Wordless Wednesday – 4/30/08 – A picture is worth…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but right now in the Mother’s Day Giveaway at 5 Minutes for Mom, your picture could be worth a thousand dollars. There’s a photo contest going on, the theme is Motherhood and the winner is going to receive a $1,000 AmEx gift card!

This picture says motherhood to me:

Motherhood - 10/22/06

It is me with Ava and Julian, one month and one day before he was born.

I know this isn’t exactly wordless, but since it’s for a good cause – actually 1,000 good causes – I hope you’ll forgive me. 😉

Check out some more:
The original Wordless Wednesday

and
Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom

There’s a new blog in town


Hey mamas! There’s a new blog in town and I think you should check it out. API SpeaksThe voice for gentle parents everywhere launched last week with it’s inaugural post and has been turning out excellent content ever since.

API Speaks is written by a group of very talented people who all have one thing in common – they practice Attachment Parenting and will be discussing their personal experiences and journeys in AP on the blog. You might notice some familiar bloggers’ faces/names there and discover some new ones as well. More names will be added to the contributor list in the weeks ahead.

My first post (an oldie, but a goodie) about why we choose to have a home birth was posted there yesterday. Some other recent posts include It Takes a Village by Half Pint Pixie and Spare the crib, spoil thyself by Law and Motherhood.

Julie Artz and I, the contributing editors there, are quite proud of the blog and, in addition to great content by our wonderful contributors, have some exciting things planned for it including giveaways of AP-related merchandise, so we hope you still stop in often. 🙂

Hope to see you there! 🙂 And if you haven’t yet visited API’s newly redesigned web site or checked out their new online support forums, I encourage you to stop by those as well.

Why Bother?

This evening as Jody and Ava were out running an errand for me, I attempted to cook dinner while balancing a miserable Julian (due to his four canine teeth coming in at the same time) on my hip. After much fussing (on Julian’s part, not mine), I took a break from cooking, sat down on the couch, flipped on the TV and, hoping to make the poor boy feel a bit better, nursed him.

In skipping through the channels it became clear to me why I rarely watch TV (with the exception of The Office, LOST and occasionally Oprah). There was nothing on. I stopped on the local public access channel long enough to hear someone talking about global warming. My interest was piqued so I lingered.

veg-garden.jpgIt turns out it was a woman reading Michael Pollan‘s recent New York Times article “Why Bother?” For those of you unfamiliar with Pollan, he is the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food – neither of which I have read yet, but I’ve heard great things about both.

“Why Bother?” is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’m nowhere near the point of throwing in the towel with regard to the things I do to help the environment, but after reading an article like Enjoy life while you can’ – Climate science maverick James Lovelock believes catastrophe is inevitable, carbon offsetting is a joke and ethical living a scam and watching a YouTube video (which has since been taken down) about Monsanto, you might start to get a little jaded and wonder if all of your efforts are in vain. At least that’s where I’ve been at.

Pollan’s article “Why Bother?” was exactly what I needed to hear (and then read in full on the web since I missed the first half of it on TV) to help lift me out of my funk and I highly recommend you read the whole thing. Here’s just a bit of it.

If you do bother, you will set an example for other people. If enough other people bother, each one influencing yet another in a chain reaction of behavioral change, markets for all manner of green products and alternative technologies will prosper and expand. Consciousness will be raised, perhaps even changed: new moral imperatives and new taboos might take root in the culture. Driving an S.U.V. or eating a 24-ounce steak or illuminating your McMansion like an airport runway at night might come to be regarded as outrages to human conscience. Not having things might become cooler than having them. And those who did change the way they live would acquire the moral standing to demand changes in behavior from others — from other people, other corporations, even other countries.

Pollan goes on to suggest “find one thing to do in your life that doesn’t involve spending or voting, that may or may not virally rock the world but is real and particular (as well as symbolic) and that, come what may, will offer its own rewards. Maybe you decide to give up meat, an act that would reduce your carbon footprint by as much as a quarter. Or … for one day a week, abstain completely from economic activity: no shopping, no driving, no electronics.”

He also discusses how doing something as basic as planting a garden to grow even a little of your own food could make a big difference. This is another thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. As the price of food goes higher and higher and we worry more and more about where our food comes from, organic vs. conventional (pesticide-laden), genetically-modified organisms, carbon emissions and climate change, it makes sense to me to try to grow some of our own food.

Pollan says, “It’s estimated that the way we feed ourselves (or rather, allow ourselves to be fed) accounts for about a fifth of the greenhouse gas for which each of us is responsible.” Yikes.

