Category Archives: Interesting Websites

Housework! Summer soup! Beef jerky! Computer viruses!

  • Fourteen upper cabinets.  Twelve lowers.  Fifteen drawers.  All cleaned, inside and out, sorted and re-organized.  Plus, as they don’t go all the way to the kitchen ceiling, the tops are cleaned off, as well as all the decorative items that reside up there.  ~sigh~  That is a sigh of exhaustion.  And relief.  In our nearly six years of living here, I have never done all of the kitchen cabinets in one fell swoop.  It had been nagging at the back of my brain daily, each time I took something out of a cabinet and saw an accumulation of crumbs, dust, and/or greasy grime.  Note:  Gel Gloss looks fabulous for about ten minutes, but then that gleaming shine washes off super-easily with soap and water!  Not great for quartz countertops in a kitchen that gets regular abuse use.  Bummer.  Anyone have a favorite stone countertop product they love??
  • Have you ever tried my Thai Chicken Noodle Soup?  I just updated the recipe.  I can’t believe it’s been almost four years since I originally posted the recipe.   The soup —  more of a meal-in-a-bowl than an actual soup — is a staple in our home, even in summer.  Lots of fresh veggies, tasty and fun.  Mmmm…
  • I turned seven pounds of London Broil into beef jerky the other day.  Smoky-garlic and soy-garlic.  It’s in preparation for our vacation.  Jerky comes in handy for snacks and meals-while-driving, as well as made into various recipes (which I learned from this fabulous cookbook for hikers/campers — it’s a shame it’s out of print!  One review says “Invaluable!  Wore out library copy — had to buy my own.”  That is exactly what I did!!)…  Anyway.  What wasn’t fit for jerky got put into a pot of what was supposed to be red chile stew.  Which it was, sort of.  But, I got enticed by a Really Big package of dried chile de arbol at the grocery store last week, and thought, “Oooh, those are the chiles in Cholula [my fave hot sauce],” and I bought it, really knowing nothing about them.  Well, it turns out they are REALLY HOT.  I removed the stems, seeds, and… pith (or whatever it’s called), and my hands burned for hours, even though I think I only used five chiles.  Also, the broth was SO HOT that I had to scoop out all the beef chunks and — sadly — drain the broth, which seemed like such a waste, but I knew if I kept it as it was, it would be inedible for my kids.  I added water to cover the remaining beef (to which some crushed chile still clung), added a chopped onion, sea salt, and about eight cloves of chopped garlic.  After it had simmered for nearly three hours, I thickened the cooked-down broth with some corn starch, and served it with some Spanish rice (which I had made earlier in the week) and some refried beans (from Trader Joe’s — my favorite).  It was good.  Still, lesson learned:  very judicious use of chile de arbol in the future.
  • My computer contracted a nasty virus, somehow, a few weeks ago.  It died.  Actually, it would power up, but Windows wouldn’t start.  The virus was called Windows Repair Module, which — obviously — was a fake.  How insidious.  I kept getting warnings from Windows, and it turns out that each time I clicked the “OK” button, I was unknowingly activating the .exe file associated with various aspects of the virus.  A friend of my husband’s took my hard drive home with him and worked on it every night for four nights.  He was able to pull most of my documents and pictures (THANK GOD!  I cried when I thought they were unretrievable), and save them to an external hard drive.  Then, he reformatted my hard drive.  Now, I just have to load a bunch of software that got wiped out… but that’s OK.  I then thanked my oldest son, Ethan, who will be 14 later this week.  Why?  Because “…with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Ethan worked a hot and hard day at the home of a friend, laying tile and cleaning…  and with that measure of service and giving, it was returned to us, in the form of a repaired computer.
  • If you’re still reading… today is my birthday.  I am 38.  🙂  The only thing I really love about growing older is the history, the perspective that it brings to my life.  I freak out less, because I can say, “Look.  We had that really rough patch five years ago, and God brought us through.”  When I was younger, everything was new and untested, and every challenge threatened to topple me.  Now, I’ve had years of tasting God’s goodness, and seeing His faithfulness first-hand.  To me, that’s a really, really valuable birthday present.

My own mini-blog carnival. Because I can.

