Category Archives: ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION / ECO-PARENTING

Teaching our youth to be stewards of their land and communities.

Triple “R” July & August Give-Back

GiveRacking up those give-back hours this summer, I’m working on the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle realm – wrapped up in the all-important education component.

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I started a compost bucket a few weeks ago at work. It was something I thought about for months, but I wasn’t sure how well-received it would be. Some people think, “oh gross!” when compost is around, but I thought “what the heck, let’s try it!” All my worries about smell, bugs (fruit flies) and anything else that might turn my colleagues sour have so far been non-existent. Fingers crossed we continue to have zero problems. Granted, it’s mostly used for coffee grounds and only minimal food scraps.

Working in Lake Oswego, I thought there wasn’t a compost program, but good news, they recently adopted one! For now it’s easy to take the re-used coffee container (I love repurposing), every Friday and throw in my compost bin at home, but I have a future commercial composting project on the to-do list. Info on the program: here.

In just three weeks, we have diverted 8lbs of compostable items from the landfill (we are a small office).

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My recycling efforts in the office are going along smoothly. We have nearly everyone doing their best to place items in the appropriate bin. 

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I take materials to the Far West Recycling (formerly known as Far West Fibers) center about once a month. I throw it in with our household pile, so it’s not a lot of extra work, and it’s satisfying to see it diverted from the trash. All the clamshells (before my co-workers knew better), used to go in the recycling – yikes!

As a side note: Did you know Far West Recycling takes:

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I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF) as a Master Recycler for the second year in a row. I love volunteering at festies! Doing something good for the community and the planet in a fun environment, and be rewarded with a beer mug and tokens to boot – can’t beat that! (FYI for my fellow festival volunteers – OBF offers double beer tokens when you volunteer on Sunday. You can use them earlier in the week on the honor system or they are valid to use in future years.)

Special Announcement:
I now have 51.25 hours logged for the Master Recycler program. I’m half a Centurion!

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Master Recyclers assist with managing the waste prevention volunteers, ensuring they are educating the public on how and where to place trash, compost and recycled materials. This year the festival wasn’t able to compost the plate ware since the ban is now in place, so I didn’t think the rate of landfill diversion would be very high…but Mitzi, waste coordinator for the event, rocked it out in other ways. Way to go Mitzi and the Waste Prevention Crew!

Here is her follow-up message:

“Great news, OBF reduced its overall waste by 25% this year! (From 12.28 tons to 9.28 tons.) Our overall diversion rate this year was 52.4% (4.86 tons).  I’m bummed that the garbage was so darn heavy…but the good news is that we didn’t have a huge increase in actual garbage, despite the fact that all food service ware was going in there, so we must have done much better on our overall recycling efforts.”

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I joined the Recycling Advocates board this spring and had the pleasure to table for the non-profit a couple of weeks ago in the Hazelwood community fair at the soon-to-be-developed Gateway Park. It was one of those 100 degree days resulting in a small turnout, but I did receive the surprise gift of seeing a friend whom I have not seen in years, so it was well worth my time! She works for Friends of Trees (Portland has SO many great non-profits) and our tables created the eco-corner.

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Want to learn more about Recylcing Advocates, or simply passionate about recycling and living an eco-friendly life?
Join us for our annual meeting!

What: Recycling Advocates Annual Meeting 2015
When: September 1st, doors open 6:30pm, program begins at 7:00pm
Where: Sierra Club, 1821 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214
Who: YOU! RSVP to info@recyclingadvocates.org
or call 503-777-0909

This event is free and open to all Recycling Advocates members and friends. We’ll provide food and drinks from our friends at Laughing Planet and Lucky Lab.

Finally, to round out mid-summer, my daughter and I checked out the Recycled art show at Edgefield McMenamins for a couple of hours one night. Pretty impressive stuff!

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-Cracked Pots – Recycled Art Show-

Celebrating Earth Day 2015

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One of my favorite days to celebrate! Here’s a little history: “The very first Earth Day, April 22nd, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.” Excerpt Taken From: HERE

I started Earth week out giving a somewhat informal recycling presentation to my colleagues at work. It was great fun to share my knowledge, answer questions and a really good reminder that recycling can be confusing. Living in the Portland Metro area, most people REALLY want to recycle, so they throw items into the recycle bin that shouldn’t go in there (I know, I was one of them).     But…When IN DOUBT…THROW IT OUT!

