Reasons Earth Day Seems More Important This Year

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

Image via Wikipedia

Today’s Earth Day.  Although I was in third grade at the time of the first Earth Day, none of them have been particularly significant to me until this year. Why is that? Why is it that this year I suddenly am so aware of the condition of our planet? After some consideration, I came up with five reasons.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster brought about by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan demonstrated that, despite all of the safety regulations and precautions that may be in place based upon prior events, we cannot predict the future. Nuclear energy is not clean energy, and the consequences of its use are disastrous.  How many more nuclear disasters will it take before it is eliminated?

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill spewed massive amounts of oil — official estimates indicate 210, 000 gallons per day, although some scientists estimate much more — into the Gulf of Mexico for 85 days.  I was physically queasy and lost sleep for weeks on end as the situation continued day after day with no hope in sight. Some people say the effects were minimal, but I disagree.  How did it make you feel?

The political unrest in the Middle East makes our nation’s continued dependence on oil disturbing at best.  Nonetheless, it brings to light the fact that Americans only curb their appetite for oil when its cost skyrockets.  If high prices will force people to reduce their consumption of oil, then maybe  prices should remain high.  Yes, I know it’s damaging to our struggling economy.  I feel it, too, but the effect on our economy doesn’t change the fact that failure to reduce, if not eliminate, our gluttonous consumption of fossil fuels is disastrous for our planet.  Struggle now or eventually eliminate life as we know it.  Is the choice really that difficult?

Becoming a parent has made me acutely aware of the future.  No longer do I live a carefree existence  from day to day.  With children comes the responsibility of providing adequate food, clothing, and shelter, along with a healthy planet that will allow them and their own children to thrive.

In spite of all of these things, I contribute daily to the pollution of the Earth by driving my car to the store that sells products wrapped in too much packaging,  buying products that are not organic because the organic stuff is too expensive, and often tote it all home in single-use bags because the reusable ones were forgotten at home. These are just a few of the ways I negatively impact the planet, but don’t think I’m very different from the average American.  We know green is good, and we want to be more green, but we can’t see the forest for the trees.  What I mean is that it seems the consequences of changing are expensive when the truth is that the consequences of NOT changing are what’s really expensive.  For proof, just look at the price of gas.

I try to remember to take my reusable bags to the store, recycle what I can, adjust what I’m wearing rather than the  thermostat, remember to turn out the lights when I leave the room, use washable containers instead of disposable plastic, take shorter showers, hang clothing to dry instead of using the clothes dryer, unplug appliances when not in use, use natural cleaners such as baking soda and vinegar, and so on.  Sadly, these actions just aren’t enough.   To save life as we know it on this planet, there must be action on a much larger scale.  Does that mean I shouldn’t continue to try?  Absolutely not!  By continuing to take these small actions and adding just one new thing ever so often, I set an example for my children that living sustainably is a worthy and achievable goal.

I wish I was clever enough to solve the world’s problems.  My children are pretty smart; maybe they will be the ones to find a way to undo the damage that’s been done and lead their generation through to better days.  Only time will tell.  One thing’s for certain:  Earth Day 2011 is a good time to contemplate mistakes of the past, what we are doing in the present, and what we can do to improve in the future because if we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.

What are you doing to ensure a sustainable future?

Charlotte Poltenovage


Could Your Child Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem?

Human eye.

Image via Wikipedia

Does your child have trouble staying on task?  Dislike reading?  Struggle in school? If so, s/he may have an undiagnosed vision problem.

Many people are surprised to learn that a child can pass a school vision screening and still have an issue that affects school performance?   Uncorrected vision problems can lead to trouble with learning, behavior, and self-esteem, so early examination by a doctor qualified and equipped to evaluate children is critical.

Before starting school, children use their eyes mostly for seeing things at a distance. In school, however, they need to focus up close.   Children with vision problems think everyone sees the same way, so they rarely report difficulty.   They don’t realize that consistent loss of place when reading, loss of concentration, intermittent blurriness, headaches, and eye strain all are symptoms of vision problems.

One mother relayed her child’s story this way:

“My daughter struggled to be an average student. When she was in the 6th grade, her teacher suggested that I have her eyes examined.   I’ll never forget the day she got her glasses.  She put them on and ran across the room to the window shouting, ‘I can see!’   She looked out the window and said, ‘Mama!   There are trees over there!‘  It broke my heart to think of how many years she had struggled all because the child simply couldn’t see, and I didn’t know it!”

When was the last time your child’s eyes were examined by a professional?

Top 10 Reasons to Shop Online

Brick wall in "Gothic bonding" (&quo...

Image via Wikipedia

Website Magazine reports that market research firm NPD Group recently reported that Mom Shoppers are using social media friends and followers to help with their buying decisions, that 79 percent of mothers with children younger than 18 are active in social media, and of those active in social media, one in four said they purchased items on the recommendation from a Facebook friend, Twitter fan or other social media connection. (See

I don’t know who paid for that study, but I could have saved them a lot of money.   I’m an online shopping ninja.  As a stay-at-home mother of advanced maternal age (MAMA), I have been shopping online for years and, like many other moms, I turned to Facebook to satisfy my need to talk with other adults.  It only makes sense that talk would turn to shopping – an experience that we used to enjoy but now fills us with dread.  If you don’t understand the appeal of online shopping, check out the list below.

