Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hopeful Inspiring Education Salmon

NPR asked listeners to describe Obama's State of the Union speech in three words.  Then they made word clouds out of these 4,000 responses.

What I found most interesting, when they divided the word clouds into self described independents, Republicans and Democrats, the top words that came up bigger than the rest were HOPEFUL, INSPIRING, and EDUCATION.  Nothing else was as big as these on all three word clouds.

(Well, except SALMON, which, apparently was a funny reference to how salmon are regulated and one of the funniest parts of the night.)

To me, that says people are all touched by the same thing, and that if we come together on anything, we should start with education.  Let's roll our sleeves up, put our money where our mouth is and get to work.

Unfortunately for me, I forgot about the speech, as I was watching Eloise at the Plaza with my children and we had a good time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The King's Speech and other asundries RTT


I haven't seen the King's Speech yet and I really want to go now that I see it has been nominated for 12 Oscars.  Plus, I just adore Colin Firth.  I would see a movie with him in it any time.

I did see True Grit and that was a good movie.  If you haven't seen it on the big screen, I don't think that will damper its watchability much.   I think it will be fine on your home theatre.

And surprisingly, I enjoyed The Social Network.  Got that one on DVD and yes, it will be well worth your living room watching.

Ok, enough about movies.  I'm at home with a sick kid.  It's not terrible, but I didn't feel comfortable sending him to school when he said he had a bad tummy pain and was curled up in our horseshoe chair.  The tummy pain seems to be gone, but he is chilled.  I should take his temp again.

I have to admit, I decided to record and watch the Oprah Show about her "big family secret."  But from all the previews, I knew it had to be a long lost sibling.  I do have to say, I am just as impressed as Oprah that the half-sister did her best to keep it quiet, while she was trying to get in touch with her birth mother.  It is a story with, I hope, a happy ending.

I was in an organizing mood this weekend.  While the rest of the family stayed in pjs playing computer games or video games, I spread THE PILE out all over the floor and started to put things in their proper folders and filing cabinets.  Then I kept some folders out and went looking for a table top file folder holder that is tiered so you can see all the folders.  I got tired of them being in a pile too.  So here is where I hope THE PILE ends up.

Pretty snazzy, eh?  Of course, don't go to Walmart or other big box stores looking for these.  I had to go to Staples to find one, and at least I found several, in different prices, that I liked.  Here's to no more of THE PILE, which could overflow onto the table, kitchen counter and rolling kitchen counter.

Now, I have a pile of the early 20th century magazine, The Craftsman, that I need to have Mr. Wild to finish selling on ebay, so they don't continue to sit as a PILE in our office.  Anyone an architect or interested in 1910s architectural magazines?  Some are in rough shape, but we have about 7-10 left.  I'd entertain some offers.  Just let's get them out of here.

Speaking of old things, my husband and I haven't been in antique shop since the youngest was out of the stroller.  I can't tell if it's because I have enough antique "stuff" or if the antique things don't hold any charm for me anymore.  There's one collection we had when we moved here that fit perfectly around the plate rail in our dining room and there literally was no more room for more.  If I get more pieces, where would I put them?

Anyone else feel they need design help in their house?  I really would like something more comfy and cozy, but I can't figure how to get there.  So I become static in my decoration.  It ain't really broke, so why fix it?  But every so often I get design envy and wish I had someone to come help me beautify my house.  Oh, well, next life, I think.

Go be all random over here.  My sick son is hungry and I must feed him.  Must be a good sign, except he has a sore throat.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bored on a Sunday

I liked a little Firefly and Serenity in its day.

(by the way, I got this quiz by going to Nathan Fillion's MySpace.  Don't ask me why I was there.)

Your results:
You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
Inara Serra (Companion)
River (Stowaway)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Dependable and trustworthy.
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.

Click here to take the "Which Serenity character are you?" quiz...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Food Revolution Fail

I don't know where else to vent.  My school district has been discussing the flavored milk issue of late.  It might be because I brought it up at a parent teacher meeting.  I expressed my concern for the extra sugar the kids get in their milk since they are offered flavor.  The principal and the school board member sitting in on the meeting said they'd look into it.
They did. At the following parent teacher meeting, the principal brought the three milks they offer: fat-free, 1% and fat-free chocolate, so that we could look at the labels.  The fat free had 80 calories.  The 1% had some fat and 100 calories.  The fat-free chocolate had 130 calories, no fat, but the second ingredient, after milk, was high fructose corn syrup.  Cocoa was such a small amount that it was listed as less than 1% of the total ingredients.

The principal explained that a committee was convened with our food service director, a nutrition director from the local hospital, and one of the elementary school principals to make a recommendation to the superintendent.  They said they looked at the research.  Their recommendation was to eliminate chocolate milk from the breakfast menu, but still offer it for the milk break and lunches as a choice.  Their biggest reason for keeping the choice was that if they limited it too much, they were afraid the milk consumption would go down.  Their argument was that it was better for the kids to get all the nutrition of milk with the extra sugar than to not get it at all because they wouldn't drink white milk.

