Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Monday, May 29, 2006

My first yard sale!

Today was my first yard sale. I proclaim it a success. It was fun. I'm exhausted. We made $80 - a little less if you count the money I spent on drinks and ice-cream bars to sell (we sold a half dozen ice cold drinks). I made a little more money than I expected, had a little less traffic/customers than I expected, and had A LOT more junk in the house than I imagined. I mean, I am proud of my decluttering abilities but it's amazing how fast it builds up. As for the number of customers, I not only posted the sale on, I also put big red signs up at the two major intersections near the house. I would have thought it would have brought hordes of people, but really only two dozen or so came. Maybe it was because of the holiday.

I would call it a success not only because we made some cash, but more importantly because I REALLY REALLY went through all the household stuff and purged the unnecessary. I found an overdue library book that I've been looking for the past year. There is a lot of stuff still sitting out there for free. I only brought in a few things. I added signs to the original ones that point to the yard sale that read "It's all free now!!" Whatever isn't taken can go to the garbage dump on Thursday (today is Monday). It feels good to dejunk the house. It also feels good to see things go to good homes. I sold everything at rock bottom prices... lot's of things for only a dime or a quarter.

One very interesting observation I made was about the racial makeup of the customers. The Spanish people bought lot's of stuff. They were great. The white people were generally pretty picky. The Asians and blacks were non-existant. There aren't a lot of black people in the neighborhood, but tons of Asians so I can't make any big conclusions for black people's yard sale habits.

It's hot, sticky; the house is a mess, I'm tired... but it was worth it. I've been so excited I couldn't sleep last night. And this morning we woke up excited because customers were already driving by. I'll do it again someday.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Taking responsibility for your own education

One of the key reasons that homeschooling is successful is that once the student embraces their status as a homeschooler they can take responsibility for their own education which has much better results then trying to force feed a student. I have taken five online college courses this past year as I work my way toward my RN degree. My Anatomy & Physiology teacher left this last message on the message board that I thought was interesting and an accurate abservation of what it takes to be successful in any school situation, homeschooling or not.

Fri, May 19, 2006 -- Final Grades

I now have posted final exam and semester grades.

Just wanted to tell you that I have enjoyed having you as students in my online class this semester. You all have worked diligently and done quite well. I have come to the conclusion that students in an online enviroment often make the better students because the responsibility for learning is on their shoulders, and the instructor serves primarily facilitator. Hopefully you feel that this course has given you the foundation needed to pursue your desired health career. I wish you all the best as you move ahead into new terrain! Have an enjoyable summer!

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Friday, May 19, 2006

The joys of owning a bunny

Bunny's make great pets! They are really low maintenance and are just adorable to have around the house. Here are my tips for bunny ownership:
1) If you live in the Boston area get your bunny from the House Rabbit Network ( which is a foster care system for Bunny's. They cost about $80, but always come spayed or neutered, which leads me to my next point.
2)Get your bunny spayed or neutered (or buy them that way). They will be calmer and less likely to pee in random places.
3)Set up their cage with a corner litter box (found at any pet store), a sheet of newspaper on the bottem and Timothy hay over it. (Timothy hay is pretty cheap, also found in petstores). Most rabbits will litter box train pretty easily. Once this happens you'll find they're quite easy to care for. Every other day I just dump out the litter box, wipe it with a paper towel and replace the newspaper/hay. On the in between days I might throw a handful of Timothy hay over the old stuff.
4)Leave them bunny food and water. Offer them Timothy hay every day (already done, it's in their litter box) and lettuce every day. Sometimes I'll go pick a dandelion for him, Rabbits love dandelions.
5) I let my bunny roam the house. He loves it and has never once gone to the bathroom outside his litter box (though my last bunny did).

The more time goes by, the more comfortable I can see Jellybean getting. It's really adorable. He will stretch out across the floor as we are walking about the house, he's not worried about getting stepped on. He gets along with my cats. When he wants privacy he hides under the couch or behind it. His soft fur and warm body is therapuetic. I like to craddle him like a baby, it gets out my maternal instinct.

