Monday, March 31, 2008

No Buy March Wrap-Up

What an exercise in awareness! A month ago Matt and I decided to not buy any "thing" other than necessities for the month of March. Matt didn't seem to struggle with this at all, but it was difficult for me at times. Part of what made it more difficult for me is that I run the household (always can use another Pyrex dish!), but I admit that I also love to shop and buy. I realized how often I just pick up "a little thing or two" here and there (uh... Target anyone?!?) without really thinking about if it is something that we really need.

It was in no way a perfect month, and we (okay, I) ended up buying a few things that certainly aren't necessities. I can justify them all (I am the queen of justification! If you ever need a reason to buy or do something, just call me!), but I am aware that it is just that. Justification.
Here is my list of when I broke the rules...
  • Blank CDs (for backing up photos)
  • Sand for the sandbox
  • Memory sticks (for backing up photos based on Shannon's recommendation - it is much better than CDS.)
  • Game present for Jack's birthday (this was actually on the exception list from the beginning)
  • Two books for the kids from the Easter Bunny
  • A book for me (I forgot the no buy and picked it up with the Easter books)
  • Yarn, Pattern, and Needle for a crochet project (for a gift)
  • Magic Nuudles (a special project for the kids to do while I was gone)
  • A shirt that I was thinking about wearing on my trip (I decided after I got home that I didn't need it and am going to return it this week)
  • Angel ornament (I collect ornaments from the places I travel, and an angel seemed appropriate for North Carolina)

Funny it didn't seem like very much until I listed it all out. For April, I think Matt and I will decide on a few purchases together but otherwise try to stick to the no buy policy for another month. Baby steps, right?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour Update

Earth Hour was a semi-success in our house. We started a bit early and ate our dinner (Matt cooked!) with all the lights off. It was still dusk when we ate so there really was no need for lights (although normally we would have had the light over the table on even though we don't necessarily need it), but we still had our candle lit which the kids loved.

Official Earth Hour was thwarted in our house by an urgent errand that I needed to run, so no telling stories and no romantic dessert as planned. I was pretty pleased when I came home and found the kids asleep, all the lights off, and Matt reading his medical journal by candlelight. (This is my husband who isn't always good at turning off lights and sometimes runs the dishwasher when it isn't full - the horror!) Matt said that he made a big deal of turning off all the lights with the kids at 8pm. They then read a few books by candlelight and went to sleep. When I got home, Matt and I still had 30 min of Earth Hour to enjoy alone. Talking on the couch with only a candle is pretty nice.

I would like to find a way to incorporate a lights out hour into our lives on a regular basis. How did your Earth Hour go?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

I'm home. I'm tired. My house is a mess. But I've got some exciting things coming up soon on the blog!

Hope everyone is planning on participating tonight in Earth Hour. Since 8pm is about lights out time for the kids anyway, we'll start our Earth Hour a little early. Planning a candle lit dinner (with soy and beeswax candles!) and instead of reading books tonight, we are planning to tell (not scary!) stories in the dark. Hopefully the kids will be asleep before Earth Hour is over. I want to plan a special dessert for Matt and me to eat by candle light. I'd love to hear what you are planning for Earth Hour.
I am also planning on using some of the information from the Earth Hour Lesson Plans to explain to the kids what we are doing. I like their analogy of eating too much of something can make you not feel good and too much driving or electricity use can make the Earth not feel good. Something I think that preschoolers *might* be able to grasp.
Off to find a good story and dessert recipe...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Gone

I am leaving for a few days away. My Aunt Barbara died unexpectedly on Friday, and I am going to her funeral in North Carolina. It has been a crazy weekend with Jack's birthday, Easter, and making last minute travel arrangements. Today is going to be busy with packing, errands, and getting everything ready for the family while I am gone. I'll be back soon.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Monday Menu Plan

Monday - St Pat's Day - Corned Beef (pre-seasoned from Whole Foods) with carrots and red potatoes and Irish Soda Bread
Tuesday - Kids had grilled cheese and fruit, Matt & I met with the accountant and then ate at Noodles
Wednesday - Tortellini Pasta with Rao's marinara sauce and balsamic roasted asparagus
Thursday - Annie's Mac-n-Cheese with peas for the kids (Matt and I split a sandwich at Panera Bread)
Friday - Whole Wheat Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts, and Feta (first time recipe for me - pretty good - the kids loved it and it grew on Matt and me)
Saturday - Jack's Birthday dinner at his favorite, local pizza place
Sunday - Egg salad made with our Easter eggs!

