Wednesday, December 19, 2007

100 Mile Diet

I find the concept of the 100 Mile Diet very interesting. I would have to make a lot of adjustments in the way I eat, shop, cook and think. Might be a challenge worth pursuing - I can really only see benefits from eating locally.


When the average North American sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically traveled at least 1,500 miles—call it "the SUV diet." On the first day of spring, 2005, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon chose to confront this unsettling statistic with a simple experiment. For one year, they would buy or gather their food and drink from within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since then, James and Alisa have gotten up-close-and-personal with issues ranging from the family-farm crisis to the environmental value of organic pears shipped across the globe. They've reconsidered vegetarianism and sunk their hands into community gardening. They've eaten a lot of potatoes. Their 100-Mile Diet struck a deeper chord than anyone could have predicted. Within weeks, reprints of their blog at thetyee.ca had appeared on sites across the internet. Then came the media, from BBC Worldwide to Utne magazine. Dozens of individuals and grassroots groups have since launched their own 100-Mile Diet adventures. The need now is clear: a locus where 100-milers can get the information they need to try their own lifestyle experiments, and to exchange ideas and develop campaigns. That locus will be here at 100MileDiet.org—turning an idea into a movement.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dear Santa

My friend Kelly shared this with me today . . .

Dear Santa,
I've been a good Mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:
I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store. I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy. If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone. On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools. I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog. If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container. If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family. Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,
MOM

P.S. One more thing...you can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in Santa for many years to come.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crafty Christmas



Hey - this stamping thing is so much fun!




Wait a minute . . . something is not right here?



Where exactly is my ink?



Now, that's more like it!




Meg's finished product - she did such a good job!




One of Davis' finished products . . . I thought we were creating a Christmas tree and I thought Davis thought we were creating a Christmas tree . . . BUT . . . . apparently not the case. When we were finished Davis exclaims - "that's great mommy - we made an arrow so the people will know which end to open"!




A couple of my finished products. I just stitched up two pieces of felt, added some embellishments and created a clever closure flap and TA DA a couple of handmade gift pouches.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Etsy

So I may have shown up a little late for this party, but this site is terrific! I was searching for stocking stuffers for my kids that didn't come from a "big box" store and found them here. Makes me wish I was a creative, crafty person!

Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade. Their mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. Their vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice:
Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

That's a Wrap

I love wrapping beautiful packages with coordinating paper and ribbon! In years past, I would ignore the leftover wrapping paper (I couldn’t very well show up two years in a row with the same paper) I would set out to find the cutest, latest greatest pattern and matching accessories . . . sounds ridiculous I know, but I also know I’m not the only one out there with this little obsession! This year my packages will look a little different . . .. I am attempting to wrap green, not the color green, but the eco-friendly kind of green. Even though my gifts won’t make as big of a statement as in previous years - they will make less impact on the environment.

It is estimated that Americans throw away an additional 5 million tons of trash - 25% more than usual - between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. Much of the additional waste headed to the landfill during the holiday season comes in the form of gift-wrap and packaging. Good reused or reusable alternatives include:

* Old maps, sheet music or colorful ads from old magazines
* Baskets
* Reusable tins
* Scarves and handkerchiefs
* Leftover fabric or fabric gift bags
* Lightweight wallpaper
* Pages from a child's coloring book taped together
* Last year's holiday paper
* Pictures or advertisements from magazines and catalogs
* A plain box decorated with leftover glitter, paint, markers, etc.

No matter what, I promise I will not buy any new wrapping paper this year. I may dig into the rolls from years past, or I will get creative with the kids and deliver the prettiest presents ever!

I know I said I wouldn’t buy any new paper, but I reserve the right to buy natural fiber raffia ribbon in place of synthetic ribbons . . . I have to have ribbon, right?