So if you're considering getting a pet, a rabbit may be just the thing!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Most grateful for breastfeeding

It's times like this that I am most grateful for breastfeeding. When my (almost) two year old is very sick and constantly throwing up and has diarrhea and every drop of liquid in him counts. He doesn't care about drinking, he just wants the comfort of his mother's bosom and the calming of his stomach that breastfeeding provides. Dehydration in babies is very serious. Their body mass is a higher percentage of water. Their fluid intake and output is about seven times higher in infants than in adults. The slightest changes in fluid balance can result in severe electrolyte and acid-base imbalances. So I'm grateful that I can safeguard against this a little bit. And breastmilk is ideally balanced for their body, even when sick and dehydrated.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Stressed out

Talk about stressed out. I have finals this week. And reports due. And financially things are rough here. And also, I had a thought yesterday that if my husband were ever deported the best job security for me in Cambodia would be regional manager at UPS. So that got me rethinking my career plans at UPS. I was thinking maybe I should stick around and work my way up - just for the future job security (plus the ability to help Cambodia bring their commerce to the next level). A full time job in the corporate world for the rest of my life goes against everything I believe in, in regards to being there for your kids and having your priorities straight. But if I have to, maybe I have to. So that was heavy on my mind when I went to this training class I am in at UPS. The conversation got around to the career opportunities there. Everyone was enthusiastically discussing how much money you can make if you work there your whole life and how you can retire and how you can move up in the company... bla bla bla. But all I could think about is that I'm trapped. I've sold out. I'm doing what I never ever ever wanted to do. And the tears started welling up and next thing I know, I'm sobbing right there in this training class. Freaked everyone out a little bit. They got me tissues and everyone stared at me and asked "Are you all right" and I said between sobs "I don't want to work here the rest of my life" which was kind of funny and everyone laughed and I sucked it up and stopped crying. But later I went to my boss to tell him what happened before he heard it from someone else. He's a really understanding man. He is very supportive.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My Intelligent Design Rebuttal

I have gotten some good debate in the comment section of my last Intelligent Design Post. Here is my most recent rebuttal.

Intelligent Design is a lot more than just "proving" that the world was created. It is also about learning all the intricacies of the world around us. Since I believe in ID I know that I am not surrounded by "accidents of nature" so I am going to look carefully for the patterns that I'm sure are there. For instance, in homeschool I might have the children count the petals on flowers, spirals on pinecones and seeds on a sunflower. With a little coaching my children will observe that these come in fibonacci numbers. They can observe that snowflakes never repeat a design. They can look for symmetry like rain drops in a pond; and bilateral symmetry like orchids. After making observations and given the hypothesis that everything was designed with purpose in mind this can lead to some fascinating questions and experiments. For instance, why ISN'T the intestines symmetrical or the heart symmetrical? My kids could explore this issue and find out that the intestines forfeit bilateral symmetry to gain length to do it's job. The right side of the heart pumps blood around the lungs. The left side of the heart pumps blood around the entire body so the left side needs to be bigger.

So you see, this really isn't bible class I'm teaching here. This is science class. And even if you disagree with Intelligent Design you would probably teach an identical science class yourself because these observations and hypothoses are pure science.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Intelligent Design Experiments

Ben asked me to name an Intelligent Design theory that could be tested. Here are two good ones. The first one "test" evolution. The second one "tests" intelligent design. Both of these are from [].

The Punctuated Equilibrium Theory Test

This test is essentially an experimental test of the supposed biological mechanism which drive the rapid speciation predicted by the theory of punctuated equilibrium. The theory of punctuated equilibrium basically states that given the right selection pressures and population sizes, species can evolve extremeley rapidly. By saying the evolution was too rapid to form fossils, this theory attempts to explain away why there are not the predicted fossil intermediates of evolutionary theory. However, according to the fossil record, this change is often so rapid that it ought to be quite visible within, say, 1000 or even fewer generations!!! Given that punctuated equilibrium states that the changes occur most rapidly in small populations in environments with very strong selection pressures, this evolution ought to be possible to observe under the properly controlled conditions.

Put a bunch of small populations of say, rhodents, or small animals with high reproduction rates into small enclosed controlled environments with strong selection pressures, and see what you get! If there really is a biological mechanism which allows for the rapid speciation called for by the "punc eq" model, then eventually you ought to see your guinea pigs adapt to their strange new environment and perhaps actually form a new species!