We'll definitely have EV's Veggies Monday night since I have some spinach to use up plus I need something super healthy after having birthday and Easter treats all weekend. The rest of the week is going to be crazy which I'll blog about soon. I could use some suggestions for some good, easy, make-ahead meals for this week.

Birthday Wishes & Birthday Kisses


Friday, March 21, 2008

Tomorrow

Do you know what tomorrow is? Most importantly it is Jack's third birthday, but coming in at a close second is World Water Day (the Water for Life Decade actually started on the day Jack was born in 2005).

Water conservation was not even on my radar until we moved to Colorado. I didn't waste water, but we certainly made no efforts to conserve water. As it is in many western states, water supply is a big issue. Colorado is fortunate to be a state that actually produces water (from snow pack), but the water production isn't consistent throughout the year. We are also just coming out of a multiple year drought. Combine that with an increasing population, water is definitely an issue.

But Colorado's water issues are nothing compared to the rest of the world.
  • According to the World Health Organization, less than 1% of the world's freshwater, or 0.007% of all the water on Earth, is readily available for human world consumption.
  • Almost 1 in 5 people in the world lack access to safe drinking water
  • Demand for water since the beginning of the 20th century has increased at more than twice the rate of the population growth
  • The average American individual uses 100 to 176 gallons of water at home each day while the average African family uses roughly 5 gallons of water each day.
We have been trying to make some changes in our house to conserve water. It can definitely be a challenge with kids who love to play in the sink, flush the toilet, and leave faucets running (I had to go turn off a faucet while writing this post!) But we are trying. Some changes we have been making on our house to conserve water:
  • Shorter showers. My goal is 3 minutes, but I am at about 5 minutes. This winter I've been using the bathroom heater as my timer. Gotta find a new way to time myself now that it is warming up.
  • Sometimes I skip showers for days at a time! Okay, so skipping showers isn't exactly a concious "green" decision for me. It is more a side effect of being a mom, but I'm going to take credit even when it isn't deserved! LOL
  • Re-use cooking water to water plants.
  • Running the dishwasher and the washing machine on quick cycles instead of normal cycles.
Other Water Saving Tips for Your Home
Install low flow plumbing fixtures.
Repair all leaks immediately.
Turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth or shaving.
Turn off the flow while soaping or shampooing.
Refrigerate drinking water instead of letting a faucet flow until the water is cold.
Rinse veggies in the sink with the drain closed or in a pan of water.
Do not use the toilet as a wastebasket.

I'm going to do the "Water Has Many Uses" curriculum with my kids next week. I think we'll also do some water experiments and see if we can find some books at the library about water. I'll be sure to share what we find!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gatha

About 6 weeks ago, I had a bit of a self-confidence shake. It really bothered me for a few days until I had a revelation (in the shower no less - about the only place I can actually think!). I was inspired to write a Gatha like my friend Nona is so good at doing. The moment I felt my mind wandering to the experience and my insecure feelings, I would repeat the Gatha to myself. I was amazed at how it helped me let go. At the time I shared it with Nona but didn't feel the need/want to share it on my blog.

Similar feelings surfaced today. Although the feelings are unrelated to my previous experience, I pulled the Gatha back out and thought I'd share.

I understand my fear of rejection
But I vow in this moment
Not to allow my fear
To dictate who I am.

Only Two Things Are Certain

Death and Taxes. Isn't that the way the saying goes? We did our taxes last night. Always painful but not nearly as painful this year as I thought it would be.

Colorado has a conservation easement tax credit transfer program that we took advantage of this year. I'm not an accountant so forgive me if I mess up on my explanation, but my understanding of it is that individuals can voluntarily place a conservation easement on their land (usually ranch land). A conservation easement prohibits development on the land. In return the land owners get tax credits related to the value of the land. Most people can't use the entire tax credit, so the state allows them to sell it to other individuals.* I think we purchased ours at roughly 85cents on the dollar. We can then apply those credits to our own taxes and save on our taxes. (if you are like me, that is confusing. As an example, we can pay $850 for a $1000 credit, saving us from paying the government $250. See how that works?) It is supposed to be a win-win-win situation. We save money on our taxes, the landowners get financially reimbursed for land they can never develop, and the state has more conservation land (and really doesn't that benefit us all?).

