The Green Debate

The green debateThere has been a tonne of articles showing up on my social media feeds about the environment lately.  Have you seen this thing about banning plastic straws?  Many environmentalists are looking to curb the use of plastics, with particular focus on the energy consuming, and very damaging, tiny plastic straw.  The topic was supposedly listed for discussion among the G7 leaders this spring.   Vancouver is set to ban all plastic straws, containers and foam cups by June of 2019 — the first Canadian city to do so.  Apparently, even the Queen has “gone green” and banned plastic straws and bottles on all royal estates.   It’s a hot topic and got me a thinkin’… what is our responsibility to the environment?

Now let me state for the record… I really try and do my part for the earth.  I am forever turning out lights in my house… which gets me critiqued all the time for “living in darkness”.  I recycle often and buy used.  I turn off the tap when I brush my teeth.  I tried banning juice boxes in school lunches after a debate broke out at a school council meeting over — you guessed it — non-recyclable plastic straws.  It didn’t go over so well… my kids instantly rebelled at the lovely reusable drinking containers I purchased and demanded the return of the convenient juice box.  It’s just simpler when you have a large family to go with what is easiest.  I see these adorable Instagram posts of zero waste, environmentally friendly products and wonder… do these people have children?!  Do these people have millions of dollars?!  It’s a huge crisis in my brain when I go to the store and have the option of buying two products… one “green” and one … well… cheap.  I am sorry to say… I opt for cheap.  Sustainability.  Is it really cost effective? Why is it cheaper for me to feed my family of six at McDonalds than to buy organically grown, local vegetables?! Something is wrong.

Perhaps it is moving in the right direction, however… McDonald’s has apparently began looking at the straw thing.  With good reason.  Americans use over 500 million plastic straws per day!! Most of those are used for less than 20 minutes and end up floating around in the ocean.  These and other plastics take forever to degrade… which means that 90% of our marine animals have consumed plastics in their lifetimes… simply mistaking it for food.  This doesn’t include the other environmental hazards like entanglement, toxic leakage and who knows what else.  So far though… I still get a straw when I order my lemonade.  What do I do, then?  I have seen arguments on both sides.  I read a good one about how a complete banning of straws would impact the special needs world significantly.  Many people need the convenience of a plastic straw because of medical or mobility issues, and the alternatives are not suitable.  Hmmmn.  The debate digs deeper…

So let’s take it even further… when is the last time you heard a sermon on caring for the environment in your local church?  Oh. Oh.  We debate sex, drugs, rock and roll — we even dabble in politics and the love of money — but not much gets said about banning straws in church.  Should we be concerned about the environment?In fact, social science studies show that the far right christian worldview is much less concerned with the environment than the general public.  Either because we want to stay away from “tree hugging new age philosophies” that worship all nature as “god”, or because we simply think that this world is all going to be gone anyway when Christ comes back so why worry about it?  And so I muse… WHY?

Is there a need for Jesus followers to be concerned about the environment?  Should we be going green?  Or is it not something we need to be concerned about?  I did a quick google search… and was quite surprised to see very little information about the green debate, the environment and christianity.  A few articles about those radicals, a few scientific studies about how we don’t care… but very few about sermons or discussions on the topic.  One that I did find was a transcript of a podcast by Chip Ingram of livingontheedge.org.  He has a two part series on this very subject.  I encourage you to check it out!  Since I am not an expert, I was pleased to find that the Bible does indeed have lots to say about the environment, and how we should care for it!  It really is a spiritual discipline that we should be considering more.  God created this earth.  He gave it to us to take care of.  Yes, we have “dominion” over it and we were called to “subdue” it… but Ingram does a good job of explaining what that means… it’s not simply to rule and overtake… but a delicate balance of working within the confines of what God has set in motion for our Earth.  We are to preserve the beauty and the natural cycle of the land… without worshipping it.  Did the Israelites know about organic soils and nitrogen replenishing?  No… but God instructed them to let the land rest.  God gives us so many rich resources… and the means to preserve them… if only we would consider it.  I encourage you to dig a little deeper with me, and truly discover what God does say about this issue.  It’s an interesting muse.  Perhaps there will have to be a “Part 2” to this post as I continue to learn…

Until then, I will still be turning out the lights in my house.  I will try and lug-a-mug to church for the coffee fellowship.  I am going to try and explore a bit more about how to be “greener” (and continue to be jealous of those instagram posts).  Will I convince my kids to not use juice boxes?  Time will tell.  Maybe Kermit the Frog had it right:  It isn’t easy being green.not easy being green

 

Have you enjoyed the muses?  Have thoughts or comments on this one?  I’d love to hear from you!  Please join us for this learning adventure… new changes are coming soon and I would love for you to be a part of them!  Click on the follow button on the side bar!