I don’t have a lot of experience in gardening, but I did help my mom in our family garden as a child and, three years ago, some friends and I had our own plot in a community garden. As I embark on growing my own garden for the first time this year, I’m thankful for my friends like Julie of Chez Artz and Green Artz, Melissa at Nature Deva, Heather at A Mama’s Blog, and Woman With A Hatchet, who all have more gardening experience than me (and will hopefully help me out if I need it – hint, hint). I’m planting a small garden not only for the food it will provide to me and my family and to reduce our carbon footprint, but for the experience it will provide us all. Someday in the hopefully not too distant future (like next few years) once we move into a different house with a larger (and sunnier) yard, I’d love to have a much bigger garden. I’d like to know that if push came to shove and we needed to grow some of our own food, that I could do it. I am concerned that that day might not be too far off and Pollan agrees. “If the experts are right, if both oil and time are running out, these (growing our own food) are skills and habits of mind we’re all very soon going to need.”

But Pollan doesn’t end his article on a downer. Rather he is hopeful and his message is uplifting.

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.

So, why bother? Because the future of humankind depends on it. Even if by some stroke of luck climate change doesn’t affect us during our lifetime (wishful thinking), I would hate to leave this huge burden and mess for our children to clean up. After all, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” – Native American Proverb

I think Pollan answers the question of “why bother?” best when he says,

Going personally green is a bet, nothing more or less, though it’s one we probably all should make, even if the odds of it paying off aren’t great. Sometimes you have to act as if acting will make a difference, even when you can’t prove that it will.

Here, here. That is why I will keep on bothering. And I hope you will too.

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Green Tip of the Week #19 – Power it down

shutdown computerTurn OFF your computer at night to save energy. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I admit that even I wasn’t doing this until just a few months ago. I figured once the computer went into sleep mode, it wasn’t using much energy. I was wrong.

By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year. This will prevent carbon dioxide emissions from heating up the atmosphere (AKA global warming).

Even better than that is to turn off the power strip when nothing is in use because even when off, many electronic devices still draw electricity.

So power down your work computer before you leave your job for the day, especially before the weekend, and your home computer before you go to bed at night.

Jody heard this tip along with some similar statistics on NPR the other day. We couldn’t find a direct quote, but we did find the information above on 50 Ways to Go Green, which is a pretty awesome list by the way.

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂

What goes in, must come out – A lesson in digestion

I had the privilege of observing this conversation at the dinner table this week.

Ava wasn’t very motivated to eat dinner, so I enthusiastically pointed out the different foods on her plate in hopes of encouraging her to eat something. After saying the name of each thing, Ava added “poop” to the list of foods.

Jody piped in, “We don’t eat poop, our food turns into poop.” And then gave a fast lesson on digestion about how when we eat food it goes into our tummies, turns into energy and helps us grow, and then we poop out what’s left.

Ava had an incredulous look on her face and said, “Nuh-uh, that’s not what happens.”

Jody said, “What happens to food when we eat it?”

Ava explained that when we eat food “it goes into a pile and then little bits go out to your body” and give you lots of “energy and energy and energy!” At which point she got very animated in demonstrating the energy.

She then turned to me to ask, “Is that right, Mommy?”

Me: “Yes, that’s pretty close to what happens.”

Jody (to Ava): “So then where does poop come from?”

Ava (pausing to think for a second): “Your butt.”

Cue peals of laughter from Jody and me.

Yep, Ava, you definitely know what you’re talking about. 🙂

The Earth-Mother’s Day Giveaway

Earth-Mother’s Day Giveaway

 THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED TO NEW ENTRIES.

In the spirit of celebrating the original mother, our Mother Earth, for Earth Day and all mothers for Mother’s Day, I decided to combine the two occasions into one big celebration with a huge earth-friendly mother-centric giveaway.

Just as the Earth is our Mother and we must take care of her, we must also take care of our mothers – all mothers. Since joining the “mommy club,” I’ve met some amazing mothers (both here on my blog and out in the “real world”); mothers who deserve to be honored for all that they do to take care of their children and their families. Moms so often make sacrifice after sacrifice to insure their family is provided for. And while the rewards of being a mom are priceless, it is sometimes nice for moms to get a little something extra, a little mommy schwag if you will. 😉 That is why this giveaway is designed specifically with moms in mind, to give them some practical things, as well as some fun things, but most importantly to honor them with some green cheer.

Donations for this great green giveaway have come from the following awesome stores/blogs:

Mission Playground KIT shirtMission Playground‘s hip and unique designs promote environmental awareness on soft, organic cotton tees. Mission Playground’s approach is “to create awareness through our environmentally conscious and globally mindful designs.” Some of my favorite designs include: Life’s a Garden, Dig it., Nature’s Calling, and Keep In Touch. Mission Playground carries women’s, men’s and children’s sizes, and donated 1% of sales to non-profit environmental organizations through their S.E.E.D. program. MP has donated two women’s organic t-shirts to the giveaway.

