Gone pickin’ – WW

It’s been a while since I posted for Wordless Wednesday, so since I’ve been busy with other things and not had a chance to write much, here goes (though its not entirely wordless).

Picking raspberries in a neighbor’s vacant yard. The kids ate them almost as fast as we picked them.
Ava picking raspberries 9/24/08
Julian picking raspberries 9/24/08Mmmm, raspberries 9/24/08

And pickin’ green beans in our own yard. Had ’em for dinner last night. 🙂
Picking green beans for dinner 9/24/08
Green bean pickin’ in our garden 9/29/08

More Wordless Wednesday and even more WW at 5 Minutes for Mom

Green Tip of the Week #24: Getting rid of house flies and fruit flies naturally

If your house is anything like mine lately, you’ve had an infestation of flies – both of the house and fruit variety. Here are some tips I’ve run across over the past several weeks that have helped me deal with mine, naturally.

For Houseflies (or poop bugs as my daughter called them until her preschool teacher corrected her – hehe):

  • Using a fly swatter is the best way to rid your house of them
  • Hang a clear plastic bag of water (half-full) on or near your door. It will deter them from coming in your house in the first place. (I’m still trying out this method.)

fruitbowl.jpgFor fruit flies:

  1.  Fill a shallow bowl of red wine, red wine vinegar OR apple cider vinegar (I’ve had luck with all three of these)
  2. Add a few drops of dish soap to it and mix it in with your finger
  3. Leave on your counter top
  4. The fruit flies will gather on the rim of the bowl and, eventually, dive on in and drown

OR

  1. Leave out a wine bottle with an inch or so of red wine at the bottom.
  2. The flies get trapped. They go in, but can’t get out.

OR

  1. Make a cone out of a sheet of paper (like a funnel) to fit in a cup
  2. Pour a small amount of apple cider vinegar into the cup
  3. Place the funnel into the cup, but don’t let it touch the vinegar
  4. Tape the paper funnel to the cup
  5. The flies will go down into the cup but won’t be able to fly back out

Please note: When trying to rid your home of fruit flies, it’s best to rid your counter tops of fresh or rotting produce (which will attract the fruit flies and is a breeding ground for them) by either putting it in the refrigerator or covering it. You should also wash all dishes, clean all drains and empty your trash.

What’s worked for you? Have any tips to share?

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. 🙂

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Ditch the Disposables Challenge : Check-in #2

We are now nearly a month into the Ditch the Disposables challenge and at last count there were just over 100 people signed up! That’s wonderful news! Thank you all for giving the challenge a go.

How are you doing with it?

As for me and my switch to the MoonCup and cloth pads (for backup), I don’t have anything new to report. It went well for me earlier in the month, but I haven’t had to use them again yet. As for my switch from tissues to handkerchiefs, I can’t say I’ve been doing quite as well. I received the cloth handkerchiefs that my mom made for me and while I’ve been using them some of the time, I still find myself preferring to use tissues or, now that I’ve run out of tissues, toilet paper for blowing my nose. My allergies seem to be particularly bad lately so I’m blowing my nose A LOT.

Hope you all are faring well. There’s only one more month let in the challenge (although if you want to make the switch a permanent one, I certainly won’t argue with you). Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this, who has blogged about the challenge and helped spread the word and inspired others to give it a try as well. 🙂

A midwife’s labor of love

Ruth Lubic is a woman on a mission. At an age when most people would have already retired, she embarked on a new project – starting a midwife-operated birthing center in one of the poorest areas of Washington D.C. The infant mortality rate in D.C. is almost double the national average, yet after 800 babies in 8 years the center has “never lost a child in childbirth, and has cut the rate of premature births – the biggest risk factor for infant mortality – in half.”

Ruth Lubic and DC Birth Center babiesAt age 81 Ruth Lubic continues her labor of love. She believes that low-income women can really benefit from the care and prenatal education that midwives provide. The key to DC Birth Center‘s results of beating the odds she believes are, “Time [spent with the women], respect and treating people with dignity.” She thinks the national infant mortality rate is disgraceful, but believes midwives can help solve it and says that her results at the birthing center in poverty-stricken D.C. are proof that her ideas could work anywhere.

