Juggle and Balance

Reflections on Rachel Carson
April 20, 2010, 6:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized, Using your brain category | Tags: , ,

This being Earth Day week, I am reading about Rachel Carson. She was the brave woman who’s love of nature inspired her to fight against pesticides back in the 1950s and 1960s.

A marine biologist, Carson published a famous trilogy about ocean life (next on my reading list). But she’s best known for Silent Spring the book that helped to reverse our nation’s pesticide policy. Her book helped to inspire the creation of the EPA, too.

Read about her, read some of the great children’s books about her to your children. I like the one by Jospeh Brurac. I find reading biographies with my daughter is a simple way to talk about qualities that I admire in people. Carson took on the chemical industry head on…what an amazing life.


Spring cleaning – get new books, cds, dvds – recycle
March 23, 2010, 6:24 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I love swaptree.com.

This web site is so simple to use and it helps you trade old books/cds/dvds for new ones. You recycle instead of buy new. Plus, I got inspired by this to give away old books to my daughter’s school and charities. It helped me open up some bookshelf space.

All you do is type in the isbns of about 25 or 30 books/cds/dvds that you or your kids have outgrown. Then you type in some isbns of books/cd/dvds that you would want. Then, sit back and wait. The swaptree software matches up people who own the book you want with people who want the book you have. Just go check it out.

You don’t have to go to the post office either. The postage is charged to your credit card (about $3 for books, less for cds). You print out a label and drop it in the mail.

I especially love it for books/dvds that my daughter has outgrown. I can get books that fit her current reading level by trading things she’s outgrown. Enjoy.

The balancing act: fresh food and work

So many of us are trying to eat in a more healthy way.  We’re trying to grow more of our own food and not using processed foods.  We buy local as much as possible, we buy organic, and we sign up for CSAs.  All this is fabulous, but there is a need for convenience sometimes and we can feel guilty about this. There’s a good essay about this at:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/magazine/14fob-wwln-t.html.  Thanks to Bonnie Azab Powell at Grist for her blog entry about it.

I don’t really think this is a black or white thing.  One thing we do is check out cookbooks from the library that have the “fast, easy food” bent.

I’ve also found http://www.epicurious.com to be a godsend.  I love it because I can take a couple ingredients and do a search for an easy way to use those ingredients that I already have. You can also load in your favorite recipes so that everything is in one place.

We also eat more raw stuff.  We’ve tried to get into the slow cooker thing, but that would require thinking ahead too much.  What do you do to cook real food but do it in this time-starved world?

Bored with the same old books?

Most parents are looking for book recommendations for their kids. Of course, kids are great at picking out their own books, but sometimes they need a little help, too.

Before you head to the library or the bookstore, check out Planet Esme, a very helpful children’s lit resource planetesme.blogspot.com.

Right now she’s featuring books for February’s African American history month and I discovered a gem, a book about Jackie Robinson that I think my daughter will love (called Testing the Ice: A True Story about Jackie Robinson.) She’ll love the art and she’s in a “this is a true story?” stage.

Esme is a former teacher and the blog has amazing info for parents and teachers alike.  I also ran across some fun grandparent-themed books….one on a nana detective looks like serious fun.

Did you say foodie?
March 2, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Food category | Tags: , , ,

I’m not a huge foodie…I don’t have time to be, but I do indulge in thinking, reading, and  listening to stories about food some of the time.  I love the web site http://www.epicurious.com because it helps me organize my “old favorite” recipes and find recipes for “what do I do with this, tonight?”  Last night I was staring at some salmon and wondering what to do and epicurious solved my dilemma.

But, when I want to listen to some thoughtful, fun commentary about food, I download a podcast from the Splendid Table. This week’s episode is all about Mexico.  But last week’s story was how folks outside the U.S. are dealing with the obesity issue.  Check it out at http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/.  Enjoy.

Reading aloud

One of the activities  that I have loved most about parenting is reading aloud.  Okay, so occasionally I read aloud before I had my daughter, but having a kid gives you license, almost requires you to read aloud and often.

My daughter is now 10 and it’s harder to find the time but I encourage myself and you to keep doing it. It is a ritual of family life that shouldn’t don’t end.

A great resource for tips on how to improve your reading aloud experience can be found in Jim Trelease’s book The Reading-Aloud Handbook or by visiting his web site.  I’m linking here to his free parent brochures:

http://tinyurl.com/ak47cn  but there are also excerpts from his book on his web site.

Please let me know about your experiences with reading aloud.

Turning toward spring

There’s been a lot of weird weather this winter. All that snow in DC. Snow in all 50 states–a very uncommon event. But right about now, when the mornings get brighter and the days longer, I’m thinking about gardening. All you gardeners know that feeling, and you know what to do. But for you brown thumbs, a simple activity to do with your kids is to visit websites about seeds or order catalogs from seed companies.  Then, browse and savor  the variety of plants and the gorgeous pictures.  Start conversations about where food comes from, because for many kids, it seems like all the food comes from “the store.”

One of my favorite web sites/catalogs is Seed Savers http://www.seedsavers.org.   These folks do amazing work gathering seeds from around the world to protect our future food. Learn about everything from purple potatoes to rhubarb.

Then, buy some seeds and plant them indoors. Don’t worry if they don’t grow perfectly or if they die. It’s the planting that is fun and the watching.  Imagine spring.