800,000 Voices for Clean Air

Three years ago, I remember having a “light bulb moment.”  I was sitting in my environmental law class, the first class in my environmental education program (my second MS).  I was taking notes in black pen on my repurposed notebook, learning about how a bill becomes a law and listening to my professor talk about the comment period.

I remember thinking that I had never learned this before.  I’m sure at some point in my education I was supposed to learn it, but to be honest I was much more interested in things like studying the cartilaginous skeleton of sharks, adding insect species to my entomology collection, tracing the evolution of placental viviparity, and the genetics of Przewalski’s horse.  I kid you not, those were my passions and college.  I didn’t see how US law was connected to the natural world.  But then suddenly, years later, I got it.

I could do all I want on my own to protect everything I love about the natural world.  I could stop dying my hair, make my own cleaners and read every environmental book since Silent Spring, but that wasn’t enough.  If I wanted to affect real change on a large-scale, I had to get politically active and advocate for legally protecting the environment.  I had to speak up and make sure others were listening.

Now, I am so proud to play a role in the environmental movement at the political level.  I’m thrilled to be one of over 800,000 people who made their voices heard and contacted the EPA about the new Mercury and Air Toxics Rule.  I hope that my writing for the Moms Clean Air Force encouraged even a small fraction of those 800,000 people to speak up for the health of our atmosphere and the air that our children breathe.  Thank you to everyone who contacted the EPA, and congratulations on taking a stand on protecting our environment. 

The EPA is going to consider all the comments and release the final Mercury and Air Toxics Rule by November 16.  This doesn’t, however, mean that our work is done.  It’s only the beginning of the road to clean air.

I was thinking about that class in environmental law today, and how I should email my professor to thank her for starting me down this path.  As a teacher myself, I know how much she’ll appreciate hearing from me.

Please join the Moms Clean Air Force to help us fight for clean air for our kids. Thank you!

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Pick Your Own

Don’t those look like delicious raspberries?

Too bad they’re not actually raspberries… they’re unripe blackberries.  Joshua likes to pick and squish raspberries, so when he grabbed a berry from the blackberry bush I thought that was what he was going to do.  Instead, he decided that after days of squishing berries he was ready to eat one.  He’ll probably never eat one again!

Later that day, while visiting my family’s farm, we went for a wagon ride and picked some sweet corn and peaches.  I hoped a sweet, juicy peach would make up for the unripe blackberry incident.

To my surprise, Joshua ate half of that very big peach, skin and all! He loved it!

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Filed under Adventures, Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Outside, parenting, Photo Essay

My Big Boy

Joshua is turning 17 months old this week.  I still can’t really believe how big he’s gotten! He wears a size 3 to 4 T, and weighs in at over 30 lbs.  Time really does move more quickly when you’re a parent.

Joshua’s vocabulary has expanded, and I want to list out all of his words to have on record.  (In semi-order of appearance)

  • Mama
  • Dada
  • tractor
  • duck
  • dog
  • hi
  • bye
  • what’s that? (wassat?)
  • moo
  • uh-oh (or uh-whoa)
  • whoa
  • horsie
  • wow
  • baa
  • bock bock bock
  • meow
  • truck
  • yeah
  • NOOO!
  • eat
  • out
  • up

Joshua also knows that he can grab people’s hands and lead them where he wants to go.  I can tell he wants to communicate with us more, and it must be so frustrating to not have the words to do so.  He gets upset when we don’t understand, or also when we don’t do exactly what he wants.  I can see the “terrible” twos coming on, but for the most part I’m doing my best to understand why he acts the way he does, out of being tired, hot, overwhelmed, etc.  I’m also trying to treat him with respect, understanding and compassion, especially when he’s having a hard time.  It’s not always easy!

Joshua loves books, especially The Big Red Barn, Moo, Baa, La La La, anything with tractors or farm animals, and Goodnight Moon.  He loves to watch “Thomas the Train” on TV and we try to play outside every day, especially with rocks, dirt and sand.  Joshua is a fearless climber and keeps me on my toes.  He loves to be chased, climb the stairs, and play peek-a-boo.