Six things that have struck me or interested me in recent weeks, with no theme:

  1. For those of you who asked me, via comment or e-mail, for the reading list of recommendations from my friend Kathy, it’s here!  (I mentioned it in a post where I lamented the state of current teen fiction.)  My precious friend Kathy posted an intro to her list of 100 or so pre-teen and teen books, as well as a handy, printable pdf, with title, author, and a wee commentary on each one!!  (from the P14 Ministries blog)
  2. For those of you, like me, who have been alternately intrigued and frustrated by the recent upsurge in Gluten-Free Everything:  A great (and fairly lengthy) look at the pros and cons of the recent trendiness of the gluten-free diet.  (from the Triumph Dining blog)
  3. Please read this beautifully written paean to family and the Midwest entitled Has the Mail Gone? by Cloth Mother upon the passing of her beloved 94-year-old grandmother.  As I was reading it, I thought, “This woman must have lived in Illinois.”  I pulled out a map Google-mapped a town name, and sure enough… right in the heart of the farm country in which my parents were raised.  When I took my children to Illinois 3½ years ago, on our way back to the airport, from Quincy to Chicago, I purposefully avoided large highways and instead, meandered, taking every teensy two-lane blacktop, passing through small town after small town, treasuring the scenery and the ambiance of the land that tugs so at my heart.  Of all the hamlets through which we passed, my favorite was a little spot called Henry.  I could easily imagine myself there, raising a family in a century-old two-story on a sleepy, tree-lined avenue.  It took a considerable amount of strength and a sharp intake of breath to drive away from Henry…  Henry is only about four miles up the Illinois River from the author’s town of Lacon.  Feeling a connection there, and because the piece was so beautifully written, I felt like I had to comment.  But, I didn’t.  The story was so personal, and all the commenters knew Grandma Florence.  But, reading the story will make you wish she had been your grandmother, too.
  4. I must confess that I am not particularly emotional.  I mean, I have emotions, but I don’t cry easily, and I don’t really enjoy crying.  However, I simply wept at this post by Nicole Deggins, and I absolutely did not regret it.  Nicole, a certified nurse midwife, wrote a searingly honest account of her unexpected pregnancy, then the loss of her hours-old baby daughter, whom she nicknamed Peanut, birthed at 24 weeks’ gestation.  (I have loved Nicole’s blog for more than a year… two years?… and am angry, actually, that an organization which has a copyrighted name similar to that of her blog, sued her, and now she has to disband the blog.)
  5. I have recently felt compelled to stop lamenting how few ingredients that my 22-month-old daughter can eat, and stop using that as an excuse to not be creative with Fiala-safe ingredients in the kitchen.  When most grains, corn, rice, potatoes, most fruits, a great many vegetables, most meats, dairy, and even most herbs and seasonings are off the ingredient-list, I’ve found it too easy to resort to the few things that I know she can have, like blueberry oatmeal with cinnamon and farinata with fresh rosemary, each of which she has virtually every day of her life.  This post by Kimberly at Affairs of Living really inspired me.  It’s for grain-free Chocolate Pumpkinseed Bread.  Now, Fiala can’t yet have either chocolate or pumpkin seeds (and yes, I’ve tried both).  However, reading about the bread, and looking at the scrumptious results of the recipe — not to mention her link to the corn-free baking powder recipe — really kicked me in the culinary rear, so to speak… it got the wheels turning, and I’m starting to look at what is POSSIBLE on Fiala’s diet, rather than just biding my time until she can eat more.
  6. I have been a reader of Living and Learning for a couple of years.  Sue is a homeschooling mother of four, married to a native of Japan.  She blogs with beauty, honesty, graciousness, and a bit of whimsy.  I find myself refreshed by her writing.  I had never had much interest in visiting Japan before reading her blog…  However, I find myself very compelled by her photography of the flora and landscape of the area around her home, not to mention the stories of her family.  This Summer Check-In post is typical:  filled with lovely photos, family togetherness, and things of interest — even peculiarity — to an American who has really no other acquaintance with Japan.

Click and enjoy!

Our anti-staph regimen (for now) for Fiala, and anti-asthma for Wes

My friend Sheila turned me on to a website called Earth Clinic.  I have long been looking for a website that has homeopathic remedies that does NOT have a “New-Agey” feel, and this is by far the best one I’ve found, so far.  Even though it can be a bit difficult to navigate and wade through, I’ve found a ton of useful information on there.  People can also respond to others’ suggestions saying whether or not a particular remedy worked for them.  There are some REALLY knowledgeable contributors on Earth Clinic.  I also like that it is (almost completely) non-commercial.  In fact, they have a policy against even saying brand names.