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Do you live in the Metro area and interested in recycling and waste management? Check out the Master Recyclers Class.  Part of graduating class 54, I was shocked at how much I learned since I was already so eco-minded. It’s a fabulous experience-you will learn a great deal and be with a room full of like-minded awesome individuals.

GIVING BACK

My family started a tradition several years ago to volunteer for SOLVEIT  – one of SOLVE’s big volunteer days. Last Saturday we went to the Wilkes Creek Headwaters (154th and NE Fremont in Portland) to discover a new area, enjoy the beautiful weather and clear invasive English Ivy from the restoration site.

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SOLVE partnered with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (yes, one of my favorite non-profits I volunteered with a few years ago), Portland City Parks, an employee group from Boeing (yes, there is one in Portland too with 1,700 employees) and Portland Geocaching Group. So it was a fantastic eclectic crew and a wonderful turn-out.

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A small group planted native species and mulched a designated area while the rest of us pulled English Ivy. It was a gentle procedure because we didn’t want to disturb the native plants, many of which are blooming and growing this time of year.

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 -Trillium-

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                      -Trillium and an awesome mushroom patch that quilted the forest floor-

Wilkes Creek Headwaters contains the springs that feed the only free flowing stream in the city that still enters the Columbia Slough. The City of Portland and Metro acquired the site in 2011.

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Portland Parks uses some herbicide to clear unwanted plant life, but since this site was full of Native Indian Plum trees, they wanted to resort to manual volunteer labor. Indian Plum apparently is very sensitive to any kind of herbicides… Glad we could all help!

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Indian Plum Tree

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RESULTS

Over 8,500 volunteers came out on Saturday for SOLVEIT events all across Oregon! SOLVE estimates that this year over 25 tons of trash and debris was collected from 162 sites including neighborhoods, parks, school grounds and natural areas around the state. Invasive non-native plants were cleared from 11 acres and 3,000 native trees and shrubs were planted.

ENJOYING NATURE

Sunday my sweetie and I went to Sauvie Island to hike the lighthouse trail I featured back in 2013 HERE. At that time, we saw 2 other cars in the parking lot. Last weekend was a complete madhouse (granted, it was in the high 70’s). I love that so many people are enjoying our natural areas, and hopefully are inspired to care for them, but it’s hard to share sometimes. Fortunately, most everyone was hitting the nearby beach so we had the hike mostly to ourselves.

 

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-Happy pups exploring a cave in the river bank. Inca (on the right) went all the way through. :)-

Happy Earth Day Around the World! Get outside, enjoy some natural beauty, breathe fresh air, walk barefoot, soak in the sun or rain and feel gratitude for all the beautiful gifts we receive from this planet.

SOLVE, NATIVE PLANTS & EARTH HOUR UNITE!

March 28th, 2015 is a Big Day!

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This Saturday provides several ways to ramp up for April Earth Month! If you are near the coast, you have the opportunity to give back to Oregon in the morning hours by volunteering with SOLVE at one of their beach cleanup sites. (Obviously a nonprofit I love since I serve on their communications board.) Shop for Native Plants in the afternoon at a fantastic fundraiser, and then celebrate EARTH HOUR with the rest of the world in the evening-what a day full of opportunity!

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The following link has all the information you need to get involved with SOLVE’s Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup. You can see my 2014 volunteer fun below (although it wasn’t on the beach).

There are 45 cleanup sites scattered along the coast, from Astoria to Brookings. Pick your favorite beach or site near you by checking the online Calendar of Events and registering!

Last year, 4,800 volunteers cleared more than 48,000 pounds of debris from the Oregon Coast! See the final report and photos from the 2014 event.

EARTH HOUR!

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One of my favorite events, and this year it almost slipped right by me! In 2008, we played a board game via candlelight and my daughter asked to do the same the following year! (It was very memorable.) Earth Hour started in 2007 in Australia as a lights-off event to raise awareness about climate change. It has grown to engage more than 162 countries and territories worldwide. For just one hour, don’t use electricity – no lights, no electronics, no power tools, or appliances (well, leave the fridge running) …get creative!

