Friday, July 31, 2009

Developing a Bedtime Routine

For the past few weeks, we have started a bedtime routine with Ben. We change him into a bedtime diaper and pajamas, I nurse him, and then we take turns reading him stories while sitting in my grandmother's rocking chair. Since we have started this, he has been sleeping in his crib from about 9:30 until about 7:00 in the morning! From what I've read, consistency is key. I don't want to jinx myself, but wow, this has made our lives so much easier.

He still doesn't sleep much during the day. He will take a few cat naps here and there, but he doesn't seem to be cranky or anything. I think by the time he's crawling around and moving around more, then he'll need a solid nap or two during the day, though.

We are working on building Ben's library all of the time, and here are some of our favorites from his shelf: anything Dr. Seuss (especially The Lorax), Bill Martin and Eric Carle (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Hungry Caterpillar and several more), Dooby Dooby Moo and more from that set, Miss Spider books, Are You My Mother, and several cloth, bathtub, and touch and feel books. He also has a beautiful hardback copy of Mother Goose nursery rhymes that was given to us by my students last spring.

And for later we have Everyone Poops by Teri Gomi, Where The Wild Things Are, Aesop's Fables, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Babushka Baba Yaga, Chicken Sunday, and several hundred from my classroom when he's even older.

Some on my "to buy" list are Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Gorilla, Barnyard Banter, Big Red Barn, Ten Little Ladybugs, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Pat the Bunny, Belly Button Book, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, David books, anything about farms, and some books with baby faces. There are so many more that it's overwhelming. I found a few lists of great baby and toddler books here, here and here. I want to continue to build our library of books that teach a lesson, as I've been asked to start reading the children's story on a few Sunday's this fall. I'm always open to suggestions for new books.

"In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent – for a mother or father who will turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father, when I say that responsibility for our children’s education must begin at home. That is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That’s an American issue." Speech by President Barack Obama to the Joint Session of Congress, Feb. 24, 2009.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Political Response

Earlier this month I posted about my disappointment in statements from Cynthia Davis and her intentions to cut funding from the free and reduced summer lunch program. In an effort to support the current summer lunch program, I wrote several politicians and since then I have received some responses.

In my email to Cynthia Davis I shared some anecdotes from teaching in Springfield and expressed my feelings of the importance of the program. Little is accomplished when politicians receive hateful letters. (It might make you feel better, but it's not going to change any minds.) Cynthia Davis responded in a three sentence email stating that she appreciated my civil tone, my interest, and my perspective on this issue. She closed by stating, "We all need to continue seeking solutions that make a difference."

My local representative is Ray Weter. His son and I were friends growing up and he responded with some updates on his family and assured me that he would keep a close eye on the program to be sure that it would not be cut, but he did indicate that funding may need to be reduced some due to budget cuts.

A little back story to my political interest - My major in college was political science / pre-law. I worked as an intern for Bekki Cook when she served as Missouri's Secretary of State. I've seen every president but one who has served since I have been born. My husband is a campaign manager and has worked in politics since graduating from college. Because of all of those reasons, I strongly believe that individuals can make a difference in politics when we feel passionately about something.

In related conversations, Congressman Roy Blunt (or one of his interns, most likely) responded to an email I wrote him regarding the Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009. The email said he "would keep my thoughts in mind," Hmmm...

On June 11, 2009, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney introduced H.R. 2819. This legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding by new mothers; to provide for a performance standard for breast pumps; and to provide tax incentives to encourage breastfeeding. Currently, this measure is being considered by the House Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and Education and Labor.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Curtains for Ben's Room

We are still struggling with getting Ben to take naps during the day, so I decided to make curtains for his room. I scavenged around our basement and found the box with our wedding table cloths (they were just serged blue and white striped heavy fabric). They were very easy to make, and I even had enough to sew lining on the backs. Here are the great directions I used. I followed them pretty closely, but changed the top because I couldn't figure out her directions on that part. I just folded over the top, sewed a line at the fold and another four inches below to make the tube where the curtain rod goes. Total cost - $0. We'll just have to wait and see if this helps our napping situation any.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Food Inc.

