self destructive behavior, but you'd think her mom would have gotten her some therapy or treatment of some sort. Sheese.

So that's what's happening around here. What's been going on in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Soap and Chemicals

I used Dove soap very happily for years and years and years. Love the Dove "Campaign for Real Beauty" that promotes self esteem for girls and women. I WANT to like the product, but I don't. See, I have eczema, which typically only bothers me in the dry winter months. This past winter we traveled and spent time in a hotel where they had some fancy spa soaps. I tried the oatmeal soap and it seemed to help the itchies. After returning home I started to experiment with the oatmeal and natural soaps they sell at Whole Foods. I didn't get the same results, and after about six months of trying various natural soaps my eczema was worse, since I'm now itchy in the summer, too.

So I went back to Dove. Only now I can't stand the smell. I never noticed it when I was using Dove all the time, but it smells like plastic! The smell doesn't linger or anything, but I don't like it when I'm washing. (I use the unscented hypoallergenic stuff.)

I don't like anything, soap, food, cleaning products, etc., that smells or tastes of chemicals and/or plastic. When I drink bottled water (with apologies to the environment) I avoid Evian because it tastes of plastic. Or it did the last time I tried it, which was a bazillion years ago. I never could understand why Evian was so popular for so long. It's also the reason I don't like Agave. That aftertaste... might as well be an artificial sweetener. Blech. Same thing for TV dinners, although I've found a brand that tastes like FOOD, of all things. That would be Amy's. They put out some pretty good frozen food! The whole family loves their Margherita pizza. Some of their other frozen food items are also good, although I have to avoid the ones with soy. The kids like them though, so they're good things to stock for a quick meal the kids can make themselves.

I guess we're spoiled since we usually cook from scratch. We have the Amy's pizza about once a week, along with a home made salad, and that's about it. The kids may eat the frozen dinners but I don't. It's amazing how your taste buds can reject the garbage if you're used to eating the good stuff. The same thing goes for fat levels in food. We are so used to cooking and eating low fat/healthy fat foods that now a serving of restaurant french fries will make us ill. Not just me, the kids too. Well, maybe not The Wild Child since he's such a junk food junkie. It always amazes me how we can have such healthy food in our house, yet he still manages to eat an unhealthy diet overall. For instance, we still eat regular white pasta. I know, I know, we should switch to whole grain, but I've tried several brands and no one eats it. So we stick with the white, but we'll put all sorts of healthy stuff with it. The Wild Child will ignore the healthy stuff and eat just the pasta with barbecue sauce on it for a meal. We're having our pasta as a base for a veggie and egg stir fry. He's eating... pasta and barbecue sauce. What the heck can you do? I throw up my hands in despair, is what I do. The child's got to eat.

But I digress. The main point was to write about soap; guess I'm going all Faulkner again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where Did Summer Go??

Summers are supposed to be time to relax, take a breather, maybe go on a vacation, and take a break from the normal routine. Not this summer. It was a busy one with my dad's illness and my son's schedule now that he's been diagnosed with a reading disability. He went to day camp all summer where he got one on one help from a reading specialist. It got hectic getting him back and forth- something my friends with "regular schooled" kids know all about, but which my family is not used to at all. There were a lot of days when I dropped him off and went straight over to see my dad in the hospital.

By the end of summer things turned out alright... mostly. My dad will have some permanent disability due to complications from his surgery but he should be able to live on his own again, and considering how close he came to dying, I think it's the best outcome we could hope for. He's in a rehabilitation center now where he's receiving the therapy he needs, both physical and occupational. I won't be able to visit him every day during the school year, but then I don't feel he's in a state where I need to.

My son is working through his reading program and making progress. We'll continue with the reading specialist during the year, probably a few times per week, but we'll see.

