Monday, December 31, 2007

September Resolution

Doesn't it seem like everyone in the world is talking about New Year's resolutions? The neighborhood brunch the family attended yesterday was ripe with talk of resolutions. It got me thinking. Why haven't I ever made a New Year's resolution?

When I was little the year seemed to begin with September when school started. When I went off to college, school began in September. As an adult, and a teacher myself , school began in September. Now that I am home with the kids, September still feels like the start of the year as they climb aboard the school bus.

Even my date book begins in September.

September just feels like a new beginning. Anything is possible. That is when I make my resolutions. Not after Christmas in cold, dark December like the rest of the world.

As for my resolution answer at yesterday's brunch. Not an exciting one when it comes to small talk. Cut-down on sugar.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Living Simply

Everywhere I turn people are talking about living simply. How to get by with less. How to love what you already have. How to save money by spending less. Anyway you slice it, it is a tough proposition for most.

My family tries to live simply. We really do. I don't want to want a few new sweaters every winter. I don't want to want to go out to dinner. I don't want to want to drop by the scrapbooking store. I really don't.

Still, the idea of having a simple life is a relative idea.

Recently, Little Guy had another little guy come over to play. The mom was shocked by the few toys in our family room and wanted to know where all of the toys were. She even cracked a joke about the kids only having sticks and dust bunnies to play with. "No" to the sticks and "hell ya" to the dust bunnies.

In my eyes the kids are majorly spoiled. In this mummy's eyes I was raising my kids like it was 1860's Ireland.

Many other families that I read about online would look at that same family room and be overwhelmed by all of the toys. Relativity baby.

So how do we get to a more simple place? How do we save more money and clear away the clutter?

My first step started on Friday. Hubby and I are both writing down every penny that we spend.

I originally included the list of what the family has spent in the last three days, but I deleted it out of utter embarrassment. Wowsers!

Today's Hartford Courant included a link to a great site that I thought that I would pass on. follows an environmentalist, Annie Leonard, who spent 10 years traveling to find out exactly where our stuff goes when we are done with it. She has a great short film, links to her blog and other resources. Watching the film really made me think twice about all of my wants and how what I buy effects all of us.

So what is a gruppie to do? Will writing down our spending educate us enough to find the problems and fix them? Maybe we should go into a total spending freeze and it will become a habit? Is there another way?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What To Blog About

Over Christmas my mummy asked if she could read my blog. Not that she knew exactly what a blog was. Still, this is a very big step for a woman who just traded in her manual type writer and carbon paper.

Sitting with Mummy while she read Gruppie Girl was a huge ego boost. Every blogger should sit down with their mummy and read their blog together. Did you know that I am "hysterically funny", "my writing has a great pace" and "I really open eyes about environmental issues without being too pushy"? And yes, I am "beautiful." Thanks Mummy!

Maybe I could rent my mummy out to other bloggers to boost their self-esteem. Do I smell a cottage industry?

Now that Mummy knows that I blog and what a blog actually is, she has started to give me suggestions about what to blog.

The first suggestion was to blog about the cute red shoes that I wore of Christmas. Perhaps. I do wear them a lot and therefore I am not being wasteful. Could that be my green slant?

The second suggestion was to blog about Christmas day at my in-law's house. My sister-in-law took an hour and quickly sewed a bunch of fabric gift bags. Hubby's aunt wrapped our gift in the cloth bag that we wrapped her gift in last year. Everyone seemed to be really concerned about the amount of trash that we were creating. Very different from Christmas' past.

Get your thinking cap on kids; My mummy gave me a gift in a cloth angel bag. I gave my mummy-in-law a gift in that same angel bag. She gave a gift to my sister-in-law in the angel bag. And finally, I got the angel bag back this year with a nice gift card tucked inside. If that isn't recycling, then I don't know what is!

I'm looking forward to more blog ideas from my mummy. Be aware that they may be about how wonderful my mummy thinks I am. But isn't that a mummy's job to tell her kids the great stuff?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Gift Wrapping

My Girlie has a social life that I can only dream of. Parties and playdates galore. Oh to be 7 again.

The funniest thing happened at one of those endless birthday parties. All of the birthday presents were heaped in a pile. The sister of the birthday girl grabbed Girlie's gift and said "open Girlie's present next." I was stunned. How did she know that this particular gift was Girlie's? So I of course asked. The girl looked at me like I had two heads and replied that "the present is wrapped in a cloth bag. Of course it was from Girlie."


Cloth gift bags can be used again and again. I give a bag to Sally. She wraps up another gift in the SAME bag for Tim. He wraps up another gift in the SAME bag for Amy. Amy wraps up another gift and puts it in the SAME bag for Bill. That bag can live on and on....No trash, no trees cut down, no harmful dyes and no extra money spent.

Over the years I have purchased various cloth bags online and from little old ladies at craft fairs. This year I was going to dust off Grandma Dot's old sewing machine and clear away the cobwebs from my memories of seventh grade home economics. I was going to sew my own bags.

I took a field trip to the local fabric store for their huge sale. Found cute fabric that wasn't too Chrismasy. Some thread, ribbon and jingle bells. It sure looked easy enough to make my own bags.

Here is the carnage;

In my desperation I called over my soon-to-be 90 year old neighbor who has been sewing for 80+ years to help. No luck. That stupid bobbin thing just wouldn't cooperate.

Off to dig the Sunday comics out of the paper recycling. Maybe next year the kids won't have newsprint on their hands on Christnas morning....A girl can dream!

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

These Boots Are Made For Walking

My family is lucky enough to live near a small village center. Elementary school, health food store, dentist, dance studio, get the idea.

We enjoy leaving the car in the garage and walking downtown when we can. Free exercise, uninterrupted family time and no carbon footprint. In the warmer weather we even walk to and from school on most days. It is rare, with the exception of the parades, festival and fireworks, that we ever see anyone else walking. Strange.

Today was my day to be the library helper at the school library. I also needed a few things at the health food store. So I walked.

Now comes the rant.

First, if you live on main Street and have a sidewalk in front of your house, shovel it! I do not want to take my life in my hands by walking on the main road. I don't want to arrive at school with cold and wet pant legs.

I am now the cranky old lady in the village and called the police on the two offending home owners. They promised citations. I just want the sidewalks cleared.

Next, if you see someone standing in a crosswalk stop! I can count on one hand how many people have stopped for myself and my family over the past two years when we have been standing in the crosswalks. A police officer once blew by my family as we were walking to school. Now that s sad.

I had the town install a sidewalk coming out of my neighborhood across the main road. The first of only three cars to stop at this crosswalk had a North Carolina plate. That made me laugh.

Does the state of Connecticut not include the "must stop for pedestrians in sidewalks" lesson in drivers ed? Even when my son was in the stroller I couldn't get anyone to stop. I have taken to screaming at passing cars and jumping out in front of them to give them a scare. Girlie absolutely freaks when I leap out into the road.

The entire family, including the grandparents from both sides, will be walking downtown again for the carol sing and tour of the museum. It will be dark. Wish me luck.

Rant over.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Brushing With Poison

Very few licensed characters get through the front door of my house. I don't appreciate companies using my kids for free advertising. Here is the story of one that got by.

Each and every morning and evening I have to remind my kids to brush their teeth. I would do anything to make them want to brush their teeth more often and for longer periods of time. So one day I was at the store with Little Guy. He spied a Power Ranger toothbrush and asked for the "hero" toothbrush. Luckily he still has no idea who the Power Rangers are. I bought the toothbrush for him hoping that he would want to use it more than his boring plain toothbrush.

Fast forward to last night. I opened my email box only to receive an update from Healthy Toys is an independent toy testing website that I have blogged about before here. You can search for toys you already own, vote for the toys that will be tested next and suggest a toy to be tested. HT tests for lead, mercury, PVC/chlorine, cadmium and arsenic. Yummy!

Little Guy's toothbrush was listed as containing lead and chlorine/PVC in the face. The face? That part was getting wet, being touched by his little hands and possibly even put into his mouth. My head is still spinning!

How could any company not know exactly what they are making a child's toothbrush out of? Do their own children use this toothbrush?

Being one for solutions, off to Whole Foods Little Guy and I went. We found a brand called Preserve by Recycline.

Recycline's handles are made of 100% recycled plastic. The company has partnered with Stoneyfield Yogurt and use many of their old yogurt cups to create the handles. The brush comes in a vented traveling case. Even the paper insert is made of 100% recycled materials. Best of all, Recycline gives you a postage-paid mailer to return the used brushes and cases. The company will recycle them into new brushes. Very cool!

I am going to suggest that Healthy Toys tests these toothbrushes too, but I feel fairly certain that they will be a safer option than that scary character toothbrush.

UPDATE: I just got an email from the friendly people at Recycline. They are sending out 10 of their toothbrushes for me to give away to readers. I'll keep you posted when they come in.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lost That Lovin' Feeling

My home's roof is south facing and my front yard is free from trees. Perfect conditions for a solar system to heat my home and run my TV. The problem is that I don't have the $20,000+ needed to pay for the solar system hiding under the mattress.

So, I have been trying to integrate smaller solar, electric lights into my house.

First, it was a solar nightlight for Little Guy's room. I found it at LL Bean and it was affordable. Simply place the nightlight's suction cups on the window and voila you are done. Turn the light on at night and off during the day. Couldn't be easier.

Next, I bought a solar LED strand of lights for my little outside tree. I bought "clear" Christmas lights. They look blue. A super-tacky blue. I have read that LED lights can give off different tones of light. How was I to know? When shopping online you can't try the lights before buying.

On top of the strange color, the lights don't have an on/off switch. Just a sensor. So if the moon is out, a streetlight is on or the neighbor's front light is on they will not come on. I have to flip the solar panel each night to "trick" the lights into thinking it is dark. Then in the morning I have to remember to flip it back over to charge in the sun.

My latest solar purchase was a solar spotlight. I placed it in the yard and aimed it at the front door. It doesn't work. The company gave me a hard time when I called to tell them that it didn't work. They were very defensive. Had they heard more calls like mine? Eventually I sent it back. Now number two doesn't work. Even if it did work it doesn't have an on/off switch. Just a light sensor on top of the unit that cannot be flipped over to avoid other light. What a waste of money.

In my solar quest I have seen solar cell phone chargers, laptop chargers and iPod chargers for sale online. They are seriously expensive. For example the cell phone charger cost $99 before shipping. By the time I save $99 in energy costs I would probably need a new cell phone and the plugs probably won't fit by then. And then I wonder how well it will work.

Why is this technology so expensive while still being so flawed? Yes, there are government rebates on whole-house systems, but they barely take a chunk out of the cost.

What about small business who use a ton more energy than I do? A friend owns a chain fastish food restaurant. His electric bill runs around $9,000 a month. There are no solar rebates for him. Trust me, he has hired people to look. That fact absolutely blows my mind.

Please tell me that solar technology will be like DVD players. Every year they get better and the price goes down. I paid hundred of dollars for my first DVD player. After that one went to that special DVD place in the sky, I plunked down $40 for my most recent DVD player.

Monday, December 17, 2007


In yesterday's Consumer section of the Hartford Courant there was an article about "greenwashing."

The Courant defines greenwashing as "the act of misleading consumers into believing that a company's environmental practices or its services are environmentally-friendly."

What a great word to describe what I've been seeing everywhere! Greenwashing. Greeenwashing. Greenwashing. Greenwashing. It just rolls off of the tongue.

Working Mother Magazine (I picked it up while waiting for Girlie's dance class) rated Windex as one of their top 10 green products. Seriously? Windex is green? I can't wrap my brain around that one.

My Mother-in-Law bought a bottle of Poland Spring water in their new "Eco-Shape Bottle." How can a plastic bottle be "eco" anything? I'm scratching my head.

It seems like everywhere I turn products are suddenly "green" and "earth friendly." What is a consumer to do? It is already tough enough to wade through labels, company histories and boycotts to buy what is best for my family. Now I have to step-up my research game. Good thing Little Guy starts Kindergarten next year. I'm going to need some more free time.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

How To Grow Green Parents

Recently I was asked if I grew up with parents who were environmentally conscious. Without missing a beat I responded with a "hell no."

My father carries around a stereotypical Irish soapbox. When he tells a story, everyone in the room hangs on his every word. One story that I vividly remembering him telling and retelling was the story of the Dennis, Massachusetts dump.

The Dennis Dump was WAY ahead of it's time. Back in the 80's they had a lending library, good-as-new swap area and glass recycling. My father thought this was absolutely hysterical. Why would anyone go to a dump to swap a book that they have already read for a a book they haven't yet read. The dump? Dad was shocked and appalled.

This weekend I was snowed-in at my parent's house. My mom and I were invited to a former neighbor's 60th birthday party near their house. (Happy Birthday Diane!) Being at their house made me think about exactly how green my parents are.

While my parents don't eat much organic food, have a spotty recycling record and clean with yucky chemicals they may actually be greener than me.

They are not consumers.

The carpet was purchased in 1976. The couch in the mid 1980's. The TVs are not flat screens. The answering machine was mine in college. They rarely eat out or eat prepackaged foods. The oven may be from the 1960's. My father only owns two pairs of boat shoes (one dress and one everyday) and one pair of work boots. They are happy. They don't need all of the stuff that I think that I need.

How many of us would be happy with a bathroom from the 1960's? How many of us would only purchase three pairs of shoes? How many of us are happy with the stuff we have?

I'm not raising my hand.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Pox on Your House

My hope was for Little Guy to catch chicken pox before he started school. My wish may have come true!

This morning Little guy had a two little dots on his neck and one on his chest. Not unusual for someone with such sensitive skin. Now, it seems that the dots are multiplying and Little Guy is feeling very tired.

Many have forgotten what it is like to have Chicken Pox as a kid. A few itchy days in bed with lots of TV and then it's done. Lifelong immunity for most. My best memory of the pox was receiving a stuffed mouse from my dad. He called me "the mouse of the house."

Pox as an adult can be dangerous.

Chicken pox vaccine does not equal immunity. Many kids need booster shots every few years and even then they can often catch and pass along pox. What is going to happen when these kids grow-up to become adults? What if they are not up to date with their vaccines and they catch chicken pox?

Off to spend a snuggly, snowy day with Little Guy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Baby Came Home Today

Just a few days ago I blogged about my new knowledge of how dangerous PVC can be and how I discovered that almost all of Girlie's dollys were made out of PVC.

Together Girlie and I decided on a "for now" solution. We paired down the dollys to one wooden bin and a cloth dolly "may" be arriving for Christmas.

Today, while both little munchies were in school, I drove over to the next town and found a sweet-faced cloth Waldorf dolly.

My family has a long-standing tradition that the children all open one special gift on Christmas Eve. Cloth Dolly will be officially arriving on Christmas Eve.


Baby Judy 2001-2007
Baby Nicholas 2002-2007
Baby Julia 2001-2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Guilt Over Gingerbread

Just after college graduation I took one of the only jobs that I could get in my field. I taught nursery school. I was twenty-two years old, naturally skinny and very naive.