Top 10 reasons to shop online:

  1. Variety — When it comes to variety, nothing beats the web.  It delivers the world to your fingertips and, subsequently, your door.
  2. Comparison – It can take hours or even days to comparison shop at different brick-and-mortar stores, but I can do it in minutes online in the comfort of my pajamas and bunny slippers after the kids go to bed.
  3. Reviews – In the rare event that none of my Facebook or Twitter friends can offer advice, online stores often have customer ratings and reviews to allow buyers to compare.  No such luck at a brick-and-mortar store.
  4. Concentration – Who can concentrate with energetic little ones trying to climb out of the stroller, grabbing merchandise, running down the aisles, disappearing underneath the clothing racks, begging for things, and/or otherwise competing for your attention?
  5. Store Hours — How can you possibly get any shopping done when the mall opens at 10:00 a.m., morning kindergarten ends at 10:30, and preschool ends at noon?
  6. Convenience – I wish I had a dollar for every time I went to the mall, took the escalator, and got to the right department only to hear, “I need to go potty!”, have to go downstairs and across the store to the bathroom, wait for the job to be done and hands to be washed, then have to leave because it’s time to get brother from school.  These things are much easier to deal with at home.
  7. Secrecy – Online purchases come to your door in a brown box.  It’s darned-near impossible to get an in-store purchase from the toy department into a cart, through self-checkout, into a bag that’s too small, then into your car without  a curious little one knowing that’s the thing he asked for in his letter to Santa.
  8. Conservation –By not driving all over town to compare prices, online shopping conserves not only gas and your sanity.  You also can conserve dollars when you use cash-back sites such as that simply require you to go to their site to access many of the stores where you probably are shopping already (some of my favorites are JC Penny, Sears, REI, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Barnes and Noble, and Disney) .
  9. Nap time – By shopping online, you don’t risk disrupting your little one’s ever-so-important nap schedule and having him be grumpy for the rest of the day.
  10. Ship to store – Many stores allow you to purchase online and pick up your merchandise at their brick-and-mortar store for free.  While this method does require actually driving to the store, all of the other benefits of online shopping still apply.

There are a few negatives associated with online shopping, though.  Some things just have to be tried on:  jeans, shoes, etc.  Of course, once you find a brand and size that fits, you easily can buy the next one online.  Also, many people prefer to pay with cash, but online purchases require a credit card.  Lastly, there’s the cost of shipping, however, most stores offer free shipping if you spend enough money.

I once purchased a dishwasher from Sears online with great results.  I compared brands, ratings, and prices, went through ebates to get 4% cash back, received a reduced delivery price, and took advantage of a special online sale.  Yes, indeed, I am an online shopping ninja!

Going Grey

Hair coloring

Image via Wikipedia

I once knew a woman in her 30’s with waist-length salt-and-pepper grey hair, and I remember thinking how strikingly beautiful she was.   This was roughly around the same time that my mother had a big streak of silver hair right in the front.  Again, I thought how lovely she was when she didn’t try to cover her natural color.  So it was that I resolved — still in my late teens, mind you — never to color my hair.  After all, I’m told I look remarkably like my mother and, if she looked that good with grey hair, I probably would, too.

Fast forward 30 years.  I held true to my resolve never to color my hair until a couple of years ago when my grey hairs started coming in way faster than I could pull them out.  That’s when I realized that I was old enough to be the mother of most of the other moms at playgroup, my husband didn’t have ANY grey hair, AND he had perfect vision.  It must have been my new trifocals that helped me see things a little differently than I did way back when.  In short, I looked old and didn’t like it, so I finally broke down and colored my hair.  Little did I realize how much I would regret that decision.

My first time was magical.  I was so anxious for a different look that I also got a trendy new bob.  I was at the salon for hours and spent a small fortune, but  it looked gorgeous, and I was thrilled.  I felt like a new woman.  Then a few weeks went by and my roots started to show.  It’s no great secret that hair grows but a fact I had chosen to overlook in my desperation to cling to youth.  The second time wasn’t as good as the first because there was no way to color each strand of hair the same way it was colored before, and that frustrated me.  Whether it was noticeable to anyone else or not, I don’t know.  I began to regret my decision because it was beginning to dawn on me that, short of shaving my head, I couldn’t go back without having a distinction between colored and natural hair.

That’s about the same time that my husband lost his job — the one where he recently had been recognized for excellence.  He never discouraged me, but I no longer felt comfortable spending so much money on my hair every month.  I started coloring it myself with less than stellar results.

The lovely variety of shades that the colorist painstakingly put into my hair were instantly blanketed by a single too-dark brown.  My bathroom was covered in stray globs of dye  — on the wall, the counter, the shower curtain.  My forehead was stained in a failed attempt to cover those wispy little grey hairs that surround my face.  It was a nightmare.  Nonetheless, I persevered, determined not to have the “skunk stripe” created by the regrowth of my natural color.

I recently realized that I was fighting a losing battle with those little white hairs around my face and decided it was time to go in a different direction.  Instead of coloring them darker, I’d make everything else lighter.  Not a good idea.

The ends of my hair that had been receiving the dark brown dye for so long stayed dark brown while the roots bleached out quickly.  Now I resemble one of those Wild African Dogs at the zoo with patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow.  Lovely.  Just lovely.

With supermodels flaunting their grey hair these days, maybe it’s a good time to stop this nonsense and get back to me.  Hey!  I just posted a blog about that!  Getting back to ME:  2011 resolutions!  I think this is another one to add to the list!  In the meantime…where’s my hat?

%d bloggers like this: