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Archive for February, 2012

With New York’s Republican primary not taking place until April, it had occurred to me that the whole dog and pony show might be a moot point by then. Would there even be more than one candidate left in the race, I wondered?

Well, apparently some of the Tea Partiers have had similar thoughts, and have decided that they’re not going to wait.

The TEA Parties in Western New York are not waiting for the Primary in NY State, we are having our own Tea Party Caucus. So far caucuses are being held here in Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Monroe, Orange, Broome, and possibly Wyoming, Gennessee, Long Island, Staten Island and all points in between. We know more will be jumping on board.

Read more over at Albany’s Insanity.

If anyone knows of a caucus being held in Central New York (especially in the counties of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Oswego), please let me know, so that I can spread the word!

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A few days ago, I first saw Jack.

Jack likes insects and worms, but not scary movies.
Jack is smart and charming.
Jack likes physical education and the natural world.
Jack likes to sculpt.
Jack is responsible, obedient, and kind.
Jack is HIV+.

Click here to learn more about adoption and HIV.

The more I learned about Jack, the more my heart broke for him. He is eleven years old, born in October of 2000. He lives in one of the many orphanages in Russia, but unlike most of the children there, whose options are either a) to be adopted abroad or b) to be transferred into a mental institution at a young age, and deemed unadoptable, Jack has a different story. Jack is one of the ‘lucky’ ones who will not be institutionalized.

“In Eastern European countries, at around age 16, orphans are forced to leave the orphanage system to enter the world with limited education, minimal support, and sometimes the just-learned knowledge that they have HIV. Within the first five years, almost 90% of these orphans end up in crime, prostitution, drug and alcohol addiction, or commit suicide.

In Russia, 10% – 15% of children who “age out” commit suicide before age 18. 70% of the boys become hardened criminals.” Source.

That’s right. At the age of fifteen or sixteen, Jack will age out of his country’s system. He will be ‘released’ to the street. Think about that.

No money.

No medication.

No life skills.

But worst of all? No family.

And this boy desperately wants a family.

“Do you know anyone who would like to take a boy like me? I would really like for a visitor at least, because I am all alone and I have no one.“

He has seen families come for other children. Younger children. Children without HIV.

“What do I need to do for a Mom to come? Do you know where she is? Is she looking for me?”

When I researched what Reece’s Rainbow had to say about the region Jack where Jack currently lives, I found out that the fees and travel costs associated with Jack’s adoption would amount to approximately $33,000.

$33,000 to give this boy hope.

$33,000 to give this boy a family.

$33,000 to give this boy a future.

Jack currently has $3,852.10 in his adoption grant fund. For a mere $29,147.90, we could enable a family to bring Jack home, and give him what he so very strongly longs to have.

Yes, I said mere for a reason.

I have seen God raise up $23,000 in less than twenty-four hours to ransom one of His precious children from an orphanage and into a family.

Does He not own “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10)? $29,147.90 is nothing to Him. A drop in the bucket.

Still unconvinced?

“…for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17:20)

A mustard seed. Do you realize how small that is?

“[Is] this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? [Is it] not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:6-7)

“But Jesus looked at [them] and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” (Matthew 19:26)

All things are possible.

I have contacted some friends and family, as well as the owners of businesses and work-at-home mothers, who might be willing to sponsor an item for a fundraiser for Jack. Happily, I heard back from a few of them, and for every donation that is made to Jack’s adoption grant fund, that person will be entered to win one of the donated items from these sponsors. If you would like to sponsor an additional item for the fundraiser, please contact me via Gmail, where my account is ‘libertydidact’.

You can donate to Jack’s adoption grant and be entered by doing one of three things:

* you can make a tax-deductible donation on Jack’s page on Reece’s Rainbow, then leave a comment on this blog post stating that you have done so (I will be able to verify with Reece’s Rainbow when the winner is drawn), or

* make a tax-deductible donation via Jack’s ChipIn. If you do this, you do NOT need to leave a comment, as ChipIn automatically retains that for me. It will take a couple of days for ChipIn amounts to reflect on the Reece’s Rainbow page, as the Reece’s Rainbow staff has to enter it manually.

