Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Samhain Plans

Trick Or Treat:
Thanks to my amazing step-grama we were able to get the kids good costumes for Halloween- and for the first time in quite a few years, I have a new costume as well. Lylie is going to be a ballerina princess (her new favorite color is purple and we found the perfect outfit & accessories), and Taven is going to be Iron Man (which he picked over spider man AND optimus prime). They're both very excited about their costumes, but Taven is having a hard time being patient about it. My costume, which I've dubbed "Dahlia the goth faery," consists of wings, a wig and fishnet arm-warmers.
I think we're going to go trick-or-treating at my sister-in-law's house with my nieces and nephew, which I am excited about since we missed the pumpkin carving! Speaking of which, I need to carve mine, this week.

Get togethers:
I am trying to organize a potluck lunch for Sunday with locals I have gathered from craigslist and witchvox who are interested in paganism. So far I have found two recipes I want try out. The first is cranberry glazed sweet potatoes which makes my mouth water. The second is butternut squash & cheese polenta. Both require baking which I am a bit nervous about, being that I don't do it often. I'm am thinking about making a turkey ham as well, but I haven't decided.

Also, we're supposed to go see Tapered Mind in concert Sunday night!! That being said, I need to get on this midterm!! Haha


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vascular dermal tissue vs. human integument

The dermal tissue of a vascular plant and the integument of the human body are similar in function for the following reasons:

1) Both the dermal tissue and the integument are a barrier, protecting the organs contained within the plant/body (Alters & Alters, 2008).

2) Both the dermal tissue and the integument have a means to combat ultraviolet radiation’s possible damage (Alters & Alters, 2008).

a) The dermal tissue of a vascular plant produces “hairs” called trichomes that reflect light (Alters & Alters, 2008).

i) Trichomes cover the dermal tissue much like vellus hair (fine white hairs) covers the human integument (Alters & Alters, 2008).

b) The integument produces melanin, a chemical which absorbs UV rays (Alters & Alters, 2008).

3) Epidermal cells have a waxy layer called the “cuticle” that protects the plant from water loss, the human equivalent would be the sebum (oil) secreted by the sebaceous gland in the hair follicles, although human skin is essentially what keeps the bodily fluids contained (Alters & Alters, 2008).

4) Stomata are the “pores” of vascular plants. They release water in a process called “transpiration (Bishop).”

The dermal tissue of vascular plants and the integument of the human body differ in function in the following ways:

1) Firstly, sebum is mainly for clearing the hair follicle (Rudh, 2011), while the cuticle of dermal tissue serves the aforementioned purpose of retaining water (Bishop).

2) Vellus hair catches bacteria to reduce the chance of infection (Milady's standard cosmetology, 2008), while trichomes, as I mentioned, reflect light and are also, sometimes, a protection from predators.

3) Human pores release waste products through sweat (Milady's standard cosmetology, 2008), stomata only release water .

4) Human integument is a sensory surface where dermal tissue does not as there is no vascular plant-equivalent to a nervous system (Alters & Alters, 2008).

5) Human integument is elastic, therefore, it expands and contracts according to movement, whereas dermal tissue is rigid (Alters & Alters, 2008).

6) Human integument has the ability to regulate temperature and produce vitamin D, which indirectly aids bone development, while vascular plants temperature and food source rely wholly on the sun (Alters & Alters, 2008).

Alters, B., & Alters, S. (2008).Biology: understanding life. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Bishop, T. (n.d.). Virtual lab: plant transpiration. Retrieved from http://mhlearningsolutions.com/apu_biologylabs/planttranspiration/index.html

(2008). Milady's standard cosmetology textbook . New York, NY: Milad'ys Publishing Corporation.