           Earth Hour is on Saturday 8:30pm – 9:30pm          local time all over the GLOBE!

Visit the website for more information: HERE

Friends of Baltimore Woods

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In 2014, we volunteered with Friends of Baltimore Woods for two of SOLVE’s big volunteer events. (Photos Below) Located in St. Johns (North Portland) between Cathedral and Pier Parks, the 30-acre Baltimore Woods Connectivity Corridor is a unique urban greenway with a ton of community support & love turning it into a wonderful natural site.

This Saturday, Friends of Baltimore Woods is having a Pacific Northwest Native Plant Sale in Portland’s St. Johns Plaza from 10:00am – 3:00pm!

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Our Volunteer FUN – 2014

My daughter and her friend (volunteering is way more fun with a buddy) and I volunteered on SOLVE IT Earth Day, April 26th, at Baltimore Woods. I was so surprised I hadn’t noticed this special gem!

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Look closely behind the people standing in the photo above, you can barely see the cement steps in the back covered in ivy, shrubs and debris. My helpers were super motivated to clear these steps-and they rocked it!

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Volunteer Day #2

My kiddo and her two friends volunteered with me September 27th, 2014 at Baltimore woods for the second time last year, and we could already see some changes!

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The next volunteer opportunity at Baltimore Woods is right around the corner-so mark your calendars!

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Plus you get this awesome view!

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So, this Saturday-March 28th – Volunteer with SOLVE in the morning, check out the Native Plant Sale in the afternoon, then Celebrate Earth Hour in the evening – what a great day and wonderful way to prepare for April…Earth Month!

Urban Backyard Farming Part II

  A Look Back…Late Summer 2013

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Although I haven’t had time to write new blog posts, I collected photos and took notes over the past few months, and as promised, here is part II to my urban farm story.

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Our darling chickens started laying in mid-August. I was a very proud mama, and we have been so happy with our fresh eggs. Since we have four different breeds, we have varying eggs from size to color, making the carton a beautiful site!

We wanted to maintain their natural laying season so opted not to install any artificial lights in the coop. (This is how farmers make chickens lay year-round.) Most chickens will stop laying when the days grow shorter, yet even in mid-winter we still got a couple eggs every day.

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Because my partner loves to grow things, and he loves to make beer, HOPS are an obvious part of our garden. The harvest wasn’t as large this year as last year, but he made 10 gallons (two batches) of tasty beer from our very own hops!

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Most will say, “You can’t grow pomegranates in the Pacific Northwest.” But, we did, and we grew a handful! (Well, it’s not really a “we” thing, I can’t take any credit.) The tree got a beating this year, as we got a new roof installed and the roofers weren’t very sensitive to our vegetation – but it bounced back and looked great all summer and fall.

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We had some late sunflowers bloom beautifully in the front yard (courtesy I’m sure from the neighborhood squirrels and birds). These were so fun to have near the front window.

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If you missed it:  Urban Farming Part I

Stay Tuned For Part III!

Giving Back at the Oregon Food Bank- Volunteer #2

Second Installment in my Volunteer for a Year series- Introducing…

The Oregon Food Bank

Filling the role as service learning project coordinator this year for my daughter’s 6th grade class at the Portland Village School– we chose The Oregon Food Bank  (OFB) as our organization to volunteer for. When we arrived on site, we were introduced to the project-CARROTS!

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Apparently we were lucky to get produce as our task for the morning, as fresh produce donations are rare for the food bank. Typically school groups measure out bags of dried goods (beans, rice etc.).

Food Bank 6The students worked for 1.5 hours creating 5 lb. bags of carrots that would later be placed in food boxes and distributed to families in need.

Since the beginning of the 2008 recession, food box distribution has increased 41 percent.

In an average month, 92,000 children in Oregon eat meals from emergency food boxes.

Of those receiving Emergency Food, 34% are Children.

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-Village School Students Working Hard!-

In 2012, 20% of households receiving food assistance had one or more veterans living in them. (Since 1996 this number has ranged from 15% to 21%.).

The percentage of individuals with education beyond high school or GED receiving food assistance has changed from 29% in 2000 to about 42% in 2012.

