The Daily Dish

life a healthy happy life

April 23, 2013
by jordanweaver

Good ole family fun

6 Green Activities for Kids

plantingtree_645With the trees blooming, birds chirping, and squirrels chattering there is no doubt that spring is finally upon us. Spring is my favorite season – Wait, no, fall is my favorite season – Wait, no, but I also love winter… and summer! Let’s just say that there are so many things I love about each of the seasons, and spring is no exception.

Spring just has this way of making you feel hopeful. The flowers which only a few short months ago wilted in the chilling air are peeking up from the ground to remind us that this planet we call home is full of such extraordinary things. Even when we are in the harshest of environments, life is not over. It too shall pass and life will, once again, be vibrant and wonderful. There is a lot to be learned from nature, and I feel like as a species we are becoming so detached from it. Not long ago I was sitting on my front porch on a beautiful sunny day while my oldest ran around asking me how tall the trees were and my new baby stared up at the sky in amazement. It was such a wonderful moment for me – both of my kids enjoying their environment. Then a woman went jogging past with an infant in a stroller whose face was buried in an electronic tablet. I always try to think positively, but this made me so sad. I realized that given the option, I think my own son might even choose to play video games over taking a walk. I’m not ok with that. So I started looking for things to do that would capture his attention, and help him appreciate nature and all that is has to offer.

There are SO many wonderful things you can do to teach your children how to appreciate and take care of the planet, but here is a list of 6 that we will definitely be doing this spring!

 1. Start a garden. If you don’t have one already, plan and start a garden of flowers, fresh herbs, fruits, and veggies. Let your kids help you pick what to plant to get them excited about it from the get-go. Cameron’s favorite fruit is watermelon and his favorite flower is sunflower; so, I made sure I planned for both of those. Include them in every bit of the process from picking your seeds to watering them every week. Not only will this teach them about how plants grow, but it will also teach them about caring after things…and you get fresh produce out of the deal!

2. Make recycled paper and art.  Remember making your own paper in grade school? Messy, yes, but so much fun! The internet has all kinds of ideas for how to make recycled paper. Find one that includes things you typically toss in the trash/recycling or have lying around your house and make something beautiful.

3. Get a bird guide. Stop for a second and listen outside. Just close your eyes and really listen for at least one minute. Even if you live in the busiest of cities, you will hear many different chirps. Then open your eyes and try to look for the birds you hear. Now you know what a blue jay, a robin, cardinal, finch, etc. sounds like! Use a bird guide to help your children do the same. Identify exactly what type of finch you just heard. Not only will they learn about the different birds, but it also teaches them how to be resourceful!

4. Volunteer to plant trees. Most areas organize at least one tree planting around Earth Day (April 22), and all you have to do is sign up or even just show up at the location. A great way to take care of the planet and help your community at the same time!

5. Go camping and hiking. And I don’t mean giant RV camping. Even if you just camp in your backyard, leave the electronics in the house and spend at least one night under the stars. Cook dinner over a fire, go on a hike before sunset, tell scary stories, listen for animals, and if the sky is clear, identify constellations. Don’t forget the marshmallows!

6. Go on a collection walk. Have everyone grab an eco-friendly bag and set out for a walk and collect litter. Have one person collect trash, one collect recyclables, and one person collect things that might be reusable for art or home projects (such as paper towel rolls and newspaper). Make sure everyone wears gloves and instruct kids to let you pick up anything that is glass or sharp.

April 22, 2013
by jordanweaver

Going green the urban way

Urban Farming: Growing a Garden in Small Spaces

urbanfarming_645Urban farming is a term that refers to growing any herbs or vegetables (and sometimes even animals) in a city or urban environment. Small spaces don’t mean that you can’t grow some kind of produce or plant for your own use. From window boxes to raised beds, as well as up cycled items like 2-liter bottles and gutters or PVC pipes, there are myriad ways to incorporate growing your own food into your life. And it’s a fantastic way to teach your children about growth cycles and develop a deeper understanding of all the work that goes into feeding our bodies.No matter how small your space, there are ways to grow fresh herbs or produce plants.

1. Grow tomatoes along a chain link fence, weaving the plant through the links. You can do the same with cucumbers and squash as they are also “vining” vegetables.

