Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pot O' Nose

Here I am. Sick again.

This has been a long winter (now spring) and I am at the end of my rope. I have been eating well (pizza contains all of the food groups. right?). Exercise has been on the schedule regularly. Besides moving to someplace warm and tropical, I don't know what else to do.

I've heard a ton about the Netti pot and all of it's wonders. The Netti pot looks enough like Aladdin's lamp that it must be magical.

Basically you buy one of these simply-designed Netti pots. Add a saline solution packet and warm tap water. Then it gets weird....

Put the tip of the pot up to one nostril. Tip your head. Breathe through your mouth and pour.

The sensation is a bit like jumping in the water without plugging your nose.

The even weirder part is that there are a few seconds between when you pour the saline water in one nostril and when it streams out of the other nostril. Where does it go? My squeamish self doesn't really want to know.

Lots of people swear by the Netti pot, but it didn't do anything for my stuffy head and throbbing sinuses....Although I haven't given up on the pot yet. When the next cold rolls around, I'll give it another whirl.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Savvy Source

Looking for the perfect nursery school for your little one? How about an education toy to give to your favorite kid? Camps? Books? Activities? Green parenting advice?

Look no further than the Savvy Source!

The friendly people at The Savvy Source for Parents have asked me to be a guest blogger today!

I dusted off and tweaked an old post about safe household cleaning. Don't get me wrong, by no means do I clean often. But when I do, I don't want to put my family's health in danger.

The blog idea was first conceived back when I was pregnant with Girlie...My sense of smell got a little sharper and my mummy lion instinct kicked in. How could I clean the house with all of those stinky, toxic chemicals and grow a healthy little person?

When you get a minute, please check out my blogger post and Savvy Source.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Burn Baby Burn

I am cursed. We have only had something like three beach-weather days in Connecticut and I already look like a flaming tomato.

Every year...sunburn.

As a kid I burned while my tougher-skinned parents shook their heads in disbelief. What were those crazy water-filled blisters?

As a teenager, I truly believed that I might tan if I used a lower number sunblock. With that effort I still got a sunburn while adding even more freckles. On one occasion I even got burned in the shape of a handprint. Never could wrap my brain around that one.

As an adult (an I an adult already?) I should have smartened up by now. I wear sunblock by the barrel. Still, I ALWAYS forget one body part. Two days ago it was my arms. Today it was my chest.

Damn you turtleneck in the 80 degree heat!

A few years ago I bought some easy, new-fangled spray on sunscreen. I sprayed Little guy thinking that I was keeping his sweet skin safe. Instead, he screamed in pain. "It hurts my skin mummy!' That's all I needed to look onto how safe sunscreens really are.

Wow! Are sunscreens scary! Apparently sunscreens break-down in the sun. They can release free radicals into your blood. Sunscreens can disrupt your hormones and then stick around in your body. Developmental toxicity. Cancer. Neurotoxicity.

There are NO mandatory standards for the safety of sunscreen. No one is watching. No one is squeaking.

In looking at the Skin Safe database and their list of the most effective and most safe sunscreens, the only company name that I recognize in California Baby. In looking at the least safe sunscreens, I recognize most of the names; Rite Aid, Aveeno, Bull Frog, Walgreens, Bain De Soleil, Avon...the list goes on and on.

Jasons Natural is also on the naughty list. Chalk another one up to greenwashing.

What is a fair-skinned family to do? Moving to Siberia is so out of the question. Drawing the shades and spending the summer watching TV is a no go. Moving to a happy bubble in the middle of the woods somewhere...that could happen. Until then, we need to stand-up and fight for safe sunscreens.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Celebration

Happy Earth Day!

Today the family celebrated our own low-key version of Earth Day.

We began the day joining the neighborhood kids and skipping the school bus. We all took advantage of the weather and walked to school together.

Little Guy played soccer.

Both kids spent lots of time outside with friends. (I got a surprise sunburn)

Chatted with a neighbor about the meaning of my new flag. These seniors wanted me to know that they now line dry their laundry for the good of the earth and their piggy bank.