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Working alongside another school group, the students packaged:

6,333 pounds of carrots in the 1.5 hour shift.

A meal is considered slightly more than a pound of food. That means the students provided approximately 4,872 meals during their volunteer shift

(94 meals per volunteer)!

Way To Go 6th Graders! 

After the students completed their shift, we were given a quick tour of the facility- it’s an impressive place! The OFB addresses hunger in a multi-faceted manner:

  • The innovative Fresh Alliance program collects and distributes nutritious, perishable foods for people who are hungry.
  • Education Programs teach low-income participants to grow food from seed and to stretch food dollars while cooking healthy meals.
  • Work through FEAST (Food, Education, Agriculture Solutions Together) workshops and other partnerships help communities build stronger and more equitable local food systems.
  • The Advocacy Team works to find long-term, public-policy solutions that benefit people with low incomes.
  • Huge outdoor garden on site.
  • Commercial kitchen on site for nutrition and cooking classes.

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“Last year, Oregon Food Bank distributed 43.5-million pounds of food to hunger-relief agencies.”

Food Bank 4In 2012 at OFB’s two Portland area locations, volunteer hours were equal to 74 full time employees, valued at $2.4 million.  WOW!!!

Photo Left: I attempted to get a photo with my daughter, but she exclaimed, “No way mom, you’re going to put that on your blog!”  I guess the volunteer outfits weren’t flattering enough. 🙂

So, one of her friends posed for a photo with me. Thanks Jaslie!

All the above statistics were found on the Oregon Food Bank website. Click here for a PDF version of the 2012 stats, and to find additional information.

The OFB has plenty of opportunities to volunteer for groups and individuals. There are shift dates and times planned in advance for school groups – you simply sign up for the shift you want to volunteer for.

Columbia Slough Part IV – Environmental Education

My Volunteer Experience

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) works directly with several of my passions: outdoor place-based education, service learning projects and stewardship. I volunteered with their Slough School education program, which works with students in the surrounding schools.

volunteerStaff members visit classrooms and teach students  a wide range of topics, such as water quality and native plant species. Students also come to restoration sites to learn in the natural environment. The CSWC provides opportunities for service learning projects (planting native plants), and learning about the eco-systems through water chemistry tests, observing micro-invertebrates, and identifying species and habitats.

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I volunteered at a community site near Fairview (just off I-84) with a 5th grade class. The students planted native species to beautify the area and create a sound barrier next to a busy road. They also did water chemistry tests to explore Ph, oxygen, and temperature; learning how these things effect water quality.

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A couple of the students grew tired of the project quickly, but the vast majority were thrilled to be outside, getting their hands dirty, and helping their community.

One student said, “I wish I could do this every day!”

Since the class wasn’t able to plant all the plants on site that morning, many of the students were asking to return the following day to “finish the job.”  

Almost all of them wanted to stay longer, a testament to the power of placed-based education! 

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Many of the field trips take place at Whitaker Ponds, (also the CSWC office site). Students have planted hundreds of native species there this year. I volunteered at this site twice, assisting with plantings, water quality tests, and micro-invertebrate studies.

It’s so great to watch the children become scientists and stewards, enjoying their natural world.

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If you are a teacher interested in having your class volunteer with the CSWC and creating a plan of study with the Slough School, contact:

Sheilagh Diez, Slough School Education Director
Phone: (503) 281-1132
email: sheilagh.diez@columbiaslough.org

(Note: The program fills quickly. I recommend contacting her spring/summer before the school year begins.)

A big thank you to the staff and volunteers at CSWC for all they do with the community and fostering a sense of stewardship with our youth! It was fabulous getting to know your organization. 


Whitaker Slough
-Whitaker Slough and Canoe Launch-

Note: I encourage you to check out Whitaker Ponds. Located at 7040 NE 47 Ave, a ¼ mile north of Columbia Blvd., The area is a pubic park, with two ponds, a canoe launch into Whitaker Slough and a half mile loop trail. Although it’s a small pocket of nature in the middle of industrial Portland, it’s home to many species. On a recent birding event I attended there, we saw 35 species of birds in just two hours! (FYI- No dogs allowed)

Watch this great 5-minute documentary on Whitaker Ponds – really well done.

Map of Ponds

Suggested Reading Material on children and the outdoors: Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv- check it out here.

