Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out With The Old, Hike in With the New

First Day Hikes logoOut With The Old, Hike in With the New... Year, that is!

Maryland's Department of Natural Resources (same ones who have brought us Maryland Park Quest, which we love so!), are at it again to get us up and outside.  This time, with their "First Day Hikes" program.  However, Maryland can't take all the credit alone.  For the first time, in coordination with the American States Park organization, all 50 states are participating in the First Day Hike Program.

The point of the program--to offer up free opportunities in State Parks for folks and families to start the year on the right foot--in the great outdoors, enjoying nature.  Unplugging, exercising, embracing beauty that nature offers, and tackling nature-deficit disorder.

So mark your calendar for New Year's Day, and make some time to get out and be one with nature.  Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,  
and The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder would raise his New Year's glass, and toast you and your gameplan to participate!

To find a state park near you, click here and put in your location to find outdoor fun nearby! 

Cheers to you, 2012, and all outdoor adventures ahead!!

Picture from

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Wordle: EnvironmentThere are treasured milestones and memories we all hold dear: our first kiss, learning to drive and getting our license, turning 21, having your father walk you down the aisle on your  wedding day, birth of your first/each child.  These memories become permanently tucked in a special place in our hearts.

As a blogger, there are other milestones... most certainly, not ranking up quite as high as the above list, but treasures all the same. With my map on my blog, there have been definite days of giddiness as I hit all 6 continents (Antarctica, we'll cut you some slack), all 50 states, the homeland of my heritage. My one year anniversary on February 23, 2011 was also meaningful.  Same with Twitter and Facebook when people or organizations that I revere have followed, mentioned, or even retweeted me. Yes, that's a tad swoon-worthy.

My latest milestone was hit yesterday--notably, on what would have been my parents 46th anniversary.  Green Team Gazette reached 50,000 hits. Wow! A good "Merry Christmas" to me!  GTG's creation, I never really even stopped to consider a number such as this!  Small potatoes compared to some of the biggies out there, yet I am at such a level of gratitude for all that have chosen to follow along!  Thanks you for "going green" out there with me!

Cheers... and thanks... and looking forward to following along on this path with you all!

Image created at

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sending You My Holiday Best

Wishing you a wonderful, love-and-peace-filled December 25th, wherever on Earth you may be!

Click to play this Smilebox greeting
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This free ecard created with Smilebox

Special thanks to all of you who have been
following along this green path with me! 

~ Merry Christmas ~ Happy Holidays ~
Seasons Greetings ~ Happy Hanukkah 
~ Peace on Earth ~

Click here to view online.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Oh Santa!!!

Santa has a rough go of it...
a). A one mega-work night, but ooh la lah, the hours of that! Not to mention, the number of hours of recuperation after those hours of being on the move?

b).  Expectations to have "the right gift" in "the right place" multiplied by... oh, let's say, 7 billion (aka, current population of the world!)

c).  A transportational set up, that is "this side: of amazing...How many of us have our own 9 personal flying-mammal transport systems, one of which is complete with a glowing red nose?

Yet, as I forwarded on Twitter yesterday, Santa has some carbon footprint implications associated with his annual jaunt.  But, knowing/intuitively-assuming that Santa has an innate need to adjust and move forward with the times, I bet he will take the recommendations under advisement!!  Check out Santa's Carbon Footprint Infographic (click to enlarge, