Blog Archive

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Every spring since moving to Davis I've thought about getting chickens. But we've never gotten around to making a coop in the yard and by the time we've gotten enough free time to build one it is too late in the season and the feed stores no longer sell them (since they are usually shipped via USPS they are only available before it gets too hot).

This year, however, I decided to just get the chickens and then worry about getting a coop built. (Irresponsible, huh?) I figured if I didn't get them now then I never would. For the first 6 weeks or so the chicks will live inside a box in the garage with a warming light so we have time to get ourselves organized.

After doing some reading online and in my chicken book I decided to make a "warming box" out of an empty Rubbermaid tub I had in the garage and a garage work light with a 60 watt bulb. All I had to buy at the feed store was food, bedding material, a feeder, waterer, and the birdies. I also bought a cheap reptile thermometer just so I could reassure myself that my girls weren't too cold (it is totally not necessary since you can just watch what the chickens are doing to see if they are too cold--huddled up = cold and standing by the edges of the tub = too hot.)

So last Thursday I bought 5 female chicks (referred to as pullets)--two of one kind, two of another (I can't remember what the lady said they were), and one Rhode Island Red. If baby chicks weren't so dang cute I probably would have only purchased 3...
Eddie and the dogs are intrigued by the chicks. I think Eddie want to squeeze them, Potatoes wants to "nose" them, and Ruby want to eat them. Once the birds are big enough to live outside I'm going to let the dogs be outside with them--under constant watch--and reprimand the dogs whenever they try to get near the birds. That way they will learn that chickens are "paws off."

For now Dave and I are the only ones to touch the chickens...everyone else gets to look only. And look they do! Potatoes and Ruby stare at them for minutes on end trying to figure them out. This weekend the weather was really nice so we brought the chicks out on to the patio for some fresh air.
Bird's eye view of Potatoes:
My dad is coming for a visit (to help us get stuff done around the house) this coming weekend and I'm hoping we'll get a chicken coop constructed at the end of the garden yard.

I'm fully aware that 5 birds will give us WAY more eggs than we'll ever need (about 20/week) but that's okay. Finding people to take fresh eggs from me here in town shouldn't be a problem. What I really need is a pig so it can eat all the extra eggs I can't eat or give away...too bad Davis doesn't allow pigs in residential neighborhoods! (I can hear Dave sighing with relief!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ELB Quality Control Department

This letter is to notify you that our quality control department has deemed this Mikasa vibratory plate compactor to be both fun and interesting.

Should you have any other loud, colorful, adult-sized equipment in need of inspection please contact us immediately or simply drop it off at our facility at your convenience.

We specialize in equipment with shiny chrome accents, knobs, nylon straps and buckles, wheels, LCD screens, and buttons.

Regular operating hours are 6am-9am, 11am-1pm, and 3pm-7pm.

There is no charge for our services. Our satisfaction is our guarantee.

We are a dependently owned, independently operated subsidiary of the parent company D & J Bower, Inc.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Must Read

This is HILARIOUS (and oh-so-true) and you must read it. Now. Especially the "grandma" part.

How to Buy Jeans

Future Soil Scientist?

Gah...this kid makes me sooooooooo happy! Look at how much he loves playing in the dirt. I love watching him discover the feeling of dirt and rocks between his pudgy little toes and fingers.
I'm always hearing about how so many kids these days have allergies that we just didn't have to bother with growing up. I think a lot of it has to do with what I call "Lysol parents"--those germ-phobic parents who are always wiping down the house and the kids with disinfectant/anti-microbial wipes. ENOUGH! If kids are not exposed to some amount of germs when they are young, then their bodies will not be able to handle it when they do EVENTUALLY come in contact with them.

The earlier kids can be exposed to pathogens in soil, the sooner their bodies will start making antibodies against them, and the stronger their immune systems will be.

I don't know about other folks, but Dave and I ate a LOT of dirt when I was a kid--mud pies anyone? We were exposed to animals and our parents did not freak out when they caught us chewing on the bottom of a work boot or on a rock. Kids will be kids, after all.

Like us, most of our peers don't suffer from insane allergies to peanuts, medicines, plants, etc. Although a lot of that is probably genetic, much of it is probably epigenetic (meaning that what happens to our bodies affects the way our genetic code responds). It is also a "use it or lose it" issue: if a young, capable body never has the opportunity to make antibodies against nasty antigens (like germs in dirt) then as it gets older it just won't be able to make them.

Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox. =)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Eddie's Fig Tree

I have had my placenta in the deep freeze for too long so before our trip I decided to get rid of it. My goal was to plant it beneath a fruit tree in the orchard up in Gualala but that's just not going to happen. We decided to plant a black mission fig tree in the front yard and I realized that'd be the perfect place to put the placenta.

