Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fun in the Sun

There's been a lot of nonsense and distractions going on here at Chez Necessity, thus causing my brain to shrink down to about the size of a sunflower seed and not allow me to get much done. I have decided that, as so much of this situation is out of my control, I will focus on the positive.

Thus, our vacation to Florida! Last week we took a trek down to Florida to visit my grandparents. They moved down there full-time several years ago, and though we promised to visit, we hadn't yet done so. We decided that enough was enough, so we booked our tickets and started packing.

We had a wonderful time, and the weather couldn't have been better. We saw the Red Sox having batting practice (spring training) and the kids got three runaway baseballs, one of which they got signed. The Professor stayed for the game, but the rest of us hightailed it for the pool. We went to the beach, played some mini-golf, visited some relatives we haven't seen in ages, and had a really wonderful time.

Our plane made it safely in both directions, and even arrived early. I'm not a great flyer; I am ok once I'm up in the air and can knit and watch my little t.v. and basically try to pretend I'm in my living room, but there is absolutely no way to keep up this little pretense when the plane is either climbing up or down 30,000 feet. Luckily, I discovered how to finally drop those eggnog pounds - the fear of flying diet. Worked like a charm, and I got to enjoy Florida to boot!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Lesson Learned

Just a quick shout out of advice to those of you with a child who is prone to vomiting - when preparing a fun St. Paddy's day breakfast, it's probably best NOT to color the milk and butter on the toast of said child a delightful shade of green.
Ask me how I know....

Happy St. Patrick's Day anyway!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Put off by offsets?

The Professor here, guest blogging for Mother Necessity (MN). We're getting ready to take a trip, so MN is frantically in pack and prepare mode.

As her loyal readers know, MN has a lot on her mind. There's knitting, of course, family events, the ongoing saga of work and where one can find it, and our efforts to live frugally and sustainably as bottom-feeders among the upper crust.

About our trip... We're traveling by jet. Big Trouble and Miss Serious have never flown before and they are uber-excited. We're all looking forward to the trip, but I confess that I'm conflicted about the flight. A lot of our life choices around these parts have green roots. And here we are getting on a plane that will burn massive amounts of what's basically kerosene in the upper atmosphere. Feeling a little hypocritical? To quote Sarah Palin, "You betcha."

This leads to the interesting/confusing topic of carbon offsets. The idea is that you pay some amount which leads to a reduction of CO2 emissions somewhere in the world, canceling out emissions for which you feel responsible.

The first bit is great. You do something that creates renewable energy, increases energy efficiency, captures CO2 or methane, etc. Beautiful. Simple. Do something good. Where I struggle is the second part where it "offsets" your bad behavior. In it's most dubious form, it's a greenwashing get-out-of-jail-free card.

This sounds like the indulgences of Martin Luther's day. You paid the church so that the sins of those near and dear to you who didn't quite make it to the pearly gates could be paid off. "When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs." Do whatever you want, so long as you have the moolah to pay the fine.

We finally did buy a carbon offset for our trip. Click on the Native Energy logo below to go to their website and learn about what they do. Native Energy makes an honest effort to assure you're not just taking credit for an already existing project. You are actually adding something new and good to the world.

So are we fooling ourselves and simply buying a modern "indulgence?" I don't think so. First of all, I doubt the coins in the coffers of the church back in the 1500s were actually accomplishing the good they promised. This investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency will have some real payoff. Secondly, we should probably just ignore the offset part. We're not doing this to make our trip OK. We're looking at it as an investment in renewable energy.

If we still feel a bit guilty, maybe that's a good thing.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Yes, it's here. Today is my birthday (a day I'm proud to share with Dr. Seuss) and I am almost 40. Age is such a funny thing. When I was very young, I remember thinking that by the time I was 18, I would have it all figured out. After reaching this age and having figured out very little, I reset my clock to 30.

Well, 30 turned out to be a very good year (I got pregnant with Miss Serious, we moved to Westchester, The Professor finished his doctorate and got a teaching job), but I still didn't have all the answers, and now it's almost a decade later.

I have learned (maybe I am not just older, but a bit wiser) that I don't want all the answers. Every year has brought with it wonderful, exciting changes. Although there have been times that were hard, or scary, or sad, they have always been balanced by joy.

I think something that has increased over the years is the understanding of just how fortunate I really am. I have come to realize that every day is truly a gift, and because I am so lucky, I am able to enjoy them surrounded by people I love.

Based on the last 38, I have a feeling that 39 is going to be a pretty good year.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Six Year Olds Are Cute, Mostly

Well, I spent most of the week subbing in first-grade classrooms. It was a nice gig, because the teachers were doing assessments and in the building. This really helps the poor, hapless sub who can't find the math books, or can't figure out how to turn on the classroom computer.

I enjoyed my time with these children - this is a nice age where they are starting to be able to do things independently, but they are still young enough to love school and be excited by a math game.

They are also still young enough that they are excruciatingly honest. As I am coming up on 39, my hair has taken on a larger percentage of gray hairs. I live in an area where you never see gray hair - everyone here colors their hair almost religiously. I have fought this, as I only get my hair cut about twice a year and can't possibly keep up with all that coloring entails (plus, you know, I'm kinda cheap).

At the end of a lovely day, one little six year old came up to me looking very serious. I asked him what he needed, and looking perplexed he said "Your hair is really different. You have white hairs. But it's brown, too." He didn't stay for an answer, and hopped away. The other children also became interested in my hair, and gave it a good look. I like to think I was the science project for the day, and they were certainly enthusiastic.

I can only hope that this wasn't first topic discussed when their parents asked about their day.