New blog

Big news for those of you who are so loyal that you still check this dusty page…

I’m starting a new blog.

I know, I know – what’s wrong with this one? Nothing, really, except the theme. I have switched gears completely since beginning this blog last August, and I have a new idea.

I am writing again – not one, not two, but 3 projects at once.

And when I have big ideas, I make big plans.

And those plans did not fit on this blog page. So I started over.

If you’re interested in what I’m writing, check it out:

http://betweensouls.wordpress.com

I hope you like it.  See you there -

Just Perfict

school bus

I learned something very important this summer. Taking a vacation the week before school starts means that it will take at least two weeks to get back on track in general and three to get to the really organized state you need when you have new teachers and classes to manage. I have already blocked off the “ideal” vacation week for 2010 so I don’t forget and accidentally put myself through this again next year. So now that I’m to a point of relative productivity, I can attend to my neglected blog.

I have a great new website to share.  It’s called www.beckyandhollee.com and it’s perfect for me (ha – you’ll get the joke when you go to the site).  Created by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple, it is a dose of sanity in my day.  Together they are co-authoring Good Enough is the New Perfect: Why Modern Moms Are Aiming Lower — Yet Reaching New Heights, a nonfiction book about how the working moms of our generation are redefining success and taking control (yes, I copied and pasted most of that sentence from their website).  Even the title of their book gets my attention – I like the freedom from guilt that it promises, but that nagging voice in my head still screams “It has to be perfect!” I’m one of those moms they mention with a “mommy war” going on inside, so I can relate to just about every word they write.

Recently, Hollee and Becky asked readers to submit their funniest back-to-school stories to their blog.  I had one from DD’s first day of first grade, so I sent it in, and now it’s posted there for all to see.  Thanks, Hollee and Becky! I must admit, I almost choked on my Coke Zero when I read the last story on the post from Erika about her first day teaching Kindergarten. Sometimes it’s the quiet ones that you have to watch out for…

I just realized I have another funny school story.  My DS and DD had the same homework assignment over the summer.  They had to create their own currency that reflected their personalities and family history.  DD decided a square with words printed from the label maker was the way to go.  I couldn’t have agreed more that these choices reflect who she is. DS, on the other hand, grabbed whatever paper he could find, a thick Sharpie pen, and proceeded to draw and write all over the page, cutting odd angles and sharp shapes, and proclaimed he was done.  As I tried to read the thick and bleeding permanent marker words, I saw one that made me laugh out loud.  He had to pick one word to describe himself, so he picked “perfect” (not a shy one, my DS).  But he spelled it PERFICT.  And that’s just what I thought – this is the perfect way to describe him.  Once I pointed out his mistake, rather than getting a new paper and starting over as my DD would have done, he grabbed the Sharpie, crossed out the “i” and added a blurry “e.”  I gave him a hug and told him to put it in his backpack.  Good enough for me…

Now to prepare for my day. I know it may seem like I’m on my real vacation now that I have from 8AM to 3PM all to myself, but I do have productive plans that do not include sitting on the couch, playing American Idol on the Wii and eating bon-bons.  But one song wouldn’t hurt, would it?

Eating on the beach

DSC03609_2I am amazed how much sand children manage to eat at the beach. I completely understand that young children end up eating sand accidentally or, as in the case of one of my nieces, on purpose by the handful. But kids who are older, such as DD and DS, still manage to grind their teeth with each gritty bite. It makes me cringe, but they don’t seem to care at first. Then there is the inevitable handoff – “Mommy, you can eat this. It has too much sand in it for me.” Then I have to figure out what to do with a soggy, sandy half-eaten sandwich. Well, two, actually. Ah, the joys of the beach…

More Info – Less Garbage

I received a few emails after my Garbage Patch post yesterday, and I wanted to share a couple of tips for going green.

There are a number of great websites that encourage less waste and more responsible living. One that I checked out today is earth911.com. Along with recommendations for reducing your footprint and recycling what you can, they have links to the latest green news and will show information for your state in particular after you enter your zip code.

I especially liked the feature “8 Ways to Green Back to School.” (I must admit, I did not know that “green” had become a verb, but I think I like it.) The first recommendation may be the best for me – DON’T OVERBUY.  I tend to get all new things for the kids each year, but it’s truly not necessary. For instance, they have gotten new backpacks each fall so far.  I know that the bags they used last year are just fine – no holes, easy to carry, still their favorite colors. So I decided to go against tradition and not buy new ones. It may not seem like much, but it is a small step in the right direction for our family.

#6 hit home as well. It is about lunch time and the amount of trash that comes from all of the small disposable packaging. The article states that we could save 67 pounds of trash per child per year by eliminating daily waste paper and plastic. We purchased Bento Boxes for the kids a few years ago from LaptopLunches.com. These Japanese-style lunch boxes are dishwasher safe and cut down on the lunchtime waste by providing small containers for items, and as a wonderful bonus, each one comes with a recipe book for creative lunches kids will eat. I usually cut a sandwich into quarters, then add some cut fruit, veggies with dip (the tiny container is perfect for some Ranch dressing), pretzels or crackers and water in the bottle to drink. There are many purchasing options, including the insulated carrying case that has a handle and a strap. The colors appeal to kids, as do the puzzle-like arrangements necessary for making the pieces fit back together when lunch is over. By including a reusable cloth napkin and the fork and spoon that come with the set, my children can have a completely waste-free lunch. The company also encourages school fundraisers as part of Going Green initiatives – send the link to your PTA President and see if this would be a good fit for your school.

