Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Pip!

Four years ago tonight I was lying in a hospital bed, in and out of a magnesium sulfate fog, trying to prevent you from being born five weeks too soon.

Tonight I was lying in your bed, telling you that there are no monsters, rubbing your back, and snuggling up to you as you drifted off to sleep.

Tomorrow, four years ago, you decided waiting was not meant for you and there you were, all four pounds 13 ounces.

Tomorrow you will be four years old.

Happy Birthday, Pip. I can't imagine life without you.



Thursday, March 27, 2008

What Do You Allow Your Kids to Waste?

We shut off lights to make sure we don't waste electricity, we don't let the water run while we brush our teeth, and we start driving our car immediately so that we don't waste gas by letting it "warm up".

But do I "allow" some waste in our house. When it comes to the kids, you bet I do.

Here are some wasteful practices in the Wanna-Greenie household:

If my son wants to do a "project" that involves him using an entire roll of Scotch tape, I let him. He's not just pulling all off the roll for fun; in his mind he is creating something and goshdarnit, you should see some of the stuff he has taped together.

My kids enjoy water play - this means that on occasion I will fill up the kitchen sink to the brim. Sometimes twice.

I really don't consider any uneaten food "waste" per se. We compost most everything we (don't) eat. In addition, if my son "wastes" an orange during his attempts to make fresh-squeezed orange juice or if my daughter likes shelling beans instead of eating them, so be it.

How do you "allow" your children to waste resources?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Healthy Child Healthy World - A MotherTalk Review

There may be many mothers now who are too young to remember Meryl Streep's sincere and earnest campaign against Alar in the late 1980's. Her forward to Christopher Gavigan's book "Healthy Child Healthy World" is a fitting introduction to this new book that inspires us to create a safer, cleaner, and sustainable environment for children.

HCHW is divided into ten chapters, each focusing on a different strategies for making areas of your household and community less toxic. I loved that this book had a "handbook" feel to it. Read a chapter here or there, skip to the "burning questions", or read an "expert opinion" (the celebrity "testimonials", other than Meryl Streep's foreword, seemed too contrived for me) focusing on the areas that are most important to you at whatever stage you're at. Eventually you will refer to all of it - it's too important not too.

I would love to see a "Pocket Guide" companion to this book, one that would slip easily into your diaper bag or purse. Also, while Healthy Child Healthy World is rather child-focused, my non-Mom co-worker found the book both fascinating (She copied the "Under Sink Makeover") and discouraging ("WHAT?! No microwave popcorn!?"). More importantly it got us talking about the things we were doing, and wanted to do, exchanging ideas and experiences.

Here are my personal "top ten doable steps" that I intend to take after reading Healthy Child Healthy World.
  1. Use low or no-VOC paints for our next paint job
  2. Give seed-in-paper cards as party favors!
  3. Use phthalate-free polish on my toes (and my daughter's!) this summer
  4. I'm sticking to DEET (West Nile Virus is rampant in my area and I'm not fooling around with that) but I will stick to levels under 10% as the book suggests and still go for the other recommended anti-mosquito tricks.
  5. Purchase chunk light tuna, not albacore (smaller fish => less time to accumulate mercury)
  6. Switch to all natural, non-toxic cleaners (repeat after me: baking soda, soap, vinegar - baking soda, soap, vinegar - baking soda...)
  7. You can bet I'm trying "Volcano in the Drain" with the kids next time I have to de-gunk my disposal!
  8. Photocopy the Environmental Working Group's list of the Dirty Dozen for my wallet
  9. Buy safe sunscreen for my children this summer
  10. Find a way to help people who are just too poor and just too focused on making it day-to-day to worry about these things. Let's worry for them and help make changes so that all their options are, by default, healthy options.
For more information please visit the Healthy Child Healthy World website.

This book review brought to you by MotherTalk

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Green Updates on the Fly

Love the efforts of Work From Home Moms (WFHMs) who have lovely items displayed in their home grown (with love) shops. Jillian emailed me to let me know about hers at Paxbaby.

Her Bad Mother asks "Are Eco-Moms the new soccer moms - and does it matter?" on Blogher.

Woman's Day suggests 10 green ways to lose weight.

Green Bean extolls the power of line drying!

My bloggy friend Joan from across the pond writes:

When it's wet or snowy here in Europe, most people use an indoor clothes airer. This is what we use at the moment and a clothesline when it's warmer out.

We used to have one of these
ceiling airers (usually called "dolly maids") and these are my favourite. Most are large enough to hold a large load of laundry.

