Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

I'm tired and tipsy (the tipsy came after the T-or-T'ing, I swear).

We walked up and down 4 streets (about 3 blocks long each) and each child had their container filled. I now have about 100,000 calories in my house.

The good news is that I not only gave away all the candy we bought, but even some of the candy that's been taking up freezer space since last year (yes, I not only saved the candy but "re-gifted" it - so sue me, I tasted it, it was fine). Of course, now I have a huge bowl of candy my kids won't eat. Would it be bad if I put some of it in the treat bags for after the soccer game (in addition to the standard healthy snacks I would provide).

The kids looked cute in their costumes and Hyperion's thrifted/recycled costume turned out well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Buying organic is a social justice issue

Kids in agricultural areas or who have parents who work agricultural jobs face greater risks than kids in non-agricultural areas.

In a San Francisco Bay Area study, children whose fathers were occupationally exposed to pesticides were found to be six times more likely than other children to develop Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone tumor. Having fathers with agricultural occupations was found to increase a child's risk of contracting this cancer by ninefold.[49] A study of children diagnosed with cancer in the Denver area found a strong association between parents' application of pesticides in the yard and the development of soft tissue sarcomas. This same study found that children with lymphomas (cancer of the lymph system) were twice as likely to have been exposed to insecticides during household exterminations compared to healthy children.[50] In a study of Wilms' tumor (malignant tumor of the kidney) among children in Brazil, consistently elevated risks of Wilms' tumor were associated with parental exposure to pesticides through farm work.[51]
Source The Organic Manifesto of a Biologist Mother:

FARMERS have higher rates of certain cancers than the general population. So do farmers’ children.7 An emerging body of evidence suggests that exposure to pesticides on farms may be partof the reason.Other studies have revealed possible links between agricultural use of pesticides and birth defects. For example, according toa recent California study, living near agricultural fields where pesticides are sprayed raises the risk of stillbirths due to birth defects. Researchers found the largest risk among babies whose mothers lived within one mile of such areas during their first trimester of pregnancy. Similarly, a Minnesota study found that the children of farmers, as well as those born to families living in agricultural areas, have elevated rates of birth defects. Similar findings come from Iowa.8

Studies quoted -
7. Cancers found in excess among U.S. farmers include blood and nervous system cancers. Cancers found in excess among their children include brain cancers, leukemias, Wilms’ tumor, Ewing’s sarcoma, and germ cell tumors. L.E. Fleming et al., “National Health Interview Survey Mortality Among US Farmers and Pesticide Applicators,” American Journal of Industrial Medicine 43(2003): 227-33; L.M. O’Leary et al., “Parental Occupational Exposures and Risk of Childhood Cancer: A Review,” American Journal of Industrial Medicine 20 (1991):17-35; J.L. Daniels et al., “Pesticides and Childhood Cancers,” Environmental Health Perspectives 105(1997): 1068-77.
8. E.M. Bell et al., “A Case-Control Study of Pesticides and Fetal Death Due to Congenital Anomalies,” Epidemiology 12(2001): 148-156; V.F. Garry et al,“Pesticide Appliers, Biocides, and Birth Defects in Rural Minnesota,” Environmental Health Perspectives 104(1996): 394-99; R. Munger et al., “Birth Defects and Pesticide-Contaminated Water Supplies in Iowa,” American Journal of Epidemiology136(1992): 959. Birth defects associated with pesticide exposure include cleft lip and palate, limb defects, heart malformations, spina bifida, hydocephaly, undescended testicles, and hypospadias. See also G. Solomon et al., Pesticides andHuman Health: A Resource for Health Care Professionals (San Francisco: Physicians forSocial Responsibility, 2000), pp. 40-42.

For us, buying organic is not just about protecting our children it's about protecting all the children of farm workers. We live in an area that is sprayed regularly. They'll tell you it won't hurt you, but I have a friend on disability as a direct result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time - she was in a field doing an inspection with US Customs when it was sprayed with pesticide (boll weevil killer, most likely) and her lungs - 3 years later - are still so damaged she can't lead a normal life. She was a marathon runner before the pesticides. Now most people are not going to breath in that much at one time, but it is constantly in the air in agricultural areas.

