November edition Useless Information

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180px-Dreamland_tower_1907 Coney Island in Brooklyn was home to several amusement parks starting as early as the 1900s. Dreamland was one of the first, and was open from 1904-1911. Dreamland featured a Swiss alpine landscape, Venetian canals and a dwarf village with 300 inhabitants. It also featured some of the first baby incubators. A family member associated with the Dreamland had premature triplets who needed incubators. At the time incubators were experimental and not standard equipment in hospitals. The family placed the infants and incubators on display in their park. Two of the babies survived.

~the Wikipedia article on Coney Island was really interesting, I didn’t have space to include much, feel free to check it out

 

Paper or…Cloth?

MOPS mom Rebecca has been making and using cloth diapers since her first child was a baby.

WHY use cloth?

  • Cloth diapers are more comfortable and also better for your baby’s bottom and skin. Would you prefer to wear paper underwear or velour?
  • It takes 70 years for a disposable diaper to decompose in a landfill.
  • Disposable diapers contain raw sewage, which belongs in the sewer, not polluting a landfill.

THESE are not your mother’s cloth diapers!

  • Cloth diapers no longer fasten with those nasty diaper pins, most either have snaps or “daddy friendly” Velcro fasteners.
  • Cloth diapers include the diaper itself and a plastic lined diaper cover.
  • Covers and diapers are adjustable and fitted at the leg and waist.

Rebecca has made diapers from all kinds of fabric, including velour, old tee shirts and even hemp fabric. The hemp is the most absorbent, and it gets softer with each wash.

She cautions against the waterproof all-in-one diaper because it is not as sanitary as other cloth diapers. The simple fact that it is waterproof means that while water does not run out, it also does not run in, making the all-in-one diaper difficult to clean.

THE cost factor between disposable and cloth diapers is a wash.

  • You will need 2 or 3 dozen cloth diapers to get started. While they are adjustable, they aren’t one size fits age 1 month – 3 years, so you will eventually need several sizes.
  • New cloth diapers run around $12 each. Used diapers sell for around $8.
  • After factoring in energy costs and detergent, cloth diapers are no cheaper than disposable.

Paul test drove several cloth diapers last week, and we did just fine. I did wait until after his morning poop each day before using them!

 

I did my next to last MOPS newsletter last night.  I am going to miss doing the newsletter, it was fun to learn and write about such a variety of things.  Maybe the next person will be good at the layout but want a reporter!

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The Impersonator

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 The fog machine pumps fog across the stage.  The colored lights flash.  The ladies in the audience are going wild.  They are standing and stomping and clapping and chanting my name.  The energy level in this place is incredible.  I get the cue from my music director.  I miss playing with the guys, but a live band would complicate things, and the CDs work nearly as well.  

 

As I step out on the stage I glance at the audience.  As usual, the crowd is nearly all women, and it looks like most of them have been fans since the beginning.  Thanks to the miracle hands of Dr. Simes I look even better than I did back then, and that is saying something. The crowd screams when they see me, arms are flying everywhere.  A woman in the front row faints.  I open with the stuff from the 1950s.  I sing and shake my pelvis and shimmy my knees.  I pose.  I sweat.  The ladies go crazy.  The heat coming off the lights combined with all my moves causes the sweat to pour off of me.  I love my job!

 

I can’t help but wonder if “she” is here tonight. I purposely didn’t look at her usual spot when I came in.  Just thinking about her gets me all shook up.  I decide I won’t even look until several songs into the concert.  For some reason she started following me a couple of months ago.  I am not sure why haven’t let security know this is happening, they probably wouldn’t recognize her, they are too young to even remember. It seems too bizarre to be real.

 

As I prepare for “Teddy Bear,” I step forward and play to the audience.  The lights aren’t directly in my face now and I can see the crowd.  My breath catches, yes, there she is.  She sits in the second row smiling at me.  I swear she looks as beautiful as she did the day I married her.  Why does she keep coming to my shows?  She divorced me in 1973, four years before I faked my death. 

 

The Cloud

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The still quality of the air sent Naomi to the door of her sod house.  Outside she saw her little girls Sadie and Gertrude playing with their younger brother in the orange grass.  In the seven months she had spent on the prairie, Naomi could not remember a time when the wind was not blowing.  To the East, a gray cloud hung low on the horizon.  After a few moments, Naomi went back in to finish her ironing, hoping the cloud would mean rain that evening. 

 

This adventure of homesteading with six children was not Naomi’s idea of a wise move, but Herman had assured her that he could prove up on a homestead and they would be better off owning their own land instead of farming for someone else.

 

“Mama, mama,” the girls cried.  Naomi met them at the door.  They each clutched a scraggly bunch of the yellow sticky flowers that were so common in the late summer. 

 

“Thank you ladies, I will put these in a little water.”  Naomi dipped a mug in the dishwater and arranged the yellow flowers in the window.  “Your brothers should be home soon, so let’s get the table set.  I wish your father had not agreed to stay over at the Horn’s tonight.  Something about the weather is strange.”  Naomi moved to slice the bread while the girls dusted off the table and set it with seven plates.