Rudh, A. (2011, January 3).Sebaceous glands- location, functions and pictures. Retrieved from http://www.primehealthchannel.com/sebaceous-glands-location-functions-and-pictures.html

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sociological Experiment At Home

So, I have noticed a few things about my children, in regards to discipline, over the past year. Here goes:

We're a bit old fashioned and have used corporal punishment in the past. Never with paddles or "weapons" of any kind, just a swat to the behind as a last resort on occasion or a flick to the lip if the mouth gets out of control. In all actuality, I've realized that this tends to be more laziness than a real last resort.
After my brief and limited education in psychology and lots of experience with my children and others' children, I have come to realize that other things are more effective in the long run, they just take more time and patience until they take effect.
The most helpful advice I can offer the parents of a toddler who is less than well-behaved is a stable reward system. A few other things that can help are structure and routine at home, non-negotiable family time on a regular basis, a constant dialogue about the morals and values you want to instill, and regular chances for creative expression.

Stable Reward System:
By this I mean only that you should use rewards regularly to motivate your children to use good manners, practice good hygiene, help out around the house or any other little thing you'd like to get them to do.

My methods:
I use anything my kids like as a reward, television, candy, certain toys that require supervision, even going outside to play. When I was having the toughest of times with them, I dropped $50 at the dollar store and purchased a ton of tiny toys and a bin for rewarding good behavior on a daily and weekly basis. With this, I had a chart with behaviors we were working on and if they did as I required to the best of their ability for the day, they got a sticker on their board- I made the board myself from stuff I purchased from the dollar store, as well.

Another way to use the rewards system is to withhold the reward when behavior is bad, of course. Some lenience should be practiced with this, however, always give your child a chance to earn the reward back.

Also, the best reward you can give to a child is praise and affection. This is not to say that you should be cold and distant when they are having their bad moments, but laying on the love extra thick is a fantastic reward. I use this in addition to other treats, but I am a bit over the top about it when education is involved. I value education and intelligence so I be sure to tell them how great they are while I squeeze them and give them lots of kisses when they answer a question right or when they offer information I had no idea they were privy to.
This is a more proactive and preventative approach to parenting.

Other methods:
As I said, anything the child enjoys can be a reward. No one knows your little one as well as you do. My advice is to pick something you have no doubt about and be creative with how you use it. It is going to take trial and error, don't give up, though. You will find your niche eventually and your family will be a happier, calmer one for your efforts.

Why it works:
Children are people too. We get wrapped up in our little ones, especially when we are struggling with them, and we forget to employ logic. As people, we all want to be rewarded for our efforts and if life is just constant consequence, we tend to be unpleasant. Everyone needs a little motivation once in a while. Children are no different.
A bit about structure:
Children want rules and structure (Berk, 2008). They enjoy stability and predictability. It makes them feel safe and secure in their environment (Berk, 2008). Toddlers are constantly testing their limits to see what they can get away with. In order to show them those limits you have to stick to them, this includes time constraints, budgets, manners, hygiene, etc.

A bit about family time:
Regardless of bad behavior, your little one adores you. In infancy a child attaches to one or a few people, and this is essential in development (Berk, 2008). The lack of such can cause emotional and mental complications throughout his/her life. That bond MUST be nurtured for a happy, healthy adult to develop. The best way to do that is to make time in your busy schedule to show your little one that s/he is a priority. It doesn't matter what you do or for how long, really, as long as your attention is focused on your little one and you're enjoying yourselves.
A bit about dialogue:
Keeping the lines of communication is great for lots of things. First and possibly the most important, it keeps you close. Talking is a powerful tool for bonding. A child who is close to and has a healthy relationship with her parents is less likely to stray from the path to a happy future(Berk, 2008). Secondly, hearing and seeing you speak will aid your child's speech development and seriously improve your chances of healthy speech in the future. Lastly, the more ways you can get your little one's attention the better. Kids are very instinctual and impulsive. Being so young, it is hard for them to control their impulses(Berk, 2008). Half of the time they do things without thinking about it and before they have a chance to realize it we are punishing them. Your open dialogue can help them be more aware of their actions (Berk, 2008).

A bit about creative expression:
Giving your child a means to express his or her self is not only great for his or her confidence but is also great for mental health and dealing with stress. It is a good idea to help your child find hobbies as soon as they are old enough to have them. Having strong interests and talents to nurture can be a means to keep them out of trouble in their teen years (Berk, 2008).


