A playgroup held my world together back when my three boys were babies. At one point I had three boys under the age of three. I didn’t plan for babies so close in age. Life just worked out that way and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Looking back it was laughable. The piles of laundry, the dishes, the lack of time for showering and general hygiene on my end. However, I will say those three boys were kept sparkly clean at all costs.
My job practicing law was on hold. Little did I know at the time it would be a permanent hold. I was home most days wishing for a parenting manual and trying to cope with a lot of testosterone. While I listened to the ‘goo’s’ and the ‘gahs’ my brain was craving something more.
Joining a playgroup
I don’t remember exactly how it all went down, but I ended up joining a playgroup with families that had kids around the same age as mine. We found a time and day that worked for everyone and met at a different house each week. Our playgroup was unique in that most of the kids had a younger sibling-so everyone had someone to hang with.
Our kids parallel played at first and then over the months actually began interacting with each other. While the kids were playing I had one eye and ear listening for crying or conflict and the other focused on listening to the wise words of the other mothers in the group. They were my saving grace. Filled with advice, support, humor and unconditional acceptance.
The kids bonded at our weekly meet-ups
Yes, our children learned to socialize and share, but truthfully this once-a-week play date was as much for me as it was for them.
Playgroup gave me a reason to shower
Showering was way down on the priority list when my kids were babies. There were days when it just didn’t happen. On those playgroup days it was almost a sure thing. I craved feeling clean and somewhat like an adult. My Lululemon pants were so happy to get a break.
We met week after week and talked about everything under the sun. There was advice swapping, school tips and most of all time with fabulous friends.
The kids are all in 5th grade now with their younger siblings in third. They all go to the same school and continue to cross paths in classes and activities. Some have remained very close and others a bit more on the periphery. One thing that they will always have is a playgroup bond. These kids have known each other since they were essentially babies.
I know I’ll always have is a special connection to each and every mom from this amazing group. We still manage to get together occasionally-usually without kids-to catch-up on life and to swap stories about ways to navigate through the confusing school years.
“A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly,takes all patiently,defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably” William Penn
The flu shot was part of my annual routine for many years. I remember the trip to the doctors office, rolling up my sleeve, turning my head to the side and squeezing my eyes shut tight in anticipation of that slight prick in my arm. I didn’t think twice about getting the flu shot. Then it all changed. I began to research and ask questions. A few years ago I stopped getting it.
Why I don’t get the flu shot
I’m a firm believer in no judgment on this site or anywhere else, provided the choices are within reason. Whether or not you get the flu shot is your choice. I’m willing to share with you my reasons for not getting the flu shot, but they’re my reasons and don’t have to be yours.
Formaldehyde is used in the flu shot to kill viruses or inactivate toxins during the manufacturing process of the vaccine. Formaldehyde (remember that awful smell from biology?) is a known carcinogen (cancer causing).
Thimerosol is used in the multi-dose vials of the flu vaccine. Thimerosol contains mercury, which is known to impair neurological and immune systems. Yes, the amount in the flu shot is small, but I’m not interested in adding a known toxin to my body.
I know what you’re thinking-there’s another side to this argument. How about getting the flu shot and protecting those around me from getting the flu that I’m bound to catch and share with the world. I get it. But it’s a choice I’ve made and I ask you not to judge me.
Here’s the true kicker for me.
Ohio workers are fired for not getting the flu shot
Yep. You read that headline correctly. An Ohio-based health center fired 150 of its workers the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for not complying with a mandate that every member of the 10,800-person staff get the flu shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, fourteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws requiring health workers to get the flu shot. Generally, an exemption is allowed for religious or medical reasons.
Getting the flu shot is my choice
I don’t know about you, but this Ohio company’s mandate and decision to fire its employees doesn’t sit well with me. Whether or not I chose to get the flu shot is and should remain my choice and should be yours too. Thankfully I’m self-employed and can continue to make that decision without any repercussions. But what about all the people out there who fall under the mandate?
I’d love to hear what you think. Should companies be allowed to force employees to get a flu shot?
A while back I made a resolution to eat sustainable, locally grown food as much as possible. I’ve done my best, but it’s next to impossible to grow or find seasonal locally grown food year-round in New England. When those cold winter months kick in there’s not a lot growing in our area and we have no choice but to depend upon local markets to bring in produce from other places.