One of the things that jumped out at me immediately is that folks have frequently reported the healing of their allergies by taking turmeric.  Now, I will admit that I have not fully researched this at all, but I have read, in the past, about the amazing medicinal properties of a component of turmeric, curcumin.  I thought it was worth a shot, especially since I am NOT liking the idea of putting my 8yo son Wesley on life-long anti-asthma meds.  Currently, he has to take Singulair for about six months out of the year to ward off daily wheezing, coughing, and asthma attacks.  Every year, we are able to identify more triggers to his asthma and then avoid them — dairy and pine are the biggest contributors — but he still has ongoing asthma problems, especially during the colder months.  I have thought, “There just HAS to be a better, more natural solution.”  Now, as far as medication goes, Singulair is less worrisome (I think) steroids:  it works by disabling a particular fatty molecule that starts the snowballing chain of reactions that leads to an asthma attack.  Still.  I don’t like the fact that it messes with his endocrine system.

Wes has already been on 30 days’ worth of Singulair this winter season.  His doctor’s office said that before they renew the prescription, he’d have to go back and see the doctor to have his asthma re-evaluated.  I don’t like this for a number of reasons:

  1. We’re in the process of changing doctors.  Our beloved pediatrician has been on medical sabbatical for more than a year (it was originally supposed to be six weeks), and every time we go into the ped’s office now, we see a different doc.  I hate that.  So, I’m changing the kids over to my doctor, who is a D.O. family doctor.  Wes has an appointment with her next week;  I just did NOT want to make another appointment with his old doctor’s office simply to get his prescription refilled.
  2. The medication is $30 per month.
  3. The co-pay for the the re-eval is an additional $30.

Now, I am willing to spend $60 on my son’s health.  However, I don’t care to perpetually spend $$ on meds and copays when I don’t really support the IDEA behind them in the first place.  Hope that makes sense.


Turmeric tastes awful, at least in concentrated form.  We’ve tried it a number of different ways, and I’ve only had Wesley taking it for five days now.  The best way we’ve found for him to take it is mixing the turmeric (about 1/8 tsp) with about 2 tsp of honey, and having him gulp it down as fast as possible.  Though he did have an asthma attack on that first day, Wesley has not had one since, and his coughing and wheezing has greatly subsided.  He told me this morning that he didn’t think he needed to take the turmeric, since he’s breathing so much better.  Uh, Wes…  Nice try.  I am hopeful that he’s breathing better BECAUSE of the turmeric.

(By the way, I spent $2.49 on a 400 gram/14 oz bag of turmeric at the Asian market.  That’s a LOT of turmeric, for very little money.)

Turmeric also has demonstrated antibacterial properties, and many folks on Earth Clinic have successfully used a turmeric paste on staph/MRSA boils and skin infections.  I tried a salve with turmeric in it on Fiala’s face and legs, but she’s just too wiggly and active;  I couldn’t get it to stick and stay.  So, for the last two days, I’m back to using Gentian Violet on the worst lesions on her face and legs.  It’s messy.  It has stained her clothes.  She looks AWFUL with that junk on the lower half of her face.  However, it (combined with daily baths into which I’ve added a cup or two of vinegar) appears to be having a positive effect on the lesions:  they’re drying out and shrinking.

As in the last couple of weeks, Fiala’s skin has profoundly worsened, I am going back to a completely sugar-free diet.  I had been giving her a little bit of honey in her morning buckwheat, and had been putting honey in my coffee… and I had started to become lax about popping a candy in my mouth — one a day or fewer — AND, even worse, I ate some caramel corn on Monday.  As a result of all of that, PLUS with the knowledge that it is likely that Fiala’s reactions aren’t JUST allergy-based, but that her skin problems are indicative of staph bacteria swarming her body… well, I’ve decided to clamp down, even though it’s hard… it’s been a long haul… I really miss sugar, and of all ingredients I’ve cut out of my diet, I miss sugar the most.  Still.  I have to begrudgingly admit that sugar puts Fiala’s reactions into a tailspin, and I am convinced that it will speed her healing if I’m militantly diligent about eliminating it.

I still haven’t quite decided if I will take blueberries out of our diets.  (Blueberries are currently our only “safe” fruit.)