Of course it is realized that this experiment might need to be done a thousand times before it could really be said, "punc eq" is, biologically speaking, a garbage theory. However, punc eq enthusiasts boast of how adaptable life really is and how quickly it will change given the proper conditions. Just open up a few niches and change the environment, and whalla, you're supposed to get about 30 new orders of mammals with a relatively short evolutionary time period! Something at least beginning to approach such changes should be observable givne the right conditions.

We've done a little bit of thinking over here to come up with some possible "weird" environments to choose from. Perhaps a computer could randomly select the variables to allow for large and random selection pressures. Here go a few:
1. Random electrical storms/electrical charges.
2. Extremely strong magnetic fields, perhaps fluctuating
3. Slightly, or dramatically changed oxygen content of air, or air-gas content in general
4. Bubbling Milk Pots.
5. Constant but controlled high winds with a food source at the top.
6. Random and constantly falling objects
7. Bumpy, shifting, moving terrain, such that animals might be flung into the air if at the wrong place at the wrong time.
8. Strange obstacle course type setups with food sources inside.
9. Non-biological but potential food sources.
10. Random defeaning noises.
11. Predators or prey completely foreign in the organisms natural environment (for example crawdads).

Testing Irreducibility Complex Systems
Let us say that a primitive organism uses a hemoglobin-like molecule to dispose of unwanted oxygen. We observe that there are other organisms which use oxygen for respiration. We understand that their usage of oxygen involves a base number of different interacting enzymes and organ parts, not present in the organism which doesn't use oxygen. Thus, for an organism to use oxygen for respiration, we can see some pre-specified level of a target complexity necessary over the complexity found in organisms which don't use oxygen for respiration. Through "reverse engineering" of biological systems, we can come up with a target complexity retroactively. Irreducibly complex systems are useful in detecting design because they clearly show that some target level of specified complexity was necessary for some base level of functionality to be present. Looking at the steps necessary in the hypothetical construction of irreducibly complex systems may reveal many places where specifications must have existed in the past, and thus complex specified information exists in the present.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Things you might not know about AIDS

Here are three things that you might not know about AIDS:

Breastmilk is best for the babies of HIV+ mothers. It's a highly controversial subject, given the fact that 8% of those babies will aquire HIV. But the alternative, apparantly, is even worse. 13% of babies in this study, given only formula, became infected. 20% of babies given both formula and breastmilk became HIV+. This is beleived to be because the formula weakens the baby's intestinal walls which allows the virus in the breastmilk to take hold. Also in the breastmilk are some antibodies to the virus which can be passed on through breastmilk. There are conflicting reports about this. If I were HIV positive would I breastfeed? I don't know. Probably not. I wouldn't want to risk it. In third world countries where children suffer from diarheal diseases and formula is hard to come by, breast milk is hands down the best thing for the baby. Even the World Health Organization admits this. Here's a link to the study I was quoting.

The riskiest behaivior for transmission of AIDS is contaminated needles and anal sex. Vaginal sex does not transmit HIV very easily, despite everything you've heard. There are two ways in which Africa's epidemic has taken hold. The first is vaginal sex with a woman who's vagina is damaged due to Female Genital Mutilation. The second is anal sex which is a common birth control method in Africa.

African statistics are slightly exadurated. I do not want to downplay the African crisis. Or the world-wide AIDS crisis for that matter. It is very serious and needs attention. However, I'm talking just the facts here and the facts are that HIV tests are not even done in Africa to diagnose AIDS.

"To have AIDS, according to the Bengui Definition, the patient must have two of these three symptoms: "prolonged fevers for a month or more, weight loss over 10 percent, or prolonged diarrhea," combined with any one of several minor symptoms -- chronically swollen lymph nodes, persistent cough for more than a month, persistent herpes, itching skin inflammation or several others.
For example, tuberculosis deaths have now been reclassified as AIDS deaths in many African statistical reports. It's the same disease, but now it qualifies for help."

So there you have it, Deena exploding the myths about AIDS, but also hoping that you care about the crisis, because we can't do nothing when our brothers and sisters in Christ are dying. I, once again, direct you to a favorite charity of mine:


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