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I’m a bit late on this, but as they say, better late than never!

It’s Children’s Book Week this week, and from what I’ve read, school libraries, bookstores and others are celebrating with various reading-related events. It looks like there are various happenings in NYC for Children’s Book Week, so hopefully, there are some celebrations going on at your local libraries and book stores.
I know I’ve mentioned my obsession for books before, but I truly do believe books are the gateway to creativity. I love how our nephews and nieces love reading too. Michael and I like to compare notes on our shared love for reading. He told me awhile ago how he sometimes likes to “sneak” past his bedtime just to finish a book. Sounds like something I did just the other week! My sister in law left my a voicemail a few weeks ago to tell us that when she was going through Brandon’s book bag, she found the book we got both boys for Christmas. (Since the boys are the same age, we like to get one of the same gifts so they can interact together as cousins. And with this book, we told both nephews that since Jack is their baby cousin, it was their job to “teach him how to be a boy.”) Anyway, my sister in law was so tickled that Brandon carried this book around every where and had notes all throughout the book. In the day and age where kids seem isolated, thanks to the internet and video games, Jeff and I were pretty touched that a book could warrant a special part in our newphew’s busy life.

reading timeGetting lost in a book makes me forget about all the stressors in life, even if it’s 20 minutes at a time. With Jack at such a fun age, I love introducing new books every chance I get. I can’t even begin to describe how big my heart gets when a squirmy Jack will sit on my lap, lunge for a book and settle down with me, the minute I start to read. Honestly, I could be reading the Macy’s sale paper–it makes no difference–he seems to appreciate the idea of reading. And it turns out, according to Jack, his boardbooks make for for great teethers.

With tons and tons of books out there and in honor of Children’s Book Week, I thought I’d list a few of our favorite baby books.

Boynton Books
The Going to Bed Book- This is our nightly ritual. Even when Jack’s in mid-meltdown on the way to sleep, the minute I open this book, he calms down and lays next to me as I read it to him. I almost fall asleep after I say, “and they rock and rock and rock to sleep.”
ABCs-Boynton’s ABC book is such a hit! I really want to believe that Jack likes interesting-sounding and very articulated words. Perhaps, it’s because he loves to watch lips and grab them. Who knows? But, Vicunas Violining is always a line that makes us giggle. Vicuna? C’mon, if an ABC book leads me to googling about an animal I don’ t know about, it’s a keeper!

I Love You Stinkyface

The title says it all! The illustrations and the outlandish theme and importance of unconditional love in this book make so much sense to us!

Who are you Baby Kangaroo?
I bought this at an Earth Day festival, so this is a new book to our library. I love how this doggie goes around the world to find more about a Baby Kangaroo.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See?
This is yet another classic well known for the illustration and simple dialog. The vibrant colors of Carle’s art is just as fascinating for me as it is for the boy!

And finally, for future purposes for me and for those of you who have big kids, I read on Parent Hacks via Jen Robinson’s book page, a good way to encourage life long love for reading is to let your kids choose Let Young Readers Choose their Own Books.

So, what books do you guys love?

Happy Earth Day, everyone!
Though our family has made some progress since going green, we still have leaps and bounds to go. Nevertheless, every step–big or small– makes a difference.

Earth Day, to me, surpasses green tv shows being advertised on the sides of city buses. It goes beyond the trendiness of being green for a day. It’s not about buying something just because it says it’s organic or because it says that it’s natural. earth day love

Being eco-conscious is about knowing what all of that means, and how it will effect future generations. A greener lifestyle isn’t just about bringing the canvas bags to the store or buying swirly lightbulbs. It’s about knowing the significance of renewable energy and conserving natural resources.

Many of us enjoy our daily conveniences, but it goes without saying that the toss-away, disposable mindset our society embraces has detrimental effects. Instead of buying big giant plastic toys, disposable consumer goods, toss-away conveniences, think sustainable, reusable and renewable. Being green is often viewed as a costly lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be. In the grand scheme of things, being green shouldn’t be dictated by the almighty dollar.  The more mainstream all of this becomes, it becomes more attainable and more accessible.