Rixa Freeze at The Truth Face of Birth wrote about Lubic in her post “Time, respect and dignity,” where Mother2Midwife commented, “This is what I’ve been trying to tell my girlfriends for years! Shouldn’t this tell us that even those of us who aren’t ‘low-income’ would have better outcomes with more face time with our care providers, and more education about pregnancy and birth?”

Over at Our Bodies, Ourselves Blog, Rachel wrote about Lubic’s CBS video interview (which you can watch here) and also shares this video interview where Lubic discusses her work with the center and talks with one of her clients about her prenatal experience at the center. There’s also a very informative article about Lubic in the Washington Post from last year.

Stacy at How Sweet It Is is thrilled to see a midwife “get some awesome media attention” and thanks CBS for a great story.

Back in August, Nikki at Kirsch Family Adventures who is expecting her first baby in January 2009, wrote about her decision to use a midwife and not an OB and shares some information about the Midwives Model of Care, the types of midwives in the U.S. and tries to clear up some misconceptions regarding midwives vs. OBs.

Over at Mama Speaks, Stephanie of Adventures in Babywearing (who, after three hospital births, gave birth to her fourth child at home with a midwife) recently posted a brief review of the book Pushed by Jennifer Block and believes it is a book that should be read by pretty much everyone because you can never be too informed about modern day maternity care. “Some things you won’t want to believe, but it is full of fact and truth. It’s just a very difficult pill to swallow. But Mamas, if you want what is best for you and your baby before and after birth, this is medicine you must open up and take.”

There is still a lot that needs to be done in the United States to improve the quality of prenatal care women and babies receive which is why I think it’s such an easy choice for Ruth Lubic to continue her work at the birthing center and congressional briefings. When it was suggested that at age 81 she could be retired, Lubic replied, “I’m not tired the first time! Much less retired.” If only we all had her dedication and passion. She truly is an inspiration.

* Photo credit: Washington Post

Cross-posted on BlogHer

Green dishwashing

After something like a year and a half of being without a functioning dishwasher (thank God my husband washes the dishes the majority of the time), I am happy to report that we finally have a new (to us) fully-functional dishwasher. Woohoo! (Thank you to my hubby and my father-in-law for fixing the pipes and getting the “new” dishwasher installed.)

Now the question is – what dishwasher detergent should we use? I’d like to avoid phosphates and chlorine (for health reasons) and find something as environmentally-friendly as possible. We were using Seventh Generation or Method dish soap when washing them by hand. This topic was discussed a bit at the EcoMom meeting I attended last week, but I don’t recall what the consensus was.

What do you use in your dishwasher? Does it get the dishes clean? Leave a film on them? Would you recommend it to others? Thanks in advance! 🙂

My first EcoMom meeting

ecomommember.jpgOn Thursday of last week I went to my first EcoMom party/meeting at Alison’s (of Green Me) house. I didn’t even know she was local to me until a few weeks ago when I met up with her on Facebook thanks to Julie.

I picked up Melissa (‘cuz carpooling is the environmentally-friendly thing to do, yo) and we joined about 20 moms in attendance – all of us concerned with helping to make the world a better, safer, greener place for our children. Add some local food and drinks (beer and wine) to that green mama passion and I think it’s safe to say a good time was had by all.

We mingled, ate, drank, watched Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff (that I blogged about here), and had some discussions about organic clothing, CFLs, eating local, biking with kids and other topics. Alison mentioned my Ditch the Disposables Challenge and challenged all of the moms present to give up paper towels for the month of October. She gave us all some biodegradable Twist sponges to get us started (and some Rudi’s Organic bagels too – not for the challenge, but I was thankful for them nonetheless). The only problem with the evening is that there wasn’t enough time to talk about everything. (Isn’t that always the way?)

Alison is hoping to keep the momentum going and organize some more EcoMom meetings and I have to say I’m excited about it. It’s one thing to be involved in green living with the online community through my blog, but it’s another thing to see local moms in my neck of the woods who are interested in doing their part too.

You can read more about the evening at Green Me. To sign up to be a member of the EcoMom Alliance (which I just did tonight) and join over 11,000 EcoMom members around the globe, visit EcoMom Alliance. You can also check out the EcoMom Challenge – 10 First Steps for a Sustainable Future. There’s no cost to join, though donations are appreciated.