Berk, L. (2008). Infants and children prenatal through middle childhood. Pearson Publishing

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Educated Stance on Genetic Engineering

The benefits of genetic engineering include a higher yield in crops (“Benefits of gm," 2011), extended life-span of products, a decrease in the use of insecticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers and therefore the release of harmful substances into the atmosphere and water supply (Borello, 2011), reasonable cost of products (Holdsworth, Knight & Mather, 2005) due to more efficient farming, availability to yield in less than favorable conditions as well as yielding higher in limited land, and lastly, an abundance of efficient farming helps combat starvation in places where viable land is sparse which aids the proper development of children by providing proper nutrition (Borello, 2011).
After reviewing a few articles, the only real threat I am finding is possible allergies to the genetically engineered produce ("Benefits of gm," 2011). There were concerns for tipping the eco system discussed in a couple of the articles, however, the scientists interviewed made valid points about genetically modified crops improving the food chain rather than providing a detriment (Borello, 2011). Of course there are moral objections which suggest molecular biology is “playing god (Holdsworth, Knight & Mather, 2005),” but if good can be done, some would say not pursuing genetic engineering further is the real risk.

Personally, I think that genetic engineering is the next logical step in agriculture. The population is higher due to advances in medicine and to support our population efficient farming is not just necessary, it is integral (Borello, 2011).
I find it rather unfortunate that personal beliefs are getting in the way of widespread genetic engineering with all the benefits that are possible. Arguments include taking money from the local farmer, making the industry more about farmers than consumers, prices of genetically engineered seed increasing and pests and herbicides adapting to genetic mutations (Holdsworth, Knight & Mather, 2005).
Between 1996 and 2006, Biotech put thirty-three billion dollars in the pockets of farmers. As of 2009, 90% of the 13.3 million farmers using Biotech products were independent farmers cultivating on a small land-mass (Gustin, 2009).
The original research teams responsible for mainstream genetic engineering, succeeded by Roger Beachy, responsible for GE tomatoes resistant to the tomato mosaic virus, was experimenting with increasing the nutrient value of produce. However, Beachy claims that the companies willing to lend funding to academic research were not willing to pay more for such nutrient rich foods, namely General Mills and Kellogs (Borello, 2011).

It is easy to point the finger at something so controversial and novel when profits fall, but according to Monsanto Co., one of the biggest biotech companies in 2009, prices of farming supplies have increased for everyone whether or not they are cultivating with genetic engineering (Gustin, 2009).
In the business of herbicides and pests mutating to adapt to genetic modification, that is a nature at her finest. The only thing we can do to combat these mutations destroying future crops is continue research and development as with any product (Borello, 2011).


Benefits of gm foods outweigh risks. (2011, June 30). South China Morning Post, p. 10.

Borello, B. (2011). Food fight.Scientific American, 304(4), 80-83. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=59347926&site=ehost-live

Gustin, G. (2009, February 12). Biotech produces bumper-crop, states use of gm seeds has grown but critics remain wary. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. C2.

Holdsworth, D., Knight, J., & Mather, D. (2005). Consumer benefits and acceptance of genetically modified food. Journal of Public Affairs, 10(5), 226-235. DOI: 10.1002/pa.24

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Roommates, New Semester, New Beginnings

Truly, a family of 4 has moved into one of the kids' rooms. They seem to make it work. So far it has been mostly an enjoyable experience, though Taven is clearly acting out more so than Lylie. I have been exhausted. However, they are also a lot of help.

I am taking Biology with Lab this semester and Soil Science next semester. I am working on getting my minor switched to journalism so that I can work for a paper or magazine after I get my bachelor's. Maybe even a kids' magazine. Children are the future after all! ;) I bet I could make energy conservation fun! ^.^

Biology is AMAZING. The labs are so great. I already got a head start on week 2's lab. I wish I could stay part time but it is going to take me forever. Having a single class at a time makes life interesting and less stressful.

