Nifty, Nifty, Guess who’s FIFTY!

30 05 2008

Yeah, my beloved husband is fifty years old today.

His mom & dad came to town & took us to Logan’s steak house.  The kids gave him a fishing hat (for The Rock fishing trip he’s going on Saturday) and an umbrella.  I gave him three new pairs of slacks in his NEW SIZE!  Yes, Neal has dropped a waist size.  I am very impressed with him, and only wish I could get myself together to emulate his example.

We’ll be in Wilmington tomorrow visiting the beach & some of our very best friends.  Y’all visit Neal’s blog & give him a little birthday love!



30 05 2008

Let’s see, I lost my wallet and spent three days looking for it.  Felt like I lost my brain because all my phone numbers, calendar, appointments, cards, receipts, and to-do lists are in my planner/wallet thingy.  Neal used this opportunity to deliver another lecture on the benefits of “putting one’s calendar on the computer.”  Some sense in this- computer is not likely to be stolen out of the cart at Wal-mart as the wallet was.  I lost $60 cash, $180 off the bank card (may be retrievable as we have contested) and three days of feeling like a brainless moron.  I give thanks and praise to God that whoever took the wallet and cards to Target was kind enough to bring it back to Wal-Mart and turn it in to the help desk!  How often does that happen?

After we got through that, we took Pat to the physician for his one-year-old MMR shot (So he’s two and a half?  We got it done, didn’t we?)  Then it looks like Patrick got German Measles from the shot they gave him. He ran a low fever for several days after the shot was administered.   About six days after the shot his fever went up very high. (Don’t know how high- couldn’t find a thermometer in the wrack and chaos of a newly-moved-into house). It felt like you could fry an egg on his forehead. I gave him Advil and Tylenol, and put him in a luke-warm bath (which he did not appreciate at all) to bring his fever down. Neal missed all the excitement, as he was on a Camporee with Donal over the weekend.  (Did I mention I had to attend D’s court of honor and pack him & Neal for a camp-out?  While moving?  With one hand tied behind my back?)

The next day, around noon, Patrick broke out in spots that slowly spread down his back and tummy and into his diaper area. It never blistered like chicken pox, and it lasted about four days, so we’re thinking it might be Rubella (not sure how this is spelled.) I REALLY missed my internet connection during this, as I could not research symptoms.  Or even how to spell it.  I did a phone-in to mom & she read symptoms to me out of her family medical guide.  This was very sacrificial of her, as she & dad were trying to go out to a Memorial Day weekend movie and ran a little late to help me.  Thanks mom!

Oho- and why didn’t we have an internet connection? You may well ask. Another example of gross inefficiency on the part of a utility company. But I’ve already spent so much time complaining about it to Neal I don’t feel like complaining here, so the dreadful story of the flat-faced, dead-eyed, no-one-pays-me-to-think cable repair man will go untold. I will mention, though, that the moving guys couldn’t deliver the storage pod with the rest of our furniture and equipment because the cable person left the cable dangling so low over our driveway that it hung up on the truck and had to be pried off with a rake and ladders and a good deal of unkind language.

However, after registering an official complaint against the man, a much more competent gentleman in a utility belt showed up today, and only took about three hours to undo what was incorrectly done and hook us up. I am frazzled, but I am on line! They’re coming back (supposedly) in a couple days to bury the dangling line so the last of our goods and chattels can arrive, and there is still some mistake in the computer system that says that our service is active at both houses, but other than that, we seem to have resolved the issue.

Why does life have to be so frustrating? You never read a book where they have to call the cable people back about sixteen times and have five visits by three trucks and six separate people to do something as simple as hook up your cable. On paper, vaccines prevent disease instead of spreading it, and people manage to move without losing their thermometers, tweezers, nail brushes, or the bolts from the bunk bed.

I did discover why the trash company asked that we leave out the trash Sunday night for Monday pickup when the truck arrived at 4:30 a.m. I ran out in my nightshirt and panties, and still missed them. We had become accustomed to the route in town that arrived around 10. So I had to take everything to the dump.