I can still remember a mom who came to pick-up and started chatting about their weekend. She said that she bought a gingerbread house kit to make with the kids. I joked that she was "cheating" since the gingerbread was prebaked and everything was included.

Karma has come back to kick me in the butt.

Hubby was away all weekend and I really needed to come-up with a few exciting activities to pass the time with the kids. After the birthday party at the movies, lunch at a restaurant and a swim at the YMCA I decided to pull out the gingerbread house kit that I recently purchased.

The kids sat at the island as I began to unpack the box. The word "deluxe" caught my eye.

"Cut the gingerbread to the size and shape desired."
"using an electric mixer..."
"Use cut Styrofoam to keep the base steady"
"Let base dry for four hours"
"Let the roof dry for four hours"
"Cover frosting with damp towel"


This is a "kit!" It should practically put itself together for me. The kids and I just want to cover the house with frosting and candy and then eat it.

It was not a pretty scene.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Pretty Little Baby Face

Ever since Little Girlie was a tiny baby she just loved other little tiny babies. Real or in the dolly form. Now that Little Girlie is seven, she has acquired quite a collection!

Yesterday I read about a website that is independently testing toys for lead, PVC, mercury, cadmium and arsenic. Yummy! already has a database of toys that they have tested for safety and is accepting votes for which toys should be tested next. The toys that they have recognized as having high levels of unhealthy substances have not been recalled for the most part. Scary stuff.

For the most part, I have steered away from plastic toys, toys with batteries and character toys. Because of that, we are lucky to have avoided the mass toy recalls. On the Healthy Toys website I found two of Girlie's baby dolls with "medium" levels of PVC. Not so lucky.

Now my head is spinning. Of course I set out to do more research...The European Union banned PVC in toys way back in 1999. The US has made no such move. PVC is made of phthalates and chlorine. Almost all Americans have detectable levels of PVC in our bodies. Some of the chemicals in phthaletes have endocrine-disrupting properties. Would this explain the fact that almost all of my friends and myself have thyroid disorders? Could our baby dolls be to blame?

As for researching exactly what toys are made from, best of luck. Why is this information so hidden? I wonder if the toy companies even know.

So what do I do? Do I pack-up all of the dollys, including the Cabbage Patch and American Girl, and toss them? Do I bribe my daughter with an expensive organic cotton doll? Do I let her keep the dolls since she isn't licking them? Should I let her keep a special few?

Friday, December 7, 2007

How To Feed Your Suburban Family

I don't like to cook. I'm not good at it. I can't look in the fridge and whip-up a wonderful meal. I am no Bree.

Even more importantly than my lack of cooking skills, is the fact that I would rater be outside playing with my kids in the afternoon. I used to bring the kids inside and plunk them down in front of the TV so that Mummy could cook dinner. That doesn't seem fair to anyone.

For years I wrestled with cooking good meals that cost me a ton in terms of money and wasted food every time I bought an ingredient that I only used once, calling for take-out that was laden with junky ingredients or going out to eat and paying a ton while eating at record speed before the kids got itchy. About five years ago I found a solution. Not a perfect solution, but one that works for now.

Once a month I would drive 45 minutes each way to one of those food preparation places. You've heard of them. You visit for 2 hours and prepare your meals for the month using their recipes, chopped ingredients and foil pans. All of my preparation for the month was done. Easy smeeshy.

Eventually I got a little queasy about the meals. Yes, they were easy. But, no they weren't too green. None of the ingredients were local or organic. The meat was getting a little dicey. I took a break.

After moving to Connecticut, I found a food preparation store that wasn't a chain. The owner buys all of her meat from a local butcher, lots of the veggies are organic and many are locally grown. The only drawback is that the store is located one hour away.

I tried this food preparation place even though it is a hike. And really love it!

Last month I chatted with an acquaintance, Amy, at library story time and she mentioned just how stressed dinner was making her. I of course talked up the food preparation store. She bit! We devised a plan where we would alternate months for picking-up the food and delivering it to the other person. Whoo hoo!

By "carpooling" our food, I am feeling a little less guilty about driving so far. Now, if we could just find a third mummy I would only have to make the trip four times a year. Any takers?

Last month Amy picked up the food and loved it. Today it is my turn to drive the two hours total to pick-up our meals. Tonight the family will be munching on freshly made chicken, black bean, spinach and chicken enchiladas. Much healthier than the pizza delivery that I would have ordered in the past.

Crisis in the suburbs averted. Dinner is done!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

You've Got To Bag It, Bag It Up

My Little Guy has taken a real shine to woodworking. A creative outlet for a little one you might say. I say that "knocking down" my living room using only window candles is a very bad idea.

With that said, today I went to the crafty store for the second time this week to buy replacement window candles. Which, by the way, I bought the sensor candles by mistake. I will be going back again tomorrow to exchange them. Make that three trips this week.

My trip to the crafty store was timed to the second to fit in between Little Guy's nursery school pick-up and Girlie's bus drop-off. The store was a mob scene with only two registers open. My friendly cashier seemed to be the slowest according to Murphy's Law. When it was finally my turn to check out she tried to charge me for my cloth shopping bag.

Cashiers who try to find the price tags on my cute cloth bags seem to follow me all. The pharmacy, hardware store, food store and practically everywhere I go. Am I really the only customer they are seeing with cloth bags or are mine just so cute that I should be paying for them twice?

I try to be a glass half-full type of girl and look at the confused cashiers as a way for me to educate. I am probably not going to change the habits of the retired lady cashiers at the food store, but I love the teenage boy cashiers. Not love, love the teenage boys (as my Girlie would say). But, I love when they ask me about the bags because the are open to new ideas and have a lot of consumer years in front of them. Maybe they will reuse their shopping bags someday?

Brownie points to anyone who knows where I got the title for this post. Hint; it is Hubby's and my song. Yes, we are cheesy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Business Doing Good

I have never been in the business world. I don't understand why people love The Office and Dilbert doesn't make me laugh. Hubby, however, is in the business world. I guess you could say that we are a good balance.

Today Hubby had a meeting at his office. Apparently meetings are long, boring and commonplace in the corporate world. One of the topics today was the client holiday gift. In the past the clients have received a gift certificate and a catalog of gifts to chose a gift from. Hubby didn't love the catalog idea. Why do a bunch of corporate executives need a $50 gift certificate for crap anyway?

Hubby came up with a more responsible, green plan!

The company is are now going to email (goodbye tree-killing catalogs) a list of three well-respected charities for the clients to choose from. When the client chooses the charity, Hubby's company will make a donation to the charity in the client's name.

Everyone wins.

Two of the charities are national and the third is a local food pantry. In this area, food pantries are really hurting for donations. This money should be a great windfall for them.

Corporate swag and holiday gifts are alive in well in the form of personalized chocolates, desk clocks, inspirational calendars and lots of other junk that will end up going almost directly into the landfills. Let's cross our fingers for the corporations to swap trash for charity.

Sorry for the Hubby gush again. I'll post soon when he screws-up and gets on my nerves. ~GG

Monday, December 3, 2007

Litigation is NOT Green

Hubby and I are being sued. Again.

We've had a real estate matter linger on for two years. Every day I run to meet Casey the Mailman to see if he has a new update on the matter. The mail really stresses me out. After not hearing anything for the last year I thought that everything was done and gone.

Wrong. I don't think that this will ever end.

Hubby came home early today after being on a business trip. We had a nice, relaxing family day planned. On the drive home, our attorney (who we are easily on a first name basis with) made the call. Court on Wednesday.

I have a theory that litigation is the exact opposite of green.