Want to Learn more about the CSWC and the Columbia Slough? Check out my other posts in this four-post series.

1. Columbia Slough – What is it?

2. Columbia Slough Part II – Natural Surroundings Education

3. Columbia Slough Part III – A Peak Behind the Scenes (The Interview)

 

Finding a Healing Routine

Life can be stressful. We are often expected to do far more than what our healthy limits should allow, and we put taking care of ourselves at the bottom of the “to-do” list.  I have great intentions to prepare a home-cooked meal every day, exercise daily, play with my daughter nightly, do yoga weekly and meditate every morning. However, in reality I’m lucky if one of these things get’s done each week, let alone daily!  I intuitively know all of these activities are good for me, but I simply don’t always make the time.

I know I’m not alone in this conundrum, so here are a few tips that I have learned to follow that help me maintain my sanity from week to week and encourage a healthy routine.

The “Outbreath”:

It sounds awful, but it’s true-I don’t always have time in my day to play or engage with my daughter.  We are only together briefly in the morning as we rush out the door to school, and some days I don’t pick her up until nearly 6 p.m. from child care which, barely leaves room for dinner, homework and bed.  However, we do have some time every night together right before bed, no matter how busy our day is.  I read to her for usually 20 minutes and then sing her 2-3 lullabies.  I have been doing this since she was a baby, and it is now a routine we both depend on.  Not only does it provide us with time together, but it also provides a necessary “out-breath” in our day-a moment to relax and forget the rush of everything else. (This is just as important for those of you without children. Find your own moment for an “out-breath” every day too!) We get to snuggle and enjoy a good story together every night no matter how hectic the day may have been.  She is nearly 10, and I wonder how long she will want to continue this routine, as I am sure she will reach an age when it won’t appeal to her any longer. For now, I cherish those precious few minutes at the end of each day.

(Author Update: My daughter just turned 12, and many things have changed in our lives since she is growing older, however, I still read to her every night. We have read many wonderful books together over the years.)

Home-Cooked Meals:

This is an area I wish I was much better at.  The nutritional benefits from cooking fresh food every day is invaluable, but it just isn’t always practical.  I simply don’t have the time every night to chop, sauté, boil, or shred anything.  I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that make me feel a little better:

  1. Cook Big Portions:  When I do have time to cook, I will plan for lots of leftovers. I commonly will make a big pot of soup so we can eat on it all week- it’s great for school lunches too! Stir-fries and casseroles are other great options that re-heat well.
  2. Recruit the Troops:  Kids usually love helping out, especially in the kitchen.  My daughter really enjoys picking out recipes and measuring things out.  She is also a great chopper.  Now that she is a little older, having her help in the kitchen really saves time! She has even made some basic meals all on her own-which she is very proud of!
  3. Crock-Pot Fun:  I recently have gotten into using my crock-pot.  It’s a great way to get kids to help in the cooking process- they love piling all the ingredients in and having it cook like “magic.” Having dinner ready for you when you get home is a nice treat.
  4. Prepared Food:  Okay, so we all have to buy already prepared foods at some point. Whether it’s in a can, box, tin or frozen- it just saves time. Some great “healthier” options in stores now feature natural/organic ingredients, free from artificial flavors and additives and low in sodium.  I always feel a little better when my “fast food” is at least organic!

Time in Nature:

Finally, one of the most rejuvenating activities we can gift ourselves each week is time in nature.  Whether it’s a nearby nature walk through the desert or forest, or the green space provided by a city park, it’s vitally important to our mental wellbeing to connect back to the natural world. I am lucky enough to live in a location where natural areas surround me, and I can tell the difference between my weeks when I take the time to enjoy the natural world and the weeks when I do not.  My stress and proneness to anxiety are lower, I am more focused and clear in my work, and I am less irritable- all sure wins!

What is part of your healing routine?