Last week I heard part of a story on NPR about the Colorado conservation land tax credit and how many landowner's are overvaluing their land and getting more tax credits to sell. Apparently the state is really trying to crack down on it (fortunately we worked with very reputable individuals on our purchase). I wanted to hear the whole story and share it with Matt, but I can't find it in the NPR archives. While searching, I did find these two stories which I thought were really interesting. Just food for thought.

In Land Conservation, "Forever" Might Not Last
Research Studies Unintended Effects of Conservation

*If you want a better, more official explanation check out this article.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Make It From Scratch Blog Carnival

I am very excited to be hosting the Make It From Scratch Blog Carnival again this week. It is a weekly carnival with lots of great ideas, so let's get to it.

Since this Thursday is the first day of Spring (hurray!) and Sunday is Easter (we'll never have an earlier Easter again in our lifetime), let's go with that theme.

If you are doing an egg hunt next weekend, check-out the Recycled Plastic Easter Basket at My Recycled Bags. The Sojourner shows us how easy it is to make RecycleCindy's patterns with her Recycled Shopping Bags. If you want a healthier treat for those Easter baskets, check out my recipe for Nest Cookies.

If you haven't started your indoor seeds, it is time! Kidzarama shows us how to grow a Tomato Plant From Seeds. Modern Beet shows that her Seedlings are Sprouting, and Y2K Hippie has lots Growing also! A Crafty Nature has a really cute idea for planting with Tin Can Herb Pots.
Once those veggies are ready to harvest from the garden, you might want to try some of these recipes. Cheap Healthy Good has Honey-Glazed Roasted Carrots, Simon Style or maybe add them to a Farmer's Casserole from InnStyle Montana. And if you happen to be growing Calamansi in your garden, you can learn what to do with it at Tips and Tricks 4 Me 13 Ways to Use Calamansi.

And spring is the time to be grilling! How To Me tells us why it is important to poke a central hole in raw hamburger patty in How to make a Hamburger Patty Stay Flat. I always feel like cooking as the weather warms, and here are some other great recipes to try:
This Momma Cooks! On a Diet The Denver Post does Lamb
Hearth and Home Chicken Wings
Life On Both Sides of the Pond Hamburger Stroganoff
Beetle Eyes Easy Dinner Idea - Muffin Burger
Thrifty Mommy Cheesy Chicken Croissants
Midwest Neurotica Ultimate Turkey Hot Dish
Funny About Money Our Daily Bread
The Fat Bottomed Girl Quick Pudding Dessert
Stop the Ride Amish Peanut Butter

I love eating outside, and Tea Party Girl shows us how to bring the outside in with Spring Flowers and the Tea Party Table. Maybe you can serve Sweet Southern Iced Tea from Our Red House at your tea party!

We all know spring is about babies. If your spring has a baby check out the directions for Recyling a Blanket and Making the Baby's Room Cute from This Wasn't In The Plan.
And for those that feel crafty in the spring, Stay at Home Mom and Military Wife has Homemade Playdough, Crystal shows off her Evil Eye Beads, the Seabird Chronicles has an Exhibition: Artist Trading Cards, Series 1, and Chaosgone has an idea with Cardboard Furniture.
And just getting in under the wire for St. Pat's day, My Readable Feast (love the premise of this blog!) has St. Patrick's Day Family Fun and Feasting.
Thanks for visiting MIFS blog carnival!! Don't forget to check out MIFS next Tuesday at Applehead.

Nest Cookies

We had friends over this morning and made some nest cookies. It is an easy recipe, and the kids like putting the "eggs" in the nests. I had planned to take some photos of the kids helping, but we got too wrapped up in the creating.

The recipe I used is a "healthier" variation on rice krispie treats that I got from Hip Chick's Macrobiotics, but you can do this with a regular rice krispie treat recipe as well.