Food preservation feels so right

As I mentioned earlier, the fam and I headed out to a local you-pick farm along with my sister and some friends this weekend to, as I so delicately put it on my Facebook profile, pick a crap-ton of vegetables. 🙂

The kids enjoyed the hayride, picking veggies, playing with their friends and eating fresh corn on the cob on the hayride as we made our way to our next vegetable stop.
Julian on the hayride 9/20/08 Ava having some fresh corn on the hayride 9/20/08 Julian munching on some corn on the hayride 9/20/08

We walked away with quite a bit of food – potatoes, carrots, onions, eggplant, green beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, basil, peppers, okra, cabbage and kohlrabi (which I didn’t even know what it was until Julie identified it) – though not nearly as much as some people on our hayride (cough, cough Melissa).

Here is our bounty:
The veggies we picked at the farm 9/20/08 Ava with the veggies 9/20/08

Not bad for $30, eh? It certainly made for a busy rest of the weekend.

On Saturday night, I blanched 25 ears of corn, then cut the kernels off 20 of them and had two bags full to freeze. Ava and Jody snapped all of our green beans in preparation for them to be frozen the following day. And I prepped a box full of potatoes for Jody to carry down to the basement.
Me gathering potatoes while Ava gets to work snapping beans 9/20/08 Ava, the green bean snapper extraordinare! 9/20/08

On Sunday, I blanched and froze two bags worth of green beans. I also made three quarts of spaghetti sauce, two of which I canned (but the whole thing was such a comedy of errors, I’m off canning for a week or so while I recover), and one of which I used for our dinner that night (along with fresh eggplant from the farm and corn on the cob). I also strung up around 10 onions (in old pantyhose) in the basement.

As I’ve been preparing, over the past month or so, what has definitely been the most food preservation I’ve ever done, it feels like such an accomplishment. I love knowing that I have bags of veggies, sauces, broths, etc. in the freezer that I did myself. I love seeing my cans of jam and sauce as well and knowing that I did that too. And knowing where pretty much all of those fruits and veggies came from since we picked them! It’s empowering to know that if push came to shove I don’t have to rely upon the grocery stores to feed my family. Yes, I’ll still be buying a lot of my food from the grocery store this winter, but knowing I have some reserves here at home is a good feeling. It just feels right. 🙂

A wee bit bigger

I picked a couple of carrots from my garden yesterday to see if there really was anything connected to the leafy green bits that have erupted out of the earth. Here is what I found:
Baby carrots from our garden
I’m thinking they still have a bit longer to go. No? I mean, they are supposed to get bigger than my thumb nail, right? Nevertheless, the kids enjoyed the two itty-bitty baby carrots. 🙂

I’m hoping the carrots we’ll be picking today (along with a slew of other vegetables – potatoes, onions, butternut squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and more) will be just a wee bit bigger. 😉 We’re meeting up with some other families from our attachment parenting group and my sister at a local farm to pick veggies. The last time we went picking veggies at this farm I was 34 weeks pregnant with Julian. (We didn’t make it last year because the wind was awful on the day we were supposed to go.) My how time flies.

Anyone have any tips on storing veggies without a root cellar (like my friend Julie is building) for several months? Guess I’ll be doing some research this weekend along with cleaning my house since my in-laws are arriving in from Oklahoma on Monday. Oh, and there’s a Sustainable Living Fair and the play Birth happening this weekend in Fort Collins. Wish I could go to both, but I’m not sure there will be enough hours in the weekend for all of that! I swear autumn is always so much more busy for me than summer ever is.

The value of family dinners and giving our children presence

What if there was one thing you could do to lessen the likelihood that your child would get involved with smoking, drinking or doing drugs; lessen his/her chance of developing obesity; and help him/her do better in school? What if that thing was as simple as having regular family dinners together?

Sept. 22 is Family DayMonday, Sept. 22, marks the 8th annual Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children – “a national movement to inform parents that the parental engagement fostered during frequent family dinners is an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free.”

From 2003 to 2008 research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has consistently found that “compared to children who have frequent family dinners (five or more per week), children who have infrequent family dinners (less than three per week) are two and a half times likelier to have used marijuana and tobacco and one and a half times likelier to have drunk alcohol.”

At Family Guide: Keeping Youth Mentally Healthy and Drug Free, they also believe in the importance of family mealtimes. Jeanie Lerche Davis of WebMD agrees that family dinners are important and lists 10 Benefits of Family Dinners, including “kids are less likely to become overweight or obese” and “school grades will be better,” as well as 10 Tips for Organizing Family Dinners.