Looks like several people are already good to go for Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008!

Report from New Zealand: Bloggy Friend Mary reports from a recent trip to New Zealand that it is a very eco-friendly country. "The cars are smaller, every toilet has a low flush option, every electrical outlet has its own on/off switch so that you can turn off the flow when you're not using the applicance....Oh, and you can't find foods containing high fructose corn syrup if your life depended on it; it just doesn't exist there in foods." As Mary says, Woot!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Green Musings

Jinkies, we have a lot of catching up to do!

It just seems that with the coming of spring the opportunities for getting into the green of things are endless!

April 1st is right around the corner and that means I will be turning over a new leaf (for two months, anyway). I will be joining Mamas on the Compact where I pledge to eliminate the purchase of new items. Gulp. Anyone care to join me?

Have you heard the buzzzzzzzzz about "The Great Sunflower Project" out of San Francisco State University? My good friend Lakshmi alerted me to this site where participants can help researchers achieve their goal of increasing our understanding of where bees are doing poorly and how the pollination of our garden and wild plants are being affected.

Say project leaders: "We're hoping you will join us by planting sunflowers in your garden. Community, demonstration, and school gardens are invited to participate. We'll send you some free native sunflower (Helianthus annuus) seed and twice a month, we'd like you to time how long it takes for 5 bees to visit one flower on that sunflower. This information will give us an index of pollination that we can compare across the United States."

Win some gardening goodies from the National Gardening Association when you enter their When You Garden You Grow giveaway.

I have two great bloggy book give-aways coming up! Stay tuned for a chance to win a copy of the Holistic Moms Network's cookbook "Growing Healthy Families" and, just in time for Spring (or a little late), Leslie Evan's beautifully illustrated Spring acrostic book.

And finally, I am super excited to say that as my good friend Sue toils over my blog button, I am gearing up to give you details on "Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008"!! The challenge will begin May 1st and I hope you'll sign on for the summer! More details coming up soon!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Getting a Visual - Chris Jordan's "Running the Numbers" Series

Green Gramps emailed me this morning with a website alert! Seattle-based artist and photographer Chris Jordan offers a glimpse of his most recent work, "Running the Numbers":

"This series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 410,000 paper cups used every fifteen minutes. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming." ~Chris Jordan

Using common goods to depict staggering numbers Jordan, even in the details he has chosen of his immense works, represents everything from the number of children without health insurance to the number of plastic bags used in the United States every five seconds.

If you are living in Oberlin, check out Jordan's exhibit up close and personal at the Allen Memorial Art Museum and file a report from the field, would ya?


And then there's this little article in the L.A. Times from March 14th: "Popular 'green' products test positive for toxicant".

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ten Green Reasons to Love L.A.

For some reason, about this time of year, when winter is grating on my nerves just a leeeeee-tle bit, I think back to the year and a half I lived in Los Angeles and my heart just about sings (run on sentence). Why, you ask? Here are ten lovely green things I remember about L.A.:

1) The beautiful purple-blue flowers of the Jacaranda trees growing on the UCLA campus.

2) Santa Monica pier with the ferris wheel revolving like a full moon on a starry night.

3) The Gamble House, where form meets function and the sleeping porches for, well, sleeping in the night air.

4) Walking to work (yes, it's possible) and passing ripe avocados just lying on the ground for the taking.

5) The Huntington Botanical Gardens: combine with The Gamble House and make a day of it.

6) The view from Mulholland Drive.

7) Walking Santa Monica and Third Street Promenade in the early evening.

8) Manhattan Beach.

9) Walking to work and passing lemons just lying on the ground for the taking.

10) Receiving the weather report from my dad in Boston, "Flurries after dark", and knowing that L.A. will sure be a nice memory in the final chilly days of March.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Nature Hour of Power

Okay you greenies. Hold on to your beanies.

I'm a bit late in joining, but The Heart of Harmony is having a fabulous Green Hour weekly challenge based on the National Wildlife Federation and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection's campaign slogans. Head over to Ann Kroeker's blog for a quick overview to get you up to speed, then grab a bunch of great bloggy buttons...

Green Hour - Discover the Wonder of Nature

You will also need "The Handbook of Nature-Study" by Anna Botsford Comstock.

The Green Hour Challenge is actually on Week 4: "It's Coming Into Focus", but I'm hoping that it won't be too confusing to jump right in. What a fabulous resource The Heart of Harmony has created for us just in time for Spring!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Summer Garden 2008, Redux

Three things today...

