Pretty Awesome Katie Makkai

October 23, 2010

“Will I be pretty….?” Katie Makkai asks in her powerful poem “Pretty” pretty what? – pretty intelligent, compassionate, creative?

Haven’t we all been programmed in our ancient DNA to be overly-concerned (obsessed?) with our outer physical body which merely houses the extraordinary, vast and complex inner resources making us the amazing individuals that we are. Watch this inspiring and deeply moving video of Makkai, pass this on to your sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers with love and compassion.

Big hug and hat tip to Gina Lazenby.

It’s that time of year. You can participate in the firefly watch, too, through the Museum of Science, Boston, website. Basically they want to know if you have fireflies in your back yard this summer. It is easy to join and document your findings. You sign up, pick a location, like your yard, and observe and report weekly. Your findings can help local scientists with their research. Who doesn’t love that beautiful light show in the trees and fields.

Jamie Oliver TED Prize Winner

February 10, 2010

Jamie Oliver’s TED speech is very exciting. I am watching it on CNN streaming live. Oliver is a chef, restauranteur and food activist. I’m sure you can watch it soon on ted.com.

His message is simple.A huge proportion of people don’t know how to look after and nourish their own families. A huge percentage of our population is obese.  The culture of food has changed. Home is where food culture was passed on. And it isn’t being passed on anymore. We have become a fast food nation. He is passionate about school arming us with tools to be able to succeed in life-  school is where 31 million kids eat 180 days/year. So school food is very important. He offers himself as an ambassador to the school chefs- there are no food knowledgeable people in the business. “Because there is a tight budget, an accountant will be cheap so…the food is highly processed, french fries are considered a vegetable.” And everything is heading our kids towards obesity. He shows a clip of kids in school not even knowing what vegetables are. Very sad watching kids mistaking tomatoes for potatoes. In 2 one hour sessions with Jamie they learned to name the vegetables.

Here is his “reboot” to make real change that will change things for our children in 10 years time. He’d like supermarkets  to have a shopping helper and teach how to cook healthy meals. It needs to be done across the board and put food education out there. We need to get weaned off the ‘non-food” ingredients in our fast food. In schools we owe it for the kids to have proper fresh food. Big goals. Profoundly important. Kids should know how to cook 10 recipes so they can survive. He goes on. He is speaking my language. My kids took veggies to school in their lunches and some of their friends didn’t know what they were eating.

He cares and believes that if change can be made in our country it will happen all over the world. Watch for his speech on TED at Ted.com

And here is a youtube of him speaking about food and health.

Check it out, kids.

Get ready for some thrills and chills this winter… it’s time to bring on the hills with quirky’s new Snow Shredder. The Snow Shredder is the ultimate in winter sleds, comfortably fitting two kids, aged six and up, in its roomy seating area.

Here’s what makes this sled so cool:
– A headlight in the front of the sled, with an easy on-off button, allows for fun night sledding
– A retractable handle makes it easy to carry the sled uphill for your next ride
– A steering wheel up front lets YOU take control of your ride, while three adjustable steering wheel heights allow you to cruise in comfort
– Extra handles are located in the back of the sled for the backseat sledder to hold onto (it can get scary back there!)

This sled is made of polypropylene. Its over-all dimensions are 60in x 21in x 12in, and the seating area is 39in x 17in x 6in.

You can buy this limited edition sled at Quirky.com, the cool site where you can submit ideas for products, influence products being developed and earn money doing it and shop for new and innovative products developed by users like you, at quirky.com.

Learn all about Quirky.com in 30 seconds.

Best of all, Micah designed it!

Scary, but Fun, Sleepover

January 24, 2010

Who wouldn’t love to spend a night sleeping over at the Museum of Natural History?  I have always thought about those empty, high-ceilinged and echoey hallways once the museum-goers and guards leave for the day. I know people who have a fear of being locked into the library or the furniture store or the museum after hours….  One of the books I read to the kids when they were small was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (New York: Atheneum, 1967). It a wonderful story: A brother and a sister run away and hide in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. A Newbery medal winner.

I think the inspiration for this fabulous giant sleepover date at the Museum of Natural History has to be the film, A Night At The Museum. I wonder if I can set up a night for adults?

Cost: $129 per person
(Members: $119 per person)
(Scouts: $99.00 per person)

Admission Price includes:

  • Evening snack and light breakfast
  • Cots for all participants
  • Fossil fact finding mission by flashlight
  • IMAX film or space show
  • Take-home activities
  • Live animal special exhibition (seasonal)

or

  • Live animal presentation

Time: 5:45 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Open to: 7-13 year olds

You Should Bring:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Flashlight
  • Camera
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Washcloth
  • Warm comfortable clothing to sleep in
  • Change for vending machines
  • Ear plugs (optional)
  • Night Mask (optional)

Via: Micah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have memories of buying a toy for my kids and having it break because of poor quality or discovering that it had small parts and we had a baby brother in the house. Back in “the day” we didn’t think about lead or pthalates in the toys. There are many things to consider when buying toys these days.

ConnPIRG has just released their annual toy safety report, and they’ve launched a new mobile phone website that allows toy shoppers to look up and report dangerous toys as they shop. Check out their new resources, and help make sure kids’ toys are safe this holiday season. Make your list then check it with CT-toy-report-2009.

This document reminds us of all the hazards we might consider including loudness. Almost 15 percent of children ages 6 to 17 show signs of hearing loss. In March 2007, the American Society for Testing and Materials adopted a voluntary acoustics standard for toys, setting the loudness threshold for most toys at 85 decibels but there are still exceedingly louc (and I might add annoying) toys on the toy store shelves.