An update on the spiritual front:

I've been on several message boards here and there. One of them pissed me off because it seemed like the people running the show were a bit angsty for my taste so I haven't been on much, there. I did just join wiccan wisdom and have been browsing there.

I've actually e-mailed a few women in surrounding cities and even here in Martinsburg in regards to starting a family-friendly community/coven. I've met with two ladies and have to give another a call this week.

I've joined a pagan homeschool forum on yahoo which has been really helpful with my aspirations to keep the kids at home for school. Lots of great ideas and product suggestions. I think I am going to go with Waldorf for curriculum suggestions.

Lastly I've finally started having dreams again, seemingly symbolic ones. I meditate before bed again to be safe. I've even done a formal ritual recently. A 7-day deal. First one since before we moved here (January).

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Really, I am just going back to regimens that I dropped while working and going to school full time. Now with the addition of a room mate I will be doing both part time and I can take care of myself and the people I love a little better.

#1. Home Pre-School. I have always given the children instruction and guidance and seized any opportunity to teach them about the world, but there was a time where they had structure in their schedule and a large portion of it was very fun learning.

Thanks to youtube's KidsTV123 I have a plethora of visual aides that the kids LOVE. Taking after mom, their favorites are what they call the "planet movie"s, one is just a ditty to help remind them of the order of the planets, the other is a song about the solar system.
Luckily, I also have a ton of books from freecycle, as well as the ones my little sister no longer uses. I still have a few packs of flash cards, crayons, colored-pencils, coloring books and other craft supplies for all kinds of fun learning adventures with my babies.

#2. Weekly work out regimen. A very good friend whom I went to high school with will be moving to the area this Monday. She is going to be my new gym buddy- 5 days a week.
In addition to that, the hubby has agreed to rise and shine early 4 days a week for a couples work out. My workouts at the gym will probably be longer since Chris can use the equipment at work, but I think it is a good healthy way for us to bond.

#3.Food Lover's Diet Plan

I bought this a few years ago and I LOVE it. The exercise portion is no longer necessary once my regimens begin, which, is, hopefully, this week. However, the recipes and snack suggestions will be fueling my shopping lists from here on out.

#4 Mass organization- I have a desk and a bedroom that needs organizing after throwing out some junk and freecycling some unnecessary items.

#5 Regular productive relaxation- meditation, yoga, isochronic tones, chanting and ritual will be more regular. Especially now that I have a killer headset that will block out all the noise of the house.

I figure it will be more of a motivator to share my plan publicly. Good motivation to write as well, which I know will suffer when classes start, tomorrow.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What I Have Learned about Myself this year.

It is inspiring and empowering for me to believe that unseen forces are at work everywhere that greatness and beauty prevail. To imagine the many faces of these forces. To have a relationship with the Unknown. I prefer to have faith in myself and my part in that unseen force to craft my path in the light and bright of existence rather than fear anything or worry. I choose consciousness. And it serves me well.

I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe there are no coincidences. I believe we are all divine and entitled to happiness. I believe that divine in each of us makes things happen and I choose to harness it and use it for good.

I love to learn, I love to teach, to explore, to create, I love life.

Science & Philosophy are my favorite subjects, any and every aspect of each.

I am not bothered by ther "dark" themes in life, though I do detest over-indulgence, self-pity, greed, selfishness, ignorance & blind hate.

I love people and I love talking and debate, but I do get very passionate and have difficulty tolerating the above list of distaste. I am a mother in every sense of the word. I love to help people, nurture their curiosities, open their eyes to new concepts, experiences or ideas.

I am a Naturalistic Pagan, which means I utilize ritual and rite but my core beliefs are rooted in science. I had no idea there was a name for it until yesterday. Disappointing that I am not original in my thoughts, but empowering that there are others like me that value critical thinking as well as spiritual health.

I am a very powerful being, emotionally, physically and mentally.

I can overcome anything.

I am in love with an amazing man(I remembered this, rather than learned. ;) ).

I am incredibly lucky in so many aspects. Guardian angels must follow me, four leaf clovers must grow where I dwell. I am insanely, unbelievably lucky.