In the morning, I have also been mixing up a tonic, of sorts, for Fiala.  She normally drinks water throughout the day and in that water, I daily empty a probiotic capsule.  In addition to that, this past week, I’ve been adding 1/8 tsp of turmeric, 2 droppersful of colloidal silver (250 ppm strength), and a little stevia to make it somewhat palatable.  From Fiala’s reaction, I would say that she prefers her “plain” probiotic water, but she’s drinking the tonic.  When the cup is about half gone, I top it off with more water.  By the end of the day the orangey-yellow color from the turmeric is about gone.  Even if it’s not totally gone, I’m satisfied that she’s consumed most of the tonic, and we start the next day with a fresh cup.

Now, I’m not 100% certain that any of this has a super-dramatic effect on her health, but I’m just doing the best I can to eliminate the bad stuff in her body (bacteria, viruses, allergic reactions, etc.) and supply it with the best opportunity to get as much nutrition from her food as possible, and to re-populate her intestines with good bacteria.  (As I write that, I hope that the probiotic and the turmeric aren’t canceling each other out!  Curcumin has been studied particularly for its effects against staph;  I hope it doesn’t kill the good bacteria, too.)


I’ve also been soaking her binkies in vinegar water, making sure she has a fresh bath towel (normally, we use the same towel for the whole week), changing her clothes and bedding frequently…

I still haven’t heard back from Elizabeth, my doctor-friend.  And, I’m still breastfeeding — haven’t switched Fiala over to goat milk.  But, as soon as I can get up to Trader Joe’s to purchase some some, I’ll probably at least try her on it.


  • Alexander Henrys Apples & Pears Blue

    Alexander Henry's Apples & Pears Blue

    I love to sew, but I don’t often have the opportunity to really devote time to it.  Every once in a while, someone says to me,  “You could sell that!” and maybe I could, but I’m too slow to make things really profitable.  So, for me, sewing is more a labor of love than anything.  I’m very excited to be given the thumbs up from a friend to sew the stuff for her baby girl’s room.  😀  I practically forced my sewing skills upon her, but after talking with her about it on Saturday, became convinced that she really wants me to sew for her, and isn’t just saying, “Yes” to shoo me off, which is definitely a possibility, since I’ve been INUNDATING her with conversations, e-mails, texts, and other info about all things pregnancy, baby shower, birth, and infants since she got pregnant.  I was afraid she’d feel overwhelmed, but instead, she feels loved and cared-for.  That was a relief.  The fabric I’ll be using (among other coordinating fabrics) is on the right.

  • I have been visiting more natural-birthing blogs these days.  I think it’s because I can’t imagine not being around births any more, yet I remain uncertain as to whether or not we’ll have any more children of our own.  More and more, I like the idea of being some sort of assistant in the process of helping other mothers birth naturally… maybe as an unofficial birthing coach, maybe as a “real” doula, maybe teach Bradley classes.  Don’t know yet.  But… I must say that there are a lot of… um… imflammatory blogs on the topic.  There are a lot of midwives, etc., who tell stories that go something like, “Well, I lost a friendship over telling her this…”  and I decided that my friendships are more important than whether or not someone has an epidural.  But, one of my most favorite natural-birthing sites is this:  Stand and Deliver.  It’s written by a well-educated, homebirthing mother.  Her blog is continually interesting, without trying to make you feel guilty.  Plus, the author, Rixa, is also 31 or so weeks pregnant with her second child, which makes the info all the more relevant.
  • Found on Stand and Delivercool article about Salma Hayek nursing a sick infant — not her own — in Sierra Leone while on a humanitarian mission.
  • My friend Heidie said to me yesterday, “Don’t you just get discouraged???” about something that I hadn’t even thought about getting discouraged over.  I do get discouraged, but not over that.  There’s something on Fiala’s right cheek.  I don’t know what it is.  It’s been there for a good 4-5 weeks.  It was almost gone before the pediatrician said, “Looks like eczema.  Why don’t you put some Vaseline on it with every diaper change?”  I knew it wasn’t eczema, but I went ahead and put Vaseline on it, and it almost immediately it exploded into a huge, imflamed, oozy patch, doubling or tripling in size.  Ugh.  Meanwhile the patch of real eczema on her forehead was helped by the Vaseline.  So, apparently, Vaseline does help eczema, which, after five kids who all had/have eczema, was news to me.  I still don’t know what’s going on with Fiala’s face, but I started putting some homemade salve on it, made from beeswax and olive oil, mostly, and that is definitely helping.
  • I commented kindly about something on painter/illustrator Stan Fellows’ blog, and he sent me an e-mail saying, “You like it??  I’ll send it to you!”  My jaw dropped.  Then, I kind of backpedalled, because I wasn’t intending to be solicitous and he responded something like, “I wouldn’t give it to you if it was a watercolor.  People line up to buy my watercolors.  But, those are just some funky acrylic birds that aren’t marketable, so it’s either send them to you, or trash them.”  True to his word, the paintings showed up in my mail box on Saturday.  My heart skipped several beats.  Woo hoo!  I’m going to get part of it framed, and will post pics when I do. … Stan is by far my favorite, current illustrator.  I adore his work.  There’s just something about every bit of it that floats my art boat.

