Friday, September 30, 2011

It's EcoChallenge Time!

Ok, so if you follow me (I'm not really sure who does as little as I get to post these days) you have heard me rave in the past about the Northwest Earth Institute. They are a non-profit that is helping to spread discussion about change to basically - help the earth. I've participated in several discussion groups and they have shaped and changed the way my family eats, lives, etc. It is like a tiny seed that grows and so I'm always grateful for that little seed.

Therefore, despite busy crazy lives with two kids, we will be participating once again in the NWEI EcoChallenge. A 15 day challenge do change an action (or two) and also to help them raise some funds to keep doing what they are doing. You can read more about how we did last year here:

EcoChallenge - Day 1
Challenge Update
More about NWEI
Challenge Reflection

We found a lot of cool ways to eat local and live greener or simpler in that challenge. So this year we are going to change or focus just a bit and instead we are going to focus on reducing food waste (read more here). There are some exciting things going on in PDX now with curbside composting and coop food purchasing and farmers markets and canning parties. This is an easy place to live sustainably. My pantry is stocked and my freezers are full. How do we make sure that we are not wasting all this? Our challenge for the next two weeks will be to try to raid our pantry and freezer for the week's meals. I'll still be buying our Lady Lane Milk and farm eggs and fresh organic produce... but we'll be trying to eat up what is older and in the back of those cupboards and chest freezer so nothing goes unused.

I know this seems small - but it is our one tiny extra thing that we are trying out. If you want to see what some of the other participants are doing check out some of the featured bloggers or even better - join me in the challenge by signing up too! Or... consider pleding just a small amount to encourage us to keep up with our challenge. Just $1 a day ($15) or even a small $5 donation in the name of good things for the earth would be awesome. If you really want to know more about NWEI donate more, become a member, and participate in a discussion group (I'd love to join you in one). Read the post above about NWEI and you'll know they are a great group to be fundraising just a little bit for!

The Ho Family Challenge is on!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mandarin on my mind - week 3

So we are now into week three of Mandarin immersion kindergarden. We are settling into to new routines, and into fall. Some of my own fears and anxiety are gone and so, I think, are some of our daughters. Mainly, I'm happy to report there is mostly just wonder and awe.

I have to admit, I of course expected the worst (complaints about not understanding or not wanting to go to school), but was caught totally off guard by the actual challenges we faced. There has been very little if any complaints about language barriers (some confusion over pronouncing her Chinese teachers name our only real heart ache). She is excited to learn and loves reciting new words and songs to anyone who will listen. She does homework happily and loves her teachers....she is mainly her happy easy going self.

We had some struggles with being tired, focusing on eating lunch, and general clingy-ness but even that has been minimal thanks to lots of early tips I think. So, what surprised me? Well, she lost her first tooth in week 2 of school (did not see that coming), she has blisters all over her hands from being convinced that her purpose at school is to be able to completely cross every monkey bar several times (oh and learn to do a cart wheel), and she is struggling a bit socially to find new friends and fit in (not totally surprising but hard for me to watch and just listen knowing she would have to find her own way on this one issue).

Not that I thought she wouldn't be a normal child, but the expectation that she would somehow struggle with language on top of this is what is really throwing me of. She still might, but for now the excitement is going strong for all of us. She is amazingly brave and strong.... I'm excited to see her show interest in cultural aspects as well. I watched her in Wushu (kung Fu) class and heard her glowing about Chinese dance class today...all great added exposure to language as well. Oh yes, and hearing how she is learning to read and write "I am 5" (yes in English) was exciting too.

I'm also surprised at how much we have left all of our own worries about her learning in two languages behind (even embracing and supporting it more passionately than we originally did). I have no doubt now that this is a terrific program that I suspect will will love being a part of over the years. I'm also sort of surprised to see that I want and need to learn more about the language myself in these early weeks... So here we go together. So far, so good.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Could you read a book a week?

When you have kids, maybe a job or jobs, pets, a home, friends, family..... things are crazy. Technology and TV can suck you in....more more more.... Let me guess, reading is not always high on the list of thing you do every day right? Maybe you could change that!

A high school friend of mine, with two very young kids and yes a job recently blew me away with a Facebook post turned blog. Ray realized that at his current pace of reading he would be missing out on hundreds of good books before his life was over. So, he started the book-a-week challenge. He is now on a mission to read a book a week!

Check it out far several weeks in he is certainly got me interested:

I read a lot of papers and articles and though most people say this reading is just for work, I still love it. This however is easy compared to a whole book.

I really love how Ray beaks his whole books down into little challenges (like number of pages a day, or type or size of book). So maybe I can do a little more reading and a little less of something else huh.... Could you read a book a week? Maybe you should join him in the Challenge.

I don't read all that fast but I'm inspired to read more that's fore sure. Way to go Ray!