 

Soon they could hear the sounds of the older brothers teasing each other while they put the horses up for the night.  “Mother,” Seymour, the eldest said as he stepped into the soddy, “I am not sure what is happening, but there is a gray cloud coming this way quickly.  We had better prepare for something…but I don’t know what.” 

 

“I noticed the cloud too.  Make sure the livestock are all put up, I am not sure what else we can do.”

 

As they sat down at the table, the family heard a throbbing, grinding noise.  As the noise grew louder the family was unable to wait to see what was happening, everyone crowded at the door and looked to the East.  Grasshoppers were falling from the sky; the cloud they had seen was comprised of grasshoppers. They landed on the garden and the haystacks.  Naomi ignored the fear in her stomach.  What horrible kind of place had grasshopper clouds? 

 

She and her children grabbed feed sacks and flew to protect the precious garden.  The grasshoppers settled on the ripe vegetables first and then ate the green plants while the family frantically beat at them with the sacks.  When the garden was bare, the grasshoppers turned and attacked the feed sacks.

 

“Mama! Help!” cried Gertrude frantically. The grasshoppers had attached themselves to her red hair and were chewing on it.  Naomi rushed over to beat them off of her daughter and told her to go back to the house.  She took a breath and looked around.  The ground was covered with grasshoppers; obviously, shredded feed sacks were not going to protect anything.   In despair, she told everyone to go back to the house. 

 

Inside the dark house, the children took turns picking grasshoppers out of each other’s clothes and hair.  The boys ground them into the dirt floor with their feet.  Naomi stood at the window and stared at the bleak sight outside.  After an hour or so, the grasshoppers moved on, and were gone almost as quickly as they had come.  Before dusk fell, Naomi sent the boys to look after the livestock.

 

While they were gone, Sadie and Gertrude stared anxiously out the window at the barren prairie.  Naomi quietly washed the dinner dishes and handed the girls a towel to dry with.

 

“It doesn’t look good Mother,” said Seymour stomping his feet as he returned to the soddy.  “The hay stacks are gone, and everything made out of wood has been chewed on.  We looked past the barn and the grasshoppers ate the corn field down to the ground.  I don’t know what the cattle are going to eat now, there is nothing left.”

 

“The chickens look like something has been chewing on their feathers!” said Freddy, the youngest brother.

 

Naomi was terrified but she took a deep breath and sat up straight in her chair.  “Bring me the Bible, George.”  She opened the Bible and read the chapter in Exodus about the plagues God had set upon the Egyptians. 

 

When she had finished four year old Freddy asked, “Are we in Egypt?” 

 

A tired smile crossed Naomi’s face, “No, honey we are in Kansas Territory.  I wanted to remind us we aren’t the first to go through something like this.”  Naomi’s throat tightened at the thought of what they would do now.  Their whole livelihood had been eaten and was hopping west.  Suddenly the wind picked up and soon it began to howl.

 

Hoping to comfort the children with routine, Naomi said, “Since your father is not here, Seymour would you like to tell us a story?”  Naomi picked up her mending and sat by the window to make use of the last light.

 

Seymour sat in his father’s chair with the younger children at his feet and asked them which of his father’s stories he should tell.  “You can choose first, Luke.”

 

“Tell about the Spaniards,” said Luke.  His favorite story was about the Spaniards who had traveled the prairie before it had been settled.  He liked to think of the adventures the men had meeting wild Indians and searching for the seven cities of gold in the same hills they lived in.  When the story ended everyone went to bed.  Naomi made up a large pallet on the floor for the older boys while the younger children shared a bed in the one room sod house. 

 

For the first time in her marriage, Naomi spent the night alone in her bed, but she didn’t sleep.  They had used all of their savings to build the soddy they lived in and were relying on the corn crop and garden to feed them through the winter.

 

Halfway through the next morning Father rode up on his saddle horse.   He dismounted with a strange smile on his face.  The children rushed to tell him what had happened the day before.  After Father listened to the stories he said much the same thing had happened at the neighbor’s place.  Naomi waded through the children and asked, “Oh Herman, what will we ever do?” 

 

“The good Lord will provide, Naomi, He always does,” replied Herman.

 

When the children settled down, Herman said he had a surprise for them.  The children responded with a chorus of, “What, what?” 

 

“I noticed something unusual on the ride this morning and I want to investigate it a little further,” Herman replied.  “Bring me the shovel, son,” he said to George.  Naomi and the children followed Herman as he walked back the way he had come, leading his horse.  The children peppered him with questions but he would not answer any of them except to say he had a surprise for them.  Half a mile from the house he led the horse into a blowout, where the recent wind had blown the sand from an area where the grass had been thin in the first place.  The blowout left a raw gash in the prairie.  “Look at this,” he said. 

