Monday, February 08, 2016


Sometime in the last several years, my sinuses started clogging up. I didn't notice, because I don't notice little details like that, and it came on gradually, and I don't go to the doctor very often but I finally did and she said, "Wow, your sinuses are awful."

So we tried nose sprays and allergy  medicines and antibiotics and things got a little less stuffy so that if I took all of everything I could breathe somewhat on occasion. And she said, "You should maybe go see a specialist."

But I have a pretty low tolerance for going to doctors and I already wanted to pursue TMJ treatment first because my jaw hurts a whole lot worst. That took me to a sleep apnea specialist, and he looked at my sinuses and said, "Wow, your sinuses are awful. You should take more allergy meds and go see a specialist."

So I thought about going to a specialist after the TMJ treatment, but that was going to be awhile, and it was going to cost money (as were all those allergy meds being consumed in copious quantities), and my sinuses still hurt pretty bad.

Then one day I suddenly said to myself, "Why don't I just see if it's something I'm consuming all the time. Like, say, milk?"

I stopped consuming milk. Within 24 hours I could breathe while on the allergy meds. Within a week I could breathe even off the allergy meds.

I should be very happy to save myself the trip to the specialist and future allergy meds.

But mostly I just miss milk. Milk milk milk milk. And yogurt. And cheese. And milk chocolate. And stuff that claims to be dark chocolate but actually has milk inside it. And a tall, cold glass of milk alongside all those things.

Every time I find myself reaching for something dairyish I stop and breathe very deeply. Through my nose. It helps, a little.

I still want milk!

(Yes, I know other people suffer with far worse and more extensive food issues. Hey, I've had them myself. I still want milk.)

I'm hoping it's just a temporary intolerance and I can handle it again in moderation after going off it for awhile. Because I don't want any of that faux whipped stuff on my pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, February 07, 2016


We are observing the inevitable February Slump this year by taking things a little slower in school . . . spreading three weeks out over four . . . just enough to allow for those mornings when getting out of bed doesn't seem to be an option. (Although, in the usual perversity of things, if I let the children know that the next day is off school, they will be up hours before dawn, though I can barely get them up by eight-thirty on a school day.)

Mostly school is going quite well. Deux and Duchess are doing Year 5 of Ambleside Online, which is pretty much awesome. But AO is in the process of revamping their science selections (I am *so* excited about what we'll be doing in future years) and Year 5 hasn't been revised yet. When my students kept complaining that their anatomy book was too easy--not a common complaint with AO selections--I decided to try to find something else.

We wound up with The Way We Work by David Macaulay, which they tackled with enthusiasm based on their affection for The Way Things Work, which Deux took to bed with him for many years. It was a good thing they were enthusiastic, because much of it was over my head, especially with the biochemistry up front. But with the help of some Kahn Academy videos, we made it through and are on to large body systems which are a little easier to envision.

Still, just reading and sketching was a little dry, so I was happy to come across an old human biology experiments book at the library sale rack--one of those older ones that dates from the days when any determined youngster with a garage and the dangerous chemicals readily available at his neighborhood hardware store could unlock the mysteries of the universe. So now we have some supplemental experiments to do.

To go with breathing, I thought we could start with a simple experiment that involved exhaling through a tube into an inverted jug filled with water. The idea was that your breath would force out the water and then, by measuring how much empty space you created, you could estimate your lung capacity. This sounded like fun. And it was. Especially when I ignored the, "Do this in the kitchen sink" instructions and the water fleeing the force of Duchess's lungs erupted over the counter, dirty dishes, and floor.

"And this, children," I said, "Is why your mother is a lawyer, not a scientist."

Deux, with the reflex of young students, asked, "Then why do you make *us* study science?"

"Because it is awesome," I said. And he didn't argue.