Thursday, October 1, 2009

In Which I Narrowly Avoid a Rant

OK, I nearly lost it today after reading yet another article about a school district's ban on walking and riding bikes to school. I was going to post about the idiocy of communities building car-accessible-only schools AFTER it's become apparent the oil age is not going to last forever, but I would bore you guys to tears and I don't want to do that on a Thursday. So...instead, I'm going to take a cue from my friend Lisa, who's been a fountain of positivity these past few days, and write about the very easy things you can do to promote physical well-being and earth-loving in your young-uns.

(Caveat--I am not a perfect model of environmental know-how. I don't have solar panels on my house; I bought these cute flats from Nordstrom instead of using the money for that rain barrel I've been meaning to order; I sometimes forget my resusable grocery bags in my trunk, and my garden was all kinds of pathetic this year. So please don't think I'm lording my enviro-goddess status over you--I just picked up some great tips over time and want to share...)

Here goes:

1. Stop treating bicycles like toys and make them the go-to mode of transportation for short trips. If my son asks to go to the library (1 mile away), I say, "Go get your bike." The park? "Go get your bike." The local pizza joint? "Go get your bike." Your kids will start seeing their bicycles as viable forms of transportation, for both kids AND adults. Get a little sidecar if your kids are too young for riding--it's never too early to instill this. Works for walking, too.

2. Stop making separate meals for the kids--the family dinner should be enjoyed by the whole family. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone says, "I can't believe your kids eat X (squash, broccoli, salmon, liver, etc.). Susie/Justin/Harriet will only eat chicken nuggets and cheese pizza." The hub and I made a decision long ago to always serve the kids what we're having. If they don't eat it, well, then they're going to be a little hungry. Believe me, a child who misses dinner will not waste away to nothing overnight. Allowances must be taken for something your child truly doesn't like, but honestly, kids who are expected to eat what they are served like pretty much everything. I have a wealth of anecdotal evidence for this!

3. Make "because it's good for your body" or "because it's good for the earth" a reasonable answer for the incessant "whys?" of toddlerhood. It's amazing how quickly kids accept this answer.

4. Grow something. Anything. Let your kids see the process of how food makes it to the dinner plate.

5. Make friends with nature/don't turn dirt into the enemy. True story: I was at a party held in someone's backyard. One woman would not put her baby down for a minute, because--get this--"grass is so dirty." And she had just fed said child little bits of cut up hot dog. I poured myself a big old glass of wine after that one...

6. Suck up to a farmer. We get a good amount of our produce from a farmer's collective. This is not as expensive as it sounds; if I get my butt in gear and plan what my family is going to eat for the week, it costs less than if I bought everything at the grocery store. And it's yet another opportunity to get the kids a little closer to the food chain.

So maybe I ranted a little. But climbing up on a soapbox every once in a while is one of the joys of blogging!

Happy Thursday!


  1. Love it. I need to take some (all) of this advice.

  2. This is awesome advice! I really appreciate this :D.

  3. Thanks, girls! I don't want to be an Greenie-Weenie, but these are really easy to implement, and you will reap the rewards!

  4. OK, I'm not very green (at all), but these are relatively easy things and some of them I'm already doing! You rock, Ms. Green Queen.

    Umm...and you have another friend named Lisa, right? Because if you think that I've been a fountain of positivity this week I think you might need to reevaluate your definition of positivity.

  5. L--In the words of Lennon & McCartney, "Baby, it's you!"

    You ARE a very glass half full kind of person this week. At least, compared to me...

  6. YAY! I could write WAY too much here. So I won't, but let me tell you, in our little itty bitty urban plot of earth we have raspberries and asparagus, peaches, oregano, rosemary, lavender, bee balm, currents, lemon balm, chicory, and thyme. Those are the perennials!

    in the spring we plant: tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, sunflowers, basil, summer savory, parsley, sage, cucumbers, radishes, beets, peas, pole beans, and nasturtium.

    I LOVE that I can tell my seven year old, go outside and get me some basil and some flowers for the salad and she comes back, happy and feeling full of pride. There is nothing like it. Great RANT!!!!!!!

  7. I think walking to school should be a part of every kid's growing up experience. Unfortunately, without sidewalks, my boys have yet to do it.

  8. Came back to add that I LOVE those shoes.

    And since I'm apparently the bastion of positivity this week (did I use the word bastion right? I'm not sure, but I'm too excited about using it to delete it), Laura and I came up with another reason why we're glad our book didn't sell in an overnight pre-empt. We probably never would have met you! I mean, sure you may have still e-mailed us, but you might not have morphed into our beta reading ninja and the thought of that makes me very sad. At the risk of sounding like a crazy (albeit very POSITIVE) stalker, we sort of love you.

    Suzanne - Can I come visit your garden?? It sounds amazing.

  9. Susanne! I wish I could come over to your house! Our garden really suffered in the strangely cold weather we had this year in the Midwest.

    How long did it take to get a good asparagus crop? 3 years? 4? I'm thinking about it.

    What do you do with your chicory? Make a coffee with it?

    And, I love that your 7 yr old knows which is the basil plant! You'd be surprised how many adults are clueless!

  10. Oh! And the socializing out kids with an "it's good for the planet" and "it's good for your body." Fantastic. I always say... "What?" because I'm preoccupied and typing. NOW I have built in healthy answers! You rock. Seriously.

    L&L: Ummmmmm... you're visiting it right now.

  11. L & L--

    Oooh, aren't those shoes fab? And I had to get them in purple.

    Perfect use of "bastion"--I'm impressed. Not exactly a word one hears in everyday conversation.

    And, at the risk of sounding sappy, I definitely feel like I'm the lucky one in this relationship. Thanks for writing back to me!

  12. Wow, I'm taking over your comments. SORRY! Just *sigh* great post.

    We planted two crops (they are biannual) and it took three years to get a good harvest from one and four from the others. The up side is that the first few years you just watch these amazing asparagus come up and you have to force yourself not to pick them, but then they fern out into the most glorious, hearty plants! Our cat hides in them. Beautiful.

    Chicory: We use the leaves in salad at the beginning of the summer and then we just enjoy the blue flowers all season long. I know we could take up the roots and grind them to use in coffee, but I hear it is REALLY bitter. The leaves are bitter too, but good bitter, ya know. Okay. I'm done. WAY too long. Sorry again!

  13. Caroline--amazing that some very nice communities were planned with no thought to pedestrians, isn't it?

  14. Oh, god, Suzanne, please hijack this post! Please! You do know I'm going to be coming to you for advice in future, don't you?

    Some people add chicory to coffee--it's supposed to enrich the taste. Just wondered if you ever tried it. And I'm totally going to start my asparagus next year. Right now I'm getting ready to plant garlic.