To be honest, I had a hard time getting the kids to use their lunch boxes last year. They were so enamored with the lunch line and the power of choice, I let them pick and choose their own lunches almost every day. But I know they did not make the healthiest choices based on the surprise visits I made. And I know that it was easier for me to let them go to school with money than to get up a little earlier to pack their food. But I am determined to make the extra effort this year. So along with reducing our family lunchtime waste, I hope that they will get the added benefit of eating better than last year and feel that they are doing their part for the environment.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Sunrise on New Horizon

On Saturday, I had a few spare minutes and decided to read some of the latest news from around the world. A story that caught my eye was about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a large floating pile of garbage that is the target of two research teams who set sail from California in early August. The pile contains particles of plastic, rubber and aluminum, along with discarded fishing nets and all types of land-based debris. This patch is estimated to be the size of Texas. Or twice that size. The scientists aren’t sure how big it is.

I was confused by the lack of a true size estimate. If I can pinpoint my driveway or backyard garden on Google Earth, how hard is it to point a satellite at the Pacific and measure a pile of garbage?

“It’s not like this is an island. It’s not something you can walk on,” said Holly Bamford, director of the Marine Debris Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Sometimes you can cruise along for 10 nautical miles and not see anything and then, bam, you come to a hot spot” of visible trash.

Two teams of researchers are heading to the garbage pile, also known as the North Pacific Gyre, this month to investigate what types of trash are in the ocean and how it is impacting the living neighbors.

For example, scientists are interested in finding out whether zooplankton — microscopic organisms that are a food source for bigger animals — eat the plastics, and whether it is digestible or poisonous for them, [Robert] Knox [deputy director of research for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego] said.

As of this morning, the Scripps SEAPLEX team is doing 24-hour sampling of the debris they have found, and the Project Kaisei team, who left two days later, are hoping to determine how we can retrieve the debris and possibly recycle it into diesel fuel. Both teams are posting latest developments on their websites, along with using Twitter and Facebook, to provide up-to-the-minute methods of sharing what they learn.

Close up of fish larvae were found growing on the large piece of plastic with the crabs.

Close up of fish larvae were found growing on the large piece of plastic with the crabs.

Photos from the two research groups shed light on the type of problem we have in the North Pacific Gyre. Unfortunately, this is just one of five “Plastic vortexes” that are known on Earth. In addition to the North Pacific, there are two in the Atlantic, one in the South Pacific and one in the Indian Ocean.

As depressing as it is to think of that much garbage floating in our oceans, there are things we can do to stop the spread of trash. But because the trash is from multiple countries, it is a true international problem. What can I do in my life to make a difference? Robert Knox gave his recommendation:

“The easiest thing to do to push back against this problem is for people to dispose of plastic properly,” said the Scripps Institution’s Knox. “Just don’t chuck it out by the roadside, because it’s going to go downhill and into the ocean.”

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A message from The Beyond

Molly Ringwald, John Hughes, Michael Schoeffling

Molly Ringwald, John Hughes, Michael Schoeffling

Since my John Hughes post on Friday, I’ve been thinking about those movies I love from the ’80s. I must admit, I have scoured You Tube for clips from the best scenes, and I even watched the clip I posted from Some Kind of Wonderful more times than I care to count.

Fast forward to tonight, which has turned into a cordless headphone night. DH played golf this morning, then had our DS and DD hanging on him in the pool for two hours this afternoon. To say he is sound asleep at 11PM is an understatement. So I just flipped through the channels, and none other than one of my ultimate can’t-see-it-enough movies is on:  Sixteen Candles. And on top of that, I tuned in to the EXACT scene where Sam (Molly Ringwald) is filling out the survey in study hall and writes the name JAKE RYAN (Michael Schoeffling) and then drops it trying to pass it to her friend, but Jake picks it up and reads it and realizes she really likes him but he doesn’t know what to do because he has a hot girlfriend and she’s only a sophomore but he thinks “it’s kinda cool the way she’s always looking at me.”

So classic. So ’80s. So I think John Hughes is trying to tell me he likes my blog.

Oh, the school dance scene just started. You know, the one that Sam told her grandparents she had to go to because she was getting graded on it? I have to go…

Miss Amanda Jones

John HughesSad news appeared on my laptop this morning. John Hughes, the man who gave us The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink and so many more classics, died.  I haven’t heard much about him lately, but when I think of those must-see films from my high school years, they were films he wrote. And we can’t forget the Home Alone series.  My DS does a remarkable impression of Macaulay Culkin’s famous aftershave scream from the first film (doesn’t every eight-year-old?).

As a young writer, I dreamed of how I would have my big break.  I would write THE NOVEL that would put me on Oprah and the Today Show.  Then I would be asked to star in the movie adaptation.  The Academy would notice…  Ah, memories.

Anyway, I had another dream.  One of my roommates from college actually encouraged me with this one.  I was going to write the sequel to Sixteen Candles and it was going to be awesome!  Crazy, I know.  I wanted it to show what those characters we loved, the ones we wanted to be, did with their lives.  Did Sam (Molly Ringwald) marry Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), or did she dump him for Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall)?  Did Geek Girl #1 (Joan Cusack) ever get that neck brace off so she could drink water from a fountain without getting wet?  And what about poor Long Duk Dong?  (I would have loved to have been in the room when they told Gedde Watanabe his character’s name…)

But rather than lamenting the sequel that will never happen, I would like to share one of my all-time favorite scenes from a John Hughes movie.  Oh, how I wanted hair like Lea Thompson!  And you have to love her best line at the end of the movie:

Remember how I said I’d rather be with someone for the wrong reasons than be alone for the right ones. I’d rather be right. It’s gonna feel good to stand on my own.

The girl never gave up the guy before. It was always a contest that she had to win. She never realized that she could be alone and still be OK. A generation of girls followed Amanda’s lead and felt good about it. Thanks, Mr. Hughes.

John Hughes, Director of 80’s Teen Classics, Dies

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