On-line, I've found the National Dairy Council supporting putting flavored milk in schools.  The same reasons were brought up as were listed by the committee that made the recommendation to the principal. also lists a study about how the consumption drops dramatically if flavored milk is removed and goes on to argue that more calories and fat, half again as much sugar, and more dollars must go into the food then served to make up the difference in the nutrients lost.  If these organizations have research and papers supporting it, how can one make an argument against it.

So these things are only upsetting a little.  What was more upsetting was the parents at the meeting, whose children are in the same school as mine are, who were so very against removing flavored milk from the school entirely.  They came prepared with stacks of research and surveys.  One mother said her doctor told her that her child could drink chocolate milk because he wasn't going to drink white milk at all and he needed the nutrients.  She was all ready to get a doctor's excuse to bring in chocolate milk if it was banned entirely.  She also said she checked with the dentist and that the dentist said it wasn't the cause of cavities.

I cited the Princeton study out a year ago that rats fed virtually the same diet and the exact same calories, except one group drank sugar water and the other drank HFCS water and they found the HFCS rat group gained more weight and showed more tendencies to obese diseases.  To that she said, what's a little HFCS in one drink?  I said, well it's all cumulative, isn't it?  It's not just in these drinks, but in so much else.  Then another mother pulled out a poll she had done at the school.  This was the most disturbing to me.  She was using it to argue for chocolate milk, because if they didn't have it, she was arguing they wouldn't drink any.

This survey showed that out of 289 students who chose to take milk at milk break, 227 chose chocolate milk, and 62 chose white milk.  That's 227 students who chose a milk that had 50 extra calories and 12 more grams of sugar which were all HFCS.  That does not count lunch choices.  And teachers stated opinions like, "My personal opinion...if they will drink it, what difference does it make if it is chocolate?"  "Most kids like chocolate and get a good source of calcium and vitamin D from it.  I would rather the children get chocolate milk and the good that it provides rather than juice. ... I was a kid who didn't like white milk and would not have drank milk in school if chocolate wasn't offered.  Overall I think chocolate milk does more good than harm."

Another parent stated that it allowed the kids choices and that the kids had to start to learn to make good choices, just like when they are offered alcohol, they have to decide in that moment that alcohol is bad.  If our children make the choice for alcohol like they do for chocolate milk, we are doomed.  My children, even though we discuss at home better food choices and enjoying making and eating our food, still choose chocolate milk.  We have discussed high fructose corn syrup and the rat study and they still choose chocolate milk even though they know it is in there.

I am not a perfect parent.  I give in to McDonald's and ice cream and all sorts of things.  But I have come to realize this is about their future and conditioning my children to like the healthy choices.  If you have sugar sabotaging us all the time, at every corner, and parents who still think, well a little HFCS here and there can't be all bad, it will accumulate and our children will be left with an even worse health care mess.  I feel I have no back up in this community.  The issue even came up at a party.  One parent could see both sides, especially since he had a kid who wouldn't drink milk unless it was chocolate, but he agreed that we had too much sugar drinks as it was and it might be a good change for the school.  But people waver when it might mean their children will not get the calcium they need.

My question is, since when did chocolate milk become so ubiquitous?  It was a treat at my house when I was a kid.  We maybe had it once a week with school lunches, but I honestly don't remember.  But I don't remember thinking I could have chocolate milk ever on a regular basis.  Where between the late 1970s and now did it permeate our lives and schools?  I suppose it is just like soda.  It got cheaper to make and buy, we all like sugary stuff and we went overboard.  Now, compared to soda, chocolate milk is a "godsend" for those kids that "hate the white stuff" and won't eat anything else calcium related.  I am so sad that our attitudes about food have become so warped.  What about soy milk, or plain old water?

So I guess I will watch out for my own kids.  Some parents suggested I tell my kids' teachers to watch them and make sure they only take white milk.  But honestly, should I make the teachers work that much harder just to make sure my kids are not taking chocolate milk?  They have so much work as it is.

I thought asking about flavored milks and seeing if they could be really limited or eliminated would be an easier way to start the Food Revolution in our community, but it seems that if this is the reaction to the whole thing, the Food Revolution will have a very long row to hoe in these United States of America.

Randomize me: RTT


Snow, snow, snow.  Ok, which do I hate more?  When it snows in fits and spurts nearly every day, or when we get a big huge ass snow that shuts down all the roads and we get a snow day and I have to stay home from work?  It seems to me that I still do a lot of shoveling either way, so getting a day off for the snow is better.  Hear that Wisconsin weather?  I want 18" of snow so I don't have to go into work.  Then I'll take all day to shovel out and play with the kids.  None of this pussy footing around with an inch here and there, everyday, without sunshine and having to clear the drive some little bit here and there nearly every freaking day.

Oh, and I probably should watch the weather more often so I know what to expect.  Although they got yesterday wrong with saying, "oh about 2 inches" and then we get nearly six.