Then there's the dog. We got to bring her home on July 2nd and she is the highlight of the summer for us. What a sweetheart! We want to be good, responsible pet owners so we managed to schedule time with The Wonder Trainer even when I was going to the hospital almost daily. We also wound up volunteering at the rescue center. The Eldest decided she wanted to work at the kennel, which is only open on weekends, which means I get to drive her there. (She STILL does not have her license.) I stayed and volunteered too a couple of times. I also dropped her off then went on to see my dad a couple of times; just depends.

I've fallen in love with some of the dogs there but we can't bring them home. The Dog does not approve of our choices and since she's the queen bee at our house, her decision goes. (Oooh- blog name for the dog- Queen Bee!!) Just as well. Anyway, the dogs I am particularly fond of are a lot of fun. The first one is a mess. He has an under-bite that gives him a fang coming up from his bottom jaw. His nose is stumpy (for a greyhound) and crooked. He's scrawny but muscle-y and his coat is a mess. He's still a puppy and can't walk on a leash so I've taken him on as my personal challenge. I've walked him three times so far and it's been an experience to remember each time. He doesn't walk so much as LUNGE when he gets on a leash. Silly boy; he'll never get adopted that way. He's a little excitable but calms down when he's off the leash. He's still young at just barely 2 years old, but he has wormed his silly little messed up face into my heart.

The second dog is one my daughter noticed first. This one is a girl and she LIVES for affection. She's a barker; she won't shut up when people are in the kennel. My daughter and I were hanging out without a specific job to do last weekend when we decided to see if we could get her to quiet down. We stood by her cage and turned our backs on her when she was barking, but turned around and gave her treats and attention when she was quiet. She got it almost instantly! It was amazing to realize how trainable that dog is; much more so than the Queen Bee. I've been in touch with the Never Say Never Greyhounds blogger about her to see if she thinks this dog would be good for agility and if she knows anyone who might want to adopt her. The NSN blogger said she would need to be evaluated, and she knows of someone but that person lives too far away and is looking closer to her home. I haven't given up! I can't do anything about placing large numbers of dogs, but I can certainly help out with one or two. (So if you know of anyone who would want to provide a loving home for one incredible, trainable greyhound let me know. Or for a butt ugly, scrappy little guy that is too much fun.)

And now summer is over. The Eldest is officially a college student now and starts classes, that I have to drive her to, tomorrow. Regular school starts on Monday and since we try to follow the public school schedule, that means it starts for us, too. Our homeschooling group will get going, Girl Scouts will start meeting again, and the roller coaster has started up once again.

I love my life, but I sure could use some more sleep time!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review: Sisterhood Everlasting

I've been on a reading binge lately. First I ripped through the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs which were very entertaining, although not exactly literary classics. Next I gobbled up Sisterhood Everlasting: A Novel (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) by Ann Brashares. I read the other Sisterhood books several years ago after getting them for The Eldest. (Who had no interest in them whatsoever; they aren't fantasy, after all.) I enjoyed them and also enjoyed the movies so I was happy to see a new installment. This book follows the girls as adults, all of them almost 30. There is travel, with time spent in Sanotorini, Greece, several locations in the US, Australia, and London. There is sadness, too; I won't give too much of a spoiler other than to say keep reading. It gets better and the girls come to terms with what happens in surprising ways. It dragged in the middle and I got aggravated with how much time was spent on detailing the grief the girls felt over what happened; that part was over-done, although it does make the point. I don't generally enjoy sad books so I found that aspect hard to take. Once the writing got past that, however, the conclusion felt right.