1 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup any nut butter
dash of salt
dash of vanilla
4-6 cups of puffed brown rice cereal
jelly beans or colored chocolate candies (preferably with no artificial coloring or flavoring - I got both from the bulk bins at Whole Foods)
Combine the brown rice syrup and nut butter in a saucepan over low heat until melted and a bit bubbly. Stir in vanilla and salt. Add cereal and stir until cereal is well-coated with syrup/butter mixture. If you wanted to make bars, pour into a 9x13 pan, press gently, and let cool.
To make nests, drop a small spoonful into each section of a mini muffin pan. Press gently and make a small indention to make each look like a nest. Press 2-3 candies in each nest for eggs (I prefer the chocolate candies - I think it goes better with the nut butter and isn't chocolate always better??). Let cool, remove from pan, and enjoy!
Note: While writing this blog post, my two little bunnies removed and ate almost all the jelly beans from our nests! I should have known something was up. It was just too quiet!

Happy St. Patrick's Day

You would think that I would have a great "green" post planned for today since the theme for St. Pat's Day is green, but... uh... no.

Menu Plan Monday


Monday - EV's Veggies

Tuesday - Maple Glazed Salmon with Pineapple served over brown rice - I added broccoli to the recipe to green it up a bit. I left out the jalapeno because of the kids. The dish was good, but not great. Missing something. I'm going to try it again soon, and I'll try also adding red pepper.

Wednesday - Homemade Pizza - usually I use this whole wheat pizza dough for the crust, but forgot to make it in time, so I used some premade whole wheat dough I had in the freezer. Not as good as fresh made. We topped our pizzas with marinara sauce, spinach, fresh pineapple (leftover from Tues night), and mozzarella cheese

Thursday - Kids' Meal - Grilled Cheese - Matt and I had sushi with some friends

Friday - Take-out pizza in the car while doing a last minute drive into the mountains to beat a snowstorm

Saturday - Nacho Potatoes - I used sliced fingerling potatoes and topped the dish with fresh diced tomatoes. The whole family loved it. (This was supposed to be the Thurs night kids' meal!)

Sunday - After late arrival home from skiing - Tortellini with Rao's marinara

Not many ideas for this week. Definitely corned beef with red potatoes and carrots tonight. I'd also like to roast a chicken. I also want to try a tofu salad recipe from my sister, but probably for a lunch instead of dinner.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tired Boy

We are up in the mountains skiing this weekend. It is warm and the skiing conditions are great.

Yesterday afternoon we took the kids up the lift for some real skiing. This is the first winter of skiing for both of them, and usually we just take them out on the flat area behind our place. Kate has been up the lift to ski with Matt, but this was Jack's first time. He loved being up so high! I initially skied with Kate, but about midway down Jack was getting a little cranky and wanted to ski with me. To ski with Jack, we put him between our skis while he holds on to a ski pole that is parallel to the ground. I was zooming down the run when I noticed that Jack was getting a little heavy and really leaning on the pole. I looked down, and Jack was asleep! Sound asleep. He actually fell asleep skiing! Matt picked Jack up and skied home holding him. Jack slept the whole way.

The lil' guy must have been really tired because he fell asleep during dinner also. I have a little video of Jack falling asleep at dinner that I'll post when we get home tonight.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Take A Deep Breath

The EPA has has tightened up the standards on the concentration of ozone (otherwise known as smog) allowed in the air. Although it is an improvement, the new standard still isn't as low as health experts say is needed to protect the most vulnerable of the population - children, elderly, and those with respiratory problems. The 345 counties in the US that don't meet the new standard (85 of those counties don't meet the old standard!) have until 2020 to clean up. That's over 280 million breaths for each of us before required compliance.

Fortunately, the county we live in is already in compliance. Is your county on the list? Counties NOT Meeting EPA Standard.

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Seven Deadly Sins

I grew up Catholic, but I'm not exactly what you'd call a practicing Catholic. I consider myself to be more "spiritual" than anything else, but if you ask me what religion I am, I would probably tell you that I'm Catholic.

The Catholic Church has had its fair share of negative exposure lately, and it tends to usually be a bit behind the times.* However, this week The Vatican has shown itself to be a bit progressive. They issued a list of the new seven deadly sins, and what was at the top of the list? Environmental pollution! Go Pope Benedict!

The new list is intended to be "social" sins vs the old list are individual. Others that made the new list include
Genetic manipulation
Accumulating excessive wealth
Inflicting poverty
Drug trafficking and consumption
Morally debatable experiments
Violation of Fundamental rights of humanity
.
And if you can't remember the original...
Lust
Gluttony
Greed
Sloth
Wrath
Envy
Pride
I always thought that littering should be up there with gluttony and sloth.