Further reading

Monday, October 29, 2007

Breastfeeding Does Not Create Sagging Breasts; Study Throws Out Old Wives' Tale

Breastfeeding Does Not Create Sagging Breasts; Study Throws Out Old Wives' Tale

Myth Dispelled at American Society of Plastic Surgeons Annual Meeting
For Immediate Release: October 28, 2007
BALTIMORE – While the benefits of breastfeeding are unquestionable, many new mothers choose not to for fear of sagging breasts. However, breastfeeding alone has no impact on a woman’s breast shape, according to a first-of-its-kind study presented today at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2007 conference in Baltimore.
“Many women who come in for breast surgery tell us their breasts are sagging, drooping or are less full because they breastfed,” said Brian Rinker, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and study author. “Although the amount of sagging in the breasts appears to increase with each pregnancy, we’ve found that breastfeeding does not worsen the effect.”
The study examined 93 women who were pregnant one or more times prior to having cosmetic breast surgery. Fifty-eight percent of patients reported breastfeeding one or more of their children. The duration of breastfeeding ranged from 2 to 25 months, with an average of nine months. Fifty-five percent of respondents reported an adverse change in the shape of their breasts following pregnancy.
As the first study to examine what impacts breast shape in connection to pregnancy, plastic surgeons found that a history of breastfeeding, the number of children breastfed, the duration of each child’s breastfeeding, or the amount of weight gained during pregnancy were not significant predictors for losing breast shape. However, body mass index (BMI), the number of pregnancies, a larger pre-pregnancy bra size, smoking history, and age were significant risk factors for an increased degree of breast sagging.
Nearly 104,000 women had breast lifts in 2006, up 96 percent since 2000, according to the ASPS. In addition, more than 329,000 women had breast augmentation, making it the top surgical cosmetic procedure in 2006.
“Women may be reluctant to breastfeed because of this unfounded myth that doing so means the end of youthful breasts,” said Dr. Rinker. “Now, expectant mothers can relax knowing breastfeeding does not change the appearance of their breasts.”
Breast milk provides indisputable health benefits to infants. Research has shown breastfed infants have improved general health, growth and development as well as a lower risk of many acute and chronic illnesses than bottle-fed infants.
Visit for referrals to ASPS Member Surgeons and to learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. With more than 6,000 members, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises 90 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Note: The study “The Effect of Breastfeeding Upon Breast Aesthetics” is being presented in electronic format, Sunday, Oct. 28 – Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore.
Reporters can register to attend Plastic Surgery 2007 and arrange interviews with presenters by registering for the meeting online or by contacting ASPS Public Relations at (847) 228-9900 or in Baltimore, Oct. 27-31 at (410) 649-6205.

This makes a lot of sense, really. No matter whether you breastfeed or not, your breasts still make milk and still get engorged. And in fact, it would seem breastfeeding (on demand) would reduce sagging because you don't allow the breasts to get fully engorged.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Baking Day

It was baking day at the Gaia household today. Unfortunately, not in the solar oven, a combination of soccer game (to make up for a rain day) and clouds prevented any solar oven cooking.

But, I made 2 loaves of whole wheat bread. It rose more than I've ever seen it rise and Mr. Gaia forgot to turn the oven to "bake" from "preheat" so the tops got pretty toasty. I think it will be okay, though.

Then, I made banana nut muffins from my amish friendship bread starter. I used 3 cups of starter (and then fed the remaining starter with more milk, flour and sugar), and then the following recipe (adjusted for the massive amount of starter I used):
2 overripe bananas, mashed
1/3 vegetable oil
1 c whole wheat flour (fresh ground)
1/3 c turbinado sugar
2 eggs
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 c starter

I only used 6 eggs and 1 1/3 c oil then I added milk and vanilla by feel. I didn't use many pecans because I just didn't have many (this is when I miss living in Oklahoma, we used to ALWAYS have pecans because we'd pick them up ourselves).