I want my kids to know where their food comes from
The supermarkets neatly package our food and everything is ready for immediate consumption. As we’re going up and down the aisles we generally don’t give much thought to where our food comes from. Most food travels far to reach us- from another state or another country. The grocery store knows no seasons-you can buy organic strawberries in December although they were grown in June and corn throughout the year. Don’t get me wrong-I’m very grateful that this produce is available year-round, but I want my kids to understand the difference.
Ways to connect with food
Many years ago we joined a CSA (consumer supported agriculture). Every week our box is filled with interesting fruits and vegetables grown on a local, organic farm. My kids are interested in what comes in the box each week and it gives us a chance to talk about where the local, seasonal food is coming from.
I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and spent many Saturdays going to the incredible farmer’s market. It happens to be the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country. Now that I live on the East Coast I’ve discovered small farmer’s markets while on vacation and larger markets in neighboring towns. Farmer’s market’s can be found through out the world and they range from large to small, but they all have one thing in common: farmers selling directly to consumers without a middle man. When you buy direct from a farmer you’re recreating a connection between the land and the food you eat.
Grow your own
We decided this year to carve out a small garden in our yard and grow some of our own vegetables. HERE are a few photos of the beginning stages of our garden. It’s extremely small since we don’t get very much sunlight around our house. But that small patch of land has a few plants that are growing like crazy.
I know that our garden isn’t going to be a big producer of veggies and it’s not going to impact our weekly shopping list. Our kids are my motivation for planting a garden. They scan the garden daily looking for something ripe enough to pick. When they had friends over this week they all picked one cucumber and divided it into 5 pieces to share. It doesn’t get much better then that.
Check out this incredible plant in our garden. My friends on Facebook and Twitter helped me figure out what it is. Can you guess?
Finally we are seeing small vegetables growing on this gorgeous plant. Can you see what they are?
How do you connect with your food? Do you grow your own, go to farmer’s markets or join a CSA?
This post ispart of the another fabulous Green Moms Carnival carnival hosted this month by the wonderful Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter. Be sure to stop by Farmer’s Daughter next week for lots of great information on ways we can all work towards becoming more food independent.
The weather has been strange over the past few days. Intense thunderstorms hit for a few hours and then the sun decides to shine for the rest of the day. During the rainy hours it’s a given that my three boys will beg for screen time and electronics. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to say no.
The times I stick to my guns and say “no screen time right now” the kids seem to rally and use their creative juices to come up with some pretty fantastic alternatives. The next time a rainy day strikes try one of these activities to help keep boredom and begging for electronics at bay.
Toilet paper tubes marble run
Wondering what to do with those old toilet paper tubes? Save them and reuse them! On a rainy day pull out the bag of tubes and let your kids go crazy. We use masking tape to hold them together. The last marble run went down the stairs and around the family room. After using marbles gets old try using Match Box cars racing down the tubes.
Camp indoors-build a fort
It’s amazing what kids can do with a few blankets, sheets and towels. This never seems to get old even as my kids age. After the fort is constructed hand out a few flashlights and let the fun continue. We also have a pop-up tent that has served us well over the years. The kids love to set it up inside with blankets and pillows and other camping gear.
Creating a talent show has been a favorite this summer. The kids make up a dance routine and practice over and over until their dance moves have been perfected. The prep work doesn’t end with the dance routines-they also make tickets, serve refreshments and have their very own MC and DJ. The best part-the adults don’t have to come up with their own routine. We were only asked to dance with the cast members in the finale.
My boys are 11, 10 and 8 and rain or shine we still like to spend time reading together. We don’t read aloud as much as we used to and most of the board books have been tucked away, but we still manage to find space and read quietly together. I hope this tradition will be around for a long time.
Nothing helps a rainy day pass by like a batch of chocolate-chip cookies. Baking together encourages team-work and independence. My boys love to cook. They make eggs, french toast, pancakes and muffins. All three are pretty self-sufficient and really do most of the cooking on their own. I’m only needed for supervision and an occasional question, but I get to enjoy the final product!
This is a guest post from Cassidy Randall. Cassidy is the Campaign and Outreach Manager at Women’s Voices for the Earth, a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm women’s health.