I love the bag that the hospital staff put the placenta container into. It doesn't get more personal than this, folks.It surprised me to see the cord still attached, which makes perfect sense.Not wanting to shock the roots by the extreme cold of the frozen chunk of meat, I first defrosted my microwave. (Hey, it's just meat.)

During one of Eddie's 2 hour nap I managed to plant the fig tree, plus a cherry and an apricot in the utility yard. My dad had done most of the work for the fig tree (digging the hole) the previous weekend when he was here...and just for fun we plopped Eddie into the hole for a cute picture. He loooooooooooooooves playing in the dirt!Once he was up I took his picture next to "his" tree. It'll be fun to take and compare the pictures each spring to see how much each of them has grown.
"Is that my tree?"
I planted the rest of the bare soil in the raised bed with some "mostly native" seeds I found at the hardware store. By the time we got back from our trip they were germinating nicely. It looks like they are almost all California poppies...hopefully the other stuff pops out soon, too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Breastfeeding Support Program!!!!!!!!!

I just got this email in my inbox and it made me oh-so-happy:

Dear Campus Community,

We are pleased to announce the continuation of the Breastfeeding Support Program through a newly-formed partnership of the Foods for Health Institute [] and Human Resources: WorkLife []. Effective July 1, the Foods for Health Institute will fund the program and the HR Work Life Team will continue management of its operation.

Current program components will remain intact—lactation sites equipped with hospital-grade breastpumps, consultations with a board-certified lactation consultant, breastfeeding support group meetings, and resources to facilitate a woman’s return-to-work/school from maternity leave. A campus policy regarding lactation accommodation is being finalized.

We are all very pleased that we will be able to continue this program that means so much to our campus community.

Karen Slakey Hull, Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources

Bruce German, Director, Foods for Health Institute, Professor, Food Science and Technology

Thank you to everyone who signed the online petition at my request and/or sent in letters to Chancellor Katehi on Eddie's behalf. This program was going to end in June because of budget cuts--thank goodness UC Davis realized that for only $12,000/year and serving so many campus women and their families it was too valuable to cut. You rock, UC Davis!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Remember how excited I was last spring when my pink climbing rose bloomed and looked so pretty over the gate?

Well, look at it this year! I wish we'd gone to the trouble of dressing up for a nicer family picture but we just didn't have time. If it is still blooming this coming weekend when Dave is home again then we'll take a better picture. I'd crop it to remove the roof but then you wouldn't be able to see the top of the rose. Taking a good picture here is tough because there's only so much space not occupied by a 10 yard pile of road base rock or any ugly trailer...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I just checked on Eddie and found him sleeping in a very weird position. When I looked over the side of the crib I thought he was sleeping on his tummy...but I couldn't see his legs...I can understand him falling asleep in a sitting position when in the stroller or car seat...but in his bed? What a little weirdo.
In a few minutes I'm going to go wake him up since I only wanted him to take a cat nap so he'd make it to normal bedtime (he refused his regular afternoon nap earlier today).

Dyani's Wedding Shower

Back on February 21 my mom and I threw Dyani and Brice a wedding shower. Our theme turned out to be "more is more" since we went a little overboard on the whole thing. But for your oldest friend who was like a sister for your entire childhood, I think that's an okay thing.

My mom was in charge of renting/buying all the stuff we needed--tables, table decorations and vases, buying flowers for me to put in the vases, etc. I was in charge of, well, everything else.
Her wedding was sort of like a destination wedding so lots of people couldn't make the trip all the way to France. Plus it was a small venue so the guest list was somewhat limited. Taking that into consideration, we decided to make the shower as much like a wedding reception as we could. The guest list for the shower was huge--almost 50 people! I think in the end only about 35-40 came, but still that's a lot of folks to cook for.

My friend John Marion has a winery in Livermore (Big White House Winery/John Evan Cellars) and he agreed to let me hold the shower there before they opened for wine tasting at noon. As long as I bought a good amount of wine (check!) the venue would be free of charge. He helped us pick out 4 wines to serve according to the menu I had planned.Having it at his winery was perfect because he also grew up with the Jones family, plus we knew we were helping his business. When people arrived I had sliced French bread and a variety of spreads--my homemade pesto and jams. John served his house Cabernet and his famous peach Champagne. People milled around and filled out little cards with a piece of advice for the couple. I asked them to put their names on each card so we could draw cards randomly later and award prizes.
For the meal I made 6 quiches--crab, ham/broccoli, and mushroom/spinach--and we served seafood trays and fruit salad. Turns out I should have made 8 quiches because apparently not everyone got as much as they wanted. (I'm taking that as a compliment that my quiches were good enough to eat!) John served a yummy white wine (I forget what it was) with the food. Ask Eddie if he liked it...After everyone ate their quiche we moved on to opening gifts. Watching Brice's face when he realized that the giant mound of gifts was for them was hilarious. He couldn't understand why people would be so generous to them. We explained that the whole point of a "wedding shower" is to "shower" the couple with gifts. (To be honest, I'm not sure how they'll fit all their new household goodies into the small house!)
Luckily for me, Eddie didn't yet have any separation anxiety from me (his newest developmental milestone...sigh...) so he was passed around the party from one person to the next. That meant I had two hands to get everything done!
Since they were to be married in France and would therefore have a traditional French cake (stacks of profiteroles) at their reception, I wanted to make sure that Brice would get a traditional American style cake, too. Did you know that Safeway sells affordable wedding cakes? I had no idea. I bought one and was pleasantly surprised with it's taste and appearance. It went perfectly with one of John's sweet dessert wines--it was one that Kateri and Dave really liked from one of his release parties back in the summer. (In my pre-baby days I'm sure I would have just made the cake myself...but life has changed.)

