Thursday, October 30, 2008

Books, Books, and More Books

Today over at, my fellow blogger, Late Blooming Mom, asked: what are your recommendations for must-have children’s books? And as a bonus, where in Tulsa do you buy books? I had to jump right on this one because although Bubs is only 2, I am an AVID reader so I wanted to start him early. (I think I have been successful as he most often chooses books with Mommy over “tar-toons” with Daddy.)

Here are some of our favorites:
All of the “David” books by David Shannon
Anything by Sandra BoyntonBrown
Bear, Brown Bear; Panda Bear, Panda Bear; and Polar Bear, Polar Bear by Martin & Carle
I Got Two Dogs by John Lithgow (Nannie just got this one for Bubs and it is already a FAV!)Dirt on My Shirt by Jeff Foxworthy
Little Boy by Alison McGhee
Harold & the Purple Crayon
Mommy by Maurice Sendak
Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis (Bubs is actually getting this for Christmas)
The “If You Give…” books
Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney (LBM, this is the correct author name)

When I was growing up and starting reading chapter books, my favorite was The Boxcar Children. Now there is a whole series. I have my old hardback just waiting for when Bubs gets older! I can't wait!!

Now you might be asking. . ."Okay, Mrs. "Avid Reader" Howell, what are YOU reading right now?" Well, truth be told, I have ventured back to my youthful side and have taken up with some teen fiction. . .yes, I am reading the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. My good friend Melissa recommended it. She knows I love to read lots of different things AND she heard that I was sick and there was subsequently a sick black cloud hanging over our house for a couple of weeks! So I got a copy. Not even half way through the 1st book, I ordered the entire set. I really dig the book and couldn't see myself just stopping at the end of this first "chapter" since they continue on. Since then I have come across so many friends who are also obsessed with these books. It is amazing. . .and fun that we all share diverse reading preferences and there are so many theories and opinions.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy HalloGREEN - my regular blog

When we think of Halloween, we probably think of ORANGE and BLACK (well, some of us think of these gorgeous colors all year long. . .football season, basketball season, baseball season, soccer season. . .and YES, I STILL LOVE MY ‘BOYS EVEN AFTER THIS WEEKEND!!!!). However, this year, I’m trying to incorporate at least a little GREEN into my Halloween.

Last year I took a step towards greening up Halloween without even knowing it by purchasing a reusable treat bag for my son and my cousin’s daughter too! Sadly, that was before I started consciously greening up, so it didn’t come from a super earth-friendly store, but it is reusable for years to come nonetheless! My friends over at actually give this tip regarding treat bags: Use a pillowcase or cloth shopping bag or make a simple loot bag using recycled materials. No need to run out and buy a plastic loot bag, which will be discarded after a single use. Remind your children to dispose of their candy wrappers in their bags or in trash cans rather than on the street.

Another step taken towards greening up my Halloween that I didn’t realize (and I bet you haven’t realized it in your own home) is using the same decorations year after year. I have a lovely wreath that my mom made for me several years ago (I’ll probably have to post about this at the holidays too because she made me a wreath for December as well!). I always love getting it out because it makes me happy to see how creative and talented Going Green Grandma is. Little did either of us know that we were participating in a recycling of sorts! I also love to get out my candy basket year after year. . .it holds loads of treats. . .or one big one (see pic!).

Speaking of treats. . .who doesn’t enjoy a good treat on Halloween or any day for that matter. . .give me some chocolate and see one happy woman! In my quest for greening up Halloween, I found some suggestions about treats from another great website. How about passing out healthy and green Halloween treats. Organic Halloween treats such as whole grain pretzels, honey sticks, healthy snack bars, mini organic cookie packs, sunflower seeds, fruit roll ups, or 100% juice boxes would be appreciated by kids and parents alike! You also may want to consider those little ones with allergies when you pick out your Halloween goodies. Choosing treats without nuts, preservatives, or artificial colorings will keep everyone safe AND green!