Besides the obvious examples of the extra driving into the city courthouse and all of that paper and mailing of official-looking documents, there are a few examples that I never thought about until recently.

1. The electricity used when heating my oven to 400 degrees for 65 minutes to heat a blueberry pie that I have been eating all by myself.

2. The 223.1 miles that a delivery truck, spewing emissions, had to drive from the Ben and Jerry's factory in Waterbury, VT to my neighborhood food store in order to deliver my pint of cinnamon bun ice cream. The pint is now gone and I may have to move onto oatmeal cookie dough ice cream soon.

3. The 4 hours of TV that I have watched today so far, it's still early, because I am too depressed and lumpy. That's a lot of electricity used by just one person.

4. All of the negative karma, energy or whatever you want to call it hanging over my house. I'm going to have to be nice to a lot of people to lift this sucker.

I wonder if the kids have any Halloween candy left?...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

For the past seven winters of home ownership I have shoveled the snow each and every time it fell. With the brief exception of the season that I was pregnant with Little Guy.

I really don't mind shoveling. It is kind of exhilarating after the first, second and maybe third storms. I consider it exercise. A day to skip the gym.

By the fourth snowfall, I am DONE!

The retired man across the street has lots of free time on his hands. He watches me shovel, rake, dig, plant, move 3 tons of stone (for another post) and do all of the heavy lifting. He says that I "work like a man."

The reason that I am the official snow shoveler for the Gruppie family is that hubby has back issues. Not the "ooh my muscles are tight" type of problems. He has the "wow I have never seen a patient with such severe deterioration at your age or even 30 years older" type of problem. He can barely life the bottle of apple juice anymore. I lovingly like to joke that if I was going to marry someone with an 80 year-old's body I would have married someone with a bank account to match.

This season hubby bought a snow thrower and I am feeling way guilty about it. Yes, shoveling is practically killing me by the end of the season. No, I don't want to add even more emissions into the air.

Maybe the guilt will fade by February?

Ho Ho Who?

The first real snowfall is predicted for tonight.

Little Guy thinks that snow means Christmas and that Santa is coming tonight. He imagination is helped by the fact that we visited Santa and Mrs. Claus at my lake's Christmas celebration today.

Little Guy is very worried that Santa will not be bringing him any presents because he broke my new solar spotlight.

I did try to allay his fears and let him know that he is a great kid and Santa will be bringing him gifts. Still, a little part of me likes to play the Santa card. A little guilting into getting along with his sister won't cause any permanent damage. Right?

"He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake.

He knows when you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!"

Note to Lake Group: Please don't dress-up the camp's Silly Willy Man as Santa. Yes, he looked great, Girlie is very smart and she immediately guessed that Silly Willy Man was dressed as Santa. Major buzz kill for Girlie and Mummy got a little teary realizing that her Girlie is growing up.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I Can Smooze Too

Generally I don't get out too much. Really, I'm OK with it. By the time 8:00 rolls around it takes just too much energy to try to coordinate a sitter, find someplace fun to go, come-up with thrilling topics to talk about, stay awake long enough to enjoy the place that is not my house and then finally pay for the entire night. Basically, I just end-up watching reality shows.

In the past month I have been invited to two very exciting, not in my norm, type of events.

First, it was a movie premier. Hubby and I got dressed-up and drove down to New London to a beautiful old movie theater. There was a red carpet, wine and interesting conversations. "Inclusions" is a dark comedy with a "Sweeney Todd" flair. The movie was written and filmed in Connecticut. Two thumbs up!

Last Thursday a fellow blogger and friend (should I mention her real name?) invited me to Hartford to the launch party of a new magazine. "AllGreen" in an environmentally conscious magazine for residents of Connecticut. Who knew that so many other people in my little state cared about the planet?

Again, there was wine and interesting conversation. In fact, I met a ton of interesting people. Most of whom asked for my card. I have never had a card. Teachers don't carry "cards." Mummys don't carry "cards." Anyway, I had real conversations about what matters to me in the environment and what is on the mind of others. Very mentally refreshing.

At the launch party there was a sneaky feeling of irony. Launching an environmental magazine~luxurious paper napkins in the bathroom. Intelligent magazine employee chatting about the world~a can of aerosol hairspray in her slightly open purse. Light dinner was served~with out of season and probably not organic veggies.

Isn't that what happens in real life? You are constantly told what to do and how to do it, so you do the exact opposite. Is that what all of us "do gooders" are really doing when we talk about keeping the earth safe and healthy? Are we driving people to do the opposite?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Harvard, Yale and Plymouth State

My father-in-law has a favorite saying;

Harvard, Yale and Plymouth State

All the rest are second rest are second rate!

Since he is my father-in-law, I won't go as far to say that he is right. But I do agree that I love Plymouth State and was recently given a new reason to love it even more.

Plymouth State recently completed the construction of one very green residence hall. Not only is it a green residence hall, but it is the greenest state building in the state of New Hampshire. Langdon Woods received gold-level certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership-Energy-Environmental Design program. Pretty impressive huh?

Back when I was a student at Plymouth State College (not as fancy sounding as today's "university"), we sent our food scraps to a local pig farmer. We recycled paper and plastic and never turned the heat on until well after the first snowfall. I could do without the last energy-saving measure. Brrrr!

My hope is that green colleges will become a real trend. Students will chose to attend a certain college just to keep their carbon footprint minimal.

Maybe fraternities will switch to organic beer? Sorority houses will install wind turbines to fuel their stereos (do college kids even have stereos anymore?). Gray water systems will be the norm. Cafeterias will buy locally and keep their own organic gardens. Professors will donate their used Birks to those less fortunate. The list could go on and on...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not Another Top Toys List

Oh how I detest this time of the year when all I seem to see on morning television, read in the paper and hear people talking about are the top toys of the holiday season. Does anyone really buy that junk? These plastic monstrosities are bound for the bottom of a toy chest or the top of a lead toy recall.

I have to lay my cards on the table and be completely truthful. My children are completely spoiled.

I blame the grandmummies. My munchies are the only grandchildren on both sides. Both of the grandmummies love to shop. Their aunts love to shop. They have way too many friends come to their birthday parties and give thoughtful gifts.

The kids already have their own sets of golf clubs, a playhouse large enough for me to move into, bookcases of books and all of the clothes that two little people could ever wear. What is a mummy to do?

A couple years ago I sat down with both grandmas and we hashed out a holiday plan that worked for everyone's pocketbook without turning my little ones into spoiled monsters.

Now, the kids receive an experience from their grandmummies for each holiday.

Over the last few years the kids have gone to cooking class, learned how to rock climb and attended summer camp. All of the experiences were greatly appreciated by all.

This winter they will be either cross country skiing or ice skating. Shhhh...don't tell.

Living in the suburbs can be tough when you are doing your best not to turn your kids into tiny consumers.

Stay strong mummies and grandmummies!

Monday, November 26, 2007


My family has a new mantra. $560.


I'm still in shock.

$560 is the price of the bill that the friendly propane man handed me a few days ago to fill my tank 80% full.

"Shut the front door! $560!"

"Why did you turn the heat up? $560!"

"You've been in the shower an awfully long time! $560!"

Even my four year old knows that the propane cost $560 this month.

This is once in my life when my thyroid disease is coming in handy. Fifty degrees in the living room. Bring it on!

I do have to think that the high price in heating my home and all of the other homes in the US may have a silver lining. People who may not have paid much attention to their thermostat for the sake of saving the planet are now helping the planet without even knowing.

A little off topic, but I recently read on Treehugger that President Carter installed solar panels on the White House only to have them taken down by President Regan in an attempt to prove to the nation that we had all of the oil that we could ever need.

