Yes, Lynn, There is a Santa Claus!

December 29th, 2009

Yes, Virginia – I mean Lynn – there is a Santa Claus.  My post about the horrible expense of Legos struck a nerve, with scores of people either commiserating or offering alterate gift  suggestions.

I just  couldn’t justify the $250 expense of the Lego drop ship, even if it was number one on a short list of just three items on Big Boy’s Christmas list.  (Hey, there’s a reason I post so much about Green Savings Tips. Do you think I buy hundred dollar toys for my kids? No!)

So just as I was trying to figure out how Santa would graciously disappoint a true believer, a letter appeared in my mailbox.

“Dear Lynn,” it said. “Please use this for an extra-special Christmas.”

Inside was a $500 check.

Once again, my best friend, the guy who raised a toast to the bride at my wedding, the man I surely would have married had he been heterosexual, once again, Sam had done something absolutely unexpected and remarkable.

Twenty-six years of friendship and somehow he still keeps surprising me.

So what to do with this unexpected Christmas bounty?

Of course, there was no doubt that Santa would now bring a Lego Dropship for Big Boy.

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It takes many painstaking hours of concentration to assemble a Lego Dropship. (1,758 Lego bricks).

legodropshipphotoBut the end result? Priceless. A sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and mastery.

And the other $250?

That’s for me. I’m hiring a trainer and recommitting to losing the extra pounds that have snuck onto my frame. More on that in my post on Greener Resolutions for the next Green Moms Carnival, hosted by Katy at  Non-Toxic Kids.

And how were your holidays?

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

For Some, There is Truly Sustainable Christmas Decor. And Then There’s the Rest of Us…

December 19th, 2009

While making the second of two treks to Big Boy’s elementary school yesterday (don’t ask), I noticed this gorgeous outside Christmas display.  What’s not to love? Sustainable, creative, festive, merry, bright….

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And then there are those of us who are just used to things a bit more, shall we say, bright?

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Let’s face it. You can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can’t take the New Jersey out of the girl. I may be able to pass myself off as a Washington, D.C. sophisticate from time to time, but when it comes to deep-rooted traditions like Christmas, I’m well…I’m tacky. I confessed it two years ago in this post, Green Tacky, Tacky.

At Christmastime, I dream of New Jersey lights:  big, honking, obnoxious, BIG LIGHTS like at the “Elvis House” in Mahwah, New Jersey and the Koenig Christmas House in Lodi, New Jersey, which features 43,000 lights synchronized to music and a bowling Santa scene.

I tried to use only the most  tasteful LED lights, like the white icicles that look like a picture straight out of Southern Living Magazine. But they were…boring. So I compromised with these multi-colored LED strands we string through our bushes.

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But they’re still….too boring.

I just…needed more….something tacky.

I tried to explain to my reserved British-born husband that next to those crazy light shows back in New Jersey, our display was positively modest. Why, all we have is  a Christmas countdown clock (pictured above),  towering eight foot tall inflatable Santasantaphoto

flanked by another towering inflatable snowman,

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blinking choo choo train, miniature lighted Santas up the front walk, Mr. and Mrs. Claus sitting on our front porch, and of course the bushes accented by tasteful  energy-efficient LED lights. Why, I doubt we even qualify for a listing at tackylighttour.com!

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Of course, as a self-professed “Green Mom,” I’m keenly aware of all the waste engendered by this display.  I published this plea two years ago for  tacky, tacky energy-efficient, recyclable, LED Christmas light displays. But two years later….still nothing in the stores. Yes, I have tacky LED Christmas displays, but they’re hardly sustainable. You can’t even replace a bulb! They’re designed to be thrown away after just a few seasons’ use.  My gosh, there’s got to be at least one or two other conflicted Tacky Greens out there who would buy sustainable tacky Christmas decor!