Tidbits for the week

  • I have crafted — or started to craft — a theory about women and dieting.  I think it may have a lot to do with personal power and control.  I have found myself with the unexpected satisfaction of knowing that, since I’ve been successfully more-or-less South Beach Dieting for five or six weeks, if I have an “off” day, I can easily get back on track.  I’ve only had one real off day… well, off weekend — this past weekend where I went to a ballgame, then went to lunch plus the afternoon at my in-laws.  Both days were pretty much a loss for the whole carb-count thing, and in those two days, I put on nearly two pounds.  But, on Monday, I hopped right back on the diet, and the extra weight (not that it was loads or anything) came off in three days.  That felt good.  It felt strangely powerful.  That led me to some more reflection about dieting in general.  I have mentioned before that I am NOT normally a dieter.  As well, I’m not the kind of person who is interested, at all, in acquiring power or position for myself.  I like my life, and don’t normally feel a need to micromanage it.  There are ups, there are downs, and I think I weather most things fairly well.  But, I can see how easily dieting could become (for some, anyways, and at least theoretically) all about the want/need for power and control.  Whatchya think?? 
  • Our washing machine broke on Saturday.  (This simple six-word sentence led to three hours of mayhem and mopping, with tensions flying, and lots of apologies issued afterwards.  Words just don’t do justice to real life, sometimes.)  This, after I had done exactly two loads of laundry, with another six or so to go.  I’ve got a good 10-12 loads to do, now.  My hubby, Martin, tipped the washing machine over and found the piece that was obviously broken, which, thankfully, was quite accessible.  He then found the part online and ordered it.  The part arrived yesterday, and he put it in last night, about 10 p.m., after he came home from Bible study.  Woo hoo!  I’m very proud of him because, though he is extremely competent in a vast number of areas, he’s not exactly Mr. Fixit.  Him fixing the machine saved us at least the $90 trip-and-labor charge levied by a company we’ve used in the past, plus whatever markup they’d put on the piece itself.  The washer and dryer have been humming nonstop since late last night.  🙂
  • We were going to have a big worship team meeting at our house on Saturday, but after about 3/4 of the people were legitimately unable to come, Martin decided to cancel it.  This is actually a great relief to me.  I truly love having our home filled with friends, but what with being heavily pregnant, and a host of other things going on, it was stressing me out a bit.
  • I have been awarded a bloggy award by the friendly and helpful Jamie from Looks Good in Polkadots.  However, I must say that I absolutely do not understand the award at all.  Maybe because it was originally written in Portuguese, and has lost something (or maybe gained something?) in translation.  I do appreciate the thought, though, Jamie.  I will happily claim the rather ambiguous award, but don’t feel like I can pass it on if I don’t understand it.  🙂  I hope you understand.
  • If you are an expert potty trainer, please visit my bloggy-friend Helen at A Was Alarmed.  Her nearly-3yo is giving her fits, and while I read her post with a great deal of sympathy, and found myself just wanting to give her a hug, I have absolutely no advice.  Can you help her???
  • After happily exhausting the works of Jane Austen this year, I thought I’d take on other 19th century women novelists, starting with the Bronte sisters.  I rather randomly picked out Villette, by Charlotte, largely because I was completely unfamiliar with the story.  I’ve seen and loved the PBS/BBC version of Jane Eyre at least twice, and while the book always varies from the movie/TV production, I felt like I knew the plot line well enough that I wouldn’t be surprised at all.  I like to encounter the unexpected when reading.  Villette took me a good 50+ pages to warm up to, but now, I’m enthralled with the story.  Charlotte Bronte is much more dramatic, vivid, and theatrical than Austen.  Wordy, too.  Verbosely wordy.  Inflatedly wordy.  I’ve laughed several times, because she’ll fill a paragraph with florid description, then end it with, “in short, _______.”  Here’s a small example:  “A heated stove made the air of this room oppressive; and, to mend matters, it was scented with an odour rather strong than delicate:  a perfume, indeed, altogether surprising and unexpected under the circumstances, being like the combination of smoke with some spiritous essence — a smell, in short, of whiskey.”  I have the happy circumstance of not having any idea where Charlotte Bronte is heading.  Many of the events in the story seem fairly random, and I’m very interested to see if she’s going to tie them together in the end, or what.  The only thing that has been a major dissatisfaction with the story is that I absolutely cannot figure out what happened to the heroine’s family.  It’s like Charlotte Bronte is excessively wordy when I just want her to get on with it, then withholds vital details like, “Did her family all die?  Or what??  Why is she suddenly all alone with no family and no friends??”  I read the page or two that referred to this transition at least three times, and could not, for the life of me, figure out what happened.  It’s my best guess that the author was being purposefully vague, so as to be able to re-introduce various friends/family members later in the story as a surprise.  I really don’t know, though. 
  • Lastly:  If, like me, you have a habit of unintentionally supporting your local library’s aquisition budget by accruing fines, please visit Library Elf.  You pick your library from a surprisingly extensive, world-wide list of libraries, and enter your library card number and e-mail addy.  Then, you set your notification preferences, and you’ll receive e-mails (and/or texts messages, if you’d prefer) when you have items out that need to be renewed.  It doesn’t renew the items for you, though.  🙂  Maybe that’ll be Library Elf 2.0   