Now I'm searching around for what to read next. I think I've settled on a Neil Gaiman book, Neverwhere. I read the sample on my Kindle and ordered the book, so that's the next review you'll get!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Dog in Pictures

Here are a couple of pictures of our new baby:

Looking regal:

Looking goofy:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Dog

Our dog is settling in to our family, our home, our way of life, our crazy schedule, and our hearts. She is an absolute dream of a dog with a wonderful, sweet disposition. We do have our challenges with her; she is still going all "statue dog" on us every now and again, but not as much. Our fantastic trainer, found through the Victoria Stilwell website, is very good with her. She uses positive reinforcement to teach The Dog (have to come up with a better blog name for her) what we want her to do. That's key to training her, too; if you teach a dog the behaviors you want they don't have time or opportunity to engage in behaviors you don't want. We are currently teaching her such nifty commands as "wait" (instead of stay), "leave it", and "back". We use back and wait to get her well back from the front door as we are going in and out, which is sometimes an issue with greyhounds. They are taught to bolt at the sight of an open door when they race, so they tend to continue doing that when they are retired and living in a home. The Dog seems to be dealing with the re-training rather well, however, and actually waited when I went outside today. (And she got a nifty treat for her trouble.)

It's not all work and training. We try to do something fun with her as often as we can, and if we can get her around other dogs it's that much better. We take her to the pet store, the local dog park, the dog park at the adoption kennel, (along with a lot of other owners since it's a great place to meet up with other greyhounds) and to a frozen yogurt place that has outdoor seating. She LOVES these outings and has developed quite the obsession with the car! She was starting to get a little crazy and jumpy whenever I went to my purse, and especially when she heard my keys jingle, so we brought that up with The Wonder Trainer and she gave us some great tips on how to handle it, along with tips on how to get her to get OUT of the car more willingly. (She was doing the statue dog thing about getting out.) For the keys, the idea is to de-sensitize her by taking them out and jingling them all the time. For the statue dog thing, The Wonder Trainer taught us how to practice, practice, practice by putting her in the car then taking her right back out several times a day. When she gets out she gets a great treat. (Today it was turkey dog bits.) We have to shove her out of the car, but she's getting the idea. She tries to get back in immediately, but then it's right back out again. The Eldest and I worked on that with her for about 10 minutes today, and when we took her to the dog park we didn't have a bit of trouble with her. Thank goodness!! (And The Wonder Trainer.)

We had a bit of a scare with her too. She threw up a sock! When we told everyone about it (like The Wonder Trainer and the head of the adoption kennel) they said we were incredibly lucky she threw it up. It could have caused an obstruction, which can be fatal if left untreated. I don't know that we would have recognized the signs, which can include no pooping, since 4 of us are walking her. We all would have assumed she was pooping on someone else's watch. Since that happened, we are now keeping a log where we record when she does her business. (And Martha Jr. lost it, after less than a week, so we'll be starting a new one.) (Sigh...) We may be clueless newbs when it comes to dog ownership, but at least we have a lot of great people to turn to for help and advice. The Wonder Trainer, the vet, the lady that heads the adoption kennel, and our neighbors from around the block who own two greyhounds for starters.

So that's how things stand with the dog.

Update on my dad:
He's still in ICU. They are having trouble establishing a site for his dialysis so that's where he'll stay until they get it worked out. I can't wait for him to get out of the hospital!!! I was visiting every day but I have to cut back; it's too much for me with the long drive and most of the time I visit he isn't awake enough to know I'm even there. My brother lives close to the hospital and he's taking good care of my dad; I need to let him do it. Not that I won't be there in a heartbeat if my dad or brother need me, but I don't need to burn out on it in the meantime. My dad's going to be in recovery from all of this for a long time to come. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Dad

My dad is still in the hospital in ICU. He was touch and go there for a while, but it looks like he's in the clear now. It is such a relief to walk into his room and see his smile when he notices me! He had a trachiostomy so he's got a tube in his neck and can't talk, but he is awake and alert and can nod and make motions. They were going to move him out of the ICU but he's got to have a fistula put in on Monday for his dialysis so they decided he might as well stay put for now. He'll be moved to a rehab center sooner rather than later. The hospital gave my brother the names of two rehab centers for us to choose from so we took a tour of each. We agreed on the one that seems to be more aggressive in their approach to treatment. I think they will work harder to get him better more quickly than the other place. He'll also have a private room there and won't have to share, another plus. He's not a sharing-his-space-with-a-stranger kind of guy.