Halloween, Some Special Tricks

All of us with children know that the anticipation begins to build  six weeks prior to the “big night.”  What will I be?  What will we do?  Who will I be with?  The planning starts early for the children in my circle, for they want to ensure that Halloween night is a big celebration.  And of course the biggest prize….all that candy!  Halloween can be a difficult holiday to manuever for those of us that are concious about food choices, nutrition and knowing where our food comes from.  I admit I love my sweets too, and my daughter and I enjoy a “treat” every once in awhile, but I never purchase our treats at the conventional corner market.  We buy vegan organic cookies, or organic dark chocolat etc.  So, if I don’t allow my child to consume the traditional “junk” treats throughout the year, why is it okay on this one special night?  Well, because it really is just one special night.  But, there are some “tricks” that parents can use to soften the heartache that comes from watching your child consume all that refined sugar, artifical flavorings, and funky coloring. 

  • When my child was younger I could get away with her Halloween candy “disappearing” after a few days, and she would never ask about it.  Now that she’s nearing 10 that’s just not gonna fly.  However, for those of you with younger kids, it’s okay for the candy to slowly “go away.”
  •   A good friend of mine always allows her children to trick-or-treat, but instead of eating their candy, the children are allowed to barter with it.  This creative mama has her children “trade in” their Halloween candy for treats at the local natural foods store (trade with their mother, not the store).   The Children still get fun stuff, just treats that aren’t filled with all the nasties mentioned earlier. 
  • It’s a good idea to plan a gathering with friends for Halloween night, so it’s not ALL about the candy.  If there are other fun activities to enjoy for the night, the children might not be quite so obsessed with the candy consumption. 
  • Have children trick-or-treat with a small size bag.  This will eliminate the need to fill a bigger pumkin pail, and lessen the amount of total candy won.  When the bag is full, it’s time to head home!

Appreciating All Critters Through Example

“The way a child discovers the world constantly replicates the way science began.  You start to notice what’s around you, and you get very curious about how things work.  How things interrelate.  It’s as simple as seeing a bug that intrigues you.  You want to know where it goes at night; who its friends are; what it eats.” ~David Conenberg

My mantra the past several years has become: Teaching the youth good habits is far easier than asking them to break bad habits when they are older.

Indeed, children are our future stewards, and exposing them to the natural world is not only fun, but also our responsibility.  It’s far easier, and more exciting, to care and protect things that we know about and are meaningful to us!

It’s amazing how children are truly a product of their surroundings and upbringings.  For example, my mother is deathly allergic to bees, and has been absolutely terrified of them since the first time she was stung and rushed to the hospital.  This fear for her is somewhat understandable, as she has a life-threatening reaction to the venom.  However, I grew up watching this response in my mother and became terrified of bees as well, jumping and screaming whenever one came near me.  It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I started examining this unspoken communication, these signals my mother was sending me, and decided I would no longer fear bees. Instead, I remain calm when a bee is near, send it my loving energy and ask it kindly to move onto the next best thing.  In turn, my daughter  Hadlie has been watching my peaceful reaction to the bees, and responds exactly the same way.  She laughs at her friends, and even her grandmother, when they get panicky with the first site of a bee.  She tells them, “It won’t hurt you, just relax so you don’t scare it, or it might sting you!”  (She is so wise.)

My daughter’s affection for critters expands to numerous taxonomy, all winning her gentle touch.  At our last home, my daughter would run out to the car every morning before we left for the day,  to “rescue” all the snails that for some reason, would hang out near the wheels of my Subaru.  She didn’t want any of them to get squished, so she would gently place them in the garden, (where they had plenty to eat of course)! 

My father has enjoyed vermicomposting (worm composting) for years.  When we visit my family, Hadlie is right out there with grandpa feeding and sorting the worms and looking after them.  Whenever we go for hikes, camping trips, or even play in the backyard, my daughter seems to notice and find the most interesting bugs!  She will hold them, examine them, maybe build them a home out of moss and twigs.  She had an entire complex for those snails she loved so much, complete with yoga studio, grocery store, fine dining restaurant, and a special room for “mating.”  (I have taken a plethora of biology classes; she knows about reproduction).

We both don’t care for critters in our home, but we could never kill anything.  Instead, we “capture” the spiders (usually the culprit) and release them outside.  (Okay, so maybe spiders aren’t my “favorite animal,” but I would never let on!)

I’m so thankful that I have been able to instill in my daughter a love and appreciation for all the living things on this planet, and I am sure she will pass that same mindset of gentleness, caring and love to her own children one day.  After all, life is about attitude, and choice.