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In 2010 I resolve to:

~Apply to graduate school(s) or take pre-req classes in preparation for applying to grad school.

~Paint my downstairs.

~Attend continuing education seminar(s).

~Read lots of good books.

~Go on vacation to Bald Head Island, NC.

~Visit Jenn in Chicago.

~Lose 15 lbs.

~Become more organized about holidays and birthdays, including mailing or emailing all birthday cards on time or early and planning holiday itineraries at least 6 weeks in advance.

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I got this:

Bald Head Island, NC

(OK, so I didn’t get the island for Christmas, just an amazing vacation there in August.)

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I’ve tried to write this post a couple of times.  And so far it’s ended up blank every one of those times.  This time, I’m just going to spit it out.  It may not make much sense, but at least it’ll be here instead of still just sitting on my shoulders.

I was extremely fortunate to have been offered a job almost a year ago which, at the time and for many reasons, served my needs perfectly.  However, I accepted the position knowing full well that it was not a long-term match for several reasons, which I won’t go into because they’re not really relevant to my current conflict.  (My supervisor and I discussed these issues when I was hired and agreed that the position would probably end up being relatively short-term for me.)

I’ve been having the “where do I go now?” conversation with myself a lot lately, for a couple of reasons.  One, my annual review is coming up next month and I’m pretty sure the subject will come up then.  Two, I’m having a mid-life crisis. 

Yes, I have come to the conclusion that I’m having my mid-life crisis at the ripe old age of 26.  Why, I have no idea.  Ok, if I’m being honest with myself, I know.  See, I had this novel idea that I would graduate from college, buy a horse (first things first afterall), find a dream job, and work my way up the corporate ladder to a leadership position.  Tada, career!  I had this notion that hard work, dedication, loyalty, selflessness, etc. all paid off in the end.  I don’t want to sound jaded–I’m not, just more realistic–but I know now that that’s not entirely how the world turns. 

Ok, back to my mid-life crisis.  It’s because my life needs new direction.  I need to have my life/job/career mean something.  You know–I want to make a difference, do something meaningful, all that jazz.  So…

Goal: find new direction for my life. 

I’ve come up with three possible options:

     1.   Have a baby.

Because this completely re-focuses your life, correct?  On days when I’m having baby-longings, this seems like the answer to my mid-life crisis.  I mean, a child totally gives new meaning to your life, right?  However, I also have days when I think my main problem is lack of mental stimulation.  On those days, I’m pretty sure having a baby isn’t going to solve much.

     2.   Find a new, more career-oriented job.

Really, this is the solution.  It’s just a matter of finding the right fit.  However, after 3 years of constant searching and a year of “keeping-an-eye-out” searching, I’ve come to the conclusion that there really aren’t any equine/animal sciences/research/veterinary jobs in Dayton, Ohio that fit my credentials.  (Bachelor’s of Science @ OSU, majored in Animal Sciences w/focus in Equine Science, minor in Communication, reproductive physiology research exp.) 

Major Concern(s): This decision leaves me with a requirement: MOVE.  Probably out of state.  Since we just bought a house and are still paying for our wedding, this isn’t really feasible.  At least not right now.

     3.   Go back to school for my Master’s in Equine Reproductive Physiology.

Also a valid solution, providing a Master’s degree can actually help me get the type of job I want, not just land me with more student loan debt.  This was where I was headed in 2005 (when I graduated from undergrad), before a few road blocks fell in my lane.  

Major Concern(s): Same as above for solution #2.  Also, I would have about 20-30 credit hours of pre-req courses I’d have to take before I could even apply to grad school.  And I’d have to re-take the GRE, since my score from 2004 doesn’t count anymore.

Ah, dilemma, dilemma.

Here’s where a few personal stories would be quite helpful.  Anyone care to share a similar story, preferably with your choice and how it turned out for you?

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Thoughts on what makes hubby and I tick…

~Hubs and I both dig cuddling…lots of cuddling.  Unless one of us is deathly ill, suffering from a life-threatening injury, or majorly overheated, we–at very least–go to sleep and wake up spooning.  On a typical morning, my alarm goes off at 6:15am and–shortly thereafter–I hear, “Hmmm nmm, wanna cuddle?”  It’s a nice way to get the day started off right, though a common side effect is staying in bed too long, thus having to rush my shower.

~Since we (I) don’t believe in “his” and “her” roles, we sat down and made a list of all the jobs around the house (and farm) that have to get done daily and/or weekly. Then we each picked a job one at a time until they were all taken. Hubby picked laundry and dishes. He owns lawn care and a bunch of other duties. I have cooking and cleaning stalls and a ton of other stuff. It works for us.