I told him I want to see him at least once a month when he's better. I don't know him as well as I should and I almost lost him; I've got another chance and I want to take advantage of it. We were seeing each other a couple of times a year, but that's just silly when he only lives about 45 minutes away. I am also getting to know my brother better and I am so happy about that. He's a good guy; I'm so proud of him and proud to be his sister. He's been amazing through all of this. He's very "take charge" and makes things happen. There were a couple of things I mentioned that he hadn't thought of (and even more that he did think of, of course) and bam, just like that, they were handled. Very impressive.

I've been driving to the hospital almost daily. Luckily my fibro hasn't acted up too much; it hasn't been a limiting factor in seeing my dad. Not that I'm not wiped out when I get home every day, because I am, but it's been manageable. I've even kept up with some chores around the house. Not everything I need to do, but the essentials. My kids have clean clothes, at least; there's something to be said for that!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hospital Mode

Once again, I find myself with a loved one in very bad shape in a hospital ICU unit. This time it's my dad. He suffered an aortic aneurysm, something not many people survive, on July 1. My brother and I have pieced together what happened that got him to the hospital, and it appears he was at his primary care provider's office, someone there realized he was in bad shape, and they called an ambulance to rush him to a nearby hospital where he had emergency surgery. He's been heavily sedated since then and we haven't been able to talk with him. We've talked TO him and he's been able to nod yes and no every once in a while, but he's pretty much out of it. He's been in a lot of pain even with the medication. He's had complications from the blood clots and the surgery that include acute renal failure, liver problems, and fluid around his lungs. His feet have also been affected by compromised blood flow to the point that they were talking about amputation. His feet at least seem to be somewhat better at this point so I don't think they will want to amputate anything after all, thank goodness. Now the rest of him needs to recover!

Dealing with all of this is so stressful. My uncle came down for a week but had to fly back home so it's basically my brother and I dealing with everything. My brother is closer to the hospital so he's borne the brunt of it all, but I'm doing what I can. I've been to the hospital (a 45 minute drive each way) every day except for the day of The Wild Child's birthday party. I've had loved ones in ICU before but there was always another generation ahead of me and lots of other adult relatives to help with all that needs to be done. I learned a lot from going through those situations though, even if I wasn't the primary decision maker. This time it's just the two of us. My brother is young (I am 17 years older than he is) and hasn't been through anything like this before (to my knowledge) but he grew up with my dad so I told him he has the ulitimate say in what happens. I didn't start spending time with my dad until I was 18. Of course I want to be consulted and have input, he's still my dad too, but I will defer to my brother if we disagree. That led to some problems for me- I wasn't strong enough in insisting on keeping informed and letting the doctors know that they do need to talk to me as well as my brother. The ultimate decision may be his but I do want a say and I absolutely have to be informed of all that is going on. I expressed that to the nurse and the nursing supervisor today and I think they heard me, so we'll see.

Aside from that, I'm in hospital mode. That means keeping a hospital bag ready to go every day that holds my Kindle and other reading material, my "to do" notepad, a cushion for those hard hospital chairs, some water, a snack or two, and my charger. (Works for both the phone and the Kindle.) Sometimes I'll take a light jacket but this hospital isn't chilly so I don't need it this time around. I also take my cane seat thingy since they are a little stingy with the chairs in the ICU. (Although I asked and the nurse got me a recliner today- a joyous thing since I was able to nap for a few minutes, and boy, did I need it!) If there is a regular chair available I can use the cane seat thingy as a foot rest. When you've got fibromyalgia it's kind of essential to find a way to get comfortable. The other days I've stayed for long periods of time have been really difficult when I only had a regular chair, or no chair. Plus the driving itself is hard; for some reason a lot of driving really makes me ache.

