Wednesday, September 26, 2007

EcoMom Alliance

My friend Sally sent me the link to this website. The woman was interviewed on the lap top lunch website (see stuntmom laptop lunch article may 15, 2007) I'm going to commit to changing all of my lightbulbs by the end of the month.

10 First Steps for Sustaining the Planet- You can help stop global warming.

1. Change a light. If every household in America changed out just 5 light bulbs to energy efficient CFL's it would be equivalent to taking 8 million cars off the road.

2. Drive less. If we each drove just 10 mile less per week, it would save 20 billion pounds of CO2, and you'd find more time in your day.

3. Shop local, fair trade and organic. Most food travels an average of 1,200 miles before it reaches your table, so by walking down to your local farmer's market, you'll not only reduce fossil fuel waste, you might also reduce your own waist.

4. Use non toxic products for cleaning, bathing, even make-up and you'll protect the environment as well as reduce you and your family's risk of disease.

5. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Cutting down on garbage by just 10% can save 1,200 pounds of CO2 and you'll have less junk around the house!

6. Turn off and unplug electronic devices and you'll reduce your exposure to electromagnetic radiation, and save on energy and CO2 emissions. You can also start having dinner by candlelight, which your kids, and your partner, will love!

7. Re-think your laundry plan! A favorite of many EcoMoms. Doing less, using cold water and line drying when possible you can save over 500 pounds of CO2 and over $600 per year.

8. Check your tires. By keeping your tires properly inflated, you can improve your gas mileage by over 3% and save 20 pounds of CO2 per gallon not used.

9. Buy carbon offsets and reduce mom guilt, like the SUV you still have. Offsets are kind of like eating too many brownies one day and jogging extra the next. For more information you can visit Play more. This is my son Corbin's favorite (of course!). In today's world, we get so busy checking emails, running errands, taking our kids from school to soccer, or ballet, that we often forget to take the time to connect and play with the people we love . . . So do things that make you happy. It's all connected. Sustain your Self, Sustain Your Home and Sustain Your Planet. That's it. You're on your way to being an EcoMom!

Contact: 415.246.7691 and the EcoMom logo are registered trademarks 2007

Disney World Dreams

I was certain I would never take my three girls to Disney World until they were 100% certain of who they were. I didn't want Disney to turn them into princesses if they were destined to be tom boys. I was determined that they would always find a hike in the woods to be the highlight of their week, and not a thrill seeking ride or a hyped up trip to "make their dreams come true". But last night we returned from a four day trip to Disney World with little life changes.

The highlights were as follows:
Eden lost a tooth while in line for a ride. The tooth fairy was able to locate our hotel, so she made out like a bandit. A whole dollar for your first tooth! And she likes to tell the story that when my dad was a kid he only got 5 cents.

Eden fell out of bed and got a bloody nose, a fat lip and a scraped up face. It was a highlight since there was blood everywhere, including our princess nightgown that Grandma bought for the trip.

We got to ride endless buses too and from the hotel-airport-park. Everyone got their fill of buses and continued to find the school bus exciting the week we returned.

One thing I loved about the vacation was how kid friendly it was. I know, what was I to expect but when I think of eating out, I usually don't think of relaxation. At Disney World it was relaxing. I didn't have to pack a million toys and activities each day in effort to entertain them while out to eat. Disney did the entertaining for me during our meals. I didn't have to pack my own vegetables to eat out like I do at restaurants around home. Healthy food was served everywhere. Not to mention vegetarian options! I had a hummus sandwich with Broccoli slaw on whole wheat bread! All of the kids meals came with carrots and applesauce, unsweetened- what's not to love about the place? For background info-those that don't know, my in laws require us to eat out with them on a weekly basis, so we spend an unhealthy amount of time and money eating out with our kids. Good thing though, is that they really know how to behave in a restaurant- most of the time.

So would I go to Disney World again, you bet I would. There are no lines in September, which is all I remember about it as a kid, other than the "small world" ride. But I think I would wait a few more years. Our two youngest were much to young to keep up, let alone enjoy themselves for the whole day without a nap. It wasn't a cheap vacation by any stretch, but it was time well spent with the kids and in laws together.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Love the School Bus

I love the school bus. I have to admit I felt a lot of guilt about letting my kindergartner ride the school bus since it seems like most of the "good" parents in my neighborhood wouldn't think of letting their precious little one's ride the bus. But I took on the issue with gusto this year. I really believed that if I claim to be the environmentalist that I am (or wish to be), then I better get my kid to ride the bus. Not only do I need to get my kid on the bus, but I need to get others to think the bus is a fine idea. Four weeks into the school year, I think it's been a success. My daughter and her friends have come to LOVE the bus experience, except on the hottest days of August and September when they were suffering in the thick heat of the bus without air conditioning.