Green Momma Party
Of course you want to protect your baby from toxic chemicals lurking in your home – who doesn’t? But trying to figure out what those harmful chemicals are, where they might be hiding, and finding the safe alternatives can get overwhelming, fast. And the thought of doing all that on your own? Forget it!
Detoxing your home shouldn’t be a chore. So make it a party instead! A Green Momma Party, that is.
What is a Green Momma Party?
Green Momma Parties make creating a non-toxic home fun with a room-by-room guide for eliminating harmful chemicals, do-it-yourself recipes, and how-to videos. And even better – this is a party with a purpose. By hosting or going to a Green Momma Party, you’re not just taking steps to detox your home – you’re raising your voice to demand safer products in the first place.
Women have some incredible power for making meaningful change when it comes to eliminating toxic chemicals that impact the health of our families. At a Green Momma Party, you’ll get the chance to use it.
Did you know that women make 85% of purchasing decisions? That’s a ton of consumer power that we can use to convince companies to make safe products. Or did you know that regardless of political party, women consistently rate chemicals in the environment as a top concern? That’s also a hefty amount of political power to influence legislators to protect your health. When you raise your voice, major corporations and national policy-makers listen.
So how does a party fit into this? The Green Momma Party Guide, free for download on Women’s Voices for the Earth’s website, has everything you need to host a fabulous party, including Five Take Action Tips for Busy Mommas. Taking action is actually built into the agenda, between the room-by-room guide to avoiding harmful chemicals and making your own DIY recipes for healthy products. After you and your party guests have learned about toxic chemicals to avoid and economical solutions from the room-by-room guide, you’ll be fired up to take action to ensure that toxic chemicals don’t end up in our products in the first place. With just the click of a button on a laptop or smartphone, you’re using your consumer power to tell companies you want safer products, and to tell legislators that you want them to protect your health.
And don’t underestimate the click of a button. Your voice matters, and when you raise it, major corporations and elected officials listen.
What’s in the Green Momma Party Guide:
Room-by-Room Guide of hidden hazards and practical solutions
Do-it-Yourself recipes & how-to videos for each recipe
Non-Toxic Shopping Guide
Five Take Action Tips for Green Mommas
How to Host a Green Momma Party
Discussion Guide for the host to keep the conversation flowing
ENERGY STAR is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that helps us save money and protect the environment and our health through energy-efficient products and practices. In 2011 alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 41 million cars — all while saving $23 billion on their utility bills and reducing the pollution that contributes to heart disease, asthma and allergies.
Sounds as though we’ve made quite a difference, but there’s still plenty to do. Climate change continues to be a very real concern and childhood illnesses, including asthma and cancer, are on the rise. Team ENERGY STAR is asking that we get our children involved and encourage them to save energy at home-because we all know the future is in their hands.
Team ENERGY STAR is a new, exciting initiative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program, developed to engage and educate American youth and their families about saving energy in the home.Team ENERGY STAR empowers kids to help protect the climate through easy-to-implement, money-saving actions and provides them an outlet for sharing their passion for preserving our environment. And, with Dr. Seuss’ the Lorax as the engaging theme for Team ENERGY STAR, kids can learn and have fun at the same time.
Being part of the team involves the following simple steps:
Take steps to reduce your energy use at home
Help your family and friends save energy
Encourage your family and friends to take the ENERGY STAR Pledge
Inspire others by sharing your story
Once you join
Once you join you will be given access to Team Energy Star. You’ll receive:
A Team ENERGY STAR certificate of participation-a guide for saving energy at home, including Energy-Saving Tips and Tools, the ENERGY STAR Home Check-Up, and the ENERGY STAR Pledge.
Energy efficiency games to play with your kids
Become a Lorax mustache kit-you’ll have to join to see what this is!
An activity booklet filled with fun games and a poster that you can color in and display at home to remind your family about ways to save energy.
Energy Facts: Did you know……
The average house is responsible for more than 25,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, about twice as much as the average car.
Electricity demand for U.S. homes is expected to climb by as much as 18 percent by 2035.
The typical household spends more than $2,100 per year on energy bills. With ENERGY STAR, you can save over one-third, or more than $700 on your household energy bills.