In the afternoon, the family walked to dance class. Grilie gave her teachers indoor plants to improve the air quality of their homes.

The lights, TV and heat all spent the day in the off position. (How I love April sun)

Basically, we spent the day enjoying what we already have.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Car in The Garage

Way back when I was a second grade teacher and my stomach was flat, I taught my students to create goals for themselves. Learning goals, sports goals, family goals...whatever they wanted to become more proficient in. Successful people like Michael Jordan have become successful by constantly setting goals. Why couldn't second graders set goals?

Do as I say, not as I do.

Personally, I am seriously stinky at following through with goals.

Take the goal I set back in December. "Cut back on sugar." (feel free to snicker)

Lunch today consisted of peanut butter pretzels coated in milk chocolate. For dessert, the kids and I had frozen yogurt. Bye, bye goal.

In honor of Earth Day and in response to my new found hatred for the Mass Pike and driving in general, I have made a five-day goal.

No driving.

"For the five days during the work week I solemnly swear to keep my car in the garage."

Today has been good. Two round trips to the school. One trip downtown for frozen yogurt and a stroll by the river.

Healthier earth. Healthier pocketbook. Healthier Gruppie.
Leg cramp Gruppie...Sunburned Gruppie...

(Let's hope this goal sticks)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hospital Life

Have you ever been in a hospital? I mean like really IN the hospital. Lost for hours at a time? Wandering through every hallway? Eating in every Au Bon Pain?

Between Hubby's back surgery and Mummy's appendix cancer I have been lost in quite a few of the best hospitals in New England.

My path into the hospital usually looks something like this;

Mapquest directions and pray that the Big Dig hasn't rerouted the street.
Eventually find the parking garage.
Squeeze in a spot that would be too tight for your average Yugo.
Enter the building and ask directions.
Travel down snaking hallways to find the Red Building.
Wave at the Au Bon Pain.
Take the Red Building elevators to the mezzanine level.
Ask for directions again.
Walk down another maze of hallways to find the Tower elevators.
Take the Tower elevator to the eleventh level.
Find the 11B tower.
Finally, I am free to look for the room number which is in a pattern that I cannot understand.

I could write for hours about my experiences navigating through hospitals....

There was the time during my husband's surgery when I read a poster that urged everyone to use the stairs. Better for your health it said. How come when I used the stairs I popped out in a recovery room?

Or how about the time when my mummy had a surgery and I couldn't find a place to pay for my parking. The security guard sent me to the valet stand. The valet sent me to the wrong building. Forty-five minutes later I was able to find the hospital parking garage office. Turns out I parked in the garage next door to the hospital.

I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person, but is there anyone out there who can actually navigate through a hospital? What happens when you add on feeling sick and tired like many a hospital patient.

Here's to walking around the block one more time and eating all of my green beans. I'm done with hospitals.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Take Back Your Filters!

We all want and deserve clean water. Right?

In my quest for clean, good tasting water my uses a water filter installed in the fridge. For years before we had a fridge unit we used a filter attached to the faucet. Back in college I had a Brtia pitcher with a filter inside. Those plasticy filters are not recyclable in the US, There are directions and how to refill the cartridges, but apparently they involve some sort of power drill.

The earth warrior blogger Fake Plastic Fish is spearheading a campaign to ask Clorox to take back and recycle Brita water filter cartridges. Apparently these filters are recyclable in Europe but not in North America. Hmmmm....and Clorox is totting itself as a "green" company with it's new line of household cleaners. Wouldn't this be a great time for Clorox to really go green?

Want to help? Here are the directions according to Fake Plastic Fish;

The Take Back the Filter Campaign has officially begun. Join us in asking Clorox to:

1) Redesign its Brita filter cartridges so that the plastic housing can be refilled rather than discarded each time the filter is changed.

2) Provide a take-back program, such as the one that exists in Europe, so that used cartridges can be returned to the company for recycling.

3) Create a system for the cartridges to be dismantled and the components recycled/reused domestically rather than landfilled, incinerated, or shipped overseas.Please visit the new web site: for complete background information and to take action.

What are we asking you to do?