 

 

 

Dinosaur Fossils: My First Guest Post!

 

Thanks so much for following along with me at mittonmusings.com!  I am encouraged by my steady increase in “followers” and am thoroughly enjoying the adventure.  Thank you for participating in the journey!  If you care to share, please pass on your favourite post via google+, facebook, bloglovin’, instagram or pinterest!  Drumroll… I am now tweeting on Twitter too!  You can also email your friends the link or follow along via wordpress reader!  Ha!  You can even TALK to others about it… how crazy would that be?! I am quickly learning that in the blog “underworld” (yes, it truly is another world lying in the shadows of a undiscovered realm of bloggers and writers in this thing we call the internet!) sharing is the biggest way that you can grow! As I learn to put myself  “out there”,  I am happy to announce that I have shared in my first guest post!  So… instead of posting another blog this week… please head on over to visit Anna at abrazoandcoze.com and read all about my easy dinosaur fossil craft!

 

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I’ll be back next Tuesday with another muse about something close to my heart!  Until then, encourage one another, love deeply and smile a little.  🙂

 

Mother’s Day Hoarding

forgetmenot2By the time you read this post, Mother’s Day (in Canada at least) will be over and the flower shops and restaurants will be filling their coffers with yet another year’s profits.  Teachers will be breathing a sigh of relief that their entire class of 27 six-year-olds managed not to kill off their forget-me-nots, which were sent home on Friday, delicately blooming in hand-painted pots destined for moms and grandmothers.  The “mommy-I made-it-all-by-myself breakfasts in bed” kitchens will once again be tidy and neat and the dose of antacid tablets will be taken to settle the fact that you actually ate that “mommy-I-made-it-all-by-myself” breakfast.  *gag*  The moms will smile and wink at the dads who managed a card and who dressed the kids for church and dinner so you could get two more full seconds of sleep on this “special day” (Trust me… little girl tights are not something dads should handle).  Oh… but friends, I promise you this:  We loved every minute of it!

Even now, as mom of two teens, a semi-adult, and an almost grown-up pre-teen, I still appreciate the grunt and nod of acknowledgement that is directed my way every once and awhile.  Come to think of it, I also still have to clean up the kitchen from the “mom-I-made-it-myself” messes.  Hmmn.  So, I muse:  Why?  Why do we, as moms, savour every glimmer of appreciation from our kids?  Why do we never forget a Mother’s Day, even as adults? I think because we were given this God given gift of connection the moment we weloveditheld those beloveds in our arms for the very first time.  According to some early-stage scientific research, we have things called “u-opioids” that are released in our brains when we are socially connected to someone… specifically our mothers.  It’s that whole bonding/proper imprinting thing that is exemplified by those little ducklings illustrated in classic children’s books.  Moms make us feel warm and fuzzy — so we connect — and are now willing to follow them into the water even though we have never swam with our newly hatched tail feathers before.  It’s already pre-wired in our brains.  (Reminds me of that post about chocolate.  In case you missed it, you can read about that here.)

I remember studying about Rhesus monkeys in animal behaviour — when removed from their mothers and isolated, the tiny monkeys clung to warm pieces of cloth in their cages… anything to help them feel safe.   Even the basic need for food was only used temporarily… the monkeys went back to the warm, safe feeling momma.

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It’s in our very nature to connect… especially to our moms. (Photo: via UoT research archives)

Not withstanding the controversies of animal research in the 1960’s, these studies certainly showed us something about our need for connection.  I’m sure it’s biological.  And spiritual. Or both.  How much more do complex humans struggle to connect and bond than our animal counterparts?  Our relationships are the key to our existence.  A God woven ticket into our complexities.  We are too fragile to exist without one another.  Every good Hollywood film or compelling book sets it’s protagonist in an entanglement of relationship woes — and we, as an audience, rejoice when they “live happily ever after”.

I don’t have any research to back it up, but I suspect that even moms who are not particularly close to their kids still hoard things that connect them to their children.  A picture, a note, a card.  Even estranged or adoption birth mothers reflect on the day of their child’s birth.  Just a little bit.  It’s really hard to ignore something that grew inside you for nine months.  I’m a die hard scrapbooker and have been since I was a child.  I collect every ticket stub, brochure and report card.  I have file folders for each one of my beloved offspring and a couple of random ones for the leftover stuff.  I am compelled to save these random trinkets — just in case.  Just in case I need to know that in grade 2 your sister got an 82 in English and was a “pleasure to have in our class”.  Seriously.  I have no idea why I keep these things.  I’m sure it has something to do with u-opioids.  Some inexplicable bond that keeps me connected to my kids and my kids to me — through random photos and sticky, wrinkled papers rescued from the bottoms of backpacks.  These things remind me of the experiences we have shared together — and so I hoard and pile them up as the kids grow into adulthood.

This was the first mother’s day without my sweet mother-in-law.  She was taken from us all too soon from the end stages of Alzheimer’s.  Even though her memories were clouded and her fragile body was fearful at times, the family rejoiced in glimmers of recognition at an old hymn, or at some pattern in the table that struck a chord with her somewhere back in the depths of her memories.  She loved to look at my family scrapbooks.  She’d point and smile, and you could tell something clicked.  This is why we keep these little bits of memorabilia.  Our humanness wants to connect.  We need to feel loved and nurtured.

So, if you are a young mom still struggling with sleepless nights and piles of laundry, I hate to tell you… not much changes.  We still have sleepless nights and laundry.  Only now we are awake because they are out past curfew.  And the laundry just stinks more.  But you learn to treasure the coloured mother’s day cards complete with sparkles that’s hoarded away in a folder.  Why?  Because they remind you of the times your little ones believed that you were all that mattered in the world, and they were willing to follow you into the pond water — no questions asked.  As they get older, your treasures become the Facebook likes on your posts,  or the “mom, how do you make that meatloaf I love?” texts. You even relish in the “Can you please wash these pants in time for tomorrow’s presentation?” just before midnight.  And when your mom needs to be the one who gets cared for, you rejoice that you have made the connection complete.  And you’ll smile when the time comes to clean out her closet after she is gone, and discover that she hoarded a few photos and mother’s day cards from you, too.

treasures

 

 

Science Fairs are Fabulous!

I have a fondness for fairs — especially a good science fair.  I loved them as a student, and I love them now!  There’s something about all that genius in one room that invigorates my senses! I’m not much of a physicist, so life science projects float my boat, but a good model is always an eye-catcher.  Even if it is made of cardboard toilet paper rolls and scotch tape.  Recently, two of the younger folks at our house participated in their respected school’s science fairs.  Here’s my little muse about the results.

science fairs are fabulous

Photo: Andrew Jay

I don’t know about yours, but my kids are kinda the last-minute-mom-it’s-due-tomorrow students.  Many a times I am running to the 24 hour Wal-Mart in search of bristle board! So, I have a book called “Help! My Science Project is Due Tomorrow” for just such an occasion.  It is great for some simple, yet thought-provoking projects for the kids.  This and Pinterest are my best friends.  The youngest, strong-willed one, decided she was doing a project on Chromatography.  She liked the fact that she could play with markers and colour.  Chromatography is “…the separation of parts of a mixture…” in its simplest terms, and this particular fun project is to see what colours are separated out of single coloured markers.  She decided to tackle her discoveries with a friend and the results were super!  The write up was complete; now to put together the display board.  Did I mention she was the strong-willed one?  Those glue stick wielding kids slapped those print outs on the board so fast they forgot to pay attention to the scientific order of such project. *sigh*  My “slightly-controlling-freak-out-science-fair-project-junkie-self” took over for just a moment but — I smiled — breathed — and suggested we carefully peel off the print outs and start again.  Maybe with some pretty coloured matting this time?! And a title!? Her grade level doesn’t move on at her school, but her and her partner proudly displayed their (slightly gluey) board in the gym and nobly collected their participation ribbons.

