It’s probably no surprise to anyone living here that the air quality in the Washington DC area is poor; it gets a grade of F in ground-level ozone (smog) from the American Lung Association, putting the Metro DC among the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities in the ozone category. This matters to every living being, but especially to small children whose bodies are more acutely affected by inhaled toxins. Organizations like the American Lung Association and others advocating for healthy air quality describe breathing smog-filled air as “getting a sunburn on your lungs.”
During this season of hibernation, bulbs are awaiting warm weather to shoot up through the earth and expose their colorful glory. So am I. I’m working on gathering some great material to push out come springtime while I spend these cold months conserving my energy.*
While the air is cold and the predominant colors brown and grey, there is a lot going on under the ground and under protective cover!
We’ve got a lot of great upcoming events listed in the calendar but wanted to compile them into this quick list so you’re sure not to miss them!
Thursday, February 19: Moms Clean Air Force Virginia Mama Summit, Virginia General Assembly, Richmond, VA, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Note: Mindful Healthy Life is a partner in this event
Thursday, February 19: “Raising Non-Toxic Kids in a Toxic World” presentation at Holistic Moms Arlington/Alexandria chapter, UUCA, 7-9 p.m.
Saturday, February 21: Traditional Foods daylong seminar with Sally Fallon Morell – just a few spots left!
Saturday, February 28: Rooting DC gardening conference, Wilson High School, Washington, DC, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
March 4-7: Green Schools National Conference, Virginia Beach, VA
March 17-29: Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital
Thursday, March 19: “Family Biking 101” panel, Holistic Moms Arlington/Alexandria chapter, UUCA, 7-9 p.m.
Monday, April 6: Growing Green Schools, Fairlington Community Center, Arlington, VA, 2:30-4:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 9: School Environmental Action Showcase, George Mason University Center for the Arts, Fairfax, VA, 9:00 a.m. -2:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 16: “Screen Time” presentation with Lisa Guernsey, sponsored by Holistic Moms Network Arlington/Alexandria Chapter and Arlington Unitarian Cooperative Preschool, UUCA, Arlington, VA, 7-9 p.m.
April 17-19: Mind-Body Week, The Mindfulness Center, Silver Spring, MD
Sunday, April 26: DC Birth and Babies Fair, The Hill Center, Washington, DC, 12:00-5:00 p.m.
Monday, May 11: NoVA Outside Networking meeting, Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Annandale, VA, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 16: Peace Love and Yoga Fest, Washington, DC, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 21: “Real Food with Nina Planck,” Holistic Moms Network Arlington/Alexandria Chapter, UUCA, Arlington, VA, 7-9 p.m.
Winter is a time for turning inward, and I’ve been trying to honor that wisdom. Or rather, I’ve been working hard to address chronic health issues through diet and lifestyle changes and thus have been a little quiet here. My hope is to form a team that will help me bring things together for a great one-year anniversary for the site this spring.
In the past few weeks, The Paleo Mom has eloquently chronicled how stress has played a role in her health, including her recent diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease I have kept largely (but not totally) at bay since I became a mom in 2006. Her journey has made me feel even more strongly about the priorities I set and the care I take with my health even as I pursue projects I care about deeply, including this website. Read More
Leaders of Northern Virginia’s environmental education scene met last week to discuss recent renovations and sustainability initiatives taken at George C. Marshall High School in Fairfax County and to discuss plans for a possible statewide environmental education organization.
Members of the leadership team of NoVA Outside, an alliance of environmental educators, took a student-led tour of the school and its green features. The school’s student environmental organizations, Earth Force and the Native Species Club, sponsored by Barbara Brown have been busy for years on environmental initiatives and were successful at getting several environmental features and design components worked into the renovation.
NoVA Outside leadership team member Elenor Hodges shared some of the sustainability components that were worked into Marshall’s recent renovation. Hodges, a member of the Arlington Public Schools Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability and also the director of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment said, “I was really impressed with what they had accomplished, specifically with the student-driven projects and the excitement and engagement of the students. It was very apparent that these were students who had come up with these ideas. I was inspired, and I hope that we can learn how to take a lot of what Arlington focuses on in LEED certification and take it to the level of using student leadership and student ideas.”