1) Sign the petition at

2) Send me your used Brita filter cartridges. I have set up a mailbox specifically for this purpose. Or, if you live in the Bay Area, you can email me to arrange pickup. Instructions are at At some point, we'll deliver them all to Clorox (whose corporate office is just down the street from me in Oakland) to make a strong, visual statement.

3) If you're feeling really motivated, please write a letter to Clorox. A sample letter is also included at, of course.

4) And finally, spread the word. Tell everyone you know. Collect their used cartridges and ask them to sign the petition. We even have a sample e-mail at at for you to cut and paste.

Thanks for getting involved and signing the petition!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Coming Home

Today I'm blogging remotely from the Boston suburbs.

Since my mummy has gotten sick I have been back and forth a lot. Tomorrow is a big day for mummy. We are meeting with her oncologist to talk about the best way to beat this nasty cancer.

It feels good to come home. See familiar things, eat familiar foods, fall into familiar patterns.

A few weeks ago I blindly drove from Connecticut to Boston to seem my mummy in the hospital. I found myself turned around. (Big surprise in the unnavigable Boston) Suddenly I pooped-up in Kenmore square. Fenway Park, the Citgo sign, zillions of college students....and I felt like I was at home.

Home is where everything is OK. Home is where everything works out. Boston made me feel like everything was going to be OK for my mummy.

Even though I grew-up in the suburbs, I love Boston. You can walk for miles and miles and feel safe. Historical sites can be found wherever you turn. In fact, Boston was voted one of the top walking cities in America. (how very green!)

As a middle school and high school kid, my friends and I would ride the T into Boston to explore. In the garment district we bought clothes by the pound. There was a "way cool" Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. And of course there were college guys to check out.

As a new mummy, I would load Girlie into the backpack and onto the commuter rail. We spent our days at the Common . We watched the "Make Way For Ducklings" ducks being released. Rode the swan boats. Played at the playgrounds.

I always thought that my family would end-up living close to Boston. Circumstances like finances, work and life aimed the family at Connecticut. As much as I love where I live, it would be wonderful to have such an amazing city close by.

I love that dirty water
Oh, oh
Boston, you're my home
~The Standells

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Manner of the Month

Every month Girlie's school practices a "manner of the month." The manners are posted on large signs throughout the school and the staff "catches" the kids in the act of performing the good manner.

Much to my surprise, April's Manner of the Month is to "Respect the Earth." Very cool indeed.

On the posters there are great tips such as;

Ride the bus or carpool to school.
Eat less meat
Don't let your parents leave their car idling
Use both sides of your paper
Turn off the lights when you leave the room

My gruppie self had to take the tips a step further and write green tips on the white board in the school's lobby. With Earth Day approaching it seems like green people can be a little more blatant about their earth speak without seeming so pushy. OK ok, so...I'm still a pushy guerrilla...
So I added a few of my own;

pack a zero trash lunch
leave the car in the garage and walk or ride your bike
pick-up any trash you see
wear hand-me-downs or thrift shop clothing
shop at the local farm stand or farmer's market

The kids and parents can try those things too. Right?

When Girlie goes back to school in two weeks (April vacation!) I would like to change a few of the tips on the white board. Any suggestions?

Best of luck guerrilla greening your little ones and their friends too!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Little Flags

'Tis the season for beginnings. New growth. The start of new life.

A funny flower is growing in my neighborhood. The fertilizer/pesticide warning flag.

Don't even get me started on just how scary lawn fertilizers can be. Many of the ingredients in the popular 4-step program and others have been banned by the European Union. They can cause cancers, birth defects, ground water pollution, nervous system issues and a host of other nastys. Why oh why are they still in use in America?

Just this weekend I spyed my neighbor spreading more disgusting chemicals on his lawn in hopes that is lawn will turn artificially green. And I left...

When I arrived back home there were thousands of little poison pellets on my driveway. My neighbor, once again, pushed his spreader around the fence and treated ten to fifteen feet of my lawn with his grossness!

All I can see is red!