Both of these donation formats are supported by PayPal, so your donations are completely secure, in the same way that they would be if you were purchasing an item on Ebay, or ordering from an online store.

* an additional fundraising option was brought to my attention when I was looking for sponsors for this fundraiser. I had a representative from the direct sales company Scentsy contact me, and offer to hold a fundraiser through her Scentsy business. She will be donating the 20% commission that she receives from orders placed through her Scentsy page for Jack’s fundraiser.  Representatives for Do You Bake? and Barefoot Books also committed their commissions, as well.

 Buy Scentsy and support Jack’s fundraiser! Visit the “Bring Jack Home” Party. (Please note – you need to order through that link specifically, rather than the main Scentsy page, for the order to reflect on Jack’s fundraiser at the end of the fundraising period.)

 

Buy mixes and treats from Do You Bake? and support Jack’s fundraiser! Visit the Jack’s Adoption Fundraiser” page. (Please note – you need to order through that link specifically, rather than the main Do You Bake? page, for the order to reflect on Jack’s fundraiser at the end of the fundraising period.)

Buy children’s books, audio books, and gifts from Barefoot Books and support Jack’s fundraiser! Visit the “Bring Jack Home” event page. (Please note – you need to order through that link specifically, rather than the main Barefoot Books page, for the order to reflect on Jack’s fundraiser at the end of the fundraising period. When you are checking out, there should be an ‘event code’ box at the bottom of your order. If everything is linked correctly, the underneath the box, it should say “This purchase is tied to Bring Jack Home.” If it does not say this, the event code to enter in the box is 000-0ect-5618)

 

You can also earn an extra entry for sharing about this fundraiser on your blog, Facebook wall, Twitter, et cetera. Just leave a separate comment stating that you have done so.

I wasn’t sure, at first, how long I should leave the fundraiser open, but then it came to me. March 19th. The one-year anniversary of when God blessed our family with a son of our own. It is a day of celebration in our family… and I pray that it will be a day of celebration in Jack’s life and in the life of his future family, as well. As such, this fundraiser will continue until Monday, March 19th, 2012, or until Jack’s ransom has been fully raised. Whichever comes first.

Below you will find the items and/or gift certificates donated by our fundraiser’s sponsors. I am very grateful to those of you who have chosen to help Jack move closer to finding his family!

 1. A $20 discount code to Kid Cozy, maker of the Classic Kid Cozy and Kid Cozy II. Studies have shown that in the event of a crash, coats and snowsuits an compress, allowing your child to slip from the safety of their carseat. Kid Cozy seeks to remedy this by offering you an alternative: an inventive item that allows you to safely keep your child warm and cozy during the winter!

2. A matted 11″x14″ print from Nan Schefcick Photography. Prints to select from will be listed on her Facebook page during the next week. Want to get an idea of what will be available? You can view her pre-existing albums here.

3. A colorful bracelet donated by Haley at Living Life in God’s Grace.This bracelet is made with seed beads and Fireline thread, with a button closure. It measures 3/4″ wide by 6″ long when fastened.

4. A monochrome bracelet donated by Haley at Living Life in God’s Grace. This bracelet is made with seed beads and Fireline thread, with a button closure. It measures 3/4″ wide by 6″ long when fastened.

I am still waiting for the final details on a couple of other sponsored items, and I’ll be adding those retroactively to this post, so be sure to check back and take a look at them!

Are you interested in sponsoring an additional item for the fundraiser? Feel free to contact my gmail account, ‘libertydidact’ and let me know!

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Yeah, that’s a promising post title, isn’t it?

Some of you may know that we have been cloth diapering the Wee Goon since he was about six weeks old. Ish. I didn’t write down the date or anything. Now, cloth diapering these days isn’t what it used to be. These aren’t your grandmother’s cloth diapers. You can get diapers that have snaps and go on just like a disposable, and then you put a cover over them. You can get diapers that are all one piece – and All-In-One or AIO – and are both the absorbent part and waterproof part. You can get diapers that you “stuff” with absorbent material, so that you can put extra in for at night, but then it comes apart to dry faster. Et cetera.

And you can get a diaper sprayer.

No more swishing the cloth diaper in the toilet to get the poop off before you wash it.

Unless you don’t have a diaper sprayer. Then you swish.

I don’t have a diaper sprayer.

It falls under the same category as “getting a better mop.” I would like a better mop. But we are getting by with the one we have. Sure, you have to hand-wring it to get the water out. Sure, it leaves behind enough dampness that unless the wood stove is lit, it takes For. Ever. to dry. But it’s manageable. Yeah, same category. I can swish the diapers. I’m not going to die from it. People have been doing it for decades. Thus, I don’t want to spend the money. Maybe I’m cheap. I like to think I’m frugal. But I’m probably just cheap. Then again, I would prefer to spend money on books than I would on housekeeping items that make life simpler. Go figure.

I was, admittedly, having a bit of a pity party recently. See, those of you in the cloth diapering realm know that once a baby is no longer exclusively breastfed, his stools tend to firm up. Breastfood stool… well, not so much. Anyway… the Wee Goon was introduced to solids months ago. And occasionally they are solid… but for the most part, they are… not. So it’s not like I can just open up his cloth diaper and “plop” it into the toilet… no, I’m still swishing. As I was saying… I was having a pity party. And then I was reading this blog post over at No Greater Joy Mom… and it was detailing a family’s experience in adopting a young boy from a mental institution in eastern Europe.

Yes, you read that correctly. Once children with special needs (Downs Syndrome, physical ailments, HIV+, etc) reach a certain age (normally four or five years), they are transferred from an orphanage where they are available for adoption, to an institution where adoptions are NOT an option. This family was the very first to ever adopt from this institution, and they detailed their time there. They also talk on their blog about the ongoing ministry that is happening there. Anyway… I read this:

In that lowest functioning group of outdoor boys, there were three older ones whom we got to know. They had a job carrying things back and forth from their shed area to their building, strange benches with multiple holes, so we saw them every day. All three were precious. One laughed and called out to Aaron and to us with glee every time he passed. His vocabulary was limited, but he always spoke with gusto. His legs were bent at odd angles, and one was much longer than the other, so he hobbled up and down the path each day; but he always laughed and clapped his hands, filled with joy. The second was silent, lost in his own world. He stared at us from a distance and gave us crooked smiles. The third was a sweet angel with Down Syndrome. He was short, bowlegged and as gentle as can be. Alone of the three, this one would wander over to spend time with us. He gently handled and played with Aaron’s toys. He spoke to us softly. He was a perfect gentleman in his behavior. Unfortunately, in his person he was anything but gentlemanly. His smell was overpowering, and when he offered his hand for us to shake, we could see why: his hands were stained with excrement.

Read the entire post here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Are you back? Okay.

Talk about being humbled. I read this, and I realized that it was a blessing to be able to “swish” my son’s diapers. I am blessed to be able to do that for him. He is blessed to have a mother, a family, to keep him in diapers. He is so blessed. We are so blessed. I cannot find the words to express what this means. I’m still thinking it over. But I had to share this with you.

May God use the plight that is faced by these boys to change your heart, as well.

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Well, it’s time for the weekly (or in this case, bi-weekly) report of the Independence Days Challenge. In my defense, I had quite planned to post last week, but… well… life overtook me.

Or rather, illness did.

First, the Wee Goon and I simultaneously came down with colds. How do I love thee, Oscillococcinum? Let me count the ways. Suffice to say, whilst the Wee Goon’s cold dragged on for over a week, mine was gone after a mere day and a half. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles! A few days later, and it’s Monday. WG is still snifflin’ and snottin’ and I… am trying in vain to ward off mastitis. More on that later. After battling that off, I got the cold a second time. Only this time it was here to stay. And I was miserable. And the WG was miserable. And I didn’t have the energy to put together a proper blog post. Oh, and then a horse foaled. But again, more on that later.