I ended up with 4 dozen mini muffins and 2 dozen - 2 regular sized muffins. I baked the mini muffins for 10 minutes and the regular sized muffins for 20-22 minutes on 350F.

I didn't have any starter left to share, but it's been passed around so much that I'm not sure who I would share with anyway.

I find that the freshly ground wheat flour makes for a softer, tastier product.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Bug Hill News

Marcia Jackson is available again. Bob turned out to be "pseudo-suitable - on paper he was perfect to take home to meet mom, in truth he had none of the substance to sustain a relationships". I directed Marcia to this post at Feministe and told her it was good and right to increase her expectations.

But she made me think about all the things in life that are "pseudo-suitable". The things that on paper look perfect, but once you really examine them you find they lack substance. And she added a new word to my vocabulary. Pseudo-suitable, what a perfect word.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Hyperion wants to be a king for halloween. I asked Mr. Gaia to check Target for a costume because I'm lazy - but no go.

So, off to the thrift stores I went. Looking for something red and silky that could be fashioned into a cape.

I've written about Wardrobe Refashion before and now I find myself in thrift stores looking at items figuring out how they could be reused. I spent a lot of time fingering the cotton sweaters, looking for extra large sweaters in a thick weight yarn, before deciding I needed to use up my stash before considering buying a sweater to frog for yarn. Besides, they were all white. Which has lead to me spending a ton of time searching out how to dye cotton yarn (too bad kool-aid doesn't work on plant fibers).

Anyway, back to the costume. I ended up with a red graduation robe. I figure I can take it apart and get a kids' sized cape out of it. I looked for some kind of fake fur, but didn't find anything, so I'm going to have to work on that one. Maybe some white felt? I have a red sash that I'll pin to a dress shirt for him, pin on a few medals (I have a few and I think I have trappings to fake a few others), put him in dress trousers and he's done. My only issue now is I'm not sure how to wash the acetate graduation gown.

Oceanus is going to be Harry Potter again. This is the 3rd year in a row. I can go along with it. It's easy and cheap and it's what he wants to be.

Halloween costumes has always been the only time my creativity has emerged. I once made a triceratops costume out of styrofoam cones, fun foam, a head band and glue. A bat costume was made from cheap black remnant fabric and a black sweatsuit. An incredible hulk costume from green knit pants and shirt with a pair of girl's knit purple pants (cut to look like they were torn - with the cut off ends pushed into the sleeves to make muscles). And a Link (from Zelda) costume made from an adult's long sleeved green shirt, white tights, felt and brown paper bags. No one knew who he was (everyone guessed Robin Hood) but he was happy. I'm hoping I can pull off a similar success this year.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"May you live in interesting times"

Eventful night in the Gaia household tonight.

Oceanus and Hyperion take showers together. It saves water, time and, frankly, energy. There has, of course, been horsing around in the shower which leads to mom and dad stomping in to the bathroom yelling at them to calm down. There have been slips and falls which have not been a big deal and not sufficiently scary enough for them.

Tonight it was a big deal and I think (hope) sufficiently scary enough for them.

Oceanus slipped and banged the back of his head really hard. Hyperion was already out of the shower and drying off. Mr. Gaia, his mom and I were all sitting out in the living room talking. We heard the fall but, like I said, he's fallen before and it's never been a big deal. For the first time tonight we didn't say "are you okay" we sighed and said "quit horsing around".

Hyperion came out of the bathroom hysterical. We go in to find Oceanus curled in the fetal position in a swirling pool of blood. I certainly freaked out. I gathered myself together realized Gaga could comfort Oceanus better than I could (it's a good thing I'm not a jealous woman, the bond between those two is extremely strong) left Mr. Gaia and Gaga in charge of Oceanus and took Hyperion into his room to dry off and get some clothes on.

Hyperion was really freaked. He kept saying "he's losing all his blood" and "I'm not ready to be an only child". I kept reassuring him that it really wasn't that much blood - the running shower water made it look like a lot and that head wounds just bleed a lot, but that there's a lot of blood in the body. It was somewhat easier to reassure him because Oceanus did not lose consciousness and was crying.