And why in the heck won't I move to warmer climes?  But I just can't do it.  I think it's because I need season change or I'm afraid I'll be bored with the weather.  I know, call me a dope.

It's so funny when my husband tells me some snippet of news and I've already seen it or read it because it was on Facebook, or I was checking mail and the news section on the homepage shows it and I've clicked through to read it.  The thing is, he may be on computers or video games more, but he's using them all to play games.

Speaking of which, I was asleep by 11 pm and he played video games until almost midnight.  Talk about random.  Usually I'm the one up late.

I started watching an archived webinar on "how to get published."  I couldn't watch it when it was on live, but I thought, hey I should get some good information.  I'm just now in the mood to watch it, but  I'm a bit annoyed by the fact that the first 12 minutes are talking about first you must write a book, and revise it and revise it and revise it and then have someone critique it, before you even start querying. Duh!  If any of you are writers worth your salt, you've already read the myriad of websites that state this very same thing.  I got bored about 12 minutes in and decided to watch it when I was more alert.  I hope the rest of the hour and fifteen minutes is more worth my $70.

Ever try to spend 30 minutes in a car with an 11 year old boy, who is related to you and you're going to an orthodontic appointment, so you have to drive far to get to the orthodontist and it is snowing out pretty heavy and you decide to try to make conversation?  Well, don't.  I've learned an 11 year old boy really doesn't want to talk about school or school work with his mom.  Worse than pulling teeth, though, fortunately, we won't have to pull teeth during this treatment.  Moms should never expect that their sons really want to talk to them.

I had the day off and it wasn't long enough.  I did manage to spend yet more money.  This time I got a pilates video and a yoga mat.  I got exercise in and also did some snowblowing (oh yay, more snow [sarcasm]).  But I didn't do everything I wanted.  We had a nice dinner of lemon chicken broiled, mashed potatoes and mixed veggies.  And I finally sat down and planned meals through next Monday.  I do better with suppers if I plan what they are ahead of time.  I do pick specific menus for specific days, but if I have the week's list, go out and get groceries for it, I can switch it up, because I have groceries for it.

Okay, join Keely and the rest of the gang at the UnMom.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thursday Goodness for Friday

Sorry a little late, I hadn't seen a good story until today.  Since I have NPR in my FB newsfeed, I am getting some feel good stories from there lately.  I am not doing the guy with the great radio voice, we've all heard that one and I think it is fantastic.  Here's another one to finish up the holiday season.  If you'd like to add something, join along using Mr. Linky below.

One Student's Christmas Lesson

Don Michaels really didn't like school for a while when he was growing up.

"I had terrible migraine headaches when I was in fifth grade," he explained to his daughter Jennifer recently.  "Whether that was because of the pressure, or because of the reputation that the teacher at the time had, and my having gotten reports from my three brothers who had her, I just, I just don't know."

Michaels remembers his teacher, Miss Leister, having very sharp features.

"The most prominent thing was her nose — it was very hawkish," the 72-year-old said. "She didn't smile a great deal. And she was a taskmaster — she expected you to perform."

Miss Leister wasn't very warm, he said.

"But we had a Christmas party — all the classes had Christmas parties — and we all exchanged names for gifts. And the Christmas party started, the gifts were being handed out, names were being called, and one by one all my classmates went up to get their gift. When the gifts were all gone, I had not been called and did not receive a gift, for some reason or other."

The day before Christmas, Miss Leister showed up at Michaels' house, unannounced.

"And she had a small gift that she gave to me," he said. "That gift was a key chain. I kept that for years and years. And as odd as it may seem, my headaches went away about two days after she came."

Michaels' relationship with Miss Leister changed from that day on.

Produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with WPSU.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Random Tuesday: We're lacking in the Random


How random can you be when you start the new year and back to school and back to the grind?  Not so random.

I started the new year off with a spinning class.  Not the spinning wheel kind of spinning:

(Though with my background, you can be forgiven for thinking so)

The bike training kind of spinning:

We did "hills" which means you increase the tension and "climb" for five minutes with your butt off the seat (which I couldn't make the five minutes, ugh) and "jumps" which means you get your butt off the seat and pedal for about a minute, then sit on the seat and pedal for a minute.  It got me sweating and breathing heavy.

And when I say I started off the new year, I got up at 8:00 am and headed to the 8:30 class on January 1st.

You can call me an overachiever.

That same weekend I took all the random physical photographs I had laying around and stuffed them into an album.  Not much call for albums when all the photos are on your computer and pop up as your screen saver.  But enough for the stuff lying around.

We still have a tree up and a puzzle to put together.  Do NOT buy a puzzle that has foil on the pieces.  Hard to see and figure out in any type of light.

(Hey, we didn't get that nice included poster!)

Everyone seems happy with their gifts, Santa and otherwise.  Except maybe me.  I was hoping for an iPod Touch, but I don't think Santa had it in the budget this year.

Mr. Wild bought me this hat.  I'm not sure if it's me or not.  I'll keep you posted.

Check out more random with the UnMom.