Being green, to me, is about making indelible decisions that will impact, and hopefully, influence my child, my husband and our family.

Jack loves greenBeing green transcends the marketing campaigns and self-absorption of years past. As I’ve said before, many of my friends have observed greener lifestyles for some time now.
Best said by Five for Fighting, “We’re all we’ve got on this bouncing ball!”

Al Gore I’m not, but based on your emails, my little corner of the internet seems to be impacting a few. It’s a start. If not for our generation, make smarter, more environmentally-conscious choices for future generations.

Jack thanks you. (with open-mouthed drooly kisses, of course.)

More to come and a few giveaways too.

0407lilly500×300.jpgBeyond the stupid cheese and debra barone post, one of the most popular posts on here is the Easter Lily post. And since it’s the first day of Spring, I thought I’d list some mindless, but fun facts on Easter Lilies for those that find their way here. They must be true because I found them on the web 😉

First and foremost, people: Lily, the flower, has only one L.

L-i-l-y

Outside of work, I’m not usually the grammar or spelling police, but I had to get it out.

Ok, now that I’ve got that off my chest, here we go:

  • Since the beginning of time, lilies have played significant roles in allegorical tales concerning the sacrament of motherhood. Ancient fables tell us the lily sprang from the milk of Hera, the mythological Queen of Heaven. Roman mythology links the lily to Juno, queen of the gods. Legend has it that while Juno was nursing her son, Hercules, her excess milk fell from the sky. Some of this milk remained above the earth to form the stars; the rest fell to earth and turned into lilies. In early Christian art, the lily was a symbol of purity because of its delicacy of form and its snow white color. Biblical legend tells us that the lily flower came from Eve’s tears when she and Adam were banished from the Garden of Eden.
  • The Easter Lily originated in Japan. 95% of all Easter Lily bulbs for the potted Easter Lily market are grown on 10 farms along the California/Oregon border.
  • Lilies are often called the “White-Robed Apostles of Hope”. Lilies were discovered in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ died on the cross. During the Easter season, churches line their altars and envelop their crosses with a multitude of Easter Lilies, to signify the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life.
  • The Easter Lily (Lilium longiforum) is native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan, as well as the islands of Okinawa, Amani, and Erabu. Although Easter lilies came to England in 1819, commercial bulb production initially started in Bermuda in 1853. The Bermuda lily industry was devastated in 1898 by a virus infestation. Around the turn of the century, the Japanese took over the annual growing and exportation of Easter Lilies to the United States, and continued to dominate the U. S. export market until the start of World War II.
  • Current U. S. production began with a World War I soldier, Louis Houghton, who brought a suitcase full of hybrid lily bulbs to the South coast of Oregon in 1919. Houghton freely distributed bulbs to his horticultural friends and neighbors. With World War II, the Japanese source of bulbs was abruptly cut off. As a result, the value of lily bulbs sky-rocketed and many who were growing the lilies as a hobby decided to go into business. The Easter Lily bulbs at that time were called “White Gold,” and growers everywhere attempted to cash in on the crop. By 1945, there were about 1,200 growers producing bulbs up and down the Pacific coast, from Vancouver, Canada to Long Beach, California
  • This lily is the traditional flower of spring and is highly regarded as a joyful symbol of beauty, hope, and life. Each holiday is marked by cherished traditions that bring joy, comfort, and warmth, and provide continuity from one generation to the next. Easter has its share of traditions: egg decorations and hunts; gift baskets and chocolate bunnies, sunrise church services, parades, and, of course, the Easter Lily. For many, the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life — the spiritual essence of Easter.
  • The cultivar most commonly grown for U.S. markets is the “Nellie White.” It is named for a lily grower’s wife and has large, white, fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers.
  • Despite a sales window of only two weeks, Easter lilies are the fourth largest crop in wholesale value in the U.S. potted plant market, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • One of my BFFs just had a gorgeous baby girl named Lily!

and here is some Easter trivia:

  • There is an Easter Peep eating contest held each year in Sacramento, California.
  • A commercial laying hen can now produce up to 280 eggs each year
  • Each year witnesses the making of nearly 90 million chocolate bunnies.
  • I can single-handedly consume enough Easter candy to feed a small village.