Pretty impressive for just eating a meal together, right? I think most people would agree that it’s not simply the act of eating together, but of engaging in conversation – in talking to your children and listening to them talk to you – that really what makes the difference. Dinner just happens to be that one time of day that busy families might have an opportunity to sit down and spend a few minutes with each other.

Some of CASA’s secrets to having successful family dinners include:

  • start the pattern of eating dinner together while children are young
  • turn off the TV and avoid taking phone calls during dinner time
  • encourage kids to get involved in meal planning and preparation
  • discuss what happened during everyone’s day
  • keep it positive and make sure everyone gets a chance to speak.

Gina from A Wrestling Addicted Mommy’s Blog recalls that growing up, she and her family used to have dinner and talk about their day, but admits now with her own family, this is something they are lacking. She also points out a recent survey from Mom Central that said 98% of the mom’s polled think that children do benefit from eating meals at the table with the families, but only 61% of families actually do this every day.

The blogger at All Rileyed Up also recalls family dinners while she was growing up (complete with grace before meals, grace after meals, and on Sunday, the whole rosary) says, “Family dinners are much harder to pull off these days, now that I’m the one running the family, partly because Husband’s work schedule is erratic and partly because I am a lazy bum. … For a while, it wasn’t a big deal to me, but now that the kids are getting older, I feel a need to give them something to remember, a time the whole family can count on being together.”

I find it fairly easy to have dinner with my family every night, but that’s because a) (thankfully) my husband is able to get home from work at a decent hour and b) my children are still young and not involved in after-school programs, sports, nor do they have homework or jobs to go to. I imagine it will prove to get more and more challenging as my kids get older, but I think it is something worth striving for and we will do the best that we can.

Do you have regular family dinners with your child(ren)? If so, will you make an effort to continue that throughout the teenage years? If not, will you make it a priority on Sept. 22 and/or consider trying to do it more often?

October is AP MonthAlong the same lines and in keeping with the spirit of spending family time together, Attachment Parenting International has declared October Attachment Parenting Month, where the theme is “Giving Our Children Presence.” Partnering with Attachment Parenting International to celebrate and promote Attachment Parenting Month are AskDrSears.com, Mothering magazine, and Infant Massage USA.

Julie, an API leader who blogs at ChezArtz, explains that the theme “focuses on the benefits of spending quality time with our children, especially in the run up to the very consumer-oriented holiday season. Although all children love toys, it is our presence, not presents, that they truly crave.”

Scylla at Law and Motherhood notes some of the ways she tries to keep her family connected like not having a DVD player in her car and bringing her children into the kitchen to help with cooking, but also admits its not always easy to remain present in their lives. She asks her readers, “how you give your presence to your children, when you are too worn out to be present for anyone else?” After all, we as parents all find ourselves in those situations, sometimes on a regular basis.

API Speaks, the blog of Attachment Parenting International, will be holding a blog carnival focusing on “giving our children presence,” complete with giveaways, during the month of October.

While I know not everyone agrees with attachment parenting being the best fit for their family, I think we can all agree that giving our children our presence is an invaluable gift and something so important especially in today’s world. As October approaches, I will be considering how I might be more present in my children’s lives and I encourage you to do the same. It’s often the little things – taking a few minutes to read a book, build a blanket fort, go for a walk together, have dinner together while you talk and especially listen – that mean the world to a child.

You can learn more about AP Month, including events that will be taking place around the country, at Attachment Parenting Month.

What will you do to give your child(ren) your presence in October?

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Cross-posted on BlogHer

Picking and preserving local produce

Over the past month, I’ve been a on a major (at least for me) food preservation kick. I’ve made and canned two kinds of jam, made peach ice cream (to. die. for.), dehydrated strawberries and apples, made and froze batches of salsa and spaghetti sauce, as well as blanched and froze several pounds of green beans. The majority of that was done with local food that I either grew myself, picked myself or bought at a local farm. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been very rewarding and fun (and, I admit it, a little bit addictive). 😉

You can read more about my latest forays into picking, eating and preserving local fruits and veggies over at 5 Minutes for Going Green today and find out where you can go near you to do the same!