2. Cut the bottom of a 2-liter off, screw the lid back on and drill a hole in it. Secure it with two lengths of string on either side of the open end and fill with planting soil. Now you have a hanging herb garden for a window. Hang them from a balcony or fire escape and you can grow things like carrots, peas, green beans, or lettuces. Bonus: Let your children decorate the 2-liters for a personal touch!

3. Don’t forget the vertical spaces. If you have a sunny wall, you can have a garden. Using old rain gutters or lengths of PVC pipe, you can hang a garden down a wall. Plant anything that doesn’t need a deep root, like herbs or lettuces.

4. And don’t forget the space under your stairs. Anywhere that you get sunlight can be a place to grow something.




April 22, 2013
by jordanweaver

The importance of kindess

Truly Living, Truly Being: Lesson About Kindness

familyhands_645Sometimes people are intricately placed into our lives.  They come to us for a purpose that one or both of you may or may not be aware of at the time. These special people leave a mark that changes you. They change your soul, the way you look at things, and leave an imprint on your heart.At the age of fourteen, I was not thinking much about the people placed in my life. In fact, I am not so sure I did a whole lot of thinking at all in my teen years. But, fourteen was the age I was when a shy, awkward, girl moved into to an apartment in a large home a few houses away from mine.  I don’t remember meeting her for the first time but I do remember feeling the need to take her under my wing.  I cringe as I write this but it was an out-of-pity friendship.  It was obvious from the start that Amy did not have an easy life and it pulled at my heart strings. I knew that she needed a friend.  She was two years younger, from a very limited income family and socially awkward to boot.  She was a tomboy who didn’t know how to dress, most likely because the family couldn’t afford nice clothes.  She was hard to engage in conversation, but easy to make laugh.  We lived in a ritzy small town and I knew that once she started middle school it would be like feeding her to the wolves. For that one year that we lived nearby each other, I made a few feeble attempts at a friendship with her. Eventually my family moved just a few miles away, but far enough to put an end to our friendship.  By then, I had turned fifteen and entered high school and of course, with the cruel politics of high school I had become “too good” to be a friend to her.  I hang my head in shame now.

For the years that we shared a school, I would see Amy walking down the hall and I would turn away. I wouldn’t make eye contact. I would ignore her. We would ignore each other. Life went on. It went on until the summer before my senior year when Amy, Amy’s boyfriend, and Amy’s mother died in a terrible fire in that apartment in my old neighborhood. She was sixteen. She had no chance to escape. Their tiny basement apartment turned into an inferno and no one made it out alive.  In the instant that I heard the news, my life was changed forever.  I was ambushed with regret and horror of how I treated Amy.  The “shoulda-coulda-wouldas” flooded my mind and consumed me.  My heart had deepened with a combination of sadness and desperation to make all things right.  From that day forward, I vowed to be kind and to never let another person enter my life without knowing that I treated them the best that I could.

Flash forward ten years to the now.  Every person who reaches out to me is Amy.  Every friend I have is Amy.  Every homeless person on the street is Amy.  This has been both a blessing and a curse, really –one that I didn’t acknowledge until recently.  Sometimes people in need make it easy to give.  Sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes I want to be selfish.  Sometimes I don’t always want to be kind.  Sometimes I don’t always want to do the right thing for someone else.  That is when I see her.  That is when I remember her.  That is when I think about how I wasn’t a good friend to her….not even a little bit….not even at all.  I can’t go back and change the way that I treated Amy.  I can’t go back to the afternoon in July of 2002 and pull her out of that fire or give her back her life, but I can say she forever changed mine.

I write about this now, because of something that occurred the other day.  I was out shopping with a friend and a man approached us in the parking lot asking for money.  My friend ignored him and kept walking.  I stopped and listen to his story about how he needed money to eat and had nothing.  I took my wallet out. I apologized to the man because I never carry cash and all I had on me was a few dollar bills. I gave the man what I had and he thanked me and I went about my business.  Once we got into her car my friend was baffled. “Weren’t you worried about your safety? He is probably going to buy drugs!  What if he tried to mug you?” All were very valid concerns that I thought about during our brief encounter. “Why did you give him money?” she wanted to know. ‘You didn’t even hesitate. You didn’t even think about it!” and that was the very first time it occurred to me.  After all these years of trying to help people, of reaching out, of giving money (even when I really shouldn’t)….it never connected with me until I was asked right then and there “why?”  That was when I talked about Amy. How, I would never again regret the way I treated someone. I would always help in every little way that I possibly could. Amy made all the difference.