What would this country be like environmentally speaking if Carter just had a second term?

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Everyone has a hypocritical moment here or there. Just because I can be self-deprecating, I thought that I would put my hypocritical moment of the day out there for all to see.

This morning Hubby, Girlie, Little Guy and myself all went over to the pool for some family fun and exercise. Afterwards we decided to go see the movie Enchanted. (The best movie I have seen in a long time!) Since there wasn't much time between the pool and the movie we headed toward Old McDonald's for lunch.

At home we eat mostly organically and don't eat red meat. I am also not a big fan of bringing licenced characters into our home. Still the Little Munchies get a new licenced character toy every time we hit Old McDonald's.

After we were done eating our meals I noticed that the kids hadn't touched their "toxic meal" boxes and we were just going to toss them. So I brought the boxes back up to the counter. "We barely touched these boxes and I don't want to just toss them. Maybe you could use them for your next customers?"

The two ladies behind the counter gave me two very vacant stares.

I'm guessing that I am the first Old McDonald's customer that tried to use one of the three R's and pulled out "reuse" in their restaurant.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'm dreaming of a Green Christmas

Now that Thanksgiving is over I can begin to start thinking about Christmas.

Note to my neighbors: It is NOT OK to put up your Christmas tree, Christmas lights, wreaths or assorted lighted reindeer until December 1st. Not mid-November. It looks like anarchy has come to our village neighborhood.

I like to think of myself as a very open-minded person. Your religion, ancestry or sexual preference will never matter to me. The rules of tacky Christmas do matter.

Christmas decorations may don your home from December 1st through January 1st. With the singular exception of your wreath. If your wreath is still looking healthy you may remove the bow and keep it up until February 1st. No exceptions. I will look at you funny and audibly huff as I pass your home if you break this simple rule.

On December 1st, my family will begin to decorate for Christmas. This year I purchased a strand of solar LED lights for the small bush outside. No remembering to turn the lights on and off, no additional electricity consumption and lights that won't burn out every year. Yea for me!

I also purchased an LED solar spotlight to shine on the front door and wreath. The solar panel is adjustable so I can aim it southbound to get the most sunshine. My house will look cute while being green. Double yea!

This is our sixth, or so, Christmas wrapping out gifts in reusable cloth gift bags. I must confess that I did not make these simple and cute bags, but I purchased them online, from work at home moms and from assorted little old ladies attending local craft fairs. My goal this year is to dust off Granmummy old sewing machine and try to make a few additional bags.

The first year of using reusable cloth bags I discovered my mummy was very upset that Girlie would not have the "experience" of ripping open paper gift wrap to get to her gift. While all I could think of was the poor trees that would have to be cut down in order for my Girlie to have a five second experience.

Mummy quickly changed her tune and now gets in on the act. Everyone gets excited to revisit the unusual bags that they have received in the past. Personally, I love seeing just how little trash we create and how I don't have to spend a penny on my gift wrapping.

Here is a wow statistic from Carnegie Mellon Green Design Institute; If every American wrapped just 3 gifts a year in recycled materials (funny papers, decorated brown paper bags, fabric, etc.) we would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. Trust me as a girl who has as seen a football game or two. That is BIG!

Happy holiday season to all. Please be nice and follow the Tacky Chritmas Guidelines and we will all be merry and bright.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bye, Bye Catalogs

A few posts ago I wrote about opting out of financial offers and just how much less mail I was receiving. An article in today's Hartford Courant mentioned a website that will make Casey the Mailman even happier. allows you to chose which catalogs you want to opt-out of. So basically you can keep recieveing your yearly Rosie Hippo and seasonal White Flower Farm while not receiving that weird grandma-gadget catalog.

Last week my family of four filled four brown paper bags with out paper recycling. That includes school notices, three newspapers, toilet paper rolls, junk mail and lots of catalogs. My hope is that when this catalog opt-out kicks in I will have two bags of paper recycling.

Birth Choices

Lately it seems that everywhere I look I meet pregnant women. It seems that all of these woman are due soon and "just have" to be induced early.

Generally, I can't keep my mouth shut when I meet women who are inducing early and bragging about it. Over the last few weeks I have absolutely strained myself to keep my mouth shut when all of these pregnant woman have talked about just having to be induced early by their doctors.

Now you should know that I am very shy. So when I open my mouth at inappropriate times it tends to surprise people at first. Maybe this foot-in-mouth disease keeps me on the shy side. I'm not sure.

Does anyone out there remember that a due date is just an estimate? Generally due date fall somewhere is a four week period. That's two weeks before your due date and two weeks after.

If you are due over Thanksgiving that does not mean being induced the day before so your doctor can have a big meal with his family.

If you are "feeling big" and your last two kids weighed in the seven pound range that does not mean that you have to be induced before the baby grows too big. 99.9% of the time your body will not grow a baby that is too big for your body to handle.

These woman are playing with fire. They are playing with their babies health. They are playing with their own health. They are adding to an already over medicalized system of birth.

The infant mortality rates in the US are way up. The solution is an easy one. Take the doctors and the hospitals out of the equation for healthy women.

Countries where midwives and home births are the norm have lower rates of infant mortality and c-section rates plummet. Higher rates of early mummy and infant bonding. Mummy can take care of her baby earlier because she hasn't been cut and shot full of heavy drugs.

Personally, I had two very different births.

The Cliffs Notes version has me first pregnant with Little Girlie. I was young, working around a ton of nosey women in a school. Everyone shared their horror stories. I had no one to look-up to. I went to an OBGYN and a hospital looking for guidance. My labor looked like a three-ring circus with standing room only and nurses leaving my door open and inviting others in to see the "lady who can't push." My Girlie and I almost didn't make it through. I had a host of post-birth medical problems. Hubby and I decided to stop having children because it wasn't worth the risk.

With my Little Guy I was a little older, better connected with other mummies and much better read. I decided that if I could have a birth my way then I would try for another child. No interventions, no medications, no doctors, no hospitals. I had my son in a comfy bedroom at a freestanding birth center. I was allowed to get into a birthing tub in a dark, quiet room.

I gave birth to my 12 pound, 23 inch Little Guy peacefully in the water the way my body told me to. Within the hour I was up and around heating-up lasagna in the birth center's kitchen. Five hours after Little Guy's birth I decided that I was ready to go home.

Hubby, myself and my new Little Guy all dove home together at five hours old. The three of us slept the day away together. Never apart even for a second.

On days two and three the midwife came out to my house and visited us. Over the second week my mummy came to stay and help with my Girlie, myself and the house while I took care of Little Guy. On week three I had a postpartum doula come visit and help out for twenty hours.

Gradually I was on my own and the was OK.

To all of those pregnant woman out there, please listen to your bodies. Your mummy gave birth, your grandmummy gave birth, her mummy gave birth and their bodies all knew how to do so. Be strong and have your experience.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Today I Am Cinderella

Today, I am pretending to be Cinderella.

Not the beautiful, mice scurrying, riding in pumpkins, dancing with handsome men Cinderella. I am the toiling away at the hearth Cinderella.

Luckily we don't have a real hearth. That would just be one more thing to clean. We do however have sticky floors, ringy tubs, grungy counters and an entire mountain of dirty clothes. All of these things and more need to be cleaned before the family begins to arrive for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

All of this cleaning made me think about how I used to clean.

Things began to seem off with me when I was pregnant with my Girlie. Hubby had to take over all of the cleaning because my gut told me that I shouldn't be inhaling all of those strong smells while being pregnant. Then, after sweet Girlie was born I would clean when she wasn't in the room. Why would I expose such a sweet little thing to toxic fumes?