A new tip that I found this year is to burn beeswax or soy candles in your pumpkins or however you use them with your Halloween decor. Apparently, normal old household candles can be petroleum based. Pure beeswax or soy candles are easier on the environment, and the natural smell won’t run your out of the room! I had heard that these earth-friendly candles are more expensive and they are; however, they do claim to burn longer (I’ll have to let you know about that after the holiday since I haven’t burned any candles yet).

And finally a few words about costumes. I am seriously lacking in this department, I admit it. I bought my son TWO costumes for his 1st Halloween — a super cute skeleton sweatsuit AND a scarecrow for picture purposes. I also bought two costumes last year (sigh). Now last year was a different issue. I purchased a pirate costume, but it ended up to be too big so at the last minute I had to buy another costume for the Jr. League Trunk or Treat. I have recently somewhat redeemed myself by donating the 2nd costume to my son’s school for the dress up bin because there are so few boy dress up items. And thankfully the pirate costume fits this year so that is what he is going wear (even though if you ask him what he is going to be he will say either Batman or Spiderman). This counts as “recycling”, right? For more way better ideas on homemade Halloween costumes, check out some fab ideas from throughout the 918.
Happy HalloGREEN my little witches, goblins, ghosts and monsters! (As a mom, I feel that I should also say don’t eat so much candy that you get a tummy ache AND don’t forget to brush your teeth!)


Sunday, October 26, 2008 post - Being Green can be a CHALLENGE!

I wanted to thank Eco Goddess [over at], an admittedly “very green” mom, for her recent post on simple steps to being green. This is what I am getting at. . .this is what I am trying to live. I am all about having someone lay out the direction I should take. And I am always up for a Challenge!

When I first started thinking about “going green” I read a couple of things that meant alot to me (so much so that I wrote them in my day planner and I carry them around with me to serve as a reminder that even the little things count). These words made me feel a whole lot less guilty about not being able to just do a complete 180 on my lifestyle. Sloan Barnett wrote in her book, Green Goes With Everything: “Look, I don’t live in a log cabin. I don’t bake my own bread. I wear leather shoes like everyone else. I’m normal. I’m you. And I’m far from perfect when it comes to being green. I’m different shades of green, let’s say–some days kelly, some days hunter, some days a selfish lime. But I’m trying, and I think there’s a lot of value–practical value for you and your family–in trying too.” And this (sadly, I am not sure who said/wrote it): “Going green doesn’t have to mean single-handedly saving the Earth. Instead, it can be just reading a label, thinking a little, and making new choices.”

A choice I recently made was signing up for the Campaign Earth Challenge- - adopt one eco-friendly practice for 30 days. These are activities that supposedly every “average Joe [or in my case Jane] can relate to.” Reduce junk mail by canceling catalog subscriptions (in this age of the internet we all shop online anyway). Shop at a farmers’ market or buy directly from local farmers (something I already love to do). Ride the bus (um, no comment). And use CFLs(my husband is SO all over this. . .another trip to Home Depot). The Challenge’s creator, Sarah Kasprzak Lachance says “the idea is that by the end of the month, each activity will become habit. After all, who would ask to be put back on junk-mail lists?”

So let’s talk about the Campaign Earth challenge. I take things pretty seriously when I sign my name to them as you are asked to do on the Campaign Earth website to accept the challenge. So. . .cue the MI 1, 2, and 3 music please. . .the first mission if I chose to accept it is to call Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Serena & Lily, Horchow, Land of Nod, Tea, etc., etc., etc. (because sister gets a LOT of catalogs!!) and tell them to please stop sending their catalogs to me in the mail. This really breaks my heart. From a young age I have loved two things. . .getting mail and shopping. Catalogs combine the two in perfect harmony! Sniff, sniff. . .but, alas, I have accepted my mission and “signed” on the virtual line. So I begin to gather the catalogs as they arrive in the mail and set aside just 10 minutes each day to call these companies and request to be removed from their mailing list. With each conversation I feel compelled to tell the representative that I will DEFINITELY still be buying from them so don’t do anything crazy like delete my customer number!!