Choose happiness t-shirtTees for Change simple designs on organic cotton or bamboo shirts inspire conscious living. The Tees for Change mission is “to inspire you to live life with passion, purpose and positivity. We believe that practicing mindfulness and loving kindness throughout daily life can enhance our whole being.” I personally love “Choose Happiness” and “Live Mindfully,” but Tees for Change has a wide selection of sayings with something that should appeal to everyone. Tees for Change has donated one woman’s organic cotton shirt.

Oceano earringsOceano Sea Glass naturally recycled gems jewelry is hand-crafted from glass that has been rubbed smooth by the ocean. Combing far-flung beaches and discovering the sparkle of “ocean gems,” Christine and her daughter Emily have been inspired by the beauty and significance of sea glass and turned their found treasures into jewelry. Oceano has donated two beautiful one of a kind sets of earrings (one green, one brown) to the giveaway.

BYO BagsSay goodbye to wasteful plastic bags with BYO Bags – reusable produce bags. They are made from nylon mesh, and are reusable, lightweight, breathable, washable and durable. What’s Cooking Weekly – an online menu service offering “healthy and seasonal recipes, grocery lists and tips on making cooking with your kids fun and simple” – has donated two sets of three BYO Bags.

Lily’s Garden Herbals all purpose cleanGreen cleaning has never been easier than with Lily’s Garden Herbals All Purpose Clean. Made from natural substances like vinegar and essential oils, Lily’s Garden Herbals get the job done without the worry over harmful chemicals. LGH has donated 2 – 32 oz. bottles of All Purpose Clean.

Wrap-n-matPlastic sandwich bags can be a thing of the past if you use reusable Wrap-n-Mats. The Wrap-n-Mats double as a sandwich wrapper and a place mat. Nature Moms blog has donated two Wrap-n-Mats.

Tree in a boxCelebrate the Earth by planting a tree with a flowering catalpa Tree in a Box. Planting a tree doesn’t get much easier than this. The Tree in a Box comes with everything you need. La Mama Naturale blog has donated two Trees in a Box.

One lucky person will win:

  • 1 Mission Playground woman’s organic t-shirt
  • 1 pair of Oceano earrings
  • 1 set of three BYO Bags
  • 1 32 oz. bottle of Lily’s Garden Herbals all purpose clean
  • 1 Wrap-n-Mat
  • 1 Tree in a Box

And one even luckier person will win the grand prize which includes:

  • All of the things mentioned above
  • And 1 Tees for Change organic cotton t-shirt.

ENTER TO WIN!
While I wish I could open this up to moms all over the world, I’m sorry, but I have to restrict it to US residents only. To enter the Earth-Mother’s Day Giveaway, you must complete the following three steps.

  1. Leave a comment stating your favorite t-shirt design from Mission Playground or your favorite piece of jewelry from Oceano. Please make sure you include a valid email address so that I can contact you if you are a winner.
  2. Link back to this giveaway on your blog or, if you don’t have a blog, email the link to this giveaway to three friends and cc me on it – amygeekgrl AT gmail DOT com.
  3. Sign Mr. Linky below.

All three steps must be completed in order to have a valid entry. The deadline to enter is 10 a.m. Mountain Time Sunday, May 11. Two winners will be chosen using the Random Number Generator later that day (May 11) and announced on Monday, May 12. Good luck! 🙂

Here is the code for linking back to my giveaway button. (It wasn’t working properly earlier, but I believe it’s been fixed now. Email me if you still have problems. Thanks.):

Making Earth Day a Family Day

Earth Day is tomorrow, April 22. Founded in 1970, Earth Day is a time to promote environmental awareness around the world.

EarthWe’re getting a jump start on our Earth celebration today and heading over to Jody’s work (Google) for lunch; then they are busing employees and their families to some local ponds to plant cottonwood seedlings and listen to educational information about the ponds. I love the idea of getting the kids excited about and involved in celebrating Earth Day while they are still young.