I’m in the midst of deadline week at work, so I’m sitting here staring at a pile of papers and hundreds of emails. It happens to be my publication’s Environment Edition which hits so close to home– literally. I’m currently reading this very interesting book called the Field Guide to Buying Organic. I’m only halfway finished, but so far, it’s an insightful resource that defines the significance of organics and the impact your shopping decisions has on the environment.

According to the USDA:

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

With hundreds of Green books and publications on the shelves these days,4colorsealjpg.jpg it can be difficult to sift through the biased and unbiased information. So, I wanted to share a list from the book that has been around for quite some time, been circulated through all different media outlets and has even been a marketing tool for Whole Foods and the Organic Trade Association. I don’t mean to post this to be preachy and sanctimonious, but if anything, it sheds even more light on the organic movement and the significance as a new parent.

Top 10 Reasons to Support Organic in the 21st Century

1. Reduce The Toxic Load: Keep Chemicals Out of the Air, Water, Soil and our Bodies
Buying organic food promotes a less toxic environment for all living things. With only 0.5 percent of crop and pasture land in organic, according to USDA that leaves 99.5 percent of farm acres in the U.S. at risk of exposure to noxious agricultural chemicals.

Our bodies are the environment so supporting organic agriculture doesn’t just benefit your family, it helps all families live less toxically.

2. Reduce if Not Eliminate Off Farm Pollution
Industrial agriculture doesn’t singularly pollute farmland and farm workers; it also wreaks havoc on the environment downstream. Pesticide drift affects non-farm communities with odorless and invisible poisons. Synthetic fertilizer drifting downstream is the main culprit for dead zones in delicate ocean environments, such as the Gulf of Mexico, where its dead zone is now larger than 22,000 square kilometers, an area larger than New Jersey, according to Science magazine, August, 2002.

3. Protect Future Generations
Before a mother first nurses her newborn, the toxic risk from pesticides has already begun. Studies show that infants are exposed to hundreds of harmful chemicals in utero. In fact, our nation is now reaping the results of four generations of exposure to agricultural and industrial chemicals, whose safety was deemed on adult tolerance levels, not on children’s. According to the National Academy of Science, “neurologic and behavioral effects may result from low-level exposure to pesticides.” Numerous studies show that pesticides can adversely affect the nervous system, increase the risk of cancer, and decrease fertility.

4. Build Healthy Soil
Mono-cropping and chemical fertilizer dependency has taken a toll with a loss of top soil estimated at a cost of $40 billion per year in the U.S., according to David Pimental of Cornell University. Add to this an equally disturbing loss of micro nutrients and minerals in fruits and vegetables. Feeding the soil with organic matter instead of ammonia and other synthetic fertilizers has proven to increase nutrients in produce, with higher levels of vitamins and minerals found in organic food, according to the 2005 study, “Elevating Antioxidant levels in food through organic farming and food processing,” Organic Center State of Science Review (1.05)

5. Taste Better and Truer Flavor
Scientists now know what we eaters have known all along: organic food often tastes better. It makes sense that strawberries taste yummier when raised in harmony with nature, but researchers at Washington State University just proved this as fact in lab taste trials where the organic berries were consistently judged as sweeter. Plus, new research verifies that some organic produce is often lower in nitrates and higher in antioxidants than conventional food. Let the organic feasting begin!

6. Assist Family Farmers of all Sizes
According to Organic Farming Research Foundation, as of 2006 there are approximately 10,000 certified organic producers in the U.S. compared to 2500 to 3,000 tracked in 1994. Measured against the two million farms estimated in the U.S. today, organic is still tiny. Family farms that are certified organic farms have a double economic benefit: they are profitable and they farm in harmony with their surrounding environment. Whether the farm is a 4-acre orchard or a 4,000-acre wheat farm, organic is a beneficial practice that is genuinely family-friendly.

7. Avoid Hasty and Poor Science in Your Food
Cloned food. GMOs and rBGH. Oh my! Interesting how swiftly these food technologies were rushed to market, when organic fought for 13 years to become federal law. Eleven years ago, genetically modified food was not part of our food supply; today an astounding 30 percent of our cropland is planted in GMOs. Organic is the only de facto seal of reassurance against these and other modern, lab-produced additions to our food supply, and the only food term with built in inspections and federal regulatory teeth.

8. Eating with a Sense of Place
Whether it is local fruit, imported coffee or artisan cheese, organic can demonstrate a reverence for the land and its people. No matter the zip code, organic has proven to use less energy (on average, about 30 percent less), is beneficial to soil, water and local habitat, and is safer for the people who harvest our food. Eat more seasonably by supporting your local farmers market while also supporting a global organic economy year round. It will make your taste buds happy.

9. Promote Biodiversity
Visit an organic farm and you’ll notice something: a buzz of animal, bird and insect activity. These organic oases are thriving, diverse habitats. Native plants, birds and hawks return usually after the first season of organic practices; beneficial insects allow for a greater balance, and indigenous animals find these farms a safe haven. As best said by Aldo Leopold, “A good farm must be one where the native flora and fauna have lost acreage without losing their existence.” An organic farm is the equivalent of reforestation. Industrial farms are the equivalent of clear cutting of native habitat with a focus on high farm yields.

10. Celebrate the Culture of Agriculture
Food is a ‘language’ spoken in every culture. Making this language organic allows for an important cultural revolution whereby diversity and biodiversity are embraced and chemical toxins and environmental harm are radically reduced, if not eliminated. The simple act of saving one heirloom seed from extinction, for example, is an act of biological and cultural conservation. Organic is not necessarily the most efficient farming system in the short run. It is slower, harder, more complex and more labor-intensive. But for the sake of culture everywhere, from permaculture to human culture, organic should be celebrated at every table.

Source: Alan Greene, MD (Organic Trade Association), Bob Scowcroft (Organic Farming Research Foundation), Sylvia Tawse (Fresh Ideas Group)

or should it be linkies?

I’m on deadline this week, so it’s a bit fitting that I’m also delirious. I’m delirious not because of the workload, but because a certain somebody decided that 5:00 am would be a good time to sing and dance. Good God, kid. The birds weren’t even up yet! I suppose, if I had to choose, singing and dancing is better than crying and wailing 😉

Anyway in my quest to expand other horizons, I’m hoping to finally update my blogroll but before I do, I wanted to share some links that I love. Like the packrat I am, I have Post Its full of links crowding my computer screen. Well on my way to having a fluorescent pink and yellow-colored computer screen, it’s a good thing I added the Stumble Upon toolbar to remedy the situation.

As if I needed to reinforce how much time I spend on the internets, I thought I’d share a few of those sites:

I’m a big fan of Green Mom Finds. Products, news, eco-friendly finds, giveaways? It’s like the holy grail of green living.

Teensy Green is another green-influenced site chock-full of great products, baby friendly finds and a fountain of information.

My sewing machine has been collecting dust for the past few months, but with the kid drooling by the buckets, I hope to work on more sewing projects like these. Aptly titled, Happy Things, this site is definitely a inspiration for creativity with a collection of great projects.

Married to a tech nerd geek who, coincidentally,kitchencontrap.jpg works for a big box store, people automatically assume our kitchen is filled with the most beautimus kitchen appliances and gadgets. This is soooo not the case when you can only fit one person in the space at a time. How in God’s name would I be able to fill it with any more gadgets? A girl can still dream via Kitchen Contraptions.

Remember when I was working on the closet-nursery and referencing Apartment Therapy Baby? Well, as the main site grew, so did its design and spinoff sites. ATB is now Ohdeedoh and their Green Living site is Re-nest.

1000places.jpgOh, and because I’m due for a beachy vacation one day soon, The Official Site of 1,000 Places to See Before you Die is a reminder of one of the reasons why I’m ok with leaving the boy every day. Besides helping to take care of our family, working to see the world is a dream that will never die 🙂

I’ve got plenty more where these came from, but back to work I go. Enjoy!

Not sure how the weather is everywhere else, but up here, it’s definitely a winter wonderland. We had some rain, sleet, snow and then more rain today. All that wet stuff made for a messy commute. We’re supposed to have a Nor’easter this weekend, but we’ll see!

I don’t have too much to report, other than we’re all doing well and still transitioning. With me being back at work and rounding the corner of my second week back, I’ve definitely come to terms that it’s going to be a long road until we get the hang of all this. From work to my mom watching Jack to finding time for a social life to trying to figure out what’s next; I think all aspects of the transition is proving to be difficult, but most especially my choice to continue to exclusively nurse and work full time. I don’t have any thoughts on other moms’ parenting decisions, so I’m apprehensive to even begin discussing my own choices openly. But of course I will anyway.

Every spare moment of my day is spent prepping a meal for the baby. For me, after the whole calculated and medicated labor and delivery, I was amazed at how nature just instantly kicked into high gear. Many of my friends and family said nursing just didn’t work out for them, but for us, it was one of those maternal things that instinctively happened. And if I’ve done anything right (for us) in my short time as a mom, I feel pretty confident about my choice to continue nursing as long as it works.

With that said, by the end of the day, I feel like a cow– not size-wise, but utility-wise. My hormones are still pretty loopy, and with all the extra stuff going on, I think I’ve run the gamut on every imaginable emotion this week. Earlier in the week, when I bitched about how hard things were, I told some girlfriends who knew my woes very well. Having various friends that have experienced similar or the same things, makes the transition much less painful. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone!

Backtracking to the other day where everything just seemed to fall apart, I told my girlfriends this: I got home closer to 10pm and guess who woke up when he heard my voice? I can’t tell you how big my heart felt when he laughed and smiled at the silly things I said. That was the most amazing reward to punctuate an otherwise difficult day.

I can easily say the same for the whole week!

In between the mad dash to finish a stack of work and put away 3 weeks worth of laundry and crossing things off my packing list before we leave at 2am tonight, I remembered how imperative it is for me to prepare a playlist for the roadtrip.  Because you know, some things are just THAT important.

The whole playlist significance stems from our many roadtrips from driving back and forth when Jeff and I did the long distance thing twice and then of course, with the many drives down to Va.  If you’re familiar with longass roadtrips, especially through rural Va., you know how Godawful the radio can be.  So, yes, playlists are important for our sanity.   Back in the day, we did mix tapes <sigh>. About 6-7 years ago when I first moved up here, I began burning cds for our playlists.  But now, in the age of digital convenience and ipods, playlists live in infamy within our itunes library.

So here I am, updating my iPod with a new playlist for our trip home to Va.  I should mention that Jack appreciates music that makes him move.  In fact, Jack gets a big kick out of Soulja Boy’s song and dance 😉

Anyway, randomly, I remembered that we received a couple of baby cds as gifts.  (The “no crying and wellness” tag words sold me.)  I loaded the cd into the computer and imported the songs, but all I could do was laugh at how much this kid has infiltrated our lives, INCLUDING the sacred playlists.  So, in between Jeff’s Johnny Cash tunes and my Justin Timberlake songs, I’ve officially added You are my Sunshine and If You’re Happy and You Know It to our iTunes repertoire.

Yet another indication that there’s no turning back…

So, it’s my due date. Yippee. I’ve had a lot of memorable lessons throughout this fantastic voyage. From the candid conversations with several of my girlfriends who haven’t had kids yet, it’s obvious that everyone is curious in their own way and has their own set of questions. So this if for you girls. Here’s my list of stuff. It’s stuff that nobody tells you, stuff that I couldn’t live without, stuff to avoid, secrets of pregnancy and randomness about my experience with pregnancy. I should be working, but I feel compelled to share this ongoing list that I’ve been working on. And so to commemorate these 40 weeks, here’s my list of lessons learned in no particular order.
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