I'm not a huge movie buff, but I love a good documentary, and last night Josh and I went to the Moxie and saw Food Inc. This movie features three of my favorite authors, Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, and Joel Salatin, speaking about the problems of our current food supply. Here are some fascinating tidbits I took away from the film: Almost all of our food supply comes from five major corporations and almost all of our food supply contains corn and / or soy. Diversity and choice are hard to find in a local grocery store, even though it appears otherwise. The film refers to this as "the veil" between the public and where our food actually comes from.

The argument that "I ate fast food as a kid and have continued over the past 27 years and I'm fine," no longer applies. Food has changed so much in that amount of time. Factory produced food is less safe than it was 30 years ago because the FDA has become so intertwined with the mass food production industry that there are far fewer safety inspections. Modern methods of meat processing allow for massive amounts of bacteria to enter our food. Consider how many food contamination recalls we see each year.

The most heart wrenching part of the movie involved a mother discussing the death of her two year old son after eating a fast food hamburger that contained e-coli bacteria. After seeing that, it will be so hard for me to give Ben a fast food hamburger, most of which contain beef from at least a thousand cows.

So what are we to do? The film suggests shopping locally, visiting farmers markets, growing your own garden, and shopping wisely. In buying food, we are voting for what the companies will create more of. If we buy food that does not contain hormones, or if we buy organically produced items, then stores will begin carrying more of those items. As the film stated, "We vote three times a day." The website, Eat Well Everywhere, asks you to enter your zip code and they will list sustainable and healthy sources of food where you live.

We are still working on making better food choices. The Ozark farmer's market on the square has been a great resource for fresh, local food. We are also considering buying hogs and calves next year in order to produce our own meat, in addition to the chickens. Josh has even more ambitious plans for our garden next year, and this film strengthened our goals of sustainable farming even more.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

eBay 101

Throughout the summer I've been having an online yard sale through eBay. I know a lot of people consider selling stuff on eBay to be a real pain, but it's not that bad if you do everything in steps. Here's what I did.

1. Gather everything you want to sell and put in one place. I used the guest room bed.

2. Take a couple of pictures of each item. If there is a front and a back, then be sure to take pictures of both. Lay clothes flat on the floor and stand above them (I stood on a chair for some, to try to get a realistic picture of the shape of the clothes.)

3. Load all of the pictures onto your computer and crop (using Microsoft Office Picture Manager or any other photo editing program). Crop photos to eliminate anything other than the actual object you are selling.

4. Weigh everything you are listing inside of a box or whatever packaging you are going to use. Mark the weight somewhere on the package so you don't have to weigh again when it's time to ship. When you list an item, you will need to know the weight in order to determine shipping. We use a kitchen scale. For heavier items, you can stand on the bathroom scale with and without the box and subtract the difference.

5. Download Turbo Lister, free software through eBay. With this software you can type all of your listing descriptions and go back and edit later, and then when you are finished you can load them all in eBay at the same time.

6. Type out all of your listings. Include measurements in addition to sizes for all clothing. Measure and describe as accurately as you can. If it's a popular product then go to the manufacturer's website and read what they say about their product. You can quote the company if you give credit to them on the page, or you can use their pitch as inspiration for your own.

7. Set all of your auctions to last 7 days (the longest you can wait without having to pay extra) and load them all on eBay.

8. I also start almost all of the listing prices at $0.99 because you pay the smallest listing fee and people are more interested in listings that start low.

9. At the end of the week, eBay will send you an email for each item listed and whether or not it sold. On this email will be a button that says "send invoice." Click this to let the buyer know how much to pay.

10. Package everything, address and mail. If you have a scale and know the exact weight of your items, then you can print your own shipping labels through Paypal. If you catch your postman then you can save yourself a trip to the post office. Otherwise, take everything to the post office to ship, but not until after you have received payment.

That's pretty much it. I've made several hundred extra dollars this summer which has made a bit of a dent in the mountain of medical bills we have received for Ben's surgery. I've sold mostly clothes, shoes, purses and books. I sifted through our house and also received some "donations" from family members. Some things just haven't sold this summer after listing a couple of times, so they went to Goodwill yesterday. It is rewarding to see my cleaned out closet and our slightly less full bookshelf.