By the time I got pregnant with my Little Guy I finally smartened up. Something wasn't right.

After a ton of online research and talking to lots of people in the know I discovered that I didn't need gross smells and powerful white bottles to get my home clean. Things like vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice all had disinfecting properties while being safe enough to eat. Anything that was safe enough to eat was certainly safe enough to clean my home.

The changes in my cleaning cabinet came slowly. First a bottle of Dr. Bronner's. The website said that you could wash your floors, brush your teeth, wash your hair and clean lots more with this one little bottle. I stared simple with my floors. The Dr. Bronner's cleaned my floors so well that I told my friend Kim.

Kim had two very sick kitties. The kitties were regulars at the vets office. The vet couldn't figure out what was wrong with them. A few days after Kim got rid of her harsh floor cleaner she noticed the kitties getting better. A month later, the kitties were perfectly fine.

Kim's kitties are enough proof for me. Why would I let my human children crawl and play on a floor "cleaned" with toxic chemicals?

For my next purchase I bought an all-purpose cleaner. The 365 Brand makes a great cleaner. I could finally spray my counters clean without my eyes watering.

Then, came lemon juice and Borax to clean the toilets. No more opening the window to clean the bathroom.

Today, my house has 100% safe cleaning products. You could lick my counters if you were very brave. You could roll on my floors naked if you were very, very brave.

My advice to everyone out there including Mary, my new-to Whole Foods friend, my parents who are trying to green-up for their health, my neighbor who is ditching her bleach bottle and everyone else out there is to START SMALL.

Just change one product in your cleaning routine with an homemade product or safe alternative. As you get used to it, you can remove something else. Then, pat yourself on the back for cleaning the air in your home, the groundwater in your community and the air and water near the large cleaning chemical manufacturing plant.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Smoke in the Fire Station

Picture walking by your local fire station and seeing smoke pour out of the front door....

My family is lucky to live in a small village in Connecticut. It is part of a larger suburb, but our village has it's own small town idenity.

Twice a year our Hose Company hosts a community breakfast as a fundraiser for fire fighting equipment. They pull the fire trucks out of their bays to set-up large round tables and lots of chairs. The firefighters all help by either cooking or taking tickets. $6 for adults and $4 for kids.. What a deal!

We haven't missed one of these firefighter braekfasts since we moved to the village. Actually, we went to our first breakfast just before we closed on our house.

Today the Family bundled-up in our coats and mittens (thanks to hubby's grandmother for making us all new mittens this year) and walked down to the firestation. By eight a.m. nearly all of the tables were occupied. At the breakfast we saw our friendly crossing guard with her family, our neighbor whoos family has lived in the village for generations, a school friend of my girlie and our neighbor with the jumpy dog. We all ate together in the smoke-filled fire house.

The friendly firefighters will cook you eggs any style. You can also get french toast, homefries, ham, sausages, rolls, coffee, orange juice and grapefruit juice. The food is really good. Like, I would eat there every weekend if I could good. They even nailed my "over medium" request.

Thank you to our village hose company for hosting another great breakfast for our family and our community. We are counting the days until your next breakfast in May

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Gym

Yesterday morning I dropped my girlie off at the bus stop and headed toward the gym with my little guy. I make the trip three to four times a week in the colder months.

But yesterday I started thinking about my trip to the gym and the impact it has on the earth.

I chose the YMCA first, because there aren't many options around here. They also have a beautiful zero-entry pool for the kids to get some exercise and have fun in the colder months. They have an amazing gym with tons of equipment and friendly people. They have a certain kickboxing class that I love and spinning classes that I aspire to try someday. The best gym perk for a mummy with little ones is the childcare room that my little guy actually likes.

Over the summer I suspended my Y membership because I was hiking, biking and swimming both with the kids and when they were both in camp. Now that 40 degree temperatures are here and my little guy is with me all of the time, with the exception of a few nursery school hours, the gym is the only option.

For the first time yesterday I timed my drive. 14 minutes. That's 28 minutes round trip. If I visit the YMCA three times a week, that's 112 minutes per week. 504 minutes per month. 5040 minutes or 84 hours of driving over the school year.

84 hours of driving!?!

I can picture 84 hours worth of emissions spewing from my station wagon and I'm beginning to feel ill.

Yes, I walk the three minutes to the dentist and give myself a pat on the back. But now I DRIVE 84 hours in a year just to use the elliptical, kick a bag and lift a few weights.

You may say just buy a workout DVD or run around the block a few times. Trust me when I say that I have tried and failed. Trust me when I say that my blood pressure and other assorted old lady-type problems are finally in control now that I joined the Y. Trust me when I say that my kids are more active and happy in the winter now that they can swim and rock climb instead of staying home coloring or watching TV.

Do I put my body and health before the earth's health?

What is a girl like me to do?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Family Meeting

Late yesterday the mail came as it always does. My friendly letter carrier, let's call him Casey, parks his mail truck at the beginning of the neighborhood and walks the block every day except for Sundays and Mondays. Casey wears shorts for much too long in the season and appears to be some sort of medal-winning speed walker.

Anyway, Casey and myself have been much happier since I opted-out of financial offers. My mail was cut in half after those tree-eating financial offers stopped coming. Friendly Casey's bag must be almost a pound lighter each day.

The monthly electric bill arrived yesterday. This bill, like the others, stresses me out. Last months bill was lower than usual. Our family's monthly usage was nearly 30% lower than it was last November! This great news called for a Brady-style family meeting.

We gathered around the kitchen island so I could share the good news with the family.

Thank you to Little Son for turning off his overhead light at night and for using his solar nightlight.

Thank you to Little Girlie for turning off the lights when she leaves the room.

A special thank you to Hubby for giving a little cheer and for being truly excited that I was excited.

Let's aim for 35% next month!

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm too old for this

So I arrived back in Connecticut early this morning. What a trip it was!

I sat on the tarmac waiting for the airshow to finish. A very large, bigoted man from Montana sat next to me and talked to me for five straight hours. Well, he really didn't sit next to me. He sat on me. On my left arm and leg for five hours, with the exception of his three minute bathroom break.

Then, my "nonstop" flight made a landing in Nashville to pick-up more passengers and thankfully drop-off the man from Montana who described himself as "somewhere to the right on Hitler and the left of Cheney." Seriously, that is a quote. My mum told me that if I don't have something nice to say then I shouldn't say anything. I did not reply to that comment or many others like them.

Now that I have visited Vegas Baby, I thought that I should pass along a few suggestions to others who may be traveling there.

First, do not try to look cute and rock the 1978 large hoops, sunglasses and ponytail look while riding the roller coaster on top of NY NY. Your sunglasses will rise off of you, hit you in the face and proceed to fall somewhere on the Vegas strip. Probably smashing into a million pieces. You head will be tossed around like a baby doll's and your earlobes will rip. Fun huh?

Second, do not promise your kids wonderful gifts from Vegas. Personally I found a child-sized bedazzled shirt that read "bitch" and a pink princess shot glass. Stick with the snow globes. Ironic that it doesn't snow in Vegas.

Lastly, expect to see people drinking in bars at 8:00am. Coming from a state rich in blue laws, this one shocked me. Am I a real prude or does it seem fairly disgusting to anyone else to wake-up and instantly walk to a bar to grab a whiskey?

I'm home now. Kids have been snuggled all day. The smoke has been washed out of my clothes and hair. And I am sleeping in my own bed. Coming home can be the best part of the trip.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

This is my first remote post. No, I'm not in my living room. I'm in Vegas Baby!