First of all...was it just me or was Google down today? Don't *ever* do that to me again, Google. You're scaring me.

Second, I have the Accidental Guest Blogger today: Green Nana. Today's post is "ripped from the headlines", er, I mean, her email. Take it away, Green Nana (who, by the way, lives in plant hardiness zone 5a, I believe)! [Warning - see the kind of coded messages from her I have to decipher on a daily basis?!]

re: blog....i also got the planting season bug....but jumped the gun
up here in cold ma. did buy lettuce seeds, but the "seed starting soil" bags are not yet at home depot or lex. gardens! i did take some
cutting to see what was wrong with my bushes......needs fertilizer was
the answer! trying to find coast of me." organic soil bags i will not buy
"scotts" here is a seedling tip......use the paper egg cartons to start seedlings and then you can just plant the whole thing when the plants get big enough because the
cardboard will just disintegrate into the soil:) hugs, mom

Thanks, Green Nana: the "original" Gift of Green!

And finally, as Green Nana reminded me, it is almost time...get ready...for Clothesline 2008! Woohooo! I am thinking of some type of clothesline challenge this summer for my bloggy friends - which brings me to this: is there anyone out there who will design a Clothesline 2008 bloggy button for me? I have nothing to offer in return except credit and a link back atcha.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Summer Garden 2008!

If you are a gardener, in any shape or form, and listened to the Kojo Nnamdi show yesterday on WAMU, you are already in a panic. MARCH IS CRITICAL!! (Yes, I'm yelling). I'd never heard of Adrian Higgins but just the way he said "de rigour" when describing fig tree prep got me all in a tizzy. Higgins also talked about a new book by Jeff Gillman that separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to organic gardening. It is on my "to-read" list. Holly Shimizu of the U.S. Botanic Gardens brought some wonderful things for listeners to smell - wish I could found out what they were without purchasing a transcript. They were all lovely plants with names I can't remember as I was too busy making a right hand turn from the far left hand lane.


Carrie has posted an update on SaltandChocolate.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


We don't pray at bedtime in our house, but last night as I tucked Sprout into bed he said, "I love my mommy. I love my daddy. I love [aka Pip]. I love [daycare provider] L. I love Bella [cat one]. I love Cinderalla [cat two]. I love my family. I love my bed. I love my house. I love my pillows." If that is not a prayer of thanks and gratitude, I don't know what is.

Lately I had been consumed by the Wanna-Haves, not the Wanna-Greenies. I think part of it comes from living in such an affluent area and having [seemingly] affluent friends. They've never made me feel inferior, of course! That's not what I mean. But in subtle ways I know that we are living slightly below their income level! I also had been suffering from a bad case of the dreaded Grass is Always Greener syndrome. I work part-time; I want to work more part-time. I live in this city; I want to live in that city. I want to get a new job; I want to be a SAHM. I painted the living room Beeswax; I want to paint it Celery. And on and on and on. I am, however, pleased to announce that I have never wished for different children or for a different husband. ;)

I speak about the Wanna-Haves and the GIAG in the past tense because lately these thoughts have almost entirely disappeared. Don't get me wrong - I still oogle over the Ikea catalog and the thought of complete and total SAHM-dom, health insurance be damned, does flicker across my brain, but I have spent a peaceful weekend, if not one marked by sadness, enjoying what I have been given.

Here are a few links that have inspired me this past week.

Sara Janssen's photo sets that show you don't have to have a lot of space, things, or money to make a beautiful home.

A beautiful traditional Swedish song, Uti Vaar Hage that I first learned about by reading Heart's Delight by Per Nilsson.

As always, my favorite poem "Locking Yourself Out, Then Trying to Get Back In" by Raymond Carver.

And finally, Mary Beth at Salt and Chocolate, who is suffering along with her son, who inspires me by being such a wonderful mother. Mary Beth, even in these hard times, as my mother says, "Treat yourself good". And to her friend Carrie, who will no doubt provide any ounce of solace that a person can offer at a time like this.

Games You Don't Want to Know About

Things you don't want to hear early one Sunday morning.

Sprout: "Mom! Come here! Come see this game I'm playing!"

Me: "Sure! I'm coming! What's it called?"

Sprout: "Throw the bean."

Really he was being inaccurate. It's Throw the BeanS. Plural.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lucky Thoughts

Not sure what's going on, but if Carrie asks me to keep Salt and Chocolate in my thoughts, I'm all over it. Will you?