Eco-Friendly Seattle Trip – The Beginning

Think back to your early childhood, the preschool and elementary school years. What memories stand out the most? Do you remember the gifts you were given, the toys you had? What about experiences, trips, and time spent together with a parent?

I wrote yesterday of my belief in the power of giving experiences over things, so when birthdays come around I start thinking of a trip or experience that will capitalize on that child’s interests at the time and will be something we can share together. Yay for one-on-one quality time!

Just recently I had the good fortune to be the parent chosen to take my 6-year-old on a fantastic eco-friendly journey which started and ended by train. In between was a whole lot of fun. Did you guess previously where we went? If you guessed Seattle, you guessed right!

We started on an early October morning with the one piece of the weekend that my planes, trains, and construction truck guy was so looking forward: a long (few hours) train ride to our neighbor to the north!

Oregon City Train Station

Oregon City Train Station

Riding the train was a fantastic way to begin our adventure. We were able to sit back and watch the gorgeous country fly by as we enjoyed books, games, and some snacks from the snack car. The quality time had already begun and we had just started!

We were going to do this whole weekend without a car., so after we pulled into the Seattle train station we made a beeline straight for the cabs and didn’t even have to wait! We had a great driver who was funny and chatty with my kid, wished him a happy birthday, and got us to our hotel for $7.

Relaxing in the Hotel - Hyatt at Olive 8

Relaxing in the Hotel – Hyatt at Olive 8

The hotel, oh the hotel, is going to get a post all its own, but let me tell you that we both wanted to move in. But greater Seattle awaited us!

Seattle Monorail

Seattle Monorail – built in 1962 for the World’s Fair.


We strolled down to catch the Seattle Monorail and check a couple of our must-see, must-do items off the list. Riding the monorail is a fun way to see a little bit of the city on your way to the Seattle Center, home to many of Seattle’s attractions. It’s a quick ride, but worth it.

The Seattle Space Needle

The most recognizable tourist attraction in all of Seattle, the Space Needle was built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. At 650 feet tall, you can see most of the city from the observation deck.

Inside the Seattle Space Needle

After a long day we were ready to enjoy the comforts of our fabulous hotel room. When I heard those magic words as we were going to bed – “This is the best day ever!” – I knew that we were off to a great start.

I can’t wait to tell you more about the fun adventures we had on our eco-friendly visit to Seattle. I know once you hear more about the hotel, you’ll be planning your own visit shortly!

Other Links That May be of Interest About Our Seattle Travels:

Eco-Friendly Seattle Trip – The Beginning
Give Experiences Over Things
Making Eco-Friendly Memories
The Train is Part of the Journey
Great Eco-Friendly Summer Road Trip

Give Experiences Over Things

Taking the Train to Togetherness

Taking the Train to Togetherness

Birthdays, Gifts, and Choices

This is the time of year when my family becomes birthday focused. It often seems like we are always moving from one celebration to the next between Christmas and mid-summer. I certainly love a good green party as much as the next girl, but a good party takes quite a bit of though, planning, and care to ensure a good time for all and to lessen the impact on the environment.

What are the first things you think of when you think of birthday celebrations? For my kids it is friends (and family), cake, and presents. I love to celebrate with friends and family and I even love dreaming up the best cake for the birthday child (or husband). What I don’t love is all of the presents – often well-intentioned, but often played with a couple of times and then left to become a part of the mess that is always our playroom.

For years now my husband and I have decided not to give our children gifts of things at all. Instead we choose an experience they get to enjoy with the parent of their choice based on their most current interests. There have been rock-climbing expeditions, tea parties at fancy hotels, jet boat excursions, camping, and more. I can’t encourage this enough.

We make memories, not fodder for the landfill.

We spend money on priceless time and togetherness.

We take care to make the experience all about the child.

I believe it has been one of the best decisions on tradition that we have ever made as parents.

Best Experiences to Give

Note: I am taking the perspective as a parent, but these can also be perfect gifts for friends and family.

  1. Tickets. There are an assortment of amazing events happening everywhere from plays to concerts to book readings. You can certainly find something that anyone in your life would enjoy.
  2. Camping. Besides how fun it can be to reconnect with nature, it’s also inexpensive and if done right can be a great green trip.
  3. Art Museum. Major cities have great options for art and amazing wonders of the world inside their museums. Give your little artist a little culture and if you live close enough, add something from number seven to make it a great adventure.
  4. Spa Treatments. Whether you create your own eco-friendly treatments at home or go to a green spa, taking care of yourself and others is an important ritual. Who wouldn’t love to get a sweet little (non-toxic) pedicure with your little one or a relaxing massage and foot bath with a sister?
  5. Adventure. Have a child who’d love to boost their adrenaline on a zip line, rock climb, snowboard, go spelunking, or mountain bike? There are adventures for all levels and all ages that parents can enjoy alongside their children. Maybe it will even get you out of your comfort zone just a little!
  6. Science Museum and IMAX. For the curious child who always wants to know how things work with a movie on an IMAX screen that shows them the world in a whole new way. Just be prepared for the onslaught of questions as you head home.
  7. Boat, Train, Tram, or Trolley Ride. Any method of unusual transportation is perfect for children of all ages. Little ones will be thrilled with something a little more simple, yet out of the ordinary, while your older children might want something a little more adventurous. Any way you go is bound to be fun and full of time to just be with your child.
  8. Take a Class. Teach your child that you never too young or old to learn something new. Give the gift of music lessons, make pottery together, learn self-defense, gardening, canning, acrobatics, juggling, anything!
  9. Overnight Stay at a Hotel. As a kid I absolutely loved staying in hotels. Oh, who am I kidding, I love it now! Choose a hotel within walking distance of some fun activities or with a pool and stay in, but many of my kids favorite memories involve hotels.
  10. Combination of Any of the Above. Take a weekend and spend that time to invest in your child. You will never regret that.