It was fun to watch them cut the cake together and then feed it to each other, too.
At the end of the shower I pulled 3 random advice cards, read them outloud, and awarded bottles of wine to each winner. I asked the guests to check the bottom of their cake plates for a crown sticker--that person won the big door prize: a big bottle of Jonh's pinot noir and two winery glasses. I also presented the couple with a magnum bottle of that wine and two "lover" wine glasses and Kateri with her own bottle of the dessert wine.

Dyani and Brice gave a quick speech to thank everyone for coming and being so generous (English and French, respectively...his was in French only because my mom insisted...not that she could even understand it!).

It was a great shower and I'm glad my mom and I could kick off their wedding celebrations for them. My only regrets are that I didn't take ANY pictures myself (I had to ask folks to share these photos with me) and the shower ran way later than expected and I knew we needed to clear out so we wouldn't hinder John's regular business operations. Luckily he called me that night to say that lots of folks from the shower bought lots of wine afterward so he ended up making a great profit from our tardiness. Sweet!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Coming Soon!

I know, I know, I KNOW--I really need to post pictures and whatnot about our France trip.

We arrived home a day late...but that's okay because had we left even one day later we may still be stuck in France because of that Icelandic volcano. And even though it was an amazing trip and Eddie was a traveling rockstar, we were ready to come home. Edward actually went on to Greece for a "week" with some friends but his flight back to NY last Friday has been delayed until this coming Thursday (at this point...on the news today it sounded like there might be yet another explosion so who knows how long he'll get to be there!).

I promise I'll get around to posting stuff soon. And I STILL need to post something about Dyani's wedding shower that we threw for her back in February! Eeeek!

Since getting home we've all been recovering from colds (Dave is actually home sick in bed today) that the entire bridal party seemed to get. I have a stack of papers to grade for the class I'm a TA for so I have to end this post.

But here are a few pictures and tidbits..

We went to Giverny (Monet's gardens) on our way to see Mont St. Michel:
We had tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooons of fun hanging out with Edward, as always (here he is with my mom at Mont St. Michel, which she requested we make a point of seeing while in France. Even though it was a 3 hour drive from Paris it really was worth it!): The whole point of the trip--Dyani's wedding--was nothing short of amazing. You'll see how very French/chateau/fairytale it was when I get around to writing more about it and posting more pictures. Dyani was--hands down--the most beautiful bride ever. Brice is one lucky guy!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Working with Baby

Whereas it would have been a lot easier to play with Eddie inside the house where all his toys are, instead I took him along with me on all my "chores" this weekend. The weather was way too nice to be spent indoors...and I have a really hard time being idle. Dave and my dad were outside working and I wanted to be right out there with them (it is my garden after all so I should be helping prep it anyway).Since giving birth, I've thought a lot about how our modern, developed, Western society does not support working mothers. In many places in the world women continue working after they have a baby by simply taking the baby with them to work. All over Asia and Africa you see women going about their business with a baby or larger child strapped to their bodies (or tagging along behind them). If you are a vegetable seller or picker in Indonesia your working life is not drastically altered by having a baby (after the recover period, of course).

I wish it were that way here, too. Unfortunately for most of us, though, our jobs are to sit still behind a computer type-typing away for hours on end. And small kids do NOT like to be still, believe you me. If most of them are anything like Eddie--as I expect they are--they want to be able to see what you're doing and look at what's going on around them, preferably doing outside work in nice weather. Last weekend, the underside of Eddie's chin was rubbed raw from the backpack as he whipped and turned his head from side to side to see what I was doing every moment. He didn't want to miss a thing! All that movement and drool from his mouth turned his skin bright red.
If I worked as a farmer or did more field work for my graduate research I'd definitely take Eddie with me wherever I went. It would be so much easier than dealing with childcare, pumping milk, etc. And it would probably be better for him, too, since he'd get exposed to all sorts of stimulating things from a very young age.