I settled into my forced, unnatural calm, called the insurance company to make sure where I could go and what kind of preauthorization I needed. And then leaving Hyperion with Gaga, Mr. Gaia and I took Oceanus to the ER (using the term "ER" so that they didn't freak out more at "emergency room" or "hospital").

We got there at 8:13 and checked in at 8:18 (really, they should be signed better, there were a bunch of signs telling us what not to do, but not what to do and there was way too few staff to direct patients). We were finally seen at 8:53 (yes, 35 minutes with a head wound) by which time Oceanus had thrown up in the waiting room (luckily we brought a bucket).

One CT scan (normal) and 4 staples later, we're home and mostly calm. We were finished at about 10:30. It took a little longer than it had to because Oceanus opted for the numbing gel over the numbing shot (30 minutes v 3 minutes). Oceanus won't be playing in the soccer game on Saturday, but other than that we expect a full recovery.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dream Job

My dream job is open. A naturalist in a birding center. I really want this job. But I don't speak Spanish. I'm applying anyway, but I don't have the most hope.

The application is difficult. They want a complete job history, including contact information, supervisor name and supervisor title. Several of my jobs were with companies who have since relocated. And I'm not putting my restaurant jobs on there - they're simply not relevant.

The fact that this is my dream job doesn't mean it will be without stress. It will require some travelling. It will require hours other than M-F 8-5. It will require that we find after school care for our boys. It will require that I likely miss soccer games. It will require a 40 mile round-trip commute (which will require a new car). The salary won't be much more than I currently make, so the money for a new car will be a stretch.

But the chance to work outside and in nature? Priceless

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Some people are just nuts!

I swear, you try to do something nice and it just pisses people off.

I walk the kids home from school every day. So today we hear a dog barking what sounds like a distress call. I look over and see a small dog right up against a fence and realize that it looks like it's trapped.

So, we cross the (busy) road to go check on the dog. It is trapped - it's on a lead and has squeezed through a small opening in the fence.

I'm looking at it (still about 5 feet away in case it's not so nice and isn't as trapped as it looks) and trying to figure out how to fix the issue when a woman pulls up (on the wrong side of the road - which is, as I said, very busy) and YELLS at me "That's MY dog, so don't even think about taking her".

I tell her that I wasn't going to take it, I was just checking to make sure it was okay because it was obviously in a bad situation and she again YELLS "Well, that's MY dog, you can just forget about taking her".

I wanted to yell "Lady, I don't want your stupid dog, I'm a cat person, I just wanted to make sure it didn't strangle itself". But I just took my kids and walked off.

I swear. I'm trying to tell myself she's had dogs taken in the past, but damn. After I explained that I was checking to make sure it was okay, you'd think she'd calm down, but if anything it seemed to make her more upset.

I swear, I'm going to program the animal control number into my cell phone and call them next time I see a dog outside her fence. Maybe they'll fine her for not taking care of her animals.

Poor dog could have died - either from strangulation or from dehydration (it's still really, really hot here and there was no shade).

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Old Married Couple

You know you've been married a long time and aren't listening to your spouse as much as you used to when:

1) You read through a brochure for a conference that looks interesting and look through the talks and the speakers. One of the names seems familiar and it takes you a few minutes to realize, "oh DUH! That's my husband!". Yep, Mr. Gaia is going to be speaking at a conference and I'm sure he told me, but I didn't hear it.

2) His schedule goes in one ear and out the other - "you're speaking to who, when?". "Okay, you have a meeting Monday night - where is that and for what?"

3) Your wife explains the great confluence of events that will lead to her actually getting to see a dear friend and you have no memory of any part of the conversation.

4) Your wife tells you she really likes one of the new shows you're taping and you watch it and erase it while she's at work.

Mr. Gaia and I have hit that stage. Sigh.

Of course, on the other hand, we understand each other's rhythms better than ever.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Faith the size of a mustard seed

I have sitemeter on this blog. It's really cool, it tells me how people got here and if they got here through a search engine, what term they used.

The most searched term is "faith the size of a mustard seed" from this post. The post was about gathering bok choy seeds. Bok choy being in the mustard family.