Joshua is such a fun-loving boy.  We’ve had lots of good times this summer playing at the beach, in the pool, on the farm, at Ed’s parents’ house, in our play room, and outside in the driveway.  I am thoroughly enjoying staying home for the summer, and I’m completely exhausted at the end of the day.  I crash into bed knowing that Joshua will have me up early the next morning, since he has never wasted time by sleeping in.  His days are full of fun and excitement.

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Scalloped Potatoes and Leeks

As far as I’m concerned, the best part of eating ham for dinner is having scalloped potatoes alongside it on your plate.  We have a freezer full of ham steaks that need to be used up before December, when our next round of pigs will be all grown up.  Have I shown you piglet pictures yet? I can’t remember, so here you go!

Anyway, I had a big bunch of local leeks in my fridge, so I decided to add them into my normal recipe and it was delicious! I don’t measure when I make this recipe, since it’s all about the layering, so these measurements are just estimates.  Seriously, you want to make this recipe!

Scalloped Potatoes and Leeks

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • half stick of butter
  • 3-4 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced OR 8-10 small red potatoes, washed and thinly slided (no need to peel them!)
  • 2 large leeks, well washed, halved and sliced
  • 4-6 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar this time, but any cheese you like will do)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I like LOTS of black pepper, and add a little bit to each layer)
  • 2 cups whole milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Cut the garlic clove in half, then rub the cut side on the inside of the a 9 x 9 pan to flavor it, then use 1 tsp of butter to grease it.  Begin with a layer of potatoes by placing them in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and about a Tbsp of flour, then dot with about 1 Tbsp of butter.  Add another layer of potatoes, more salt, pepper, flour, and butter.  Next layer in about half of the leeks.  Add another layer of potatoes, salt, pepper, flour, and about half the cheese.  Add another layer of potatoes, salt, pepper, flour, and butter.  Add the remaining leeks, then another two layers of potatoes, salt, pepper, flour, and butter.  Pour in the milk until the potatoes are mostly submerged, then press the layers down with your hands.  Top with the remaining cheese, some more pepper, and maybe even some more butter.  Bake for an hour until bubbly and the cheese is nicely browned, then let sit for about 15 minutes to cool and thicken before serving.  I’ve found that if I double the recipe I need to bake for up to an additional half hour to make sure the potatoes aren’t crunchy.

Ham? What ham? Pass the scalloped potatoes and leeks, please!

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Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Recipes, What's for Supper?

World Breastfeeding Week

It’s World Breastfeeding Week! When a friend asked me if I was going to be blogging about it, I said probably not. I’m kind of all blogged out when it comes to breastfeeding, having written for a year now at the Breastfeeding Diaries.  My monthly check-in column “Yes, We’re Still Nursing!” is just about the perfect amount of writing.  Breastfeeding is part of our normal life now, as normal as me snacking on berries, eating fresh-caught fish, or having a big glass of water by my side at all times.  It’s how we live, it just IS.

That’s not to say that I don’t think about it or talk about it.  I’ve been happy to help out some of my loved ones who are new mommies with questions about nursing and expressing.  I laugh about it, like when the UPS man encountered my nursing bra-turned-swimsuit drying on the front porch.  I’m also really proud of the fact that I have nursed Joshua every single day for the last 16 1/2 months.  That’s just amazing to me.  I wish I had that kind of endurance in other areas of my life (dieting, exercise, laundry…).  I’m very happy with how our nursing relationship is right now. I nurse Josh when we’re together and don’t worry about it when we’re apart. There’s no pumping, bottles, measuring, washing dishes, or any of the stuff that stressed me out about being a nursing, working mom.  He nurses way less now than when he was a newborn, but I’d say he probably nurses about 10 times a day, just usually for shorter periods of time.  But to me it’s no big deal. It’s just what we do. 

I’ve thought about night weaning, but I don’t think Joshua’s ready for that yet.  I do believe that he’ll wean when he’s ready, but I see no reason to push it at this point.  I joke that I have no idea how I’d ever get him to sleep without nursing, as he nurses to sleep every time he’s with me, with the exception of falling asleep in the car a few times.  Though he falls asleep fine when we’re apart. 

Over the past 16 1/2 months, I’ve lived and breathed breastfeeding.  While eating, in my sleep, in public, in private, without a cover (but sometimes with), in the bath, in the pool, at the beach, at a parade, at a tractor pull, at picnics, in a parked car, in the shade, in the sun, on the couch, lying down, walking around, sitting on the floor. Whenever, wherever.