Many people assume that the lawn fertilizer they purchase from the local home store is safe because it wouldn't be sold if it wasn't. Right? That is a big WRONG! Fertilizer companies have a lot of money and power. Bills to ban poisonous ingredients have been knocked down time after time due to the power of these companies.

Did you know that chemical lawn care manufacturers hide toxic ingredients by labeling them as “inert”? This loophole allows dangerous toxins to go unlisted on product labels.

Did you know that the United States Environmental Protection Agency has allowed officially banned pesticides such as D.D.T. to be reclassified as inert ingredients, allowing them to remain in pesticide formulas?

Did you know that once you spray or spread dangerous lawn fertilizers on your lawn that they can still be found on your property after a year?

In order to dispose of just the packaging of these chemical lawn fertilizers you are instructed to wrap it in many layers of newspaper or plastic. Just the packaging! What about the toxic contents?

When you use nasty fertilizers and pesticides you are killing the soil and all of it's healthy bugs, microbial populations and bacteria. Organic lawn care cultivates a healthy soil leading to a healthy lawn.

My home is built on a lot where all of the good soil was stripped off and sold. Not great for growing grass. Last year I discovered Organica's four step program. Using that organic lawn fertilizer with my rain barrel and composted soil (for bare spots) my lawn looked pretty good last year. I expect it to look even better this year.

Happy Spring!

Update...The friendly people at Organica want me to call them tomorrow. Can I venture a guess that some lucky Gruppie Girl readers will be growing healthier lawns this year? Too soon to tell...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Green Religion

Early on Saturday morning Hubby and I were knee-deep in Little Guy's mess of a room when the doorbell rang. Much to my surprise it wasn't a tiny neighbor. It was a pair of professionally-dressed women.

I opened the door to these unknown women only to be complimented on my "pesticide free" sign. Did their Prius break down and they were buttering me up in order to use my phone?

"Those who ruin the earth will in turn be ruined" was uttered as a supposed compliment. A bible passage that pertains to the green movement. Who knew?

Like every profession, door-to-door religious promoters may have had to change with the times. Have they jumped on the green bandwagon too? Are they tailoring their speech to suit who they perceive I am? Or maybe they have been green since the beginning (of time). Beats me.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Deer Season

Yesterday afternoon I was starving, stressed and tried. A bad combination for me.

Since I was sans kids for a few minutes, I ran into a local chain sub shop and ordered a tuna sub for my lunch. The sub maker was faster than fast and swished my sandwich promptly into a plastic bag.

With just one sandwich and two hands there really wasn't any need for the plastic bag. Not to mention the small size that would be nearly impossible for me to find a way to reuse it. And we all know that plastic bag isn't going to decompose any time soon.

The gruppie in me sprang to action as I politely stated that I didn't need my bag. I handed the plastic bag back to the sub creator and he...

tossed it in the TRASH!

A completely perfect, untouched by food plastic bag.

There I stood like a deer in headlights being nudged forward by the person in line next to me. I said nothing.


Not only I am completely peeved by the sub shop, I am more than a little peeved at myself too.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Baby steps. My adventures in eating responsibly have come slowly.

First, there were my college adventures of figuring out how to cook in the first place. (Oh the horror!)
Next, I started looking towards more healthy foods and lots of veggies. (foods came in green too?)
Then, I found organic foods. (organic junk food is yummy!)
Finally, I discovered the local summer and fall farmer's market. (local ice cream sandwiches are amazing!)

Baby steps.

Today I took the plunge into a new level of responsible eating. I joined a local and organic CSA.

Farmer Mark from my local organic farm sent out an email announcing the start of their new Community Supported Agriculture or CSA. Basically each family who buys in owns a small part of the farm's bounty.

Hey, I "own" a farm. Do you think that would hold-up on my resume? Maybe I can work that tidbit into dinner party conversation. "Did you know that I own a farm...ladddy dahdddy."

This CSA has a work option. Members can exchange 70 hours of farm work for a share. My 7 year old is a hard worker. Can I sign her up to work 70 hours on the farm this summer? A free CSA share and a quiet summer...

June 19th is circled on my calendar. Salad and stir fry for dinner.