But all these searches (which have picked up in the last month making me wonder what that's all about) have gotten me thinking about faith. A few months ago I dreamed that someone gave me a winning lottery ticket. Now this is a recurring dream because it is the only way I'm going to win the lottery, I'm not about to buy a ticket. This week I stepped over a lottery receipt on my way to pick up the kids from school. I walked on and then remembered my dream and went back and picked up the ticket. It was, of course, not a winning ticket. But it occurred to me that the deity above might choose to bless me in this way, so now I pick up all the lottery tickets I see. I figure even if they're losers, I've helped by picking up trash.

Right now I feel like I'm hanging my clothes on the line in faith. My new neighbors, who have to come through my backyard to get to their backyard - yeah that was great planning on the part of the developer - have displayed some hostile behaviors. Tonight it was a yard full of small, unripe citrus fruits (I'm not sure if they're valley lemons or oranges, I just know they're citrus, small, and unripe). Other days have had them trimming the trees that are clearly on our side of the property line and scalping the grass on our side of the property line. Dudes! The survey stakes are still in place, how hard can it be to see that you are clearly NOT on your own property? So, I take care only to hang things I don't really care about on that end of the line. And forget getting a dog anytime soon. Clearly they cannot be trusted to not let a dog out of the yard (they often forget to close the gate). Oh, and don't get me started on the night they were messing with the gate (which is right under our bedroom window) at 2am. Yeah, that doesn't disturb a person AT ALL.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I made fresh bread last week. I couldn't use the solar oven because there were too many clouds, so I made 2 loaves. Would you believe it's all gone already? Sigh. So it's time to bake again.

Oceanus loves my bread, which thrills me because it is such a healthy food. Last week he said "there's nothing better than fresh bread".

I was also given a start for Amish friendship bread this week. I'm looking for a good recipe that doesn't use vanilla pudding because I'm not about to buy pudding for it. I'm thinking a good banana bread recipe would work (we have lots of frozen bananas in the freezer). So if you have one, let me know, pretty please?!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

How to make a mom's head explode

My 9 year old is a good kid. I have to remind myself of this often. Very often.

Lately he's not been paying any attention to me at all. It isn't that I'm not consistent. It isn't that I don't dole out punishments. It's just that he doesn't care enough to listen to me.

I spoke to Mr. Gaia about this and we both agreed that this has to stop NOW. It will only get worse as he gets older. So Mr. Gaia talked to him today. Apparently he listens to Mr. Gaia because he's scared of Mr. Gaia (which does not thrill Mr. Gaia at all), he listens to his grandmother because she's so nice. But I'm not scary enough or nice enough so he ignores me.


Yes my head just exploded.

I'm at a loss. Short of beating him*, I'm not sure how I can scare him. I think the playroom tv may have to go away for a while. They can start doing chores and work in the yard in the time they would normally watch TV.

*For the record, Mr. Gaia does NOT beat the kids, I'm not sure why they're scared of him and not me, unless it's just that they've seen my breaking point and know that even when I've completely lost it, I'm not going to do more than yell at them.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Oklahoma is turning 100!

I got this email from my mom (with some additions from me):

Oklahoma Centennial

Oklahoma is celebrating its 100th anniversary of Statehood this year. Because most people think of the Stage play " Oklahoma!" when they hear the state's name mentioned, citizens are attempting to update the state's image by sharing Interesting state facts with others as we celebrate our Centennial.

Oklahoma is not only the home of Ado Annie and AuntEller from " Oklahoma!" but of the parking meter(invented in OKC) and the shopping cart (invented inArdmore).

The electric guitar also was invented in Oklahoma, by a Beggs musician named Bob Dunn. The first "Yield" sign was installed in Tulsa.

**Environmental Protection Agency recognizes Oklahoma as having the most diverse terrain of any state in the nation. The state, according to EPA, boasts 11 distinct eco-regions. The state has more man-made lakes than any other state, which give us more than a million surface-acres of water and 2,000 more miles of shoreline than the Atlantic and Gulf coasts combined.