I have called 25 companies (Yes, Schmoops, 25 and I’m not done. . .and 25 catalogs doesn’t necessarily mean that I have ordered from all of them. . .okay, so I have. . .you knew this when you married me, right?) and asked to be removed from their mailing lists. It is bittersweet, but I know it is a positive step down the Green Brick Road!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sad day. . .

As you might have noticed, I missed blogging yesterday. Bubs was/is very sick. I think he is actually on the mend now that we had a visit with the awesome Dr. Raley. I am now and forever indebted to the person that invented Zofran. Bubs has not thrown up in 18 hours and we both got some sleep last night. LOTS of glorious sleep!!!!

So you may be asking. . .if Bubs is getting better, why so sad, Mrs. Howell?

Well, you see this was supposed to be Girls (& Kids) weekend with my Fulton Patrol co-officer Beth, Sophie and Hunter, not to mention a day at the Boo Ha Ha parade with Andrea and the twins AND a big girls' night in (after kiddos were sufficiently worn out and asleep) with Bethie, Andrea and Foster. We had been planning it for quite sometime. Understandably, no one really wants to come into the House of Puke. (Poor Bubs. . .someday when he is about 17 and if he should ever read this entry, might be embarrassed that I referred to the House of Puke. But for the past 48 hours that is exactly what it has been!) We have promised to reschedule, but I know how busy everyone is and I just don't know when it might be possible. So here's to my girls and the time when we can finally get back together again and continue the good times that we have had over the past 15 years. . .

Friendship Sonnet
by William Shakespeare

When to the session of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death¹s dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish¹d sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Pirate Fairy

Nannie has a double life. She has the life here in the real world with us. . .and she has another life online. I have to say that as her only daughter (only child period!) I was a little leary (jealous?) of these strangers I don't know, have never met, will never meet as they live who knows where and basically exist virtually. For that matter, it is highly unlikely that Nannie will ever meet these people that she is now calling her friends -- now there IS a conference where these book readers (it's an author's site, so I suppose I shouldn't be TOO worried). So I admit that I may have given Nannie a certain amount of crap about her other state of reality. . .and as is par for the course in my life this week, now I must eat my words!

With Halloween approaching, Nan has been "talking" (on the Boards where she met these friends) about her favorite little man, Bubs, and all of the fun trick or treating activities he has coming up. Bubs is supposed to be a pirate for Halloween, but if you ask him he will tell you that he is going to be Batman or Spiderman. (This late in the game, there are no small-size Batmans or Spidermans, the pirate costume is purchased, was EXPENSIVE and IS going to be worn, I assure you!) So the other night Nannie tells me that "Ginger" has sent Bubs a pirate mask and some lollipop covers -- cute little gobblins that will hold Bub's Halloween suckers. They are the cutest things. . .expertly done too! The mask is a pirate face fully stitched and with a monogrammed eye patch. The mask is incredible, but the sentiment behind it was even more beautiful. It really touched Nannie's heart (and, of course, Bubs loved it). Ginger, thank you so much!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I am the Going Green Mom. . .check me out at

This is the first post from my blog as the Going Green Mom at I thought I would share it with you all. I also encourage you to visit the website. It is a the local website for moms, about moms, created by moms in the 918 area code. I promise you'll find something interesting, helpful, funny and relative!