So why do it? Well, just as we have our Greener Traditions like Ye Olde Advent Calendar and the Reading of the Christmas Books, our tacky, tacky lawn has become a much anticipated annual event in our Bethesda neighborhood.  I now have a reputation to keep up! Ours is the house that the children  come to visit – to look and to gawk at Santa, Snowman, and the rest of our artificial friends.   We look out the front window and laugh at their pointed fingers and smiles. And to me, albeit a lot less green than I’d like, it sure does bring a lot of joy to us during this season of joy.

By the way, if you see any tacky, tacky LED outside Christmas light displays with replaceable bulbs,   PLEASE let me know where to find them!

– Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Green Moms & Hopenhagen

December 14th, 2009

Today a new Green Moms Carnival on Climate Change  goes up over at Big Green Purse.  Rather than head to Copenhagen as we had hoped, Diane MacEachern  is blogging about climate change from home.

Still, it’s remarkable that for a group of women who just over two years ago had nary a mention of Climate Change on our blogs, we’ve rocked the blogosphere and the Twitterati with our campaign to elect Diane as the Huffington Post’s climate change ambassador. Although Diane didn’t win, she ran an amazing race.  We nominated Diane after being approached by Huff Post’s PR team to help them get the word out about the contest, which had been up for two weeks but lacked many contestants.

Despite technical difficulties on the Huff Post’s side that delayed Diane’s entry from being posted until just 3 ½ days before the end of the contest, we helped her rock the vote. She finished in the top 5 contestants by popular vote. There’s no doubt in my mind that if Diane had benefited from a full three weeks of campaigning – instead of just 3 ½ days of campaigning – she would have won.  How? We enveloped her with love and support, and tweeted, blogged, and emailed our hearts out.   We helped her get so many endorsements from leading environmental groups and bloggers that the Huff Post literally cried Uncle, asking us to stop sending in the 42+ endorsements she eventually racked up because we were overwhelming them!  (Once, again, tech difficulties. Hey Huff Post, you need a new web platform before you run another contest!)

So while Diane’s not at the climate talks to carry the flag for @GreenMoms and the Green Moms Carnival, there are many women over there doing an incredible job. Have you heard Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva speak? (There were only 21 views on this YouTube video last I checked, go listen – she’s eye opening and amazing, although not completely accurate. She got the premise behind the Cash for Clunkers program all wrong).

Vandana laid it on the line the other day,  pointing out that helping “climate refugees” – those that have been displaced from their homes due to flooding, drought, fire, or other climate-related devastation – is not an act of charity for the US to bestow. It’s justice. As the biggest contributor to the pollution that has caused climate change, we must act to help those now suffering the most.  As she put it, “It is time for the US to stop seeing itself as a donor and recognizing itself as a polluter, and a polluter who must pay.”

Which female voices are you listening to from COP15?

– Lynn

Please Vote NOW – Tonight – For My Friend Diane, for Huff Post Hopenhagen Ambassador

December 4th, 2009

The potentially monumental climate talks in Copenhagen are upcoming, and it’s important to have a real person there to represent the interests of “regular” people who care about the environment.

My friend, author, green blogger, fellow Green Moms Carnival member, and environmental activist Diane MacEachern is taking part in the Huffington Post’s contest to send one citizen ambassador to Copenhagen, and I am happy to give her my personal endorsement.  

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If the name seems familiar, it is because Diane is the best-selling author of “Big Green Purse,” a manual all of us should have on our shelves to refer to while navigating the often confusing world of green issues and green business.  As a mother, she is particularly commited to the health of children, and she is a tireless activist and fantastic writer.  Her interest in climate change comes from a deep sense of compassion and commitment to social justice. It would be so great to have one of our own representing the interests of real people among the politicians and “experts” meeting together this month to determine the fate of the Earth.

For more information about Diane, take a look at the following links:
http://greenwoman.typepad.com/biggreenpurse/
http://www.biggreenpurse.com/
http://fakeplasticfish.com/2009/08/personal-changes-do-make-difference/

http://organicmania.com/2008/04/14/interview-with-big-green-purse-author-diane-maceachern/

http://organicmania.com/2008/04/15/more-of-the-big-green-purse-interview-part-2/

To vote for Diane — Please vote before 11:59 PM EST TONIGHT:

1)  Please visit this link
2)  You will need to login to the Huffington Post web site or register if you are not already a member.  You can also login using your Twitter or Facebook account.
3)  Please rate Diane’s entry with 10 stars.