Oklahoma has produced more astronauts than any other state in the union. Owen Garriott is an Enid boy, of course, while Tom Stafford is from Weatherford, Shannon Lucid from Oklahoma City, William Pogue from Okemah and the late Gordon Cooper from Shawnee. Oklahoma is home to the Amateur Softball Association and Hall of Fame, a world class zoo in OKC, the Cowboy Hall of Fame, Gilcrease Museam (cowboy art) and more F4 and F5 tornadoes than any other state.

Oklahoma is the third-largest gas-producing state in the nation and ranks fourth in the production of wheat, cattle and calves, fifth in the production of pecans, sixth in peanuts and eighth in peaches.

The state's colors are neither OU's crimson and cream nor the orange and black of OSU but green and white.

Oklahomans practice 73 major religions. The largest is the Southern Baptist Convention, with nearly 1,600 churches and more than 960,000 members (pretty large percentage considering the population of Oklahoma is only about 3.5 million or so).

Oklahoma gave birth to Dick Tracy (cartoonist Chester Gould is a native of Pawnee) and Donald Duck (Clarence"Ducky" Nash, the original voice of Walt Disney's Donald, grew up in Watonga). Not to mention, Garth, Reba, Toby (well, you know, even a good state produces some bad apples), Ron Howard, Troy Aikman, Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood, Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love), James Garner, Gene Autry, Johnny Bench, Gary Busey, Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney, Jr, Roy Clark, Bart Connor (now married to Nadia Comaneche), Joan Crawford, Walter Cronkite, Dizzy Dean, John Denver, Ronnie Dunn (Brooks & Dunn), Ralph Ellison (author of Invisible Man), Pretty Boy Floyd, Woody Guthrie, The Hansons, Carolyn Hart (wonderful mystery writer), Paul Harvey, Tony Hillerman, S.E. Hinton, Ben Johnson, Louis L'Amour, "Pawnee Bill", Mickey Mantle, Rue McLanahan, Mel McDaniel, Dr. Phil, Tom Mix, N. Scott Momaday, Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), Carrie Nation, Patti Page, Wiley Post, Will Rogers, Jim Thorpe, Tony Randall, Wilson Rawls (Where the Red Fern Grows), Donna Reed, Conway Twitty, and Brad Pitt(and a lot more I'm leaving off - source is here).

Oklahomans have survived the Dust Bowl, any number of killer tornadoes, the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and various oil booms and busts.

Oklahoma is populated by people who are caring, giving, hard-working, patriotic and fiercely independent. Oklahoma is a good place to live, work and play.

The challenge in this, our centennial year, is to make the rest of America aware of what Oklahoma has to offer, besides "beautiful mornings," "fringe-laden surreys" and "a girl who cain't say no."

The official statehood celebration will be in November. In the meantime, individual cities are restaging various events associated with statehood and the settling of Indian Territory which eventually became our state. It's a great time to be an Oklahoman and I wanted to share this with you!

People tell me I can't be a Texan because I wasn't born here and I respond "that's okay, I don't want to be a Texan, I'm an Oklahoman".

Monday, October 01, 2007

Update on Goals

In April I posted that I wanted to become a Certified Arborist and the first step was to get the study guide.

Guess what I got in the mail today? My study guides. Guess what's even better!!! I got them for free. Wonderful Mr. Gaia noticed a little announcement about a research study on the different study guides (CD-ROM and book) and they were giving free guides to participants. You'd better believe I had my name in post-haste.

In April, I also posted a goal to use up my samples. Can you believe I'm still working on using those samples? Granted, Mr. Gaia has traveled for business multiple times and we have traveled as a family so I've gotten more hotel shampoos. But based on current usage plus current additions, I'm good through December, at least.

Unfortunately those are the only goals I can report progress on. I've not maintained the clean house I wanted. It's not bad, but it's not great. MIL comes in 3 weeks, so I need to step it up a little each day so that I'm not going nuts the last week before she gets here. My exercise goals didn't stick after the kids came back home. Soccer isn't helping. But it's my fault. I need to start really getting serious about it.