What about you? What are your plans for celebrating Mother Earth? Why not get the whole family involved this year? Here are some ideas to get you started. Choose one or two for Earth Day, then select another couple more to work on in the coming year:

  • Plan a meal made only of local foods or make a meat-free meal – Use this as an opportunity to talk with your kids about where your food comes from and/or why eating a meatless meal is better for the Earth
  • Plant a tree, a bush, a garden or even some herbs or flowers in a pot
  • Spend some time outside – on a hike, a walk, at the park – enjoying each other’s company, appreciating nature, and picking up any garbage you see
  • Designate an “Earth Hour” every week where you turn off your lights in the evening for one hour to save electricity
  • Encourage your kids to round up some of their toys or clothing they’ve outgrown and donate them to a local charity
  • Visit a local charity or thrift store to see how items you no longer use can benefit others
  • Visit a local recycling center to see where all of the bottles, cans, newspapers, etc. go
  • Print out an Earth Day coloring/activities book for your children and work on it together
  • Take a trip to the library and check out some books related to nature – endangered species, water, plants and flowers, etc. – or books specifically about Earth Day
  • Talk with your kids about water consumption and how turning off the water while brushing teeth helps conserve it. Encourage all family members to take shorter showers or consider filling up baths with a little less water.
  • Change your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs to conserve energy and encourage the kids to turn off lights/TV when they aren’t in use

This is the only Earth we’ve got, let’s give her a li’l love. For more information about Earth Day, visit Earth Day 2008.

Be sure to check back here tomorrow on Earth Day for my big Earth-Mother’s Day giveaway!

Best Shot Monday – 4/21/08 – Together, but apart

I had a wonderful weekend. The weather was amazing. Hooray for spring!

First, I enjoyed a night out with my friends including dinner at a very tasty Japanese restaurant on Saturday night. Three and a half hours of good food, good company and good conversation. Oh, moms’ night out – how I need you more often! 😉

Then Sunday Jody and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. It’s amazing how much our lives have changed in seven years, though definitely in a good way. We took the kids out to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Things got a little chaotic between the appetizer and main course (let’s just say you could tell Julian hasn’t been out to eat much), so I took the kids outside to listen to a street busker play the saxophone (which Julian was enrapt by) until our food arrived. That did the trick. Jody called me on my cell phone when the waiter brought our meals and the kids were ready to dig in. Trying to head off any further restlessness, we rushed through dinner, which was delicious, then got a couple of pieces of cheesecake to go. (So much for the Buy Nothing challenge this weekend. Oy.)

I have a couple pictures of Julian to share from this week, one just being cute and then one enjoying his hummus.
Julian (almost 17 months) - 4/16/08 Julian, lovin’ him some hummus - 4/18/08

And then this one of Ava and Julian is my Best Shot for the week. Of course I wish they were both looking at the camera, but I also love the far off look in Julian’s eyes, while Ava looks cute as a button.

Ava and Julian - 4/16/08

Head on over to Mother May I to see what everyone else has in store for their Best Shot Monday posts.

red BSM button

Pay It Forward reminder and upcoming giveaway

Just a reminder that my Pay It Forward (PIF) – Reader Appreciation post is still open for comments. Please take a look and if you are a regular commenter, leave me a comment there if you want to be considered for some fun PIF gifts from me. You just need to promise to host a PIF on your own blog. I’m closing it to comments after Friday, April 25, so I can pick some names and get goodies mailed out. Thank you all for being such fabulous readers! 🙂

Also, I have a big Earth-Mother’s Day giveaway in the works to celebrate both Earth Day and Mother’s Day. You won’t want to miss it. Details will be posted this week. 🙂

Buying Nothing – an update

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008At the beginning of the month I wrote about joining the Buy Nothing challenge sponsored by Crunchy Chicken for the month of April. The rules are simple, buy only necessities to live – basically food and gas – for the month.

It really hasn’t been all that hard for me to keep from spending, since I don’t buy much outside of food as it is. There are a few things I’ve been wanting to buy, like new sun hats for the kids and a jacket for Ava, but I’m holding off for now though I may look at the consignment shops, since buying used items if you really need them is allowed.

The part I’ve found particularly challenging is staying away from takeout food, which we generally have once or twice a week. While Crunchy Chicken says going out to eat is OK, depending on where you go, etc., takeout food, because of the amount of waste produced, is off limits. It’s been a challenge for me to cook dinner every night (and I can often be found complaining about it on Twitter), but with the exception of one meal out at the start of the challenge and one trip to Taco Bell (I know, I know and I confessed it) last week, I’m proud of myself at how well I’ve done.

Not only is this challenge keeping us from producing unnecessary waste, it’s saving us money, which I’m really appreciating.

There’s still time to join in for the last two weeks of the month. Head on over to Crunchy Chicken and sign up. Or if you are feeling really adventurous, check out her Extreme Eco Throwdown challenge for the month of May. You might notice even I haven’t signed up yet. I’m still procrastinating trying to figure out what I want to commit to. 😉

Edited to add: I just remembered that I am going to spend some money this weekend. My friends and I are having a moms’ night out tomorrow (woot!) and Sunday is my anniversary (7 years), so Jody and I will probably take the kids out to eat to celebrate that day. So I’m not perfect, but I’m trying. 😉