Thusly, I am reporting on both weeks at the same time.

>> Plant something.
Ah, no. However, it is suspiciously springlike outside and I am contemplating planting those apple seeds that I have saved over the course of the last year and a half. I’ve really no idea how long seeds will stay viable, but I would be happy if even half of them sprouted. Or just one. I would be okay with one. Does anyone know how long seeds stay viable? Approximately? Care to share?

>> Harvest something.
Chicken eggs. The daylight is increasing, and the first clutch that Rafter the Psychotic Bantam hatched out has finally reached laying age, so we’re seeing more and more eggs. I would like to get an incubator and hatch out some eggs from our older, “Heritage Mutt” hens before they get any farther along in age. They’ve been good layers, but they’re a few years old now, and it wouldn’t hurt to hatch out some young’ns. Since Rafter has craftily hid herself away to hatch out the last two clutches of her own eggs rather than allowing me to replace them with eggs from the rest of the flock, I am thinking that an incubator may be my best option.

>> Waste not.
I had a carcass left over from eating roast chicken, but with being sick it never made it into the stock pot. I shall try again this week. I have, however, continued to place usable vegetable scraps into the freezer in preparation for making a vegetable stock, and saved other food scraps for the chickens.

>> Want not.
Ehm. I want a chest freezer. For meeeaaat. Lotsa meat. See, it has come to my attention (translation: I’ve been visiting doctors and having bloodwork done and been pulling my hair out over it) that I have, apparently, a non-celiac gluten intolerance. Which means a sad farewell to my whole wheat pasta, and my rosemary and sea salt bread. But! Ah, but. More veggies and more meat. I like meat. And many vegetables. And any excuse to be eating more meat is one that would probably be well-liked in this family, since my husband is very much a Steak and Potatoes fellow and the Wee Goon would eat a whole cow if you’d let him. But we haven’t gotten one yet. I should probably figure out where we would even put it.

>> Eat the food.
This actually is going to be a tough one in the weeks to come, because of the aforementioned newly-discovered gluten intolerance. I’m going to have to purge the pantry. Honestly it shouldn’t be too bad, and I should be able to give most of it to gluten-consuming families. White Bunny will probably get the oats, because White Bunny likes oats. Profound, I know. So this is going to be an adventure… figuring out what food in our pantry I can eat. I will report back on this.

>> Build community food systems.
Oh! This one went well. I bought twenty pounds of grassfed beef and a couple of packages of beef liver from a local farm. I also threw in a Free Ranger roasting chicken, as she had an extra one in the freezer and I have contemplated raising some meat birds in the future.

I also (hopefully) got back into the habit of buying raw milk. Shhh. Don’t tell the Feds. 😉 This, obviously, was also in support of my local community food system. I just can’t tell you where.

Our local village was having a meeting to hear suggestions on uses for their new community park, and I wanted to go and bring up the idea of either a community garden or a farmer’s market, but I didn’t end up making it there, sadly.

>> Skill up.
I made a new batch of hard lotion bars which, as always, is a learning experience.

Also, one of the mares at the farm where I work foaled this past Saturday, and I was able to assist with the birth. I’ve witnessed the birth litters of puppies and rabbits, not to mention goat kids, and was even able to assist with a c-section on a dog, but witnessing a foal was a new one for me!

I learned to cure my mastitis with a poultice/paste, which was a mixture of apple cider vinegar and bentonite clay. Definitely a handy skill to have. When you consider the fact that mastitis generally occurs between two and six weeks postpartum, and my Wee Goon is almost eleven months old, it was a bit of a surprise. Having finally gotten over the candida issues that I believe started when I was on an antibiotic during pregnnacy, I really didn’t want to have to go back to the doctor for yet another antibiotic, but I also knew that mastitis can get pretty nasty, and ending up with an infection raging through my body is.. well, let’s just say that it’s not on my bucket list.