Sources
http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/117/wrapsody
http://www.kidbean.com/regiwr.html
http://www.ecologycenter.org/factsheets/holiday_tips.html
http://www.naturalpath.com/natural_living/use_free_and_eco_friendly_wrapping_paper_this_holiday_season
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/11/28/HOG4TFP1C.DTL
http://www.thegoodhuman.com/2007/11/26/use-free-and-eco-friendly-wrapping-paper-this-holiday-season/

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bittersweet Snow




Snow has been part of the background during significant events in our lives. Snow began falling as I began labor with Ellie and blanketed the ground when we brought her home two days later. The day before I was induced with Kate, Bob spent hours digging us out so we could drive to the hospital. When all was said and done he may have been more tired than me and came close to missing her birth - he is the only person I know that can fall soundly asleep sitting up in a hospital chair! The days surrounding the girls' memorial service and funeral were covered in snow, which was probably a big inconvenience for a lot of people. Bob gently reminded me of the role snow had played in our lives up to that point and somehow it seemed to make sense.

Freshly fallen snow makes the world feel so quiet and still - Bob and I will forever be connected to snow and will always be reminded of all these memories when the first snow of the year falls. Today was a good snow day - I'm sure there will be many more to come!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Quality Time

Opportunities for one on one time with my kids doesn't come often and when it does I realize how much I ache for it.

As much as I would like to hand-pick the time, my quality time with Davis came this morning between the hours of 2 - 5am. He had an upset stomach and systematically (like a mother experiencing labor contractions) threw up every 11 minutes over a 3 hour span of time. Although it sounds like a miserable experience for both of us, it was one of the sweetest times I've ever had with him. He was so brave and patient - we read books and played on the floor in between "sessions". We caught up on the day and talked about our plans for Christmas. He thanked me for taking care of his hiccups (his name for throwing up) and finally after hours fell asleep in my arms on the floor. Davis isn't still often so I held him for awhile and watched him sleep . . . . I realized there is something very special about being needed and being able to help your children feel better. It makes you realize just how important being a parent is and one on one time with your children can come in strange ways so be prepared.

PS For any family members looking for ideas for Davis' Christmas . . . he could use some new sheets!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Toy Safety Info

As your are enjoying your holiday shopping and marking off items on your list your kids' lists, check out ToyInfo.org to make sure your purchases have not been recalled. This site is very helpful and contains safety information and recall information on tons of toys.

Parents Play an Important Role:

Along with industry and government, parents have an important role in toy safety. As a parent, you should always:

Buy Smart:

  • Check age grading and all toy packaging labels to make sure the toy is appropriate for your child
  • Avoid toys with small parts for children under age 3 or children who mouth toys
  • Look for toys with sturdy parts and tightly secured joints
  • Shop at a reputable retailer, one you know and trust
  • Inspect the condition of second-hand toys and make sure you have the original packaging and instructions
  • Batteries in toys should be firmly attached and not accessible to children
  • Listen to toys with noises before purchase to make sure it's appropriate for your child

Read the Label:

  • Labels and instructions on packaging can give excellent guidance for safe purchasing decisions

Organize and Supervise:

  • Follow instructions for toy assembly and use
  • Supervise children as they play
  • Be a good role model and set an example for safe play
  • Keep toys with small parts away from children under three and from children who tend to mouth objects
  • Avoid all toys with sharp points or rough edges
  • Keep toys in an easily accessible storage bin with a removable lid
  • Repair or discard broken toys
  • Teach older children to keep their toys away from younger siblings.
  • Keep a separate toy chest for older children whose toys may contain small parts not suitable for their younger siblings.

Monday, December 3, 2007

There are no words . . .

It has been four years since we lost our daughters, Ellie & Kate. Everything about that statement is unbelievable.

I am healing. My heart lives in a place where sadness meets joy. I am blessed with a marriage that provides me with incredible strength and love. We have been given the gifts of Davis and Meg who bring us much joy and hope. There are things I struggle with – there are pictures of Ellie and Kate that bring me to my knees and there are memories to painful to recall, but I know that I am growing… through adversity we grow in faith, we grow in strength, and we grow in love.