I made Ben another set of pajamas that match his newest diaper. Again, Josh picked out the fabric. Ben is refusing to lie on his back these days. He flipped over sooner than I could get the camera.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wow, That's a Lot of Chickens!

Our chicken population has exploded. After realizing we only had a few hens left and they are still a ways from laying, we decided to push forward and buy some laying hens. After perusing Craigslist (the absolute best place to buy farm stuff if you can get past the poor spelling and all capital letters), we found an intriguing ad in Cabool. The gentleman had several different types for sale, and said to make an offer. So, for $130 we now have 10 laying hens, 3 more roosters, 13 more hens that aren't laying yet, and 9 younger mixed-breed chickens. This was a little more than what we had asked for, but they needed to get rid of everything, so now we've got quite the flock!

I love the diversity of our chickens.
Here's the breeds we have (in addition to a few unknown crosses): Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, New Hampshire Delaware, Leghorns, Production Reds, Bantys, White Californias, Black Rocks, Cinnamon Queens, Buff Orpingtons, Black Austrolorpes, Peking duck, and an Indian Runner duck. We've got about 45 birds all together and so far everyone is getting along. We still have way too many roosters and will begin culling within the next month.

Before acquiring the massive flock, we added another set of nesting boxes inside the coop and installed hot wire around the top of the chain link that surrounds the chicken run. After the last major predation, we have been much more diligent about putting all of the chickens and ducks in the coop each night. Before the ducks would stay out and several of the chickens would roost in the trees. Now everyone goes in, no matter how big of a pain it is.

Adding to the flock is an interesting transition. There are tons of suggestions of how to do it on Backyard Chickens, but we put all of the new ones in the coop and closed them in at first. At dark, once they were all calmed down we put everyone in the coop together for the night. There will naturally be some pecking order squabbles, but because they are all similar enough in size, that should all work itself out in the next couple
of days. So far, so good.

I wish we could have got some Americaunas (Easter eggers) in the mix, but I think we've got plenty to keep ourselves busy. The big roosters are beautiful, if not a little intimidating! We've already gathered our first six eggs today!

Ben is thrilled to be sitting up these days. He still needs a lot of help and can't stay up very long.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sewing Cloth Diapers

I would love to photograph and explain how to make cloth diapers, but I have yet to master the skill myself. It is hard! I have printed online patterns, made patterns based on this explanation, traced around diapers I liked and tried to make patterns off of those, but I've yet to make a diaper I'm very satisfied with.

The first one I made, I used fleece inside and out, and left a pocket for a microfiber insert. The diaper really doesn't leak as long as he's not wearing any other clothes (due to wicking). However, the rise is too low in the back so he's got a plumber's crack a lot of the time, which could prove to be a problem.

The next one I made is also fleece lined and has a pocket with another layer of fleece, then a layer of cotton on top. The cotton ends up wicking a lot of the moisture, so even with an insert this diaper needs a cover. It is way too big and bulky right now, (I pulled all of the bulk to the front so this picture would look cuter), but it will fit better down the road.

The most recent diaper I've tried uses actual PUL. PUL is the waterproof polyester laminate that most cloth diapers use. It has a fleece lining, a layer of PUL in the middle, and flannel on the outside. I also left a pocket for an insert in this one. The PUL was very thin and see-through and only worked well as an in-between layer.

Making cloth diapers is tough. I've had a very hard time managing the elastic, sewing through velcro. The sticky kind ruins needles and everything else, and I can't find the sew-on kind big enough. I finally found PUL in Springfield, at Handcock Fabric on Glenstone. They also honor Joann's coupons, so I had a 50% off one item coupon I used to get 1 yard of PUL at $5.50. The best deal on elastic I've found is at the FM Store - 9 cents per yard. I still don't have a pattern I really like. It seems like the serger always messes up around the tabs and they never look the same, even if I am really careful about cutting both sides the same. Considering all of the time it takes (me, at least), and the cost of materials, I'm not entirely sure if it's worthwhile. I do think it would be fun to make at least one diaper that fits Ben and looks cute too.