The more the messier

I’ve been in the blogosphere for only about 2 and a half years, and I’m still continuously surprised at what a dearth of Really Good Blogs there are out there.  I was just thinking, a couple of days ago, how I simply cannot read most blogs by/for women, because they just seem… ummm… unrealistic.  You know, the chipper, cheery, pink & sparkly kind, full of perfect advice from perfect women who have absolutely fabulous kids, ideal relationships with God, marital bliss, are more stylish than I ever could hope (or care) to be, and who have tastefully creative, spotless homes, as well as an organic garden out back.  And whose dogs have better pedicures than my own.  Those kind of blogs don’t tend to inspire me.  At all.  It’s all I can do to not be repulsed.  So, I just don’t read ’em. 

Not that I’m looking for abject failures with whom to wallow;  I’m just looking for a little reality injected into the perfection.  Know what I mean?

Enter:  The More the Messier.  From a recent post about books:

But I’ve read almost nothing but non-fiction since the minute Theo was born. Childrearing, it seems, leaves me no patience for the willing suspension of disbelief. At first, I devoured all the parenting books I could get my hands on, because – believe it or not – until the baby was actually born, I did not understand that I was going to be raising a child. I was therefore woefully unprepared for my new situation.

[I know, one could argue that the parenting literature belongs in the fiction category, for all the good it does the hapless reader. But let’s not go there right now.]

Once I finished every single parenting tome ever published, I moved on to other how-to’s and self-help books: the marriage ones (which should all be subtitled “How To Manipulate Your Spouse Into Doing What You Want”), the home organization ones (didn’t take), the homeschooling ones (“Teach Your Child Latin While You Do Dishes!” and other lies)….the list is endless.

By the time I got to the “Latin” bit, I was rolling.

Written by a homeschooling mom of six who is funnier than I’ll ever be, The More the Messier is worth a read.


Give away rice and increase your vocabulary!

My cousin Jeana alerted me to this nifty website.  On it, you play a “game” by correctly identifying the definition of some really tricky words.  For each correct answer, 20 grains of rice are donated, distrubuted by the United Nations World Food Program.  The cost of the rice is covered by the advertising on the site.  Since its inception in October 2007, the site has donated over 19 billion grains.  I don’t know how many pounds that is, but it’s surely a lot.

I played for about 15 minutes and donated 1820 grains getting to vocabulary level 45.

Fun and worthwhile!

WOW!!! FANTASTIC!!! A major anti-evolution movie!!!

Notice the new banner on the right?

Have you ever seen any advertising banner EVER on my blog?

I have determined to keep this blog 100% non-commercial.