As you will see, Diane also needs blogger endorsers.  If you feel moved to write a post in support of Diane on your blog, please email the link to submissions+copenhagen@huffingtonpost.com, saying “Here is the link from xxxx blog endorsing Diane MacEachern for the citizen ambassador to Copenhagen”, along with the link to your post.

FACEBOOK?  If you have a Facebook page or fan page, it would be great if you could mention the contest and provide the link so your friends and fans can vote as well.

TWITTER?  If you’re on twitter, we’d appreciate it if you tweet about the contest using #votehope and @huffpostgreen.

Voting ends tonight at 11:59 PM EST,   so Diane needs as much support from you, your friends and your readers right now as possible. Please help us send this deserving green mom to Copenhagen  by voting now and spreading the word!

Thank you! And thanks to Jennae of Green Your Decor for providing this post for so many of us to re-use!

Greener Traditions: Ye Olde Advent Calendar & The Reading of the Christmas Books

December 1st, 2009

If the following post looks familiar to  you, it’s because it’s a lightly adapted version of post I ran almost exactly one year ago, to kick off the holiday season. I’ve updated it with photos taken this evening at home, and it’s my contribution to this week’s Green Moms Carnival on Greener Traditions, which will run Thursday over at Green Phone Booth.

With the holiday season now in full swing, it seems parents everywhere are asking, “How can I make our celebration of Christmas more meaningful? What can we do to enjoy the season and take the focus off the few minutes of gift giving on the 25th?”

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Taking away the focus on crass materialism has never seemed more important, especially now when so many families are suffering in this continued deep recession.  (That’s one reason I fell out of love with Legos this year, as I blogged here).

Take Advent. Yes, Advent. Did you know we’re in the first week of Advent? Advent is a season of waiting. And in our house, the mantra is not “hurry up, rush, shop,” it’s “Slow down. Be quiet. It’s Advent.”

One of my favorite ways of marking Advent is through an Advent calendar. And yes, although we’re technically in the first week of Advent already, it’s not too late to start observing the season of Advent.

Advent calendars mark each day in December up through Christmas Day. They typically tell the story of the Nativity. Some are “permanent” calendars with little doors through which you can hide chocolates or other treats. Others are boxes with the chocolates already hidden inside. And guess what? With today being December 1, that means you get to open up the first little door today, as you see my son doing in the picture below.

openingcalendarphoto

This year, I decided to splurge and I actually bought one advent calendar for each of us, unlike last year, when I attempted to share one with my Darling Husband.  And yes – you can still find them. I picked this Divine Chocolate Advent Calendar up this evening  at the Whole Foods on River Road, Bethesda (although call first, they were selling fast, and there are none at Kentlands!) We love Divine Chocolate  – fair trade chocolate from Ghana. And it seems local too, since their corporate offices are right here in DC.

A few years ago, I established a family tradition of leaving the dinner table to read a Christmas story before enjoying a  piece of Advent chocolate.

And every year, I tell myself that we’ll continue the tradition of reading after dinner. Yet somehow by the time December rolls around, we’ve fallen out of the habit of reading after dinner. But it’s a great habit to pick up again each year. So join me – bring out the Christmas books, enjoy a piece of Advent chocolate (just 20 calories!) and Relax. Slow Down. It’s Advent.

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

HELP US SEND ONE OF OUR OWN – DIANE MACEACHERN – TO COPENHAGEN!

December 1st, 2009

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Please click on this link to view and vote for Big Green Purse author Diane MacEachern’s video on the Huffington Post. Diane needs all the support she can get, because due to a glitch in the system, her video was held up for a day and a half and now she’s behind in votes! We want to see a Green Mom at Copenhagen. Will you help us? Thanks so much!

Lynn