So what’s the plan? There is no plan. I have no plans to wean him at X age, just as I have no plans to keep going until X age.  If I had to make a prediction, I’d guess that his nusing duration would be measured in years, but we’ll see.  We just go with the flow.

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Contact Your Reps Now!

By Dominique Browning of the Moms Clean Air Force

MomsCleanAirForce

I don’t want to nag, though we all know moms are great at that. But I’m going to remind everyone that as of Monday, August 1, we have only FOUR MORE DAYS to write to the EPA  in support of their NEW Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. This regulation will cut down the poisonous emissions from coal-fired electric plants. Fetuses, infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxic coal pollution.

Pro-polluters have been working overtime to cut funding for the EPA and block anti-pollution regulations. They’re spending millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions–to protect their right to pollute!

Motherhood is powerful too.  We have to make our voices heard.

Someday your children will thank you. Right now, you have to fight for them. My A Number One Reason will always be the same: my two beloved sons, for whom I will always fight like a mama bear, Alex and Theo. I’ll bet you feel the same way about yours.

Here is a GREAT REASON to write to the EPA now.

1.  YOUR VOICE MATTERS. No politician wants to make a mom mad. The EPA needs to hear that you want it to protect your right to clean air. Sometimes being a great mom means being an active citizen.

2.  WE’VE MADE IT EASY–AND YOU CAN FIND THE TIME. It is faster to write to the EPA than it is to change a diaper. Sometimes being a great mom means being an active citizen. Make your voice heard!

3.   POLLUTION CONTROL MEANS MORE JOBS. Green jobs are rising dramatically. Retrofitting coal stacks with scrubbers means more jobs for people in the industry–and a stronger industry overall.

4.   HOW DARE THEY HARM OUR BABIES! Fetuses, infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxic pollution. Childhood cancers are on the rise. So are asthma attacks.  Pregnant women are warned against eating tuna fish because it is full of mercury. And polluters keep on fighting for their right to pollute.

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365 Celebration

Last Saturday my family’s farm celebrated our 365th anniversary.  It was a hot one, but we all had a great time.  I’m pretty sure it was the best day of Joshua’s life; all those tractors made it a little boy’s dream come true. 

History Lesson

A few years ago, I picked up a copy of my family’s genealogy book Descendents of Robert Rose of Wethersfield and Branford, Connecticut, Who Came on the Ship “Francis” from Ipswich, England in 1634 by Christine Rose (scroll down on the first link to find the book title).  We knew that the Rose family had been on our farm since the 1600’s, but we didn’t know exactly what year they first got there.  According to the book, records indicate that Robert Rose came from England in 1634, settled in Wethersfield, CT and then moved to our part of the state around 1644, which was then called Branford, Eastern New Haven, Totoket, or North Farms, depending on which records you’re looking at.  The first record of him owning land in Branford was in 1646.  We chose to use the date 1646 as the anniversary of our farm, but the Rose family could have been here as early as 1644.  But 1646 is from official town records, so we went with that.  Since then, Roses have moved all over the country, but my branch of the family stayed on this farm.  Check out this recent article by Susan Misur in the New Haven Register or the History of North Branford by Janet Gregan for more history of our farm.

(As a side note, it’s a ton of fun for me to read these family histories.  I looked through the first book quite a bit when trying to think of a name for Joshua, as I just love old-fashioned names.  There was a Joshua Rose who owned a saw mill near where our home is!)

365th Anniversary Celebration

On Saturday, July 23, we had our celebration.  The main even was an antique tractor pull, run by CT Bragging Rights, a pulling group that my brother has participated in for the past couple of years.  The boys in my family set up for the pull by putting in a “pulling pit” and setting up bleachers and a tent for shade.  Pullers, family members and members of our town’s Agricultural Commission helped out at the pull throughout the day.

There were also free hayrides around the scenic 60 acres of the farm.  Country 92.5 and DJ “Cadillac” John Saville were there playing country music, and they played just about every song with the word “tractor” in it!  There was food, ice cream, and plenty of drinks, in addition to our animals to visit and play bull-roping.  The whole family, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and lots of friends were there to help out and celebrate, and it was a great day! Check out a video of the day’s events by Noah Golden at North Branford Patch.

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