But… I just broke my own rule, after I learned about Ben Stein’s new movie, Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed.

I was *JUST* this morning talking with my two youngest sons about this issue:  How the current scientific community blackballs (though I didn’t use that term) scientists of any field who aren’t neo-Darwinists.  Lo and behold, Ben heard me talking and decided to make a movie about it, and about the rebellion against the “Don’t question the authority of Darwin” stance that is happening right now (thank God) in the schools of America. 

I am officially, completely excited.  Exhilarated.  I can’t wait for February.

PLEASE watch the “super-trailer” — it’s a good seven+ minutes, but it is SO very worthwhile.

(And if anyone wants me to help them make a banner on their WordPress blog, I’d be more than happy to.  E-mail me.)

Bring on the monsoons!!

Intellicast is on a browser window at our home now, nearly nonstop, since the monsoon season began.  We excitedly watch the cloudcover online and outside, willing the rain-heavy clouds to come our way.  It has rained here both yesterday and today.  That doesn’t seem all that much, probably, to most of you.  But we had a really dry winter and no rain, so far, this summer;  I think it had been more than four months since it had rained here. 

Calling Phoenix’s monsoons “monsoons” might seem laughable to folks, say, in India.  After all, we still only get a total of about 7.5″ per year of rain here.  It is still a desert.  However, we go from about 5-10% humidity to about 30-40%, and from cloudless, bright blue skies, to skies resplendent with puffy white clouds that lend themselves to brilliantly colored sunsets, and which dump three or four inches of rain over the course of 2-3 months.

The last few weeks have seen unrelenting heat… days on end with 110*+ heat.  I can’t tell you how joyful it makes me feel to look at our current weather and see it in the 80s.  Even a few sprinkles make me pleased, but the last couple of days, we’ve had actual rain, which really makes me giddy.  And, it’s not your namby-pamby wimpy drippy Midwest downpour.  No, these are storms with whipping winds, frequent lightning, and rolling, cracking thunder.  Then, it clears for a bit, leaving sparkling scenery with rain-scrubbed air and the pungent smell of creosote and ozone on the remaining breeze.  Ahh….

There’s also water running in the usually-dry creek and riverbeds, and nightly news reports of dorks who think their Hummers are more powerful than the roiling, muddy waters, and who have to get rescued while their Hummer gets transported downstream.  Arizona even has a Stupid Motorist Law that says that if you are one of the ones who drive around the barricades, or try to drive through a flooded street and have to get plucked from the roof of your vehicle by helicopter (or however the help comes), then you have to not only pay a fine, but foot the cost of the rescue.

I hate the heat of the Phoenix area, but I really love the storms.   

A new Sitemeter: Partly defense, partly curiosity

At the bottom of my RH column, you will see a new little widget, green and white, labelled “sitemeter.”  I’ve always been curious about who is visiting my blog, and where they’re from, and why they’re here.  But, it’s really wretched that some sickos that have found my blog to view pictures of my dear and innocent children, so I’ve taken steps to keep better tabs on my visitors.  That’s right, folks, I’m keeping track of you.  (You can visit the Sitemeter website and take a tour to see what I can see about all my visitors.  It’s a lot.  And, if I paid to upgrade, I could see a whole, whole, whole lot more.) 

It’s actually a little scary, how much can be found out about those who think they surf in anonynimity.  I feel better knowing that each visitor could be tracked down to a real-life location in relatively short order if that became necessary. To the best of my knowledge, though, this free service provided by Sitemeter is *not* putting cookies or spyware on your computer, nor is it tracking where  you go once you leave my blog.  But, you know, there are services available that will do such a thing.

I don’t want to discourage legitmate visitors:  friends, family members, people seeking gluten-free recipes, or info on their baby’s teeth coming in out of order, or where to take their kids on a drive or a hike.  However, I do want to do all I can to discourage those with seriously suspect intentions from visiting here, or at least re-visiting here, once they see that this website is hostile to their intentions.

There is anonymizer software out there for those who are really intent on covering their tracks.  But, for every software that comes out, “descrambler” software soon follows.  No one is really anonymous, at least for long.  For fun, you can try this website to see if a computer can easily track your IP address to your location.  (It usually places the user in the right city, but not to your actual physical address.)

I hope y’all understand.  Part of me really doesn’t want to spy, even though I’m curious.  But the larger part of me feels that, in order to keep blogging freely, I need to take steps to protect my family.

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