"There are no words" is a phrase I've heard a lot - I used to agree until I read a passage that was shared with me by my friend Sarah Batley from Carol Kent’s When I Lay My Isaac Down. I know these words - I have felt them, cried over them and spoken them to others - these words are true and helpful for anyone who has experienced any sort of pain:

"There are some tragedies that are too big for a heart to hold, and they defy any description that makes sense. Time weaves its way through the shock, the hurt, and the inexpressible feelings, and one day you discover that in the process of daily survival, you have instinctively made decisions (good and bad), defined your theology, formed an opinion about God, and determined that you will either curl up and die emotionally or you will choose life."

"The terrifying but truthful fact is that, in choosing life, you realize it will never match the kind of life that was in your carefully thought-out plan for your future. It will force you to view people around you differently. The brokenness will challenge you to new levels of personal compassion. It will melt your pride, diminish the importance of your carefully designed agenda, and it has the potential to develop an unshakable faith that defies rationality."

We can not always change our circumstances, but we can allow our circumstances to change us in a positive way. God has given us the ability to make choices and to choose how we react to all situations. I choose to live.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

To Do List

I am a list maker. I rarely get to mark all of the items off on my list, but I enjoy the process of making the list. I like to think making a list helps me stay organized, but if I look at it closely, I would see that it just feeds into my procrastination. After all, when you consider the amount of time I take to -write list-rewrite list in nicer handwriting-find a cuter notebook to write list in-rewrite in new notebook- I could have marked off all the items on my last 5 lists.

As I mentioned, I like the process of putting pen to paper, but I found a new site I might try out (in the hope of saving some trees). Ta-da is a simple tool that lets you create to-do lists for yourself and for others.




I also found an interesting blog, http://www.todolistblog.com
Sasha Cagen has collected people's To Do List from all over the world and written a book about them. To-Do List is a collection of 100 handwritten lists and the stories behind them. To-Do List celebrates the world of the overlooked and mundane, letting our lists serve as unique windows into who we are. Nothing is more revealing than someone's to-do list. A possible stocking stuffer for the list maker in your family!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Zwaggle

The need to nest has taken over, and I am no longer in control of my urge to clear out and get rid of things. Fortunately, Bob has the "bug" too and has posted a couple things on the Freecycle site I mentioned on an earlier post. He also spent time going through boxes of old office stuff and was able to get rid of a lot - I must say it made me tingly all over. Even though I am 6 months pregnant (and as big as a barn) staring at the boxes full of recyclable paper makes me feel a ton lighter! And the best part is tomorrow is curbside recycling day . . . YEAH!




Zwaggle is another option to get rid of your unwanted stuff in a responsible, eco-friendly way. Zwaggle is an online community for parents to share with other parents. Using our points based sharing system, parents spend less money, time and resources providing for their children.

By using Zwaggle, families are able to eliminate clutter, outfit their children, and participate in a trusted, on-line community of like-minded parents, while conserving our precious resources: time, money and the environment - leaving more of these for our children.

Zwaggle provides members with a trusted place to:

  • give away used goods that are no longer needed by your family
  • receive value from their used goods via our proprietary points based system, called Zoints
  • use those Zoints to obtain items you need for your family

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Leaf Magic

A fun afternoon . . . Bob raked up leaves into huge piles and the kids did their best to spread them all over the yard again . . . . they had a blast!


Friday, November 23, 2007

FreeCycle

Today we packed up trash bags and other shopping bags full of "stuff" and headed off to the Salvation Army drop-off truck. Of course, being the day after Thanksgiving the truck wasn't at its normal spot. After driving around a little I found a drop-off box and unloaded the van, but I was only able to put in the bags that were tied up which left me with a few bags I was unable to unload. Unfortunately, I am left with a few bags in the back of my car that will probably remain for awhile until I am gently "forced" by Bob to get rid of them. If this is not your idea of a fun Friday morning there is another option . . . The FreeCycle Network.




The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,173 groups with 4,109,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box or by clicking on “Browse Groups” above the search box.