In addition, think through and avoid toys that have possible choking hazards, while considering age appropriateness, “almost” small parts, balloons, marbles, pthalates and PVC products. What is left for kids to play with? We’ve eliminated dolls (plastic), legos (plastic), toy cars (lead paint). OKAY- wooden blocks it is. Actually one of my kids favorites!

 

World Peace Day

September 21, 2009

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Beautiful video from HeartMath. I believe that when people are healthy they can be peaceful. Make this a wonderful, peaceful day full of appreciation for all you have in your life and for all the possibility for our world.

Unconditional Love

September 15, 2009

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How were you raised? Did your parents set high expectations which you worked to live up to in order to gain their affection? Were you punished, given time-out’s or did they withhold their love from you if you had a failure? How has that translated into your parenting? In an article in the NYTimes , Alfie Kohn explores some child-raising theories and notes a few recent studies with interesting and not so surprising results.

Kohn opens his piece speaking about Carl Rogers, child psychologist, who, more than 50 years ago, supported the idea that children must be loved unconditionally.

Kohn later writes about forms of conditional love that are being promoted more and more lately:

“Some people who wouldn’t dream of spanking choose instead to discipline their young children by forcibly isolating them, a tactic we prefer to call “time out.” Conversely, “positive reinforcement” teaches children that they are loved, and lovable, only when they do whatever we decide is a “good job.”

…the problem with praise isn’t that it is done the wrong way — or handed out too easily, as social conservatives insist. Rather, it might be just another method of control, analogous to punishment. The primary message of all types of conditional parenting is that children must earn a parent’s love. A steady diet of that, Rogers warned, and children might eventually need a therapist to provide the unconditional acceptance they didn’t get when it counted.”

The various studies looked at college students, mothers of grown children with very interesting results. The findings were that both positive and negative conditional parenting were harmful!  “Internal compulsion” was a result of the positive reinforcement and  negative conditional parenting didn’t even work and created negativity towards the parents. That makes sense to me.

I am interested to know how you, the reader, were parented and how you think that has affected you. How do you parent your children?

I remember when I was in high school some of my friends lived in terror of getting a bad grade because of the punishment and verbal abuse that would accompany what their parents considered a failure. And in my own life, although I don’t remember my parents telling I should do well in school or sports I somehow picked up that was what was wanted.

I found it impossible to give my children time-outs. It was barbaric to me and as my kids got older they simply wouldn’t do it anyway. I didn’t see a reason to be angry with them for failures, although I did positively reinforcement their successes. I very much watned my children to grow into who they were as individuals and my husband and I realized that each child needed something different, as they were 3 very different individuals.

I agree with Kohn that we have to look at the results through the eyes of the children, not how the parents think they “did”. I hope I get good marks from my children….

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It’s a jungle out there. If you don’t know the ins-and-outs you could put money down on an apartment, show up to move in and find yourself with 4 other people who also put money down on the same space all waiting for a phoney broker who has since left town. This did not happen to us. But this has happened for real to others.

After messing around with Craigslist, waiting outside apartments for a broker who doesn’t show up, or who gets there and shows you an apartment that doesn’t look like the photo online, or who tells you they don’t have the keys to that apartment but do have other keys, I finally walked into a realtor’s office on 13th and Fifth Ave, threw my hands up and begged someone to show me a nice apartment for my student son. My NY Realtor friends are annoyed with me for not coming to them in the first place- but I thought they wouldn’t want to bother with my low budget for Micah’s first NYC apartment. Well, my low-budget grew and grew, the more places I saw. Teeny, tiny, have to slide in side-ways to get to the toilet in miniscule bathrooms, dirty, strange and dark hallways, weird configurations of chopped up spaces. I couldn’t bear it and upped the ante. Along with upping came the broker and the commission and the one month FREE rent, nice trade. It has not been the best experience financially, but we found a great studio right near school. We’ll save on the monthly subway pass, he’ll cook for himself, I’ll send care packages. And that will have to be that.

Now for those of you who are out there shopping. Here is a good site with helpful info about the do’s and don’ts of apartment shopping in NYC.

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It is time to say goodbye to some of your old stand by sunscreens if you are avoiding putting toxins consciously into your body.

I so appreciate the research and commitment of EWG (Environmental Working Group). Here is something to think about since it is summer and it’s time to consider protecting ourselves from sun burn. You might want to read this article about the body burden Americans have created from wearing sunscreens with oxybenzone. As I have posted before, there are many ways to protect from too much sun, from SPF clothing and hats, to safer sunscreens. I have been the sunscreen police with my kids for years. Interestingly enough, none of them have listened to me. I guess I’m glad about it.

The EWG report cites 2 studies linking cell damage and  free radical formation from sunlight causing oxybenzone to form free radical chemicals. A CDC study indicated that oxybenzone absorbs through the skin in significant amounts and another study showing that 96% of 6-8 year old girls had detectable amounts of the chemical in their urine.  

Since oxybenzone was last tested in the ’70’s it is a very outdated sun protector. I would consider reading all your sunscreens and getting rid of the offenders.

And from the EWG’s comments on the FDA’s proposed amendment on final Monograph, from back in 2007:

“EWG’s research shows that FDA’s finalization of a strong monograph is critical. We found that some sunscreens on the U.S. market:

  • offer inadequate protection from the sun;
  • may be less safe and effective than products offered in other countries;
  • are labeled with misleading product claims;
  • contain ingredients with significant safety concerns.

Specifically, our research indicates that 83% of 868 sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns. We found that only 17% of the products on the market are both safe and effective, blocking both UVA and UVB radiation, remaining stable in sunlight, and containing few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards.”

You can check the safety of your cosmetics and sunscreens at EWG’s site.