The best example at Marshall, Hodges said, was a green roof. A student who has since graduated wanted a green roof to be in a very visible location even if students did not have access to the roof. During the renovation, this was made possible. The money needed to install and expand the green roof was raised by students. The students who led the tour talked about what it does to reduce the school’s stormwater impact but also noted the fact that it’s a visible project that students can see every day. The students did the design, planning and fundraising for this and other projects. Hodges said Marshall has great examples of student initiatives as well as greenovation.
Hodges said there was also lots of student engagement with the two courtyards they viewed on the tour. One of which was a modern space for which, after the renovations, students in the Native Species Club designed a complementary landscape plan using native plants. One feature is this herb spiral that helps drain water down the courtyard.
Chances are good that if someone is holding a health- or wellness-related event in Northern Virginia, cellular hydration specialist Julianne O’Dwyer will be there or was involved in organizing it. Julianne, whose business is Vital Healthy Life, healed several chronic conditions with the help of proper hydration.
In today’s guest post, Julianne explains why hydration is crucial to health. In future posts, Julianne will delve into further detail about the health benefits of drinking water, particularly alkaline water.
“While a political prisoner in Iran in 1979, Dr. Freydoon Batmanghelidj was approached by a fellow prisoner who was struggling with crippling peptic ulcer pain. With no medications at his disposal, Dr. Batmanghelidj gave the ill man two glasses of water. Within minutes, the pain started to disappear. After drinking two glasses of water every three hours for several days, the prisoner became absolutely pain free for his four remaining months in prison. It was in this Iranian prison that Dr. Batmanghelidj discovered the healing power of water.
In his book, You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty , Dr . Batmanghelidj explains that dehydration can contribute to numerous health issues including angina, acid reflux, ADD/ADHD, allergies, Alzheimers, arthritis, asthma, Autism, colitis, constipation, dementia, depression, Diabetes, Dyslexia, fatigue, food cravings, fuzzy thinking, headaches, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint stiffness, kidney stones, low energy, Lyme disease, menopause, migraines, obesity, pain, Parkinson’s, sleep issues, Sinusitis, and skin disorders. Read More
The winter solstice is coming on Sunday, December 21, and there are lots of great opportunities for reflection. So many that we haven’t even had a chance to put them all in our calendar yet!
So here’s a quick compilation of solstice and winter events. Be sure to follow the links for information on prices and registration. Most of these events are not free.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Yoga Nidra: Relax and Renew at lil omm yoga in NW DC, 6:15-7:45 p.m.
Winter Solstice Hike at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington, VA, 3:00-4:15 p.m.
Winter Solstice Shakti Flow with Jeneen Piccuro at Local Motion Studio in Alexandria, VA, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Note – this class has been canceled. Look for it to run in January!
Winter Solstice Celebration (ages 3 and up) at Locust Grove Nature Center, Bethesda, MD, 4-6 p.m.
Winter Solstice Celebration at Brookside Nature Center in Silver Spring, MD, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Winter Solstice Yoga class for donations to ASPAN, Sun & Moon Yoga, Arlington, VA, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Note that the Fairfax County Solstice Event for Sunday was canceled due to low numbers, but there will be some discussion of the solstice at the Friday, December 19 Wintertime Warmth Campfire at 7:00 p.m.
Other ways to welcome winter:
Host a Solstice Party of your own. You could do crafts related to dark and light, make special snacks, sing songs about cold or about sun, do things by candlelight.
Read books like Winter, Awake!, The Winter Solstice, and Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice, or make up stories in the wordless Gerda Muller Winter board book.
December 28: Warm Up to Winter Dance Party, lil omm yoga, 6:30-7:45 p.m.
December 31: Family New Years Eve party at lil omm yoga, 4:00-5:00 p.m. for ages 0-3, 5:30-7:00 p.m. for ages 3 and up.
And of course, for more winter fun beyond the solstice, consult all the other great websites that feature lists of children’s activities around the DC area. Scroll to the bottom of our Around DC page for all the ones we know about.
Long before launching the new Nourish Schools Super Food Cards this past October, Katherine Sumner has been an inspiration on the Real Food front. While a parent at George Mason Elementary School in Alexandria, she organized Farm to School events that inspire me today, now that I have two kids in elementary school. We met seven ago during a cooking class after which Katherine went on to complete her holistic health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York and then to co-found Nourish Schools.
Katherine and Nourish Schools co-founder Casey Seidenberg (whose great nutrition articles you’ve probably seen in the Washington Post’s Local Living section) are both moms. Katherine has two boys who have adjusted well to life in Colorado, and Casey has remained local with her two sons and daughter. After a few years of helping schools assess and improve their health/wellness scorecards, the two decided that the time had come for them to create the product their clients needed to help them be successful at implementing wellness protocols.