~We agree on a few key deal-breakers.  Cheating, smoking, and tattoos are all divorceable offenses.

~I occasionally eat tofu and soy products.  Hubs will try everything once, and from then on I have agreed to leave him–a happy man–alone with his beef.

~When I first met my husband, he proudly sported a mustache and a goatee.   I have sensitive skin and found the facial hair a little….honestly?…irritating,.  Our compromise?  The mustache met Mr. Razor.  Now we’re both happy.

~We kiss and say “I love you” before leaving the house every morning.

~Hubs has heroically shouldered the responsibility of playing Money Manager.  How very un-21st century of us, I know.  However, I appreciate a little distance from the very thing I stress over most in life.

~My husband is a creature of habit.  He avoids change like the plague.  I, on the other hand, am a schemer and a dreamer.  I like to come up with lots of plans, many of which will never reach fruition.  To combat the obvious frustration we’re prone to experiencing with each other, hubby has learned to adopt a “wait and see” approach to my ideas.  Oftentimes, I come up with a new idea before he’s required to submit an opinion on the old one.  And I have learned to propose change gradually, giving him time to digest before expecting a response.  It usually works.

~We have His and Hers dogs, just so no one gets jealous.

~Since I tend to swell like a rattlesnake bite when stung, bitten, or otherwise faced with nature, my hubby is kind enough to handle pests, poison ivy, and other flora and fauna that are out to get me.  The one exception?  Per hubby’s request I handle any stray spiders.

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Ragweed is NOT My Friend

This time of year, my allergies kick into high gear and try really, really hard to make my life miserable.  Anyone else who experiences ragweed allergy knows what I’m talking about.  I can’t breathe, my nose runs, my eyes itch, my throat swells, my head pounds, and I’m oh-so tired all the time.  And it’ll be like this until the first frost starts killing the nasty little plants.

I keep my bottle o’ Benadryl handy, but here are some other recommendations:

1. Visit http://www.pollen.com/allergy-weather-forecast.asp to view current pollen counts.  Try to stay indoors when pollen counts are high.

2. Keep windows in your home and car closed.

3. After spending time outside, immediately shower upon re-entering your house.  Also, change clothes and wash the old ones.  (Ragweed pollen clings to your clothes, so this will help avoid bringing it into your home.)

4. Bathe your pets frequently, so they don’t bring as much pollen into the house.

5. Keep weeds around your house cut down.  This should be done BEFORE the ragweed plant is mature.

6. Move. (haha)

FYI, people with allergies to ragweed often experience swelling and itching in their mouth (called Oral Allergy Syndrom) after eating certain fruits and veggies, including bananas, cucumbers, melons, and zucchini.



By the way, did you know that one ragweed plant produces up to 1 billion pollen grains?  They’re prolific little buggers.

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I posted a couple of months ago about my search for–an appreciation of–a new doctor for my migraines.  Enter Dr. M.

To pick up where I left off in my last post on the topic, Dr. M gave me three treatment options:

1. Leave everything the way it was, including the two preventative medications I was taking daily and the migraine abortive medication I took when I did get headaches.

2. Begin searching (via trial and error) for migraine preventative mediation(s) that would be more effective at reducing the frequency of my migraines.

3. Wean off all preventive medications and begin lifestyle changes designed to minimize my migraines naturally.

I decided to give my body the opportunity to do this on its own and chose option #3.

Dr. M’s instructions were as follows:

1. Exercise (aerobic) 30 minutes daily.

2. Set a sleep routine and stick to it.  Determine the RIGHT amount of sleep for me (between 7-9 hours/night).  Keep the same bedtime every night and rise-time every morning, even on the weekends.

3. Eat small, frequent meals in order to keep my blood sugar level more constant.

4. Keep hydrated – drink plenty of water daily.

5. Learn–and practice–some form of stress management (meditation, reading before bedtime, etc.).

6. Read the book Headache 1-2-3.

To date, I have been better at keeping some of these guidelines than others.  #6 hasn’t yet happened, though I’ve read other headache/migraine prevention books.  #1 has been touch and go.  I bought an elliptical, but find it uncomfortable to use.  (There’s definitely a quality difference between the ones at the gym and the one sitting in my living room!)  I’ve been very good at #’s 3 and 4 (I eat every 3 hours and make a conscious effort to drink a set amount of water or Gatorade throughout the day).  I’m working on making a habit of #5 and have found that giving myself a nighttime routine makes my evening into a de-stressing time (as it’s designed to do). 