Going to the dump here is an adventure. Neal loaded the truck with a big barrel of three weeks of garbage, a broken chair, two pallets, a torn apart bunk bed, an old lamp, a set of venetian blinds, carpet, cardboard, and a sack full of old doorknobs. I stuck in four children (one with German Measles, two with bad attitudes), a diaper bag, water bottles, blankie, and a laundry hamper full of recycling. Drove to the dump watching the rear view mirror to make sure a diaper didn’t come flying out and smash into someone’s windshield.

Having arrived at the dump, our first stop was the recycling area. You have to drive up a steep concrete ramp onto a narrow platform fifteen feet high above the dumpsters for the different kinds of glass and plastic. The man in charge of the recycling area came up and delivered a gratuitous lecture to my daughter about how if she threw the wrong bottle in the wrong area he would charge me $100 fine and she would get no Christmas presents. Brenna became very worried. He watched over my shoulder while I was trying to sort the recycling pointing out that I should have sorted it before I came, that there were two vehicles waiting, and that half of what we had in the recycling should go in the kitchen garbage because the cap rings hadn’t been removed, even though there were a ton of bottles with cap rings in the recycling bin.

I lost patience with him and drove off the steep ramp which, from the cockpit of Neal’s enormous truck, looked about as wide as a sidewalk. We got back in line and waited while someone else (with nicely sorted trash) had their turn, and then made a second try at it. I managed to muscle the large white barrel full of three weeks of diapers, kitchen garbage, and two inches of rain water off the back of the truck, but while I was tipping it into the bin, I accidentally tipped it towards me and got a stream of brown garbage water down the front of my shirt and into my bra. I wanted to strip off my shirt and take a spit bath with a handful of baby wipes, but we were nowhere near finished with the trash yet, so I had to get back in the truck and get in line for the weigh-in station.

Brenna and I did have a fair wash with the baby wipes and hand sanitizer while we were waiting for three garbage trucks, two pick-up trucks and a trailer full of tires to weigh in. My shirt was still wet with distilled garbage, though.

The lady at the weigh-in window knew me already from the last two times we had come to the dump. She waved at all the kids and asked me to declare my trash. I said, “Old furniture & stuff,” and she replied, “I don’t see any furniture, just pallets.” I didn’t feel like trying to list all the miscellaneous junk we had in the back, so I just growled, “It’s under there.” I think she sensed that I had already had about all I could handle, so she just waved me through instead of insisting that I take the pallets to Area 2 for construction debris before continuing to Area 1 for general junk.

We drove the long way around to Area 1 (which reminds me of Area 51 in it’s desolation and air of ominous mystery). The trash-crawler bulldozer was crawling up and down the slope of the garbage pile right above where we have to unload. It is absolutely huge, tipped sideways to a threatening degree, and drives back and forth within ten feet of where you are pitching things on the pile. I flinch constantly, expecting something to slip and throw the gargantuan machine down on top of us. We unloaded the truck as rapidly as possible, considering that the wood was full of nails, the carpet so heavy we could barely lift it, and we were staggering and stumbling over the loose, trash-filled mush of the dump ground while trying not to actually stand below the trash-crawler. When we got back in the car, the little boys were engulfed in a swarm of thirty or forty large-bodied black flies.

I passed out more hand sanitizer, but we weren’t finished yet. You are not allowed to put cardboard or metal in Area 1, you have to take it to the metal recycling area. The metal recycling guy is tatooed from here to there and perpetually impatient with women and children. He took one look at us, sniffed with disdain and rattled off, “Bin B for the lamp, cut off the cord, bin C for the door knobs, fencing in D, and cardboard in E.”  He stalked off to harass the man who was unloading the trailer full of tires and left us to sort in peace.

Then we had to circle around and get in line again for the weigh lady behind three more dump trucks.  She always seems pleased to see us.  I suppose she doesn’t see many loads of small children working at the dump- mostly tired, irritated dump truck drivers.  She charged me five dollars, counted heads, and, in a final act of grace and benediction, gave us all some peanut butter candy in the slide-out drawer.  I paused before we left the gate to pass out more hand sanitizer before Bren gave out the candy and we gratefully went home.