But I'm coping. DH is helping out by taking over everything at home. He also walks with me to keep up my exercise routine. (A 30 minute walk most days.) It's super important that I keep walking; it helps with stress relief. My stomach is starting to act up from the stress so I know I need those walks! (It's the IBS, which tends to go along with fibromyalgia for many, many fibro patients.) When I realize I'm feeling stressed out I try to remember to breathe deeply and relax. I think I need yoga or something, or maybe I should go back to the acupuncturist. (Oh, if only I had time!) Right now though, I'm going to bed. Sleep is the best stress relief of all.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

When Life Rains...

When things decide to pile up, they can really pile high. Right now, for instance. I was busy for a couple of days this past week with completing and turning in reports, both my Girl Scout leader reports and The Eldest's 4-H project. After that was done I was hoping for a breathing spell but it was not to be- my brother called with news that my dad was in surgery for a ruptured aorta. (He's in ICU and holding his own at this point.) That meant a long drive to the hospital, lots of worry, and hours of waiting. My brother lives close to the hospital and I don't so I spent the night at his house. I didn't grow up with my brother so this was the most time I've ever been able to spend with him. I'm so sorry about the circumstances that brought us together, but I'm so happy I got to hang out with him. He's totally awesome; everything a girl could want in a brother.

On the way home today I had to drive by the kennel where we chose our greyhound to adopt. I wanted to visit her to see if her UTI was better and find out if she would be delivered soon. The head honcho of adoptions looked at me and said "how about if I let you take her home today". Are you kidding me? HECK YEAH, I want to take her home! We've been waiting for 2 weeks, knowing she was ours but yet she was stuck in her kennel. She rode home with me and was a very good girl in the car. I drive a mini-van (go figure) and she stood behind my seat the whole way home. I was able to reach back and put my arm around her for part of the drive.

When we got home The Eldest was in the shower and the kids were playing at a neighbor's house. I had to make phone calls about my dad so DH took over. He walked her all around the house and took her outside to show her where she's supposed to go pee. The kids all straggled in one at the time and were a little on the surprised side to see our puppy waiting for them! (Understatement in use here.) I don't think we could have planned it better; the dog (hmmm, have to come up with a blog name for her) was able to deal with them one at a time.

The Wild Child has been beside himself all day. He's wanted to feed her and walk her and groom her and bake treats for her from scratch and... well, NOT clean up after her! He won't leave her alone; he's been trying to engage her in play all day unless we really lay down the law. It's exhausting to keep on top of him! She's tired now; I'm hoping all of the upheaval today will leave her tired enough to sleep through the night once we put her to bed. For the first few days "bed" will mean her cage. Racing greyhounds are used to their cages so for a while it's comforting to them because it represents the familiar. (Plus she did have one accident today so we want to get her house broken before we give her free run of the place.)

The greyhound adoption people emphasize that the first few days can be really traumatic for the dogs since everything they know has been removed from their lives. Our baby's life changed completely from the time we loaded her into my car. She was used to living in a crate with all sorts of dog friends around her 24/7, but now it's just her. She only had the most perfunctory of interactions with adult people. Now there are no other dogs, there are kids, and the people she's used to for feeding and other care are gone, replaced by new people she barely knows.

I think she's OK with it. I also think it helped that we went to see her more than once and hung out with her before all of the upheaval. I spent at least an hour with her today before we loaded her in my car for the ride home. Once in the house she's been very curious about everything, walking around and sniffing, but she's also wanted to stay with us. She seems to love the kids already, especially Martha, Jr., and will follow her around. She didn't seem to mind The Wild Child's constant attempts to play, and mostly played when he wanted her to. She still has a week's worth of pills for her UTI and I managed to get her first one down her with no problem (peanut butter did the trick) and she ate all of her dinner. We ALL took her on a short walk before dark and that went well, too. No squirrels died and she met a few of the neighborhood dogs. We walked about half the distance of my usual walks and she was tuckered out by the time we were done, but then she had a lot of exercise at the kennel before I brought her home. She's zonkered out now. DH will feed her again before he goes to bed, let her out, then put her in her cage with a Kong toy for the night, and that will be her first day at her "Forever Home".