For me, #2 has proved to be the key to preventing migraines.  I CANNOT emphasize enough how important sleep regulation can be for migraine prevention.  If I don’t get 8 hours of sleep one night or stay up later than 11pm, I’m almost guaranteed to develop a migraine the next day. 

I’m happy to say that my migraines are managed equally well through these lifestyle modifications as they were through chemistry.  Meanwhile, I feel better, too!

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Why haven’t I posted since April 5th, you ask?  Well, besides the usual busy farm life, work, and summer doings, my garden has been keeping me more than busy.  Unfortunately, this means I haven’t been online as much. 

Unfortunately, as well, “more than busy” still leaves my garden just a notch above “slightly neglected”.  However, even in it’s “notch above slightly neglected” status, gardens tend to do their own thing.  Fortunately for me, it’s own thing still means lots of veggies.

Garden 8.24.09

Today was my first real venture back into the garden after coming home from vacation last week (more on that another time).  As you can see, she did OK while we were gone.  I picked a plastic grocery bag of sweet corn, 7 cukes, 3 yellow summer squash, too many zukes, 1 green pepper, some broccoli, some brussell sprouts, half a paper grocery bag of green beans, and a butt load of tomatoes. 

How many tomatoes equals a butt load?

Garden 8.24.09 - 2

This many.

And there’s still a lot left out there for me to do this week.  Beets, cabbage, and A TON of green beans.  Oh, and I have to figure out what to do with all these tomatoes.  (Anyone know if I can make spaghetti sauce out of table tomatoes?  They’re Brandywines.)

I promise I will be back to post more (I have SO much to talk about!) once I get all my veggies taken care of!

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I know, I’m a horrible horrible person.  My last post was over a month ago.  March 19th, I think.  I promise I’ll get better (spring is just crazy).   In the meantime, here is my plea for help for a good cause:

As of recently, I am participating in March for Babies because I believe in the March of Dimes mission to save babies. Please support my fundraising efforts by sponsoring me in March for Babies today.  I will be walking in the March for Babies event at Sawyer Point Park in Cincinnati this Sunday, April 27th.
Your online contribution to my march is fast, easy and secure. You can donate directly from my personal webpage with a credit/debit card or PayPal.  As I mentioned above, I have only 3 days to reach my goal! 
The money we raise helps save premature and sick babies. Premature birth is the #1 cause of newborn death and the biggest threat to babies’ health today, and through March for Babies, the March of Dimes is funding important research to find out why premature birth happens and what can be done to prevent it.
The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

 Thank you for your support!



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I remember sitting in a restaurant next to my horse judging coach/4-H adviser (who also happened to be my boss and holds a prominent position in the world of science and education) when I was a Junior in High School…and one of my teammates ordered a Diet Coke.  We started discussing diet vs. regular and my coach, in her matter-of-fact, completely non-judgemental but informative way, said, “If you knew what that stuff did to your body, you wouldn’t drink it.”  I think she went on to provide a few more details about some current research (without embarrassing my teammate too much) and then our conversation moved on.  However, my coach’s warning has always stuck with me and I’ve never been inclined to drink diet pop or eat “sugar-free”.  Besides, I like original 🙂

My mom recently gave me cause to revisit this topic when she emailed me this link.  I’m not sure how scientifically sound the research is, but someone did their homework at least!  From that site, I visited several others. 

In his column dated 1/1/06, Dr. Woodrow Monte (a retired Food Sciences Professor) details the poinsonous components of aspartame, including the toxins methanol and formaldehyde.  I highly encourage reading the entire piece–it’s both enlightening and a fairly easy read.

No matter what you believe about the possible dangers of aspartame, several facts are irrefutable.   First, as is often the case with drug research and development, the company behind the discovery, development, and promotion of the product (G.D. Searle & Company) is also responsible for the research to determine it’s safety.  (Conflict of interest, anyone?  In discussion of the aspartame controversy, Wikipedia mentions the possible conflicts of interest during FDA approval.)  Obviously there is a huge conflict of interest because there is a huge amount of money on the line.  According to research compiled by Dr. Ralph Walton reviewing all controlled human and animal studies looking for the effects of aspartame, out of 90 independently-funded studies, 83 of them found one or more problems caused by aspartame.  However, Dr. Walton found that out of the 74 studies funded by the aspartame industry (e.g., Monsanto, G.D. Searle, etc). every single study claimed that no problems were found.

Second, while the FDA has given aspartame the thumbs up, other government agencies aren’t exactly riding the same band wagon.  Did you know that the Air Force put out an alert to pilots in May of 1992 warning against drinking diet pop or even chewing sugarless gum before flying?

Finally, and most compelling (at least for me), the FDA has a list of symptoms attributed to aspartame that have been submitted by over 10,000 aspartame consumers [easier to read version].  Aspartame is out on the market and has been for almost 30 years–thus, we don’t really need to rely on lab rat research.  The “real world” research is being done each time YOU open a Diet Pepsi.  Note that several fall under the same category–i.e. there are multiple types of menstrual/womanly issues that are listed separately (#5, #23, #74, #86), multiple types of seizures that are listed separately, etc.  Oh, and make sure to check out #77 on the list.

A recent (2006) paper published by Dr. Soffritti of the Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center/European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences in Bologna, Italy from his 1 Million dollar aspartame research project provided solid evidence that aspartame is a carcinogen.  “Our study shows that APM [aspartame] is a multipotential carcinogenic compound whose carcinogenic effects are evident even at a daily dose of 20 mg/kg bw, much less than the current ADI [Acceptable Daily Intake] for humans in Europe (40 mg/kg bw) and in the United States (50 mg/kg bw).”  The results of the study call for “an urgent reexamination of the present guidelines on the use and consumption of APM [aspartame]” in both the US and Europe.

Cancer is the most often debated (and researched) aspartame-related disease, but there are a plethora of others that–whether true or not–are blamed on aspartame.  They include, but aren’t limited to: a multitude of neural disorders, Alzheimer’s and other memory and cognitive disorders, birth defects, joint and back pain, atherosclerosis, arthritis, vision disorders including blindness, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, headaches including migraines, hormone imbalances, MS, Parkinson’s disease, sexual and reproductive disorders, and seizures.  (See the link “Discussion of Aspartame-Related Symptoms” below.)

What do I believe, personally?  I believe there is enough information about aspartame to be cautious, if not completely avoid the stuff.  I believe that any common food additive discovered while developing a pharmaceutical drug (as aspartame was) should be held suspect.  Drugs are meant for those who really need them, not for everyday use because they happen to taste sweet.  Also, I think Dr. Monte brings up some very excellent points.  His first interesting point is that methanol is extremely toxic to humans, and humans alone.  Thus, lab testing on other species is not going to give us accurate information about potential negative repercussions of ingesting a substance containing (or metabolised into) methanol.  The sad part is, scientists already know methanol is extremely toxic to us homo sapiens.  The second point I find fascinating is the recommendation that pregnant women take folic acid during pregnancy and its (possible) connection with aspartame toxicity.  Dr. Monte writes:

     “The incidence of the Neural Tube Birth Defect, spina bifida in the United States was significantly increasing from 1992 to 1995, to the point that the US Food and Drug administration in 1996, mandated that all enriched cereal grain products be fortified with folic acid (a very unusual move since, up to that time folic acid was the only vitamin the FDA limited consumption of). The Center for Disease Control recommended that all child bearing women in the United States increase their Folic Acid intake to 400 micrograms a day, in order to prevent “Neural Tube defects”. As I stated in my 1984 article, folic acid, is primarily used by the body to give some protection from methanol metabolites, and little else. Since Folic Acid fortification has been in effect it has been reported that as much as 50% of the incidence of Neural Tube birth defects have been prevented. How many more would have been prevented by removing what is now the major source of the teratogen methanol in food… Aspartame?”  

Hmm, I find THAT fascinating on so many levels!

For more info:

Discussion of Aspartame-Related Symptoms


Aspartame Net


The Basics

The Truth About Stuff


Aspartame Blog

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I think there’s been a flood watch banner at the bottom of our TV screen any time we’ve had our TV on for the past two weeks.  Straight.  I kid you not, and welcome to Ohio for those of you not familiar with her weather. 

It turns our yard into a pond.  I think I saw a fish out there today, actually.  Our Border Collie cross turns into “Swamp Dog” (yes, she’s nuts!).  When I got home from work + the feed store the other night I had to wade through the little river running across my driveway to get to my back door. 

If it were just all that, I wouldn’t mind.  And I wouldn’t complain, promise.  But, last night, my barn flooded.  NOT COOL!  It’s not flooded because of a rising creek, it’s flooded because the ground can’t take any more water and whoever built this place didn’t know about a little thing called a drainage system.  I’m not happy.  On top of that, the barn’s roof needs some work.  Our supply of hay that’s supposed to last us until June (and has been dwindling WAY too quickly) is now missing some members due to all this rain and said roof issues.  Needless to say, I’m worrying away…

Rain rain go away. 

So instead of worrying about my hay, I looked at upper level Dressage horses.  Riding Dressage is a love/hate relationship for me, but I love to watch the best.   It’s poetry in motion:   

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