Monday, November 19, 2007

For Safer Baby Bottles


Published November 19, 2007

As if parents didn't have enough to worry about with the confusing and seemingly never-ending toy recalls, now comes a new concern: bisphenol A, or BPA, a component of the polycarbonate plastic that makes up many baby bottles and sippy cups, which has shown the potential to cause a variety of health problems. While the Food and Drug Administration has not found reason to ban the chemical, some studies have shown that even low doses of the chemical in lab animals can cause neural and behavioral effects, and possibly lead to obesity, decreased fertility and some cancers. It's enough to get environmental organizations to press for change. "We think it's health-protective to really regulate this chemical to decrease human exposure," says Anila Jacob, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).

If you think it's better to play it safe, here's what you can do to protect your infant:

* Breast-feed if possible.
* Don't heat bottles with liquid in them or put warm liquid into the bottle. Heat can cause the BPA to leach from the bottle into the liquid. Get rid of bottles that are scratched or cloudy. Studies have shown that the more bottles age, the more likely the chemical will leach into what's in the bottle.
* Buy bottles made of glass or of polypropylene or polyethylene. Many manufacturers are now marketing "BPA-free" bottles made with these alternative plastics. Born Free (newbornfree.com) and Sassy Baby (sassybaby.com) are two such companies. Thermos and Luv 'N Care make BPA-free sippy cups (both available at buybuybaby.com).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm an Aunt . . . to a future NBA player!







William Archer Andrews "Zeke" arrived at 11:40 PM November 16th...........what a birthday surprise (11 days early) to his mother (Katherine's birthday also)........ The excited father is hoping for a b'ball player - 8 lbs. 13 oz. and 22 1/4 inches long.........

Friday, November 16, 2007

1985 Alabama Auburn

"The Kick" I feel a repeat coming on! Roll Tide

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Missing You

An unusual pairing but I love anything Alison Krauss does.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Calculate Your Impact on Climate Change

Climate Change: What's Your Impact?

The Nature Conservancy - Protecting nature, Preserving Life

Inevitably, in going about our daily lives – commuting, sheltering our
families, eating – each of us contributes to the greenhouse gas
emissions that are

causing climate change. Yet, there are many things each of us –
as individuals – can do to reduce emissions.
The choices we
make in our homes, our travel, the food we eat, and what we
buy and throw away can help ensure a stable climate for future
generations.

Use The Nature Conservancy's online carbon footprint calculator to
measure your – or your household's – climate impact. The calculator
will estimate how many tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
gases your choices create each year.

My individual score was 24 which means I am
personally responsible for emitting 24 tons of CO
each year. My minivan definitely doesn't help . . .
Bob wants to start a compost pile . . .
I might have to cave!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

41pounds.org


41pounds.org stops your junk mail for five years for only $41, which is less than 70 cents a month. You can use other services or do the leg work yourself, but we decided it was worth the minimal cost to have the service.
Great Christmas gift idea for your friends and family.


NO MORE JUNK MAIL.
  • Save time by eliminating 80-95% of your daily junk mail.
  • Save trees - 100+ million trees destroyed annually for junk mail.
  • Save water used producing and recycling junk mail.
  • Reduce global warming - energy used for junk mail.
  • Support your favorite charity - we donate when you sign up.

In our first year of operation, we have eliminated over 1 million pounds of junk mail!

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Grays' go GREEN

ACME Bags™ - Recycled PET Dual Handled Tote

Bob purchased these bags for us to use. I have to admit at first I was a little hesitant .... I thought it might be pretty dorky to walk into a store with my own bags or the cashiers would be annoyed at something that wasn't routine. Well, I got over myself and used them at the grocery store this weekend. Happy to report I received an "awesome" from the young cashier and Bob discovered if you use your own bags at Trader Joe's you are entered into a monthly drawing for a gift certificate for groceries. Bob and I each have a set of 4 and we leave them in our car for each shopping excursion.

The coolest thing . . . . the bags are made from recycled bottles. The fabric used to produce each of these bags reclaims about 10 recycled plastic bottles/containers! Check them out and feel good about making a small change that could have a huge impact!