I was calling our local health food store to see if they had loose activated charcoal to make a poultice, and was told that they only had it in capsule form, but that they had loose bentonite clay and that that made an excellent cleansing poultice.

D’oh.

I already had bentonite clay here! So, I mixed it with some ACV until it had a paste-like consistency, slathered it on, covered it in gauze, and then placed a warmed corn bag over it. I did this a few times, including the time that the Wee Goon went down for a nap. I pounced on the opportunity to take one myself while wearing the poultice, and it helped. Immensely.

I’ll be remembering this skill for future reference, that’s for sure!

As far as other skills go, I have been doing a lot of reading on gluten intolerance and how that plays out and has an effect. I’m currently reading Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found Food that Loves Me Back … & How You Can Too and that has been excellent. Very encouraging, especially the part where she reminds you to stand up for yourself and your health, rather than constantly feeling like a bother to people, or acting like it’s somehow your fault, as if it’s just that you’re a picky eater or something. This was definitely something I needed to hear.

One extra category that I would like to put in my challenge reports is ‘helpful links’, because I often come across informative blog posts and websites during the week, and I would love to share them with you!

>> Helpful Links
Root Cellaring Plans: A Review of The Complete Root Cellaring Book
Sustainable Lighting Tutorial: Hand-dipped Beeswax Candles
Real Food: Tips for Cooking with Coconut Oil
The Prairie Homestead: 16 Ways to Use Your Whey

I look forward to hearing how all of you are doing with the challenge as well!

See more reports over at Sharon’s blog, which is hosting the Independence Days Challenge!

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You would think, from the title, that this would be some sort of in-depth diatribe that dissects my basic cultural beliefs.

Not so much.

(But that alliteration was quite snazzy, was it not?)

Actually, this is my 150th blog post here at Pages Left Unturned.

In honor of this, I am going to post… humour. Because… err… I was going to post it anyway, and it wasn’t until I logged into WordPress that I realized what a special number it was going to be. To which I say: “Down with monumental blogging numbers!”

…or something.

Oh, I know! “Occupy 150!” Eh-heh.

Mostly, I just wanted to share a couple of amusing things that have come across my screen of late.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

That is all.

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It’s really too bad that we’ll never see this in New York. Then again, even if New Hampshire passes this bill, the Feds are likely to trample on it anyway, since they have no regard for the tenth amendment and haven’t for generations now…

Edit:
It makes me even more skeptical that the states will succeed with such moves of sovereignty when I read articles that discuss Obama’s movements in the past three years and his further attempts to streamline government. Normally I would welcome “streamlining,” but with his track record, I wouldn’t trust the man to streamline a mosquito. Mark my words, this is going to be about consolidating power and money, not dispersing it.

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So, the other night we’re in the kitchen, and our son crawls out and pulls himself up on the couch. (Yes, our couch is in our kitchen. It’s a long story.) He was chewing on something, and I saw a flash of what I thought was something white-colored. My the time I stuck my finger in his mouth to try to fish out the offending item, it was pretty much gone.

I chalked it up to that single piece of (unused) toilet paper that had been sitting its lonely self on the floor of the bathroom through the course of the day, since he had just come from that direction. After all, it fits right up there with his recent adventure of discovering and sucking up a small puddle of melted snow on the linoleum. And then licking. The floor. Around it. *shudder* I mean, I may not mind mud, and I might be right there with Calah when it comes to washing hands, but… yeah. Licking linoleum is a little disconcerting, nonetheless.

Anyway. I went into the bathroom a few minutes later and discovered:

Exhibit A: the single piece of toilet paper, still lonely, and still on the floor.

Exhibit B: the board that we keep up across a small section of the wall by our toilet has been pulled down, exposing the fiberglass insulation behind it.