If every American household took the actions found in the Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR Pledge, we would save more than126 billion KWh/year of electricity and save $18 billion in annual energy costs. We would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 20 million cars.
This year, EPA is proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ENERGY STAR program. For two decades, ENERGY STAR has helped millions of Americans and thousands of businesses save energy, save money and protect the climate.
Today, ENERGY STAR is one of the most well-known brands in the country, with over 80% of Americans recognizing it as the symbol of superior energy efficiency.
So I hope you’ll join me and take the pledge with your families to make a difference.
UPDATE: Your kids are invited to participate in the Share Your Story campaign!
Are your kids interested in saving energy and doing their part to make a difference? ENERGY STAR is accepting submissions to their Share Your Story campaign until September 17th and winners will be announced on October 10th. If your kids submit a story they immediately become eligible for a number of prizes, including:
The new Lorax DVD, which will go to the first 100 kids to submit essays
25 winners will receive ENERGY STAR qualified electronics products donated by LG Electronics, including computer monitors and televisions, smart phones, and mouse scanners
Top winners will also be featured in New York’s Times Square on the LG billboard.
Some of the winners may have a chance to participate in ENERGY STAR day in October with EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
How cool is that??
How do you and your family conserve energy at home?
This post is part of a carnival of posts from many bloggers and their children who support energy efficiency and Team ENERGY STAR. Please head over to Big Green Purse to see what everyone has to say.
Anyone who has a child would probably agree that maternal and paternal instincts kick in the first time you lay eyes on your child, possibly even before. The instinct to protect your child from harm is very real and impossible to ignore. Part of parenting is making choices about which products we bring into our homes as we try to make the best possible decisions for our families. Our desire to keep toxins away from our children is a given. Unfortunately, toxins are basically unregulated in this country and can make their way into our homes without our knowledge.
Change is needed
This needs to change. The law that was meant to protect us is now old and outdated and isn’t doing its job. We still have cans with BPA linings on our shelves. Laundry detergents continue to contain cancer causing chemicals. Nursing pillows and car seats are doused in toxic flame retardants. Toxic chemicals are found in children’s jewelry. Early puberty, childhood cancer, infertility, learning and developmental disabilities are rising at alarming rates. There is no legislation in place to protect us. Companies aren’t required to test the safety of the chemicals in their products. This needs to stop.
My trip to DC
The Massachusetts gang: Elizabeth from Clean Water Action, Gayle an amazing activist, yours truly and Laura another amazing activist.
The gathering included incredible people, and lots of them, each with a story to tell about how they have been affected by toxins in the environment. And the stories weren’t happy-many were devastating and heart wrenching.
It seems like a no-brainer to me. This is something we can control, while there continue to be so many things that are beyond our control. Toxins don’t belong in our products and having regulations in place will enable this to become a reality. Who wouldn’t want safe products for children? I’m trying hard to understand why this continues to be a battle. We need companies to become accountable for their toxic products before they reach the shelves. So why haven’t all the Senators agreed to support this?
The issue crosses party lines
The Massachusetts gang in with Senator Kerry’s team.
While in DC, I was honored to have an opportunity to meet with the Massachusetts teams from the offices of Senators Kerry and Brown to discuss this important issue. I’m thrilled that Senator Kerry recently decided to co-sponsor Senator Frank Lautenberg’s Safe Chemicals Act. Senator Brown hasn’t signed on as of yet. I’m hopeful that he will soon see the importance and necessity of this regulation.
The need for safer chemicals and safer products crosses party lines-all children and all people are affected, regardless of your party loyalties.
It’s not too late. Please urge your congressional leaders to take action.
A special thank you to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families (big shout out to Lindsay Dahl, Deputy Director of SCHF) for organizing this fantastic and inspirational event. Please stop by their site to learn how you can take further action. Together we can make a difference.
Shane from Environmental Booty, Lindsay Dahl Deputy Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and me!
Are your Senators in support of the Safe Chemicals Act? Please reach out to let them know how much it means to you.
Lori Popkewitz Alper, Founder and Editor of Groovy Green Livin, provides eco-wellness consulting for businesses, schools, homes and individuals; and inspiration for a greener lifestyle through her Groovy Green Livin blog and website. Read more….