 

The children looked.  The blowout was scattered with round discs.  The children scrambled to pick up the discs.  They appeared to be very old coins with foreign markings on them.  Herman took the shovel and dug into the thickest part of the discs.  Everyone stood dumbfounded looking at a pile of Spanish gold.  “The Spaniards must have buried this for some reason and were unable to come back for it.  I think this will help us recover from the grasshoppers,” said Herman with a big smile.

 

What do you think?  Mostly I was looking to write a complete story, with a plot and a surprising ending.  A past contest topic in the 24 hour contest was to write about a natural disaster.  The judges picked out the ones with unusual circumstances, like an avalanche rather than the typical hurricane, tornado, earthquake, blizzard stories.  I started this about noon and finished it…well too late.  I won’t be editing it or anything, but I want input if you have any.  I realize that I didn’t do any fact checking on the date of Kansas Territory and homesteading…

My writing plans

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I was sad to learn that my favorite parenting mag is gone.  Wondertime was the antithesis of Parents.  I mourn its loss.  Even more so because they paid me real money to write about three lines in their Nov/Dec issue.  Yes, I get published (an anecdote) in a mag that goes out of business and I get interviewed on a national radio program that also went out of business, 2008 was not good for the people who like my ideas.

Speaking of people who like my ideas, I got a response today to an unsolicited article I wrote about stillbirth.  They said they were hanging on to it because they would like to find room for it.  They had not responded about any other submissions I had sent in over the past two years, so I am encouraged. 

I am planning to enter some online fiction writing contests.  I planned this yesterday before I got the encouraging letter.  One is a 24 hour contest in April.  I have never finished a short story in my entire life, so I am planning to do the marathon thing and try to write a story every two or three days so I am in shape when April rolls around. I have been reading submissions to another contest, and frankly, I can do better than many of those, probably not better than the winners, but certainly I could hit the middle of the pack.  If those people can stick their necks out and put their names on stuff like that I can too.  Hopefully it is better stuff, but then that may be a matter of opinion. 

Bad news in the writing arena.  I just peeled off a bandaid from my left index finger (a massive papercut) from opening too many bank statements.  Don’t ask.  Today I donated blood and doggone it if I don’t have a bandaid on my right “daddy” finger.  That comes off tonight before I sit down to start my first story. 

I may be putting some different stuff on here, so be prepared.  Kind and constructive criticism is welcome if you have it.

Useless Information October Edition

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For those of you who have forgotten, I am the newsletter editor for a mothers group, and this is a sample of the award winning journalism you can enjoy if you join our group. 

DID YOU KNOW? Cotton Candy debuted at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. This treat sold for what would be nearly $6 these days. The recipe is simple, if you have the right machine. Pour sugar and dye into your machine. Heat the sugar until it melts then use centrifugal force to spin it through small holes into a metal bowl. The sugar solidifies when it hits the air. Serving suggestion: twirl on a stick!

Research has shown the food coloring used in cotton candy is linked to hyperactivity and decreased intelligence in children. Eating pure sugar can’t be good for them either!

What’s Your Sign, Baby?

Have you ever wished you knew what your baby wanted? Sometimes they fuss or cry and nothing seems to make them happy. My grandma says, “that baby wants some… something.” MOPS mom Lora happened upon a baby sign language course which helped her communicate with her pre-verbal children. Lora used “Sign With Your Baby” by Joseph Garcia, but other products are available in stores and at our local library. “Sign With Your Baby” came with a video and an easy reminder card to post on the fridge. www.sign2me.com

“It worked great for Ellie, she started doing the signs between ten months and a year. She could sign words long before she could verbalize them… It is easy to get frustrated, they suggest you start signing at 6-8 months of age and maybe your child will respond at 10-12 months.” Lora used sign language with her younger children as well, but not as intensively. They learned yes, no, apple, eat, more, drink, thank you, shoes, phone, down, bath, banana, airplane, baby and cookie. According to Lora, her children would sign the word as they spoke it after they learned to talk. She explained the signs to her daughter’s sitters so they could understand when the children used signs.

 

Side note: Paul and Mae learned sign language.  I made up my own signs and they work fine, when you remember to tell the sitter what they mean.  We focused on basic needs like drink and blankie and…well that is about it.  Notice I taught the first and last child, but not those in the middle?  Jane didn’t have any sort of lovy, so if a drink didn’t fix the problem nothing would.  Leo, well he is pretty laid back, I should have taken the time, but Paul was a quick learner, it took him about a month.  His Drink sign also translates to I want or gimme or more or food or banana it is kind of a one sign fits all.  Now that he can say banana (nana) it means all those same things.  Knowing signs sure gives your child a sense of control in a situation, a little confidence that his needs can be understood.   

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Here are the promised photos.  First we have Jane and her doll in matching dresses.  Jane is wearing a shirt under her dress, so it has little sleeves. 

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She is going to be a good mama.

 

It is darn near impossible to take a decent photo of my kids.  Privately I refer to Leo’s shoes as his pimp shoes.  Who on earth decided to make patent leather penny loafers for boys?  Don’t blame me for them, they are hand-me-downs.

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When we play dress up around here, we all play.

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