Hubby is on a business trip, so I thought that I would jump on the trip with him. Grandparents were lined up, extra meals were made and schedules were stuck on the fridge.

Now, you should know that I don't gamble. Don't really drink. Get grossed-out by massive amounts of food. Don't own any bedazzled clothes. But here I am. Having fun in Vegas!

We have seen two shows, Wayne Brady is the most talented person on earth. We have gambled a little, I'm even. I stood behind Debbie Reynolds (she is very tiny). We have eaten some good food. We have walked and walked and walked. We have held hands. It has been a relaxing trip so far.

Although, I really need to write a few letters. Where are the recycling bins? They could make the recyling bins gold, shiny, shaped like flying monekeys. Whatever would make them "blend in" in Vegas.

One and a half more days of vacation in Vegas. With all of the fun and relaxation I'm having, I can't wait to go home and snuggle my babies. I needed a break to be a better mummy, but I really miss them.

Off to my massage....

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Field Trip

Today I took my friend, "Mary", on a field trip to Whole Foods.

Last week Mary called me up talking was too fast. "Did you know that everything is bad for you? Food, water, cleaning products, air, your house!" She was practically shrieking.

I tried my best to calm her down and get to the root of this hysteria. "Book on tape. I borrowed this book on tape from the library and all I could could do was think of you," said Mary. I wasn't sure if i should be flattered that Mary thought of me as an environmentally conscious person or someone who was going to self-destruct by being exposed to the world.

Seeing as there was no school toady... Election Day? No school? A seriously lame idea... I invited Mary and her daughter to a little field trip to Whole Foods for lunch and a little shopping.

When we pulled up to Whole Foods she immediately oohed and ahhed. "It's a grocery store," exclaimed Mary! "Umm yeah" I responded.

Choosing lunch was easy. We started with a yummy lunch of pizza, soup and sandwiches. Drinks were a little tougher. Mary had to read the bottles since she had never seen any of the drinks. Our group ended-up with chocolate milk, water, lemonade and Vitamin Water.

After lunch we slithered through the aisles chatting about all of the different products. "Oohh. I never thought of that. They sell everything."

Over and over again Mary keep saying that she just didn't know where to start. Didn't know how to begin to make her family and home healthier. She was just plain overwhelmed.

I think being overwhelmed by options is a problem for many people wanting to "go green." They see these great stories on television and in newspapers about truly green people they simply become overwhelmed.

Mary made her first steps today. A bottle of natural furniture polish, organic popcorn and a better understanding on how to green her family.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I Heart Squash Pie

My mom was raised a Yankee. Her mom was raised a Yankee. Her mom was a Yankee. And so formed a cycle.

We are thrifty but enjoy our jewelry. We truly are hard workers. We wear loafers. We eat traditional New Englady foods.

One of my favorite Yankee foods that I simply cannot wait for each year is squash pie. Not pumpkin, too stringy. Only squash will do.

Since I do not enjoy cooking, I try to buy premade foods and jazz them up whenever I can. Case in point, One Pie brand filling made in West Paris, Maine.

One Pie Squash is simply squished squash and a label with directions on how to cook the pie. The label has looked the same for as long as I can remember. This year the cooking directions seemed a little different to me. "Bake 20 minute at 375 degrees F."

After 20 minutes of cooking I still had liquid squash. So I did what any girl would do and called my mother. She didn't think that the directions seemed right, and told me to try cooking for 45 minutes. That didn't seem right either.

The I Googled the company. No website to speak of. So I looked-up the number and called the friendly folks in West Paris, Maine. The directions were in fact printed incorrectly. Too bad my pie was already in the over. Although I will be ready for Thanksgiving.

Just a side note; my grandfather was a big fan of a local Paris, ME golf course that had seven holes. The plan was that you would just play two of the holes twice. I love Yankees!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fall Clean-up

Fall clean-up is a bummer. When you have a hubby with the back of a 96 year-old (but not the bank account) it is a serious bummer.

I have raked, mowed, weeded, fertilized (organic of course), trimmed back the perennials, brought in the umbrella, unhooked the hoses, picked-up too many black walnuts, mulched the new shrubs and emptied the rain barrel. Lots of work and lots of blisters.

Emptying the rain barrel before the hard frost really made me sad. It was completely full. There are people in Tennessee that only have water for fours hours each night. That's it. I have lots of extra water. I fell incredibly guilty just dumping my water on the lawn when it is clearly already green and happy.

Away go the gardening gloves, fertilizer (organic of course), mucky sneakers, rakes and snipers.

Here is to 11 months without fall clean-up!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

I'm A Gruppie

There. I said it. I'm a gruppie.

I may have made the word up, but I can't be completely sure of that.

The word comes out of necessity. On the outside you may look at me and say "yuppie." When you get to know me you may say "granola." So I live between two worlds.

My "yuppie" friends were grossed-out when they heard I was cloth diapering my babies. They were surprised to hear that I was firmly against male and female circumcision. They were puzzled to hear that I made my own cleaning products.

My "granola" friends balked at my love for high heals and cute purses. They shrugged at my golf hobby. They never understood my trendy clothes.

Just about everyone would stare in shock when I wore my babies in their tight slings while teetering in my 4 inch healed boots.

So here I am. Caught in the middle.

What is a gruppie like me to do?

There is a lightbulb stuck over my head

So there is this light bulb stuck over my head. It is a cute, squiggly little light bulb and I can't get it off of my mind. (Picture a cartoon character, in jeans and a v-neck sweater looking very cute, with an idea)

My little brother, who has been much taller than me for some time, brought home his first CFL in middle school. My mom stuck it in the basement in one of those sockets with a pull chain. That was maybe 1990. As of last weekend, my last visit the the old homestead, it is still working great. Amazing huh?

So what happens when those little Compact Florescent Light bulbs burn out and stop working?

My first CFL burned out a few weeks ago. Ever since then, it has been on my mind....

So I called the town highway department. They had no idea what I was talking about. They told me to take the CFL back to the store. I had to calmly explain to the nice man that light bulbs do in fact burn out and it really wasn't anyone's fault. He said he would call me back.

The friendly man did in fact call me back and left a message....To tell me that I would have to drive 45 minutes in each direction on my Saturday afternoon to safely dispose of my light bulb.


Is the energy I saved from that one little light bulb greater than the emissions my station wagon would be spewing over the hour and a half of highway driving? I am still fuming over that one.

Over the next few hours I got mad and annoyed and then realized that this problem is far greater than just mine. Over the next few years thousands of CFLs will be burning out all over Connecticut and the world. Are those people going to drive an hour and a half to safely dispose of their bulb? NO!

I have always promised myself that I would allow myself to complain only once about a problem that I have not tried to fix. My one rant was up, so now I had to find a solution. Brownies.

Not the kind you eat, but the kind you brainwash. Specifically my daughter's Brownie troop. While all of the other troops are busy apple picking and selling cookies I am methodically turning my daughter's troop of girls into independent environmental activists. I have personally witnessed two of my Brownies chasing down a seven year-old in the school cafeteria for not recycling her drink container. Got to love that!

Anyway, I gave the town a call back and explained the situation and what would happen to our own little Pleasentville if every house began tossing mercury-laden CFLs into the trash. I proposed that my daughter's Brownie troop would create collection bins to be placed in the town hall, library, community center or wherever that town wanted them to be placed. No response. No call back.

I'm wondering what my next step should be. A town meeting perhaps? That sounds completely intimidating. As for now I plan on creating flyers for the library letting people know how not to dispose of Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs. Hubby thinks I'm crazy...again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Come Visit My Compost Bin

I have an issue with reality shows. Seriously, it's getting bad.