My daughter’s comment on the whole situation was, “When I have a husband, I think I’ll make him go to the dump for me.”  It’s good in theory, unfortunately not always sound in practice.  There are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a week, and Neal has to spend an awful lot of them at the office.  Besides,
going to the dump is educational!  Right?  Right!  Donal read the sign declaring that they practice random load searches and accept no poisons, toxins, or radioactive waste.  He asked, “What do we do with all our radioactive waste?”  (I think he meant that “our” as a general, rather than a personal pronoun.  Obviously we do not produce radio-active waste as a by-product when we mop the floor or make peanut-butter sandwiches.)

I replied, “Aha!  What a wonderful thing to research and do a report on!”  (This is what we homeschool professionals call a “teachable moment.”)

He groaned and slid down the seat until he nearly disappeared.  “I’m sorry I asked.”

Daily stuff…

14 05 2008

Almost ready to move!  We should be in the new house by Friday night.   The workmen came over yesterday and installed the door between the den & my room.  They also installed the piece of carpet that Neal and I cut down from the living room rug.  He said we did a decent job of cutting it, and it looks pretty good now, so I’m satisfied.  Things are really shaping up!

I have been browsing online sites for Victorian lace curtains for my room.  I want a little wicker chair with a foot rest to sit beside my desk so people can come and plop themselves in it and talk to me.  I’m setting up a beautiful desk area to write at, and it will be OFF LIMITS to anyone but me!  Neal will have his own desk for his laptop in his room, and the children’s computer will be in the dining room.  We are following advice that says never to let children have an internet connection somewhere private.  They also will not be getting bedroom phones.

Donal has had some visible results from his first chiropractic appointment & is going back today.  Very excited!  Pat goes in for his first MMR today.  I have stretched it out… they usually give it at one year old, and I have managed to delay it until 2 and a half.  I pray he will do well and not experience any problems as a result of the shot.  I am blessed that the pediatrician’s group here is not evil about vaccinations.  They want me to be “informed” about the shots, which means I have to read their little hand-out, and then I’m allowed to sign a refusal form for any vaccinations I don’t want.  This is important, as they are adding new vaccines all the time.  The number they give now is incredible.  In total disregard of all the studies, they continue to insist that vaccinations are completely safe for tiny babies and will now give six or seven shots, loaded with two or three (or in some cases a hundred or more) disease organisms for their little immune systems to process.  Considering that their immune function is not fully operational until they’re two years old, this seems crazy to me.  Not to mention all the poisonous stuff they have to put in the shots as preservatives and binders.

Still, I can’t quite go with the really severe and not vaccinate my children at all.  It’s so hard to sort through all the information and decide what to do… but I do get mine done for Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio, and the Hib shot, which is supposed to be the safest of all the shots.  I can only hope I am doing the right thing.

We’re doing the groceries and the library, the pediatrician and the chiropractor today, so I had better run.

Blah day

9 05 2008

I’m sick.

It’s raining.

The grass in the yard is almost three feet high.

The grass in the other yard is almost two.

We can’t install the carpet.

My kitchen is filthy.

The ants are invading my bed.

The kids are running water all over the bathroom floor.

I have two grocery bags of meat from the butcher I have to de-skin, de-fat and freeze today.

I am tired of painting trim.

We are beginning to pack for the move, and we are scrambling to finish the house at the same time.

My rent is now 5 days late & counting…

My hair has finally grown below my shoulders and the super-fine stuff is breaking and snarling.  I MUST get it cut.  I hate getting my hair cut.  I have never, never, never found a style that looked good.  I liked pinning it up, but I can’t brush it!  I hate my hair.

I hate my life today.

I have no clean underwear so I can’t get dressed.  I feel sloppy in my robe.

Blessings?  Bleagh.

Ok- I know I have blessings.  New house!  New car!  Money in the bank, friends, relations, health, religious freedom, internet connection, great opportunity…

What I need now is for my children to go AWAY for a couple of days so I can enjoy them!

Wait….  I guess my children are a blessing, too.  But after the soft-boiled egg crisis, and the milk crisis, and the laundry crisis, and the water on the bathroom floor crisis, and the we-don’t-want-to-clean-again crisis, I am about ready to lock them all in their rooms for the rest of the day.  Unfortunately, they don’t all have rooms.