For my second son, he received a great dose of number ten last year. It included trains, new cities, local adventure, and a fantastic green hotel. Can’t wait to show you more tomorrow.

For now, what experience would you love to get?

Other Links That May be of Interest About Our Travel Experiences:

Eco-Friendly Seattle Trip – The Beginning
Give Experiences Over Things
Making Eco-Friendly Memories
The Train is Part of the Journey
Great Eco-Friendly Summer Road Trip


Sesame Street Day

Almost All The Truth - Maple Leaves in Autumn


“Sunny Day… Sweepin’ the clouds away…
On my way to where the air is sweet…”

A sunny Sunday afternoon. The sky was clear and the air was warm with just the hint of a crisp autumn breeze. The golden rays of an October sky filtered through the red, orange, yellow, brown leaves making the world – the whole world of a child – seem to glow.

Do you remember those scenes when they play some sentimental, but gently upbeat music while families are picnicking in the park, playing games, riding bikes, and generally happy to be together and at peace with themselves and the world?

I felt like I needed a soundtrack. A moment etched in memory all these years later. I so wish that I had some way to capture this moment in time (besides my imperfect memory) when everything seemed like a scene out of Sesame Street.

My mom and aunt had taken the boys to the park to play while baby girl napped. I planned to meet up with them once she woke. I headed down the path to find my boys and found my mom sitting with a small bag stuffed full of huge multi-colored leaves. She had been given strict orders to look after the leaves by my 4-year-old while he went off to play.

His marvelous plan was to sell them after a little while longer of running, jumping, climbing, sliding, and scheming. He often tried to think of ways that he could earn a little extra something – money, treats, time.

Love that entrepreneurial spirit, but selling leaves?

Running over to us breathlessly when he saw that I had arrived with his sister, he wanted to tell me all about his great plans to sell the leaves and decided that now was the time.

The first was to go to my aunt. He chose a specific golden beauty from a Big Leaf Maple that was just for her. He gave it to her with great pride and enthusiasm about his first sale. I suppose at his young age, giving is just as good as selling. He chose another for my mom and one for me.

But he didn’t stop there.

We watched as he approached a little girl swinging on her little tummy and hand her a leaf. She accepted it with once free hand and continued swinging, only now with an enormous grin on her little face.

He ran over to where the little girl’s mom was sitting and gave her a giant leaf tinged with a fiery red. He ambled over to more kids, more adults and gave away more of the leaves he had so carefully collected and chosen for each person.

He recruited another boy to help present leaves to anyone else enjoying the sunny day at the park. He was a much older boy that I first might have been concerned he would make fun of my son or otherwise treat him and his leaves badly. I needn’t have worried. He handled each leaf with care as if they were prized possessions.

After a sigh of contentment that my son was having such a wonderful time, I turned away for a bit to play and chat. It didn’t take long for me to scan the park again and I noticed something that filled my heart with a joy I can’t quite describe.

Every single person in the park that day, whether they were young or old or somewhere in between, had a leaf in their hand and a smile on their face.

And every person kept them in hand.

It was a perfectly simple moment in time when people were enjoying the warm sun in the middle of fall, enjoying the day and being outside, and choosing to indulge a 4 year old’s wish to give everyone a leaf and a bit of himself in the process.

I could almost hear the music drowning out all the other noise. The noise of the cars, the squeaky swings, the children running, the people talking. All I could see was a moment of pure peace and happiness through a child’s eye.

“Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame Street…”

Oxfam and World Food Day 2012

Grow - Food.Justice.Planet

Global Hunger

You must know by now that the world has a hunger problem.

Do you remember your parents telling you to clean your plate because there were starving children in Africa. That correlation really didn’t make a lot of sense and yet we waste so much food from farm to store to home to table that shows just how incredible we are removed from the resources that go into producing the world’s food and what we are really throwing away (and even composting).

You ought to also know that hunger and the amount fo food are not intrinsically linked. No man, woman, or child should be hungry based on the current global food system and yet it simply ensures that nearly a billion of us will.

A Few Facts on Food Imbalances and Insecurity:

  • Our planet produces enough food for everyone, yet nearly one billion of us (1 in every 7 people) still go to bed hungry.
  • About a third of the food produced for our plates ends up lost or wasted between farm and fork.
  • One pound of ground beef for your family uses more than 28,000 cups of water to produce—that’s enough to fill 20 bathtubs to the brim, and then some!

Today is World Food Day 2012.

Food is still an integral part of our daily lives whether we have first-world problems over food deserts, GMOs, and “modern and inventive cuisine” we have the luxury to criticize OR developing world issues over walking miles for access to clean water and finding enough nutrition to keep our children starving to death. Broad generalizations for both and still real all the same.

OXFAM is supporting World Food Day in part by rolling out its GROW Method: a brand new way of thinking about food – and the way we buy, prepare, and eat it based on five simple principles.

GROW Method from OXFAM


What Can You Do Today?

Save the world? Change our food system with a single bound?

Take action to make simple changes in the way we grow, cook, eat and store our food to be more sustainable. That is all we can do and when we use our collective power to do so, the world will take notice.

What will you do today to celebrate World Food Day and start putting changes in motion for a more sustainable food system for the future?

This post was written for the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of Mom Bloggers for Social Good members who focus on maternal health, children, hunger, and women and girls.