My daughter, who is rather emotionally delicate, loves the bus as much as I do. She isn't verbally abused by the older kids on the bus, as some stories had led me to believe is the case with the youngest riders. She isn't left wandering aimlessly around her school trying to find her class and the best news is that this article from the NY Times is saying it's the best way to go on all sides of the debate. Check out the last part of the article that talks about walking pools instead of carpools. I love the idea of taking turns with your neighbors to make sure the kids make it to school together and in a supervised environment. Maybe getting her on the bus is brave in my eyes, but it's also the right decision. I am a good mom, right?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Working World

I'm back into the swing of working for a week and a half and oddly enough, it feels great to be back. Sure I have a lot of guilt when I'm experiencing breif periods of down time, but for the most part it's all good.

I really feel a big part of the success of it all is owed to our great nanny. She should have joined our family about 5 years ago. She is one of those people that sincerely loves kids. Or at least really understands how to interact with them. She treats them with respect and at the same time they already know that she can't be pushed around like their mom. They are happy to see her arrive in the morning and slightly sad to see her leave in the evening (usually I have to devote 100% of my attention to all of them when I arrive home, whether I worked for 2 hours or 8 hours) so they are only slightly distracted with her departure.

She doesn't clean during the day- and if you remember correctly, neither did I. But she does one thing differently that I never seemed to get down, she cleans up as the three of them move from room to room around the house to eat or play.

So at the end of the day I come home to a tidy house and a kitchen ready to cook in since for once the counter top isn't piled high with dishes, play dough, paints and what not. Let's not forget that I can now pop into the grocery store for one item needed to make dinner without bringing three hungry kids along. So in the week and a half, I've managed to start cooking again.

I'll keep you posted as I imagine not all days/weeks are going to go so smoothly, but the end of week one is complete and I'm giving it the thumbs up.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Super Natural Cooking

I have fallen in love with this cookbook Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. It is full of beautiful photos and a million ways to cook whole grains. They are all so beautifully photographed that you can't help but want to eat better. And as my friend Tracy says, "it is designed for tomato haters". There are few, if any tomato recipes. I couldn't help myself, I had to buy one for a friend just to get the free shipping from Amazon. Go figure.

I just tried this recipe and found it healthy (so it wasn't too popular at our house) but a few friends, and my wonderful nanny found it great. I made a few changes, like I always do, so here it is.

Wheat Berry Salad

2 cups wheat berries, rinsed
6 cups water
2 tsp fine grain sea salt (I would use less next time)

Grated zest and juice of one orange
1 Tbsp of lemon juice
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil ( I split it up and put half flax seed oil)
fine grain sea salt and pepper
3 large handfuls of spinach
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 crumbled feta cheese

Combine wheat berries and salt and water in a large pan and cook for over an hour (you must taste them to determine if they are finished) I cooked them in a rice cooker so I could forget about them. Drain and season with salt if desired

combine the orange juice, zest and lemon juice, shallot and oils, salt and pepper

Toss the hot wheat berries with the spinach, pine nuts, and dressing. Top with feta

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Gossip Hangover

Guest Editorial from Karen

I just had a great night out with a couple of friends. What is it, though, about sitting around for a couple of hours in a restaurant, that degrades the filter between what I'm thinking and what I'm saying? The good part of this is that it raises my awareness of the kinds of thoughts I've been having -- clearly a few thoughts in there that, when spoken aloud, have the potential to give me a gossip hangover. Mostly these are thoughts about people that I feel have wronged me in some way and children that I feel have wronged my children in some way. And like alcohol, which I used to drink a lot of, and now drink a little of, I used to gossip a lot, and now do it a little. So, I think I notice the effects more of how it makes me feel.

During my weeks as a single mom, outside of work, I talk mainly to my children, so I don't tend to talk about things that induce a gossip hangover. We talk about the ways we like to interact with the world, how to make good in the world, and how to turn "bad" into "good." If someone does something to one of my kids that he doesn't like, I believe it's my job to help my child make good choices on how to respond, and not to try to control the other kid. Each of us, from kids to grown ups, get to make our own choices and unkind choices have their own effect on the person making them. Celie in "The Color Purple" says to Albert, "Everything you done to me, already been done to you." There's a lot we don't control in the world around us (i.e. if someone hits us or yells at us), but we always get to choose how we react to what people "done" to us.

I've also been noticing how we can create the world that we interact with. The more positive I put out there, the more positive I feel coming back. I've read, and believe, that when you're planning to do something like improve your eating habits, it's best not to tell a bunch of people about it, but instead just to do it. So, I'm a little hesitant to form a public intention, and yet, I'm thinking it might help me accomplish this if others know what I'm working on. Here it is --

I believe that:
-Bringing my judgments of people's actions into a discussion produces no positive outcome
-I can function and act entirely independently of the actions of others, if I don't like what they are doing, and that this is a better solution than bitching about them
-Acting on what is true for us, and being open to what others have to offer, is the best way to bring positive energy into the world
-My truths are only my truths and not The Truth
-It takes more energy to reject what someone is doing than to accept it.

Based on these beliefs, I intend to release judgments that come into my head, rather than seek validation for them from myself and others. Before speaking, I would like my words to meet at least two of the three criteria: "Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?"