In February, I took a huge step. . .I started a new job, leaving a company that I had been with for 8 years. Professionally, it was a good step. I had no idea that it would lead to a personal journey to reduce my own carbon footprint. . .
I now work with two ladies, T & V, who are passionate about recycling and it’s contagious. At first they would ask if they could take my empty water bottles, then they started carting my microwave meal boxes home with them to recycle, and one (*cough* V *cough*) has been known to walk in offices to make sure there are no Coke cans in the trash (granted, we actually have aluminum recycling bins in each kitchen in our 23 floor building).
Well, I started to feel guilty. I could easily take my own bottles and boxes home to recycle and the extra steps to the aluminum recycle bin would only add to my daily pedometer goal! So I got a paper grocery bag (now replaced by this cool reusable one!) and set it next to my desk for the bottles. Step one. I also have a bag for the boxes which I now collect from the 5 of us who are on Weight Watchers at work. Step two. And finally I took the biggest step of all. . .incorporating my family (namely my husband) into the process. My dear hubby is an environmental engineer after all (his precious OSU started as an AG college for goodness sake)! One would think this would be right up his alley. Um, no. So I strategized. . .what would make him want to get involved? Hmmm. . .ding, ding, ding! A trip to Home Depot!!! So we loaded up (in our SUV. . .sorry, I said I wasn’t perfect!!) and headed out in search of some supplies to make our recycling center. Because curbside recycling is not an option in our area of the 918, our plan was to set up bins in the garage and on Saturday mornings on our way to soccer we would stop off at the MET center in Jenks and drop off our glass, aluminum, plastic, and paper. Step three.
I am proud to report that these steps have added up. . .and led to more, so more blogs to follow! And with the help and suggestions of my passionate tree-hugging co-workers (love you, girls!), I am trying to make the 918 a better place. . .one step at a time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Target and the rest of the World

My friend Tiff used to say "Target has a 'cover charge'. . .you basically HAVE to spend at least $20 everytime you are there." Truer words were never spoken as evidenced by my 2nd Target spree of the week. Tonight it mostly centered around stuff for Bubs and his upcoming Fall Festival extravangza at school; however, it ended up costing me over $200. Ugh. Schmoops is not going to be happy at all. Double ugh. I try to remind myself that this is why I work. . .so I can go buy what I want when I want and not have to really answer for it (as long as it is within reason). This might be the case except as I said this is my 2nd trip this week. The previous trip also involved stuff for Bubs, but I also threw in a super cute cardigan, tights and two books for myself.

Looking back over my $400 week of nothing. . .I am faced once again with something I have been contemplating, and, yes, praying about recently and that is partaking in a challenge called 30 Days of Nothing. It goes something like this. . .stolen shamelessly from Tonia.

For 30 days, my family will buy nothing except our basic necessities. No clothes or books. No movies, no trips to the ice cream parlor. No paper, or pictures, or magazines. No fancy hair gel or take-and-bake pizza. Lattes? Nope. Nothing except what it takes to live. . .I'd like to try and identify with some of the "least" (economically) of the world. We will try and live without electricity for a day; eat only rice for a day. Perhaps the family will sleep together in one room for a night - on the floor; or walk six miles one day - the distance some African women walk daily to get clean water. The goal of this month-long fast is to break the grip of materialism in our hearts and minds. We want to live in gratitude, not discontent; and we want to live with awareness of the great responsibility our affluence has laid on our shoulders.

Schmoops and I are currently in the phase of setting our personal parameters -- we both work afterall, so I am not sure the no electricity is going to fly, but who knows if we could go without TV for even a couple of nights or turn off these blessed computers once a week that would be progress! We need to decide what our necessities are and what we will give up. I am not sure if this is a religious thing for us, a financial test, or just plain stupidity. But we have so much and I know that I for one take it for granted most of the time. . .like tomorrow when I will probably have to stop by Target for something else!


"...happy is he who is gracious to the poor." Prov. 14:21

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Blog. . .REALLY?

"Oh, it's not going to be one of those 'Mommy Blogs,' is it?" said with only the kind of love a true friend has. Hmmm...well, I guess it is, but hopefully more! So McBFF, this one's for you and all my sisters who are juggling. . .LIFE!

There will more than likely be quite a bit of Mommy in this blog as Bubs is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. But there will also be equal (almost?) amounts of wife, daughter, friend, employee, volunteer, celebrity gossip enthusiast, spa lover and blogger (here and on Stay tuned. . .

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