My friend Jenn posted her directions here. Printable diaper patterns can be found here.
All I can say is, good luck.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Parents As Teachers

Parents as Teachers is a free parent education program to help families understand their child's development from birth through age five. In Missouri, Parents as Teachers is funded through the public school system and is available to all families. In other states the program may be restricted to high need or low-income families, depending on funding.

From the PAT website: "The concept for Parents as Teachers was developed in the 1970s when Missouri educators noted that children were beginning kindergarten with varying levels of learning readiness. Research showed that greater family involvement in children's learning is a critical link in the child's development of academic skills, including reading and writing... Since 1985, Parents as Teachers has expanded to all 50 states and to other countries."

PAT provides each familiy with a parent educator that will visit the home several times throughout the year and conduct development screenings for your child. PAT also sponsors parent group meetings, formal screenings and resources based on the needs of your child.

We had our first visit this week and our parent educator screened Ben's hearing and went through a developmental checklist for his age. We had been added to a high needs list due to Ben's surgery and the posibility for related delays. So far, Ben's hearing and development all fell in the normal range and she has no concerns. (We kind of figured that, but it's nice to hear it from an unbiased third party.)

I've heard mixed opinions about Parents as Teachers, but after seeing the varying degree of readiness among kindergarteners in public schools, I only wish more families would participate. Click here to find your local Parents as Teachers.

I sewed this blanket for Ben. It wasn't a huge project, I just did the edges, but it turned out pretty cute. Mom bought all of the stuff for me. I'm not sure if I'll be able to let go of the serger she lent me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Poultry Predators

We have been nearly wiped out of our poultry! Over the past few weeks we have lost over half our flock due to predators on the nearby woods. We have witnessed an opossum killing two chickens, the power outage during early storms killed several as chicks (because the heat lamp went out). We have also seen a fox and some stray cats around.

On the first of May we had 44 chicks and now we're down to 14! We've also lost 3 ducks. Josh went out this morning and found a dead duck with its head pulled through the chain link. Gross.

With each missing bird we've tried to make the chicken coop and run a little more secure. We are considering putting hotwire around the top, but that wouldn't stop everything. I'm not sure what our plan is just yet.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Critical Thinking and Motherhood

I will start by making it clear that I am an avid supporter of science and of the medical community. I am also a skeptic, particularly of some forms of alternative medicine, but other things too. I have several related topics rumbling around waiting for a blog post when I work up enough courage and energy, but today I want to discuss mothering.

I've placed several links in throughout this post of skeptic websites explaining why so many parenting trends are based on questionable research, even some of which I practice. Like all things, there is a continuum and I fall somewhere in the middle. I believe the best way to parent is to be a critical thinker and look at research from both sides of any issue prior to passing judgment.

In this odd social bubble (of which I am admittedly a part), it seems that there is an unspoken competition of mothering amongst mid to upper class white women. All kinds of labels and actions come to mind -
home birthing, natural birthing,
cloth diapering,
natural family living, attachment parenting, Dr. Sears,
organic only,
baby wearing,
alternative or no vaccinations,
home schooling,
no high fructose corn syrup, unpasturized, vegetarian / vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, dye-free,
no video games, no tv,
holistic and alternative medicine,
allergy fears,
no pacifiers or bottles,
everything BPA free,
chemical free,
and so on...

It's like some crazy checklist that no one could realistically or easily follow. So, so much of this is rooted in fear, guilt, competition, and biased or incomplete research. At the same time, I "practice" or buy into some of it myself.

Remember - we're thrifty - very much so. And for that, we love cloth diapering. I love carrying Ben around in my baby carrier. I'm a passionate about breastfeeding obviously and I try to respond to Ben's natural cues for when he wants to eat, sleep and so on. I also agree our children are far too commercialized, but I'm not entirely sure what we can do about it.

I am so terribly skeptical of so much, however. We are living in such a time of fear and worry. Ben has his precious pacifier, plenty of plastic toys, a swing, a stroller, we will watch TV and movies as a family, I'm sure he'll play video games, he's receiving all of his vaccines, and we probably have several hundred chemicals around our house. We do not take vitamins or supplements, or eat organic necessarily. We eat meat, pasteurized dairy, and even fast food.

