There are worms living in our basement.

They have been living there for more than a year now.

I'm shocked and appalled.

But no, I'm not shocked and appalled at the worms living in our basement. I'm shocked and appalled that it has taken this long for me to share them with you.

So here you go. Meet my worms.

(You'll have to look closely to see them. I didn't say I had giant mutant worms in the basement. They're just regular-size red wigglers.)

You're probably wondering how the worms got in our basement in the first place and what they're doing there. It's your lucky day, because I'm about to tell you.

You see, as part of my job, I help plan and host the Central Illinois Composting Symposium. It's an event that has been going on for years, but last year was the first year the college where I work was involved.

The last event of the day was a "Build Your Own Bin" workshop, where participants built very basic vermicompost bins to take home—worms and all.

Vermicomposting is, as you may have guessed by now, worm composting. It's particularly great for people who don't have a place for a large outdoor compost pile. The worms love chowing down on food scraps, coffee grounds, and such.

So I built a bin, took it home, and proceeded to dump the contents of my compost crock into the bin on occasion.

By some miracle, after more than a year of infrequent visits and more than a little bit of neglect, my worms are going strong. In fact, I recently had to harvest all the compost from my bin because it was getting too full. That compost (and more than a few worms, admittedly) is now mixed in with the soil in our big stone planter box in the front yard. Hopefully this will make for some stellar flowers this summer.

All the upkeep the little wigglers require is an occasional handful of dry shredded newspaper added to the bin to soak up moisture. As long as I do that, the bin doesn't smell. And as long as I occasionally bring them some food, the worms don't attempt to escape.

They have even taken a few road trips to Springfield to visit elementary classrooms and are none the worse for wear. (Kids think it's pretty cool to see worms eating garbage, by the way. Then again, so do some adults—like me.)


Celebrating Easter

The Easter Bunny visited our house this year and left a little something for baby boy.

He must have heard that a certain drooling someone is always looking for new treasures to chew on, so he left the famous French Sophie the Giraffe chew toy for our little guy. And he knew how much Collin already loves reading, so he left a couple of board books too, including "The Runaway Bunny," which was one of my favorites as a child. (The Easter Bunny may have had a little help from Collin's Mimi and Papa on that one.)

After a relaxing morning filled with plenty of play time, we headed to Q and MB's for Easter dinner.

Collin and his father were color coordinated for the occasion.
Come to think of it, Collin and his mommy were too, although you can't really tell from this photo.
No Easter would be complete without MB's fabulous cooking.
We had a most delicious spread, as usual.
I did not photograph everything, though, because Conservative Hubby told me like I was acting like an overzealous tourist. So sorry.
And then the Easter Bunny visited again and left treasures not only for Collin ...
But also for Conservative Hubby and I.
... I think this Easter Bunny fellow went a little bit overboard and is way too generous.

I hope your Easter was filled with family and faith and fun and (hopefully some good food too)!

Baby and Butter

For the first months of baby boy's life, Butter was rather disinterested in the new addition to our household. He didn't really greet our little guy or watch him or pay much attention to him at all besides an occasional, tentative sniff.

In the past couple of weeks, however, as Collin has gotten more active and aware and talkative (more like a real little person, I guess you could say), Butter's interest in him has increased. Sometimes, in the morning, when Collin is still asleep, Butter will push open the door and go in to check on him. And when we're playing in the living room, Butter won't get in the way, but he always seems to be nearby. (Nonchalantly chewing on his bone, of course, as if to underscore he doesn't really care, even though he'll spend more time looking over at the baby than looking at his bone.)

It works both ways, too. Collin hears Butter's collars jingling and will look over to see what the big furry dog is up to. He'll watch in fascination when Butter runs hot laps around the couch. And he enjoys sitting next to his dog in the front window and watching the world go by.

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


Super Smoothies

A banana smoothie makes early mornings so much easier to handle.

It's almost as tasty as a milk shake, but much healthier.

Often it's just a cup of almond milk, one frozen banana, a bit of vanilla, a squeeze or two of the honey bear, and a large pinch of ground flax seed.

Sometimes there's a bit of ground oatmeal and a generous scoop of peanut butter thrown in (now that's indulgent).

Or perhaps there's a handful of frozen blueberries as a last-minute add-in to the mix.

Any way it's blended, it's a great start to the day.

(Even if Conservative Hubby hates the sound of the blender at 6:45 a.m. ... )