Katherine said, “Over the years when I would do either cooking classes or we’d do talks, we just kept hearing people say there was so much information out there. The people we were working with, this was so new to them; they hadn’t heard about soaking grains. They just felt overwhelmed. So we started putting together these cheat sheets, and one of our clients said to us ‘you need to get these out there.’ We realized there was a need for a resource that was both user-friendly and sustainable.”
And thus were born Super Food Cards.
For this first set of cards, Katherine and Casey decided to focus on basic categories of nutrition – Greens, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts & Seeds, Beans, Whole Grains, Protein, and Stocks (broths) – and to keep the product to a card with a front and back. The cards are geared toward wide audiences; they can be used by people new to nutrition and as cheat sheets for those who already soak their grains and beans.
The cards are folded so that they have four sides, each 7.5 x 10″. Each card includes how-to (prepare, store, etc). information as well as explanation of why you’d want to eat each food and quick tips for integrating them into your diet. On the back of the Greens chart, for example is a chart describing which stems to eat (or not), which are good in a smoothie, and which to eat raw. Read More
Climate change has been all over the news in recent months, and moms are leading the charge. This summer, Moms Clean Air Force, the country’s largest group of moms working on climate change with over 400,000 members, organized a play-in on the Capitol in early July and later that month brought the same energy to a rally supporting the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
Recently, the Keystone XL Pipeline failed in the US Senate. This is good news, says MCAF. If passed, the Keystone XL Pipeline would have dramatically increased production of Canadian tar sands oil, one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet. MCAF argues that approval of the pipeline would have endangered our country, our children’s health, and the lives of many, all while worsening our dependance on fossil fuels and accelerating climate change. The issue is now to be decided by the Obama administration.
But the fight continues. On Monday, December 1, Moms Clean Air Force staff and volunteers, including local mom Jessica Hunt, delivered 175,000 comments to the EPA to ask for the strongest possible regulations on carbon pollution under the Clean Power Plan. Right now, there are no limits on the amount of carbon that can be released from coal fired plants. Our children’s health is depending on us to protect them from carbon emissions that pollute the air they breathe and lead to our warming planet.
But the Clean Power Plan is under attack in most every state legislature next year with model legislation designed to kill or gut the carbon rules. MCAF is calling on its members to join the group in demanding that states work to protect our children and communities from toxic air pollution and climate change.
An easy way to learn about local events and actions on climate change and clean air is to request to join the Facebook group for Moms Clean Air Force DC, the Facebook group for the Maryland MCAF chapter, and the Facebook group for the Virginia MCAF chapter.
Great Falls Park seemed like the perfect excursion on a sunny day during a long holiday weekend when we’d all eaten too much and not gotten outside nearly enough. Each pairing in our family of four needed to be broken up every 20 minutes. I hoped watching the water tumble over rocks would be good for all of our souls.
It was. The trip even garnered my son’s “favorite part of Thanksgiving” when asked today by the dentist. But that doesn’t mean it was perfect. My daughter, aged four, is not one to go long without whining these days. She’ll turn it off on an instant if we find the right antidote: a race, a “look over there,” and sometimes things I don’t care to share! She’s spunky and opinionated, and not accustomed to the kind of long hikes I thought I might take my kids on all the time if I hadn’t had so many postpartum (and lingering) health issues. Fortunately, her older brother has more stamina than he did when I read and wrote about the memoir Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure, but I still marvel to think about how long Patricia Ellis Herr’s 3- and 5-year-old hiked with her. And how often!
Unlike those treks to peaks in New Hampshire, our short excursion in Northern Virginia was alternately beautiful and blissful and incredibly annoying. Mostly due to the finicky nature of my four-year-old. The path was fun until her brother outpaced her and me.
The reflection of a tree north of the falls was pretty cool until she complained she was hungry (which will happen if a child doesn’t eat her lunch and her parents don’t give in to piling her with snacks instead as they might on weaker days).
The view of the kayakers was impressive and garnered lots of commentary, but once we left the overlook, it was all downhill, so to speak.
I thought we might last more than 90 minutes and actually get a little ways down the River Trail. I recalled her brother scrambling over rocks at not quite her age and enjoying it. But alas, she had to pee. And we didn’t learn until later that further into the park, just before entering the woods, was a building with a flush toilet. Read More