-_-

So then I’m second-guessing myself, thinking, “Was it actually pink? And I just thought it was white?” Now, mind you, it’s been probably about five minutes, and the Wee Goon has been playing his merry way around the kitchen, acting like his normal self. But I thought, “I should find out if I need to, like, go get some syrup of ipecac or whatever it’s called.”

Now, at this point I’m remembering my days at the preschool when the little stuffed bear and his handler from the Health Department would show up and give this little presentation on washing your hands. Every kiddo got a sticker, a coloring book, and this handy magnet for Mom and Dad that had the number for the Poison Center on it.

But we don’t have great cell reception inside our apartment, and it wasn’t like my kid was convulsing on the floor, so I thought, “Rather than be the panicky parent, let’s see if the Poison Center has a website. Maybe I can resolve this without dialing a number.”

So I searched ‘poison center fiberglass insulation’.

You want to know what kind of results I got?

Links to articles about rodent poison. Apparently the poison center doesn’t have a website. (Or I just couldn’t find it.)

This is the part where my gut wavers on the idea of being as stalwart as Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ gut and gets a slightly tremulous sinking feeling.

So then I Google ‘my kid ate insulation’. Yeah, this blog post’s title is in honor of that search query.

This gave me results for people asking on Yahoo Questions about when their pet ate insulation. I said kid here, people! And then there’s one that says, “My 11-month old just ate insulation, what do I do?” (The Wee Goon will very soon turn that very age. Irony? I think not.)

So I clicked.

The answers she got ranged from, “OH-MY-GOODNESS-GET-THAT-KID-TO-THE-EMERGENCY-ROOM-NOW” to “You should probably call the Poison Center Hotline just in case” to “I and/or my husband works in HVAC and encounter that stuff all the time, have swallowed it, etc, to no ill effect, but we’re adults, sooo…”

At this point I thought, “Yeah, you know, I’m gonna call.”

So after once more eyeing my burbling Wee Goon, I bundled up and headed out the door to call the Hotline from our driveway, where we invariably get better reception. Or at least I do. My husband’s cell phone gets far better reception inside than mine does. Whatever.

One ring.

They answer.

Me: “So, my son may or may not have swallowed some fiberglass insulation and I wasn’t sure if it was poisonous or not.”
Poison Center Lady: “How long ago was this?”
Me: “About ten minutes ago; I tried Googling to see if I could find out if it was poisonous but all I got were answers ranging from to , so I thought I should call.
PCL: “Yeah, that’s why you shouldn’t really look online, you should just go ahead and call. Has he been pulling at his mouth, gagging, spitting, or anything?”
Me: “Err, no. He’s been acting like his normal self.”
PCL: “Okay, I don’t think it’s toxic, but let me double-check.”

PCL: “It’s non-toxic if ingested, but may cause some minor skin irritation.”
Me: “Thank you!”

So, yeah. You there. The person who got to my post because you, too, Googled ‘my kid ate insulation’? You heard the lady. Call them.

Really, in any situation like that, call them. It can’t hurt.

They’re not going to use your first name and zip code to track you down, steal your kid, and say you’re an unfit parent because your child decided to do some home renovation. (At least, the unmarked black helicopters haven’t shown up at my door yet.)

Unless you call and say that you’ve been offering your child ammonia and bleach as his accompanying dinner beverage. They might get suspicious then.

(Oh, and you know what? The next day, he pulled some uneaten rice cake out from under the couch. And ate it. And it was white. And I was all, “Oh, snap. Was that what you were eating?” Gotta love it.)

All this to say: it happens.

You are not an unfit parent.

Those times when your kid licks the linoleum, or eats insulation, or inadvertently scatters his cup of dry cereal during a church service, bringing new meaning to the Castin Crowns lyric, “Show me just how far the east is from the west…”?

Those times happen.

Google can attest.

I can attest.

The mama who approached me after church to tell me that she remembers when her son spilled his cereal during church and that she remembers what it felt like to want to crawl under her chair because of it… can attest.

God’s grace is sufficient.

Now go have a cup of coffee.

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