It is 9:25 on Friday morning, and I don’t know how I’m going to make it through this day.  Oh, and I just looked in the dining room and can now add the egg-all-over-the-tables-floor-and-wall crisis.


Sometimes keeping my temper stinks.


5 05 2008

I need to post a correction of my MSG post- modified corn starch (found as the 2nd ingredient in Cheerios) does NOT contain MSG.  MSG is a protein, and could be found in modified corn protein, not starch.  So I incorrectly gave Cheerios a bad rap with that- on the other hand, Cheerios contains a preservative that is an industrial cleaner, so you might want to consider that!

Bible reading & new paint

5 05 2008

Hey!  I found a nice bible reading checklist on the web this morning.  I tried to put it on my page as a link, but I’m not sure where it will appear.  We could have an easter egg hunt to find it!  I wish I could figure out how to make words in my posts active so you can click on them & go there, but alas, my technical capability has not yet advanced that far.

I think this bible checklist will be valuable for me.  I like to read the bible out of order, randomly, and sometimes upside down and backwards.  (Literally backwards- I find something I like and then I keep reading what was before it, and what was before that… )  This way maybe I can see the parts I’m neglecting.  Also Christian people seem to keep score.  “Well, I’ve read the bible thus and such many times…”  I think they’re expecting bible-reading pins on their robes in heaven.  I think some people will clank when they walk.

New house news:  Neal finally (after much nagging) rollered my paint.  I really wanted to see how it would look- if the green I chose was dingy or looked ok with the woodwork.  It looks really nice.  It’s more yellow than an olive green and looks cheerful.  It looks really beautiful with the paper I chose and I can’t wait to get it up.  I finally pinned Neal down about decorating his room.  We’re going to paint it a light tan, kind of an oatmeal color, and put up lots of framed prints of waterfalls and mountains and sunsets in black frames.  I think it will be kind of sophisticated looking.

The other rooms are looking lovely, but we discovered some water damage in the bathroom that somehow got missed in the inspection.  Just what I wanted- to have to rip out another bathroom wall.

A lady came up to me after church yesterday and said she had read my MSG post, which was really nice!  I love finding out that some of the people I’m giving my blog address to are actually visiting me!  Welcome.

Well, now that I have this nifty little checklist, I must go use it.  Check out the Blue Line Bible link on my blog roll- I like this site for online bible reading.

MSG- hidden and not-so-hidden

1 05 2008

Everyone knows about MSG, right?  It’s a flavor-enhancer found in many foods, especially chicken products and anything chicken-flavored.  Oh, and Chinese food, right?  MSG headache?  You know what I’m talking about.

We all know we’re not supposed to give it to babies, because MSG acts on the neurons in their brain, causing them to continuously fire until they die.  It causes brain damage, and is cautioned against for pregnant and nursing mothers and children whose brains are still developing.  It’s also dangerous for people with degenerative brain diseases, like Parkinsons & Alzheimers for obvious reasons.

Ok, so MSG is one of the things I watch for.  Especially when I buy soup, because it used to be in a lot of Campbell’s soup.  But I have to tell you something.  Actually I want to SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!!!  Did you know that the FDA decided at some point that MSG didn’t have to be labeled as MSG?

MSG is a chemical naturally present in many foods, foods like corn, soybeans, and tomatoes.  It can be extracted by processes that break down and isolate the proteins, usually including a filtration step that filters out unwanted protein structures and leaving the MSG proteins.  (This is a layman’s simplification- I have not actually studied how they produce the stuff, I’m just telling you what I’ve read.)  In order to get the MSG they put in ranch dressing, they take one of these foods, break it down, isolate the proteins, concentrate it, and pour it in the dressing.  This is called “injecting” MSG, and if a company does this, they must list MSG as an ingredient on the label for God and everybody to see.

HOWEVER, let’s suppose that you want to make textured vegetable protein from soy beans to make a vegetarian meat substitute.  In this case, as you are breaking down the soy beans, you create MSG as a (ahem) by-product.  Since the MSG was not injected into the food as a spice, you do not have to list it as MSG (according to the FDA) you can list it as “soy protein isolate.”   Hmmmm…..