Her slightly quieter and more methodical older brother, proceeded to complete his project at a friend’s house with ne’er a notice to his science fair loving mom.  The nerve!  They completed a wonderful prototype model of a Concussion Measuring Helmet.  (Coming soon for a $499.99 price tag).  Did I mention he’s into sports?!  His school chose to organize their fair under the premise of “product pitches”.  Despite the fact that they had no parental influences,  I am pleased to say that the two sports buddies were asked to display their project at a local university’s “Innovation Science Fair for Young Inventors”.  My son pleaded with his mom not to go.  Ahem.

Our Entries

One of the super things I love about science — especially kids and students doing science — is it is just magical enough to ignite that love of learning.  Why are erupting volcanoes so popular at science fairs? Duh… it’s because volcanoes EXPLODE and you get to make a huge mess in your mom’s kitchen because it is “for school”.  It’s hands on and it’s investigative and bonus: it teaches you something!  What could be cooler than that?!  Another thing about the great discipline of science in our world is that it is so diverse.  We have life science, engineering, micro, macro, space, technology, math… and the list goes on.  Just about any topic you choose can somehow be related back to science.  One of the top projects at our school this year was about bananas.  Bananas! Did you know there are a variety of ways to store different types of bananas?! This is science fair at its greatest, my friends!

What should be your topic_

Besides the spark of ingenuity and diversity of the great competition, science fairs often spark connections.  Parents often work together with their children on projects.  As much as I have heard complaints of “that so and so parent did that child’s project” (which I certainly don’t condone!) it is usually a project that needs to be completed with some guidance and over time at home.  A perfect excuse to be involved in your child’s education! These connections sometimes put children on a career path that they may never have thought of before doing their research.  Could a visit from a real scientist encourage a child to become the next great surgeon or astronaut?  Could they be the one to embark on an epic journey or discover a new cure for the world at large? Absolutely.  Even if they are not the next Albert Einstein, some kids will become part of a great team of professionals and bring their expertise to their work.  I love how the Bible’s description of Ezra’s journey in Ezra chapter 8 includes “learned men“.  This was an epic journey to fulfill a religious duty, and yet Ezra brings learned men (I am sure a scientist or two!) to round out the collection of priests, musicians, scribes etc.  Even the Magi of the Christmas story were astronomers!  Despite our backgrounds and diverse beliefs, science often rounds out our discussions and strengthens our faith through discovery and collaboration.

Alas, maybe you are not like me.  Maybe you dread the science fair and all it brings.  No worries, my dearest reader, here are five fun resources to make connections with, to learn from, and to make your next science fair project the best one ever! (oh… but don’t forget to use pretty matting and put it in the right order!)

5sciresources

Photos: KMitton and vlad-tchompalov(unsplash)

  1.  Your local library or college/university fair.  These are great places to start.  Visit a competition and see what makes the grade and impresses the judges.  Find books — there are a tonne out there– that give you step by step instructions on completing a great project!
  2.   Television.  Call me old school, but I love Bill Nye the Science Guy.  Cable Channels like Discovery have shows like Myth Busters and Shark Week.  Our local Public Broadcasting System (PBS) have great shows that spark imagination in kids.  Talk and news specials too. Just remember to watch with your kids.  Make appropriate connections.
  3. Professionals.  Do you know a doctor, astronaut, engineer?  Take a kid to work day may be a great option.  Ask the teacher!  They know! Get those high schoolers ready for the real world and workplaces.  Participate in a live project!
  4. Charities.  I love Scientists in School.  Often they are the first exposure to a real scientist that kids have.  Their workshops provide lots of resources to ignite that creativity in the little ones! Edutopia also seems like a really great resource in collaboration with the George Lucas Educational Foundation… and who knows science better than the Star Wars guy?!
  5. The great internet!  I would have loved access to the internet back in the days when I had to create my projects.  Homeschooling moms, true scientists, educators and authors have lots to share on Pinterest and other places.  Don’t worry, your kids already have googled ” super gross experiments” and have their top 5 list for you.  Word to the wise though… filter filter filter!

 

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