  • 98% post-consumer recycled content
  • Made from recycled plastic bottles & containers
  • Stylish, strong & durable
  • Innovative long & short handles
  • Carry over shoulder or by hand
  • Fabric is soft & strong (unlike some scratchy recycled PET bags)
  • Made with fair wages / fair labor
  • Sunday, November 4, 2007

    Holiday Tradition: A Visit From Santa's Magic Elf

    magic elfA great little holiday tradition to start with your family. Read more at

    OrganizedChristmas.com

    What would happen if one of Santa's elves came to your house to visit?

    He'd arrive sometime before the holidays began. Sent by Santa to check on good little girls and boys, he'd roam the house at night, popping up in the most unlikely places come morning.

    Sometimes, elf mischief would take place--and he'd be caught red-handed! Finally, on Christmas Eve, he'd report to Santa and hitch a ride back to the North Pole ... until next year.

    If you can imagine it, you can do it: meet Santa's Magic Elf!

    Friday, November 2, 2007

    'Tis the Season

    For those of you who like to start your shopping early and take great pride in finding the "perfect gift" I have a site for you! My dear friend, Ilene has a blog, "The Ferret Online". If you are searching for something on the great World Wide Web she can be of assistance. Check out her site, she has great product recommendations and reviews. She will be happy to be your personal internet shopper and help you find that perfect gift.

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    Princess Meg & Sir Davis

    GRANDPARENTS: to see more pictures and order some for yourself go to http://www.graypictures.shutterfly.com
    the password is the answer to this question:
    The name of Alana's hometown is?




    Meg's First Big Girl Haircut

    Meg loved having her hair washed in the "big sink"

    Yani was so impressed with how still Meg sat (so was I)

    Now where is that part?

    The blow dryer was definitely the big hit of the day!




    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    It's a Boy

    My sonogram this morning revealed a not so shy baby boy! We are all very excited and look forward to meeting him late March. My due date is March 30th - just 10 days after Meg turns 2!

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Davis' First Kiss!



    Look who got more than just presents on his birthday! Davis' best girlfriend, Reagan laid a big one on him!

    Click to give FREE Mammograms!



    Your click on the "Click Here to Give - it's FREE" button helps fund free mammograms for women in need — low-income, inner-city and minority women whose awareness of breast cancer and opportunity for help is often limited. Your click is paid for by site sponsors, and mammogram funding is provided to clinics throughout the U.S. through the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Calling All Tuna Lovers


    If you love "the chicken of the sea" like I do you might find this Tuna Calculator created by the Environmental Working Group interesting. Of course during pregnancy is when I want tuna fish the most and when it is the most harmful for me to consume!

    Test Your Memory

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    5 things I learned from my November Issue of REAL SIMPLE




    1. You can rent classic and new title books online from Bookswim.com. You receive free shipping both to and from your home. Subscription plans range from $15 - $36 month.
    2. It is best to store coffee (ground & whole beans) in an opaque airtight container away from light, heat, and moisture. Oops, Bob!
    3. Gail Blanke shared the story of losing her brother at the age of 24. I felt a lot of myself in her story and agreed with things she said. I especially liked what her mother said during that time, "We'll never lose him." Blanke also listed 4 steps to making it through a loss. 1. Be true to your convictions 2. Shift your attention to others 3. Talk about the one you lost 4. Write to him or her (this one was especially helpful to me after we lost Ellie and Kate - I wrote to them often the first few months).
    4. There is a woman out there, Carment Staicer, who has 6 children and still has time to write a blog. Check it out www.momtothescreamingmasses.typepad.com .
    5. The best way to avoid a stressful Thanksgiving Day is to enjoy the day at someone else's house - thank you Karen & Loren!

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Calm My Anxious Heart - Linda Dillow


    As a woman and mother of small children I worry a lot! I was introduced to Calm My Anxious Heart a few years ago. I am someone who likes to control situations - this book helped me see I am not in control and worrying is "like a rocking chair . . . . it gives you something to do but doesn't get you anywhere." I refer to this book often and have found that the bible verses mentioned are the ones I often go to for strength. I will be posting some of my favorites on our blog. I hope they provide a little peace and comfort to you.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    New Playset

    After years of asking (ok, begging) we finally got the kids (and us) a play set. Of course the kids loved it - so much so that we were out for most of the day which means messy house and PB&J for dinner!