Since there are many foods that have MSG proteins present in them, this loophole provides all kinds of opportunities for companies to put fun, flavor-enhancing MSG into their products without actually having to put MSG on the label of their box.  For an example, let’s take a look at the back of a cheerios box.

“Ingredients: Whole grain oats (includes the oat bran), Modified corn starch…”  Wait right there!  Modified corn starch?  Well, corn starch is a thickener.  I use it to thicken sauces, especially for desserts.  But what does modified mean?  According to several label watchdog groups, it’s corn starch that has been modified to become MSG! 

The Catalina dressing they eat on their salads lists it as “modified food starch.”  Another good name for it is “Soy Protein Isolate,” or “Whey protein isolate,” which is the second ingredient in the Quaker Instant Oatmeal Weight Control box.  Apparently any kind of isolated protein is almost certainly MSG.  As is Hydrolyzed Protein (Hydrolyzed means “broken down by hydrogen”), Protein Extract, Yeast Extract, Autolyzed Yeast, Hydrolyzed Oat Flour, Textured Protein, and Plant Protein Extract.  It has more names, but those are some of the more common ones I found in my cabinet.

But wait, it gets worse!  Not satisfied with that level of sneakiness, they had to get sneakier!  This one cracks me up.  Let’s look at the back of the Bush’ Best Original Baked Beans can.  (Seasoned with Bacon & Brown Sugar, it says.)  “Ingredients: Prepared White Beans, Water, Brown Sugar, Sugar, Bacon, Salt, Corn Starch, Mustard (Water, Vinegar, Mustard Seed, Salt, Turmeric, Spices), Onion Powder, Caramel Color, Spices, Garlic Powder, and Natural Flavor.”   How many people here can recognize that onion powder, turmeric, mustard seed, and garlic powder are spices?  Let’s see a show of hands.  Good!  Some of you didn’t recognize turmeric as a tangy-tasting bright yellow spice often used in pickles, but most of you caught that those were spices.  Now for the trick question: if they’re willing to list the spices by name, why do they put “spices?”  Aha!  And worse yet, if they’re willing to mention all that stuff individually, all the bacon and spices and sugar and color and stuff… what do you think is the “natural flavor?”  I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, since MSG is a flavor, and since it is derived from natural sources such as corn, soy, oats, etc., it can be listed on products as “Natural Flavor,” or even as a spice in “Spices.”  Thus sayeth the FDA.  Now, none of my sources said that MSG is ALWAYS in there as “natural flavor,” only that it CAN be.  And frankly, I’m pretty suspicious of Bush’s Baked Beans.

Here’s another one I’m suspicious about: Heinz Tomato Ketchup, my personal favorite.  I have always wondered what it is about organic ketchup that just doesn’t quite taste right.  Some how, it lacks zing.  Could it be possible that the industry’s favorite flavoring is missing, and my addicted taste buds miss it?  Let’s look at the label: Tomato concentrate made from red ripe tomatoes (a little propaganda slipped in there), distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, natural flavoring.  Once again, they’re willing to list the onion powder.  What’s the mystery spice?  Are they just protecting their recipe, or are they trying to slip something under our radar?  And after the mystery “spice,” once again we have “Natural flavoring.”  Kind of makes you go “Hmmm…” doesn’t it?

The truth in labels people have an interesting discussion on their website about MSG and the places it hides in our foods.  The heartbreaking one for me was the page where they printed charts after charts showing which INFANT FORMULAS contain hidden MSG products and calculating how much MSG different age babies would consume in a day if they drank that formula.

MSG causes random neuron firing in the brain.  Is there a POSSIBLE tie to the growth of hyperactivity and attention dysfunction in our boys because of this?  Perhaps I’m not qualified to comment because I’m only a stupid mommy who believed that “No MSG” on a label meant “No MSG” in the product, not a scientist who can argue the differences between injected MSG, MSG sprayed on lettuce or grapes as a crop enhancer, or MSG produced as a byproduct of food processing.

All I know is I fed my kids this stuff.  I ate it while I was pregnant.  I gave it to my babies.  And now it’s all sitting on my kitchen floor getting bagged for the food bank or the trash.  I am mad as heck, and I’m not going to take it any more!