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Our New Baby

Our first baby turns 18 today, no longer a child. (Legally, anyway.) On her heels we'll be adopting a new "child", the retired racing greyhound I wrote about earlier. When we went to the adoption center last week we found the perfect girl, only we haven't gotten her yet. She was peeing all over the office when we took her in to visit with her; it turns out she has a urinary tract infection. The head of the adoption group didn't want to release her to us in that shape so she's got her on antibiotics to try to clear up the problem. The girls and I went to visit with her again today to check on her and see how things are going. We also spent a couple of hours down there just hanging out with her so she can start getting to know us before she comes home. Greyhounds are raised in such an unusual way that it is quite a traumatic event to leave their kennels and move to a regular home. They don't understand at first that the move is a good thing, all they know is everything is different. It kind of freaks them out, but they get over it and become the best pets ever.

There are some unique quirks to greyhounds. They live their early lives in kennels with a ton of other dogs, being handled by trainers, so they are somewhat socialized. They don't necessarily understand about kids, but they are easy going enough that they adjust quickly. (They aren't great with little kids, though; the adoption people recommend the youngest age as at least 5 or 6.) They have to learn a lot of things that other dogs learn as puppies, like how to walk on a leash and how to play with toys. They are never able to go off leash like a golden retriever or other types of dog that will hang out with you. If they spook or decide to chase a squirrel they run so fast that they get lost! They are sight hounds, which means their sense of smell is weaker than a lot of other dogs, so they can't easily track back to home.

As to our girl, we chose a sweetheart of a dog. She's friendly and smiles. She walks nicely on a leash which is one of the main characteristics I was looking for. She figured out the toy thing quickly (some greyhounds never play with toys) and spent a lot of time squeaking a toy today! She seems to be very playful compared to the other dogs that were hanging out in the office with us. (And no peeing inside today, a very good sign for future house breaking efforts.) (They are all crate trained, but since they've never been in a house they have to be taught that the house is their "crate" when you get them home.) She stood with us for pets and "lovies" and Martha Jr. gave her lots of treats. I think it was a wonderful visit and will help her when she transitions to our house. Hopefully she'll be well enough that we can get her in a few more days!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Green Smoothies

I've been hearing about green smoothies for a few years now from many, many different sources. They are touted as the latest health miracle, keeping cancer at bay and doing all sorts of good things for your body. While I can't verify or deny the health claims, I do think it's a good idea for all of us to up our intake of greens. I've made a few green smoothies with that end in mind but it's such a pain to try to keep fresh greens on hand. Well, today I made a discovery. (And there are probably tons of people out there who already know this, but it's new to me.) FROZEN GREENS WORK IN GREEN SMOOTHIES! They are so much easier to buy (I can get them at my local grocery instead of trucking out to Whole Foods) and keep on hand. (Frozen lasts a lot longer than fresh.) I can make green smoothies whenever the mood moves me, much to the chagrin of my children. (They just want regular fruit smoothies, hold the greens, please.) Today I made one that was absolutely perfect! I'll give a sort of recipe here, but it's one of those "throw it all in there" kind of things. I don't have amounts for you for every ingredient, but I'll estimate a few of them. It also helps to have a high powered blender; I have a Vita Mix that I love, love, love.