My reality bug started with Survivor. It was summer, I was very pregnant, it was a wonderful relationship between Survivor and me. Seven years later I still plan my Thursday nights around Survivor.

Fast forward to this summer. In walks my new addiction to reality shows. Celebrity reality shows. The Two Corys, Tori and Dean Inn Love, Scott Baio is 45 and Single. Feel free to groan.

My favorite of the celebrity reality shows deserves it's own paragraphs. It is much different from the others because I don't feel like I am watching a train wreck. Instead I am actually learning something and looking up to a celebrity. Living with Ed!

Each week I dutifully DVR Living With Ed and savor every minute. The kids actually look forward to Living With Ed and they will sit quietly with couch while we watch.

Sometimes I daydream about Ed and Rochelle coming to my house with a shiny new wind turbine and a solar hot water system. We will all clap as my electric meter runs in reverse. They will look through my cabinets and marvel at the lack of dangerous household cleaners. We will munch on an organic, locally grown fruit salad while gazing out onto the naturally fertilized lawn. When we are done with the fruit salad we will put our scraps into the compost bin and walk down to the river for a bit of exercise.

Then I wake up. Connecticut is too far away for Ed and Rochelle to drive in their electric car. Bummer.

A few weeks ago I wrote to Ed with a question and a comment. First, I needed a suggestion on how to get more light onto my kid's playhouse in the winter months. Next, I suggested that he profile cloth diapers. My hubby thinks I'm a little loony for doing this.

Guess what?

Ed wrote back.

OK, so maybe it was someone on his staff. But, it sure looked like it was Ed who wrote to me. My hubby just shrugged when I told him that a movie star sent me an email. Me: "Aren't you surprised?" Hubby: "It's been eleven years. I'm used to you by now." And here I thought that I could make him jealous. Bummer again.

Anyway, here is the response.

Hi Gruppie Girl - thanks for the kind words. A couple of thoughts on the playhouse - Skylight? That would be good. For nighttime though, battery powered lights? Also, how about solar backyard lights. They can put them out in the yard during the day and then bring them into the playhouse at night. I use them on my walkway and they work great. If you really want to put a panel on the playhouse, they make small camping kits like that - I saw one by Coleman at Costco the other day that was pretty cool - and also Fry's Electronics had one. You can order them on-line too. As far as diapers go, I'm all for that - especially if they're organic cotton! Thanks for the idea.

I am still floating on air!

As for the playhouse, I found a small solar light with suction cups to keep it on the window. That will have to do until the kids get their wind-up LED flashlights for Christmas (shhhh. It's a surprise)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rectangle Update

6,150 rectangles clipped, counted and sorted.

All put into neat little zippy bags (reused of course) of 50. All put into a large cardboard box. Paperwork filled out and life is signed. "I promise I am not trying to dupe the good rectangle people."

I did notice a spot on the form where I was supposed to separately count the Super Rectangles. I didn't. I just lumped them all together. Will this come back to haunt me?

Off to the post office.

Note to PTO. I'm done. I'm passing the torch. Note to self. Find an unsuspecting Kindergarten parent to take over.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

PTO Conspiracy

Being the involved Little Miss that I am, I stepped up to the elementary school's PTO and volunteered to collect these annoying little rectangles that you can find on cereal boxes, granola bar boxes, tissue boxes, etc. The name of those little rectangles shall remain anonymous.

Basically, the school asks the parents to cut-out their rectangles to earn "free" money that the PTO desperately needs. While I agree that the PTO really needs this money, I have to disagree that those little rectangles are free.

The rectangles come complete with a dotted edge and a drawing of a pair of scissors. Do the parents of the neighborhood school think these drawings are suggestions? Pretty pictures to look at? Do they lack the motor skills to actually cut on a dotted line? Are they just too lazy to care how all of those "special" programs come to their child's school?

Seriously folks...12+ hours of cutting (I have lost count) all for maybe $400 to be put into the PTO's coffers? This is crazy. I am not even close to being done.

Off to nurture my beautiful blisters.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


My sweet son was born into this world, gently. He was born in the water at a freestanding birth center. Everything about his birth was quiet, dark and calm.

My sweet son can be anything but quiet and calm.

He has two speeds;

Speed 1. The sweetest, happiest, most outgoing little person.

Speed 2. Crying, crying and crying!

His first day on earth was spent crying and crying while the other new babies of the earth slept and cuddled. Shock.

When he cried throughout his first year, colic. When he cried throughout his second year, terrible twos. Throughout his threes, his temperament.

We are now almost half way through my sweet son's fours. What words can explain the crying away now?

After these crying jags I find myself tired and worn out. This afternoon for example, I plan on watching some DVRed reality shows and popping open a tube of cookie dough. Hello Tori and Dean. The gym, the cleaning, the thank-you notes. They will all have to wait.

My one consolation during this crying is the knowledge that my sweet son is an absolute angel in public. He is probably at nursery school right now charming the class photographer and making the Mommy Helper fall in love with him. At pick-up time I will probably hear all about how absolutely sweet my little mayor was.

A life in politics...maybe?

Rant over.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Let's Chat About the Weather

So I don't generally like to talk about the weather. I am in my early 30's and weather chat shouldn't come into play until I'm in my 60's. At least!

With all of that said I am completely FREAKING out that it is 80 degrees out today. Seriously, 80 degrees is Connecticut in late October.

I am still watering the new grass.
I am still wearing shorts and sandals.

I will NOT shave above the knees any longer.
I will NOT paint my toenails yet again.

The news is showing pictures of completely dried up lakes in Georgia and fires in California.

All of that news coverage must have caused the crazy dream I had...
Water was gone from everywhere. Only a few inches of water was left in my rain barrel. I was eternally grateful that I got a rain barrel for my last birthday because I knew our family could survive for a few more days on the water.

Then I woke up.

Maybe the kids and I will do a rain dance this afternoon. Do you think it will go with the music of Hannah Montana?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

It's the house

Yesterday was a crazy Saturday like every other crazy Saturday when my 7 year old has two play dates, my 4 year old is sick and we all decide to go shoe shopping thirty minutes away.

As my daughter and I were preparing to leave for play date number two, a High School Musical party of course, I decided to toss a load of laundry in. The family has been scrounging for their few clean clothes off of my window seat for the last week. Is that normal?

Anyway, I was running off to the car yelling something about birthday gifts and finding a card when my daughter ran into the basement guided by what I can only guess is our friendly ghost. "The ceiling is raining!"

That would be the understatement of the day!

My possessed, by our unfriendly ghost, washer decided to completely let go and flood not just the first floor of the house, but travel through the duct work, collapse two heating zones and flood the basement.

Ugh...thank goodness for global warming and the 80 degree forecast tomorrow.

Tonight I will dream of towels.

Road Paving

I truly can't believe that it's been almost a year since I last blogged. I have had the best intentions and written the most insightful and whittly blogs...all in my head.

You know what they say, "the road to hell is paved with the best intentions." Where is my road leading me?

As for an update;
I am a year older and much more beautiful.
My neighbors have noticed that I am able to speak again and they are now speaking to me.
I have had a couple of girls nights out with friends. Had a great time!
I am also making more of an effort to stay connected with my old friends.

As for this blogging thing, I'm wondering if I should tell people about my blog? I have a neighbor who has a popular blog and she talks about it all of the time. Even references it at the bus stop.

The thing about my neighbor is she is a perpetually friendly and politically correct type of person. Nothing to hide right? As for me, I'm more of a heart on my sleeve, don't censor myself well type of person.

Should I go public?