And don't even get me started on birthing choices - that's a whole other post about which I have a lot of mixed feelings.

I have taken several courses at the undergraduate and graduate level on statistics and I understand how easily data can be manipulated to invoke fear or passion. The bottom line is that Josh and I honestly believe we know what's best for Ben (and not anyone else's kid). We are not too worried about it. And how freeing is that?

Here's Ben in his "baby cage," as I've heard it called.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Drying Herbs

I am fascinated in methods of preserving our harvest, and my newest attempt is drying. I am drying wildflowers (as they are hanging all around our house), and I was recently given a dehydrator. My first dehydrating project is basil and parsley.

To harvest basil, cut no more than 1/3 of the plant at any one time, and cut from the top to encourage a bushier plant or from the sides to encourage a taller, more narrow plant. I harvested a small bowl's worth, washed the leaves and separated them from their stems. I then placed them on a few racks of the dehydrator (with no overlapping leaves) and plugged it in. I left the basil in for about 12 hours. I left the leaves whole to preserve as much of the flavor as I could. When it's time to cook I (or Josh) will use the mortar and pestle and grind up the leaves to release the oils and make the basil easier to cook with. After all of that work, it didn't make very much. I'm hoping to harvest about once a week in order to have enough basil to last through most of the winter.

To harvest parsley, cut the stems about one inch above the ground. The best time to harvest is when the plant is about to flower. Mine aren't close to that point, but they are very overcrowded and needed to be thinned, so I figured I'd try it now and see how it worked. I clipped here and there and had quite a bit more than I had of the basil. I dehydrated this separately in order to not mix flavors. After the parsley dried, I held the stem in one hand and ran my fingers across with the other to separate the small leaves from the stems. I should have no time filling this jar in the next few weeks.

After dehydrating herbs, be sure to check the jars periodically for moisture. If any condensation forms inside the jar, take everything out and put back in the dehydrator for another 6+ hours and dry out the jar to prevent mold or mildew.

Seeing the apothecary at the Bakersville was so neat. I can't wait until I also have rows of dried herbs and spices to use all year.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cloth Wipes

We have started using cloth wipes and making our own wipes solution. There are several wipes solution recipes here. We are using 2 cups of water (boiled in the teapot first to prevent mold), 2 tbs baby wash, 2 tbs baby lotion, and 1 tbs olive oil.

With cloth diapering, it was less convenient to have one part to throw away and one to wash. It will be easier to put everything in the same diaper pail and toss it in the laundry.

I bought two washable diaper pail liners and I use a smaller kitchen trashcan as the diaper pail. For now, we have 3 diaper changing areas - one in the living room, one in our room and one in Ben's room. It's really not as much of a hassle as it sounds

I've seen all kinds of ways of making cloth wipes and I used old towels, t-shirts, and some fabric remnants to make different kinds. Mine are terry/t-shirt, terry/flannel, t-shirt/flannel, and flannel/flannel. I don't really know which kind I like best just yet, but all of them work so much better than disposable wipes at cleaning up messes.

I've saved a couple of the plastic boxes from disposable wipes and I can fit about 12 cloth wipes in there, then I mix the solution and pour it over the top. I have noticed that the wipes are cold, but not anymore than the disposable ones were.

They wash really well and it's hard for me to imagine buying more disposible wipes again. I wouldn't have even considered cloth diapers or wipes had I not met other people doing the same. It's amazing how our mindset is focused on purchasing disposable everything. I wonder how many other disposable things I could replace if I really put my mind to it...


We attended Grandma Elsie's funeral today. The service was nice and you could tell that my grandmother was very loved. After the family lunch at the church, we had a rough trip home. Ben was not interested in sitting in the car for another several hours and we had to stop several times. We were all exhausted by the time we made it home.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Drying Flowers

I love summer and lately I have taken the time to walk the trail through the woods and the field almost every day. Today I made it out for quite the hike and collected wildflowers from the overgrown field. We have them hanging all around our house, across the mantle, and on a string above the dining room and kitchen. It definitely gives our house a different feel.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with all of them. I'd like to try to make some wreaths depending on how they look when dried. I am also pressing some of the flowers beneath several stacks of books across the mantle.