Some people are just born with a giving heart.  My father is one of them.  I will never forget the day he handed over his beloved 1989 Chevy Caprice to another family who had lost their vehicle.  He just gave his car away, because another person needed it more.  He didn’t expect anything from it, didn’t even want to talk about it.  He just did it because it was the right thing to do.  No questions asked. Miracles like this happen.  More miracles like this need to happen every day.  In an era when we fear strangers, when we fear sending our children to school, an era in which cruelty to one another is not only expected but often encouraged, maybe we just all need to step back and look at the Amys in our lives.  Maybe we just need to take a look at the people placed in our lives and evaluate why they are here.  Evaluate how you treat people.  Evaluate your daily interactions with the public, with strangers.  Is it time to start being kind? Is it time to start giving what you can or helping your neighbor?  Is it time to start truly being a good friend?  Let my hard learned lesson seep into your life and into your soul.  May it wake you up on some level!  Set a daily goal to offer kindness (in any form) to a stranger or to a neighbor, or to a friend. That is truly living. That is truly being.


April 22, 2013
by jordanweaver

Boston Strong

Boston Strong

prayingToday I didn’t deviate from my normal routine at all.  I hit snooze too many times, gulped down a cup of coffee, headed to the gym and then work.  For all intensive purposes, nothing looked very different, but by God did it feel different.  I went through my “normal” day with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and on the verge of tears.  Like most of my fellow Bostonians, I’ve been feeling this way since reports of the blasts started trickling in.  When I first started trying to take a mental headcount of everyone I knew who could have possibly been by the Boston Marathon finish line when the bombs went off my head swam.  My first thought was “oh God, who’s running”, then bit by bit my brain processed that I didn’t need to just worry about the people who were physically running the marathon, but I also had to worry about all the first responders I knew who would be working, the people who were heading to Boylston Street to take part in the festivities, friends who were making the mad dash from Fenway Park to the finish line. In the end, it was too many people to keep track of.  Basically most of the city has the day off of work, and most people who are off head to the marathon.I checked my phone every ten seconds, emails, texts, Facebook, twitter, basically anything that would hint that people I knew were safe.  Updates came in painfully slow, or maybe they weren’t even that slow, but they felt slow.  There ended up being more people than I even realized that were in the area.  I felt little pangs of guilt when someone posted on Facebook that they were okay and I hadn’t said a little prayer for them because I didn’t even know they could have been in harm’s way.  I sat in an office at work and watched the same clips on TV over and over.  None of it felt real, I knew it was happening within walking distance of where I was sitting, but it felt like I was on another planet.I’m sickened, I’m heartbroken, but over the past couple days I have never once thought, “well there goes the marathon”, or “no one is going to run next year”.  Actually it’s the total opposite. I thought, “I have to run next year”.  The Boston Marathon (or any race for that matter) has never been on my bucket list, not even a little bit.  I’ve never gotten the hype or could figure out why anyone in his or her right mind would willingly run.  Seriously, it’s hell on your body.  Also I can only run about a minute at a time, so I guess what I’m trying to say is that this isn’t something that has given me the push to do something I always wanted, as a matter of fact I still don’t “want” to run, but I feel I have to.  Running the 2014 Boston Marathon is basically saying “F you” to anyone who thinks they can scare me, and I think that’s pretty indicative of Boston as a whole.We’re a prickly lot, an odd combination of hearty Puritan steadfastness and progressive thinking.  Grazing cattle determined our streets, but we have the most amazing hospitals and universities in the world.  We drink iced coffees while we shovel out our cars, wear flip-flops in February and don’t turn our air conditioners on in July.  We’re tough and smart, loud and funny, and maybe sometimes we don’t have a ton of common sense, but these qualities are what set us apart and bind us together. I’ve never been on a trip where I couldn’t spot Boston people a mile away, they couldn’t spot me, or both.  Maybe it’s because of our shared nature, but I know I’m not the only Bostonian who almost immediately felt the need to run in 2014.  We won’t let an act of cowardice dictate how we live our lives.  We won’t be scared into staying away from one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world.  No one tells us what to do.Will I actually get to the 2014 Boston Marathon?  I’ve got a bad knee and two weak ankles, my doctor could very well tell me that training would be too much for my old bones.  Will anyone who’s had a passing thought of running over the past couple days follow through?  Who knows, and more importantly, does it matter?  A terrorist’s goal is to inspire fear, I’m not afraid, and neither is my city.

Image Credit here