*I once heard a great sermon in a small Catholic church on a little country road in Minnesota about whether the church should be changing to fit modern times or should modern times be changing to fit the church. Just an interesting idea to ponder.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Creativity Update

I have another photography class tonight. I didn't have much time to practice nor did I do my homework for this week. Feeling a little guilty, but that's life with two preschoolers. I am enjoying the class so much that I signed up for the level 2 class. Hoping it will be easier to do my homework when it is warmer outside plus I am feeling frustrated with my come-with-the-camera lens. Can't get a new one until our March buying freeze is over.

Our cohousing community has a group of handcrafters that meets every two weeks to work on projects. After a bit of encouragement and a bit of luck that our normal morning activity was cancelled, I went to my first Purls of Wisdom group on Tuesday morning. It was good for me. I think I'll be able to go to the next one as well. Even better, Matt will be home so I can go sans kids.

I'm also continuing my online creativity class. I am honestly pretty disappointed as I expected so much more. It is also frustrating that most of the rest of the group are single and/or childless. I was hoping to share with more mothers that are short on time and energy. Fortunately my study buddy is a mother also - although she never seems short on either time nor energy! :) It has my wheels turning that maybe I should organize something similar via my blog and get other moms involved. Like I have time to to take on another project...

AND I've slacked a bit the last few weeks in participating in the Make It From Scratch carnival. No slacking for me this week as I am hosting again! I'd like to see some Spring/Easter ideas, and I'd love to have some regular readers participate. Submit your posts by Sunday night.

Works For Me Wednesday - Whole Grain Bread Crumbs

I promised this WFMW tip for last week, but then last week was a reverse WFMW. So I waited until this week. I know you were all on the edge of your seats in suspense...

If you eat the heels of your loaf bread or never use breadcrumbs, just ignore this tip. But if you throw away the heels of your bread, don't waste that great whole grain bread, start saving them to make your own breadcrumbs. Not only is it green, less wasteful, but also frugal and more healthy than buying pre-made breadcrumbs from the grocery.

I save any leftover pieces of any whole grain bread we have in our house - the heels, funky pieces, leftover chunks of boules, stale bread, etc. We live in a pretty dry climate, so I can just leave the pieces out over night, and they dry out. If you live in a really humid climate and want to avoid moldy breadcrumbs, toast the pieces under the broiler for a few minutes. Not enough to actually toast the bread, just to dry it out.

Cut or tear up the bread into pieces no larger than a couple of inches and toss them into the food processor or blender. Process until the bread is a grainy size. Store in an airtight container and use as necessary.

Check out other WFMS at Rocks in My Dryer

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Quick

I have lots I want to write, but not the energy, so I'll just quickly announce that I am going to be an aunt again! My brother and Jenifer are expecting #2 to arrive in late October/early November. How exciting is that?!?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Garden Time

Kate, Jack and I made seed pots and started some seed for our garden this afternoon. I haven't done starts for my garden for at least 5 years since becoming pregnant with Kate. It was a fun project for the kids this year. Just keep your fingers crossed that our seeds sprout!

We made the seed pots out of newspaper using these instructions. I like to make them with less newspaper so that they are almost half decomposed when I put them in the ground. Most newspapers print with soy based black and white ink, so it is safe to put directly into the garden. The color print usually isn't recommended. For the Colorado readers, I checked with the Denver Post regarding their ink. The black and white is soy-based, but they recommended not using the color pages. Unfortunately, most of the pages in the Denver Post have some color. I had my best luck with the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal out of the community recycle bins.
I've been reading a great book that my mother-in-law sent me called Square Foot Gardening. It is a different way to organize your garden than the traditional row gardening. The premise is that row gardening wastes space and leaves too much room for weeds. They recommend raised planters divided into square foot sections for planting. I'm excited to adapt it to my little garden plot this summer.
We planted eggplant, basil, green peppers, and jalapeno peppers in our start pots. In another month we'll sow our spinach, lettuce, beets, carrots and beans directly into the garden. We probably won't put our herbs out until June 1st since Colorado can still get pretty cold on some nights in May. The community is going to do group squash this year so we'll hopefully help out with that as well.
We tried to turn some of the dirt in the garden this afternoon, but it is still too cold. Kate was hoping to find some worms. She has asked about them for three days straight. She is also asking about our composting worms. Gotta remember to check the library for some worm books.
I can't wait to see Kate and Jack's expressions when those seeds start sprouting. Sprout, Seeds, Sprout!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Monday Menu Plan

Since I successfully only cooked one meal last week (yes, only one), I decided it was time to get back into the menu planning mode.

This is the tentative plan for this week...

Maple glazed salmon with pineapple* with brown rice and broccoli
Nacho Potatoes* (for the kids while we are on date night)
Mustard Glazed Chicken* over Couscous with cauliflower
*New recipes - I'll post them if they are any good!

Friday evening we were all feeling a bit under the weather (we even decided not to go skiing this weekend), so I made our favorite chicken noodle soup. It is perfect for days when you aren't feeling all that great. Plus it is easy! The recipe is adapted from the Jenny Craig cookbook Simple Pleasures.

Spinach-Chicken Noodle Soup
4 14oz cans of broth
1 chopped onion
1 cup (or more) of sliced carrot
2 cans cream of celery soup
1 10oz package of frozen chopped spinach
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups whole wheat egg noodles, uncooked
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 min. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 15 min.

Running the Numbers

This link is from another email sent around to the cohousing community. I found it very moving and hope you will also.

The hot beverage cups was one of the most enlightening for me. I'm not going to forget my travel mug ever again. Also the airline plastic cups. We bring our reusable bottles on planes when we travel, but now I'm going to start bringing my own little travel cups as well. Or pass on a beverage.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Updates

Jury duty was no problem on Tuesday. I didn't even get picked for a jury pool and got to go home after 2 hours. I still can't believe it.

I walked into the courthouse with a guy that caught my eye (not in that sort of way, but in a "he looks like an interesting character" sort of way). We chit-chatted as we waited in line to check-in, and later he came over and sat next to me. He is a local artist and is really supportive of the creativity in others. Another moment of sychronicity for me as I happened to have in hand The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women for the online creativity class that I am taking. I didn't get much reading done, but our conversation was great.
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A full week into our not-going-to-buy-anything commitment, and we are doing pretty well. I have certainly become more aware of many of my impulse purchasing behaviors. I even went to Costco for the first time ever on Wednesday and didn't buy anything except food. Not easy.

I have purchased one not-necessary item. A pack of CDs to backup family photos. I have been diligently working on backing up all of our family photos and ran out of CDs. I just wouldn't have been able to forgive myself if I lost our photos because I delayed backing them up, and I really want to get the project finished up. So I bought them.

I'm going to break our commitment again this afternoon. We accidentally left the lid off our sandbox (an under the bed storage container filled with sand on our back porch), and several cats took advantage of our forgetfulness. The kids love the sandbox, and I just can't wait until April to buy new sand. Plus the point of this exercise is to be more aware of our purchasing habits, not to feel deprived.
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I haven't updated on my photography class or homework because my instructor was in a car accident so class was delayed. I start back tomorrow morning with a workshop on aperture and shutter speed.
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It is a beautiful day here today, and the kids are outside riding trikes and playing. Kate is a bit under-the-weather so we skipped out on preschool, playgroup and a playdate today. I think we'll have a low key evening and head up into the mountains for some skiing after my workshop tomorrow. Looking forward to some family time.

A Little Cohousing Info

One of my neighbors emailed this link out to all our cohousing residents this morning. They are great little videos that give a peek into cohousing for those that don't know anything about it. Thought some of the blog readers that have asked me questions about cohousing might be interested in watching. There videos aren't filmed in my cohousing community, but there are many similarities and the basic principles are the same. Enjoy!

Cohousing Videos

Thursday, March 06, 2008

When Good Parenting Goes Wrong

Good Parenting Example One
Mom: Kate, what you have to say to me is very important. I am talking to (fill-in-the-blank) right now. When I am finished I want to hear what you have to say.

When It Goes Wrong
Mom: Kate, please put on your shoes and coat so we can leave.
Kate: Mom, what you have to say is very important to me, but I am talking to Jack right now. When I am finished I want to hear what you have to say.
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Good Parenting Example Two
Mom: We have a one bite rule in our house. You need to have at least one bite of everything on your plate.

When It Goes Wrong
Mom: Matt, my stomach is so upset. I think I'll throw-up anthing I eat.
Kate: Mom, you need to at least try. Remember, we have a one bite rule in our house!
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I had another example, but I can't remember it right now!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Spring IS Coming

Jack and I just took the compost out, and I noticed that my crocuses are blooming!

edited to add: Kinda ironic that after posting this, we got an inch or two of snow!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

ACT GREEN

Check out the website ACT GREEN. I was pretty excited the first time I checked out. It is a Scholastic website designed to motivate and empower kids to take action regarding the environment. Most of the content is aimed at school-aged kids and is a bit advanced for Kate and Jack, but there is a section an green families with some links to some great articles. The 100 Ways to Act Green is a great resource, so don't be surprised if you find me snagging some of the tips to post here.

I hope it is obvious that raising Kate and Jack to be environmentally conscious is very important to Matt and me. I'm constantly on the lookout for ideas and projects to help instill our values. One of the best ways I have found is to read together. If you look way down at the bottom of the ACT GREEN website, there is a little link called "Read Green." Click on it for a bunch of great recommendations on books about the planet, the environment, and all that live here. One of our favorite books Owen and Mzee is on the list, and I would like to get the Knut story. I very much admire that Scholastic included not just their own publications in this list.
If you are going to buy books, Scholastic is a great resource and is one of the most progressive publishers. The company's goal is to increase its publication paper purchase of FSC-certified paper to 30% and its use of recycled paper to 25%, of which 75% will be post-consumer waste, by 2012.
Scholastic is also offering Greenstylemom readers a discount of 20% off purchases in the Scholastic Store using code GSM0208. Better yet the discount is good through September 1, 2008.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Jury Duty

I have jury duty tomorrow. Fun, huh? I'm like a magnet for juries. I've been on several both civil and criminal, including a murder trial while I was 7 months pregnant with Kate. I tried to claim that I wouldn't make a good juror because I had to pee all the time. The judge didn't buy it but did ask me multiple times during the trial if I needed a break! I actually like jury duty and find it an interesting civic duty, but only when I have nothing else going on. I really hope I don't get chosen for a long trial as I'm not sure what I would do with the kids. Fortunately my father-in-law will be here tomorrow to watch the kiddos. And I have to admit that I am sorta looking forward to a partial day of sitting, waiting, and reading.

I have a few memes and some awards (some from months ago) that I want to try to post this week. We'll see how jury duty goes. Maybe I'll bring my laptop. Do you think the courthouse has Wi-Fi? :)

I forgot to post last week that PopMom was the winner of the SIGG bottles. Congratulations!!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Waldorf-Inspired Dolls

I didn't do any projects with the kids this week (but we have several planned for this week!). Instead I thought I'd share this Waldorf-inspired doll project that we did awhile back that I never posted. I got this idea from one of my favorite blogs Renaissance Mama. I didn't photo document the process as well as I should have, but I think all you smart, creative moms will be able to figure it out.
The supplies are pretty simple. The wooden peg dolls sell at Michael's for 99 cents. I got several sizes to try. Everything else we used was scraps - felt, yarn, mini pom-poms, and pipe cleaners.

Cut out a felt rectangle and glue it around the body. For a cape, cut a rectangle a bit shorter and glue that at the neckline. Kate wanted a prince and a princess, so we glued on some yarn for hair and pipe cleaners for crowns. For Jack's dolls, I cut out a round piece of felt, wrapped it around to form a tall hat (what are those called?? Mommy brain tonight...) and glued on some mini pom-poms.
The kids love them. Kate's dolls live in her dollhouse. Jack's dolls drive in his wooden train. I can't wait to add to our little doll families!






Saturday, March 01, 2008

Big Commitment

Matt and I had our monthly finance chat last night, and we have challenged ourselves not to buy anything except necessities like food and gas for the entire month of March*. I'm not patting ourselves on the backs too much because I know there are groups of people out there that commit to not buying anything for an entire year, but trust me when I say that a month is going to be a challenge for us. Shoot, a day would be a challenge for us. This really isn't a green commitment although it certainly has green side effects. It is more about trying to break some of our spending habits. We don't spend more than we can afford, but we spend more than we would like. We also want to better track what we are spending, so starting in April we are going to get serious about our budget.

I just wish we had talked about this a few days ago so I would have had time to get the skinny jeans that I have been wanting... I'm sure at least one fashion magazine has listed them as a spring wardrobe "necessity!" Right?

*We did agree that the only exception may be to purchase one or two items for Jack's birthday at the end of this month. I don't think we will need anything, but I want to leave the option open.