As far as how to dry flowers, there isn't much to it.
:: Hang with rubber bands instead of string, so they stay hung once the stems start dring and shrinking.
:: Don't hang more than 6 or so stems together, so there is plenty of room for air to circulate.
:: Space the hanging bunches so that none are touching (again, for air circulation).
:: Wait.

For pressing,
:: Leave at least an inch around each flower.
:: Press with newspaper or paper towels on both sides of the flowers (at least 4 layers of newspaper)
:: Stack books on top.
:: Wait.

I'm not sure how long it will take. Everything I read said something different and I'm sure it has to do with the humidity. I'd guess in a few weeks I'll have some pretty dry flowers around.


In family news, my wonderful great-grandmother passed away. She was an amazing woman and I wrote about her here. I am so glad we were able to take Ben to see grandma for her 90th birthday party. She was an amazing woman.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

First Year Gardening Lessons

I have a lot of good excuses about why our garden hasn't taken off quite like I had expected. Ben was born during the time that would have been ideal to start our seeds, so they were started late. We had way too much rain in April and May and were so late to plant. June was so dry and we didn't keep up with watering as well as we should have...

And so, I have given up on the squares in the garden that are still empty and I looked into seed starting and late season / fall gardens. Some of our squares took off and we've already harvested basil, lettuce, parsley and snow peas. We also have little green tomatoes that are teasing us into expecting a great tomato harvest.

In the empty squares I started seeds again, and I'm experimenting with what will take the heat and sprout.

Although I didn't keep exact dates and every detail, I've tried to keep some gardening records to help us plan better for next year. Earlier today we visited the monthly Heratige Festival in Bakersville, Missouri to do some vegetable and seed shopping. There weren't many vegetables, but there were thousands and thousands of seeds. We left empty-handed but had lots of ideas and inspiration for the coming year. We preordered our seed catalogue and started picking out some unusual seeds to plant next spring.

Here are the notes I have taken so far. There are some seeds that we purchased that we haven't planted yet and may not this year. Other plants were started so late that they may not produce. It will be interesting to see what this chart looks like in October. I am very excited to see what we are able to produce this first year. (Click on the chart to see an enlarged version.)

Because we used recycled fencing to build our beds and started most things from seeds, we have spent less than $100 total on our gardening project. We did buy several tomato cages, but with the most recently planted bed, Josh cut a cattle panel and staked it in the middle to support the tomato plants. We may need to add another for more support, but we'll see.

I also harvested plenty of basil, parsley, snow peas, (and from the woods) black current, black raspberries, and blackberries earlier today. I'll add those to July's column on the chart and post the updates to the gardening notes at the beginning of each month.

Ben's incision is looking much better now that we've been using the prescription cream three times a day. He's also becoming increasingly mobile, rolling across the living room floor.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Terribly Misguided Representative Cynthia Davis

Cynthia Davis is the 49 year old Republican state representative from St. Charles County, Missouri. In recent statements regarding the children's nutrition program that provides food during the summer for thousands of low-income Missouri children who rely on the school cafeteria for free or reduced-price meals during the regular school year, Cynthia opposed program stating, "Hunger can be a powerful motivator."

Seriously? A powerful motivator? For my first four years of teaching I taught at a school in one of the lowest socio-economic areas of southwest Missouri. Many of these were hungry children. Not kids who missed a snack or skipped breakfast, but really, really hungry kids. I had a child come to me in tears the day before Christmas break because the school wouldn't be open for lunch over the two week vacation. This school is a part of the summer nutrition program and children and it is very important for this community. When I taught summer school kids were lined up down the hallways for their free lunches.

If this program were cut, hunger would not be motivating to any of these children. It is not their fault they were born into poverty. They are not able to work or to pay for their own meals, although several of them might steal from the local convenience store between meals. Hunger is not a positive motivator. Hunger is not motivating these children to do more with their lives. Hungry children cannot see past the next day. They are worried about where their dinner will come from or how many hours it would be until they come back to school for another warm meal.