Here's what I blended up:

~ 4 to 6 pitted dates (they are the sugar for the smoothie)
~ frozen collard greens (about a cup)
~ pineapple juice (enough to wet everything down so the blender would work and not freeze up)
~ 1 banana
~ about a tablespoon of coconut butter, maybe a little less (it was the bottom of the jar so I just threw in the remainder; it gives a nice pina colada flavor)
~ frozen fruit to fill the rest of the blender jar to about 3/4 full: strawberries, blueberries, pineapple chunks, mango chunks, peach slices

The dates don't want to blend up with the whole batch or by themselves (they stay too chunky with everything or stick to the sides of the jar by themselves) so I threw them in first with just one or two of the next ingredients and some of the juice and blended that up before proceeding with the rest of the ingredients. With so much frozen fruit you have to use the plunger to get it all going. Blend it all to smithereens and don't look at the color. If you use blueberries, it's not really a green smoothie, it's more... brownish purple. Drink in a dark room. If you don't use the blueberries it's a neon green, also not normally a color you would think of for something you eat, but it works. It's amazing how something that looks so odd can taste so absolutely delicious, but it really does!!

There are a lot of other green smoothie recipes out there that use a lot more greens than I do, both leafy green veggies and green fruits like grapes, honeydew, and apples, and a lot of them come out with more visual appeal than my recipe, but not more flavor! Some of them are sweet like mine, some are more grassy if you like that kind of thing, but they are all so good for you. Cure cancer? I don't know, but a yummy glass full of fruits and veggies can't hurt!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This Water Bottle Thing

I am a water drinker. I drink water exclusively, usually sparkling, but plain if that's all I can get. Usually bottled. I prefer glass bottles for both health and environmental reasons and pay the extra bucks, but I can only get one brand in glass. That's what I drink at home. When going out, I used to grab a plastic bottle. Lately, I've switched to pouring my sparkling water from the glass bottles into a reusable water bottle whenever I can, so as to reduce my use of plastic.

I am so torn on the issue of bottled water. On the one hand, I understand that those plastic bottles are an environmental nightmare. On the other hand, I want my bottled water!! I can taste the difference in water, even from one brand to the other, and I can't stand tap water. I never have been able to stand tap, even as a kid. I remember one time when there was a problem with our tap water and the military sent out water trucks for everyone. We got a few pitchers of water from the truck and I drank it like there was no tomorrow. My step father teased me because I wouldn't drink tap, but I drank that military water. It's because it tasted better.

Back in the day, you couldn't get water at movie theaters. If you asked for a cup to get water from the fountain they would still charge you full soda price. Then came the bottled water phenomenon, and hallelujah, I could get something to drink at the movies! (Well, until Desani became all the rage. That water tastes as bad as tap because it probably is; yuck.) It was so refreshing to be able to get a water to go with my popcorn. Then they started selling ice cold bottled water at all the outdoor events, which is so wonderful on a hot Florida day. And you can even get bottled water from the shops on the other side of the security gate at the airport!

What's to become of all that, I ask you? Why are the water drinkers being picked on? Why can't the soda drinkers bear some of the blame for the plastic bottle problem? Yes, there are brands out there that are just tap water and taste like it, but there are good brands of water that taste immeasurably better than tap. Are they filtered and clean and free of yucky stuff? Well, I hope so, but I realize some of them aren't. The same can be said of water from a fountain, though; they aren't the cleanest of water sources. Have you ever seen a backed up, spit filled, disgusting water fountain? I've seen plenty of them; I wouldn't let a dog drink from them. Plus that water is warm; there aren't very many chilled water fountains out there.

Then there are security and safety issues. You can't take reusable water bottles into events 'cause they're all afraid you'll be sneaking in booze. You can't take glass bottles to most events or parks or public pools or the beach either since they could break and cause injuries. So the only option is to buy whatever is being sold at the event or park or what have you, and now with all the water bottle bans taking place everywhere, I am to be relegated back to going thirsty since I don't drink soda? It's just not fair.

So I say, if you ban bottled water, you need to ban bottled soda too. Switch back to glass or cans or allow people to use their own reusable bottles everywhere. Don't punish me and leave me thirsty and not punish the soda drinkers, too. (Because if you start punishing all of us, some of us, like Corporate America, will come up with solutions darn quick.)