To avoid taking her words out of context, here is more of her statement. Complete, it is even more vile.

"Who’s buying dinner? Who is getting paid to serve the meal? Churches and other non-profits can do this at no cost to the taxpayer if it is warranted. [...] Bigger governmental programs take away our connectedness to the human family, our brotherhood and our need for one another. [...] Anyone under 18 can be eligible? Can’t they get a job during the summer by the time they are 16? Hunger can be a positive motivator. What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals? Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break. [...] It really is all about increasing government spending, which means an increase in taxes for us to buy more free lunches and breakfasts."

One in five children in Missouri are currently living with hunger. When I look at Ben, I can't imagine him worrying about not having enough food. It absolutely breaks my heart to think that 20% of Missouri's children are worried about that. I think that providing these children with lunch an extra three months out of the year is the very least we can do. Truly, the very least.

From the KC Star:

Taking apart Davis’ other arguments, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial noted that most of the summer feeding program sites are actually hosted by churches and that the program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fed 3.7 million meals at a total cost of less than $9.5 million last summer — “a pretty good use of federal money.”

Keith Olberman twice dubbed her the "Worst Person in the World" this week, first for her original statement, and again for her rebuttal, which was just as insulting. Stephen Colbert also featured her on his "Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger" segment this week. How embarrassing for our state.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag - Cynthia Davis & Fox News
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

To top it all off, she is the chairman for the Missouri House Special Standing Committee on Children and Families. Democrat House Minority Leader Paul LeVota has asked the Republican House Speaker Ron Richard to remove Davis from this position. I am writing Ron Richard a letter to do the same in addition to a letter to Paul LeVota in support of this action.

After some consideration, I also contacted Cynthia Davis. I am not interested in wasting my time writing angry letters to people I disagree with. Instead, I expressed a compassionate view of my experience working with impoverished children and urged her to reconsider the program in a different light and not push for the summer nutrition program to be cut.

I will be sure to update everyone if I hear back from any of these three representatives.

Please join me in writing Speaker Ron Richard and your own representative to express your thoughts supporting the summer nutrition program for children and encouraging the house to remove Cynthia Davis from her chairman position. It truly is the very least we can do to help Missouri's children.

*Other side notes:
:: McDonald's does not provide free meals for their employees.

:: Davis has reached her term limit and her husband will be running in her seat in the 2010 election against Matt Simmons. I know she is from an affluent community and I hope they see the error in her statements and do not elect her husband for more of the same.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July Updates

We received the call from the doctor this afternoon and Ben STILL has staph infection. We are to continue using the antibacterial topical ointment and take a week off of the oral antibiotics unless his incision gets red or puffy again. All of the stitches came out today and it does look a lot better. Hopefully this will all be over soon.

At the farm, we have been working on the yard all week. We also planted another bed with 25 cent tomato, eggplant and cucumber plants from Wheeler's gardens. They are looking pretty puny but will hopefully take off in the next few days. We are even seeing a few green tomatoes here and there! We have harvested lettuce a couple more times, but I think it's too hot and those plants are done. We have also harvested a bowl of snow peas which went very well with this Thai chicken recipe.

The chickens are getting bigger and bigger and I can't wait until we get some eggs! Our dog Sawyer managed to kill one and we still aren't sure why the chicken wandered into the fenced backyard. Josh chalks it up to survival of the fittest. It's tough to count the chickens, but we have close to 32 chickens and 4 ducks. We still aren't sure on the rooster to hen ratio just yet. We're going to start culling the extra roos (or at least discussions of) next week.

I am still working on making more dryer balls (possibly stocking stuffers this Christmas) and sewing diapers and covers. The rag rug fell apart after a couple of rounds in the laundry. I'm working on remaking it but I haven't got very far.

Now that Ben has completed the first hurdle of the healing process, he is experiencing a growth spurt that has led me to fill two boxes of clothes he has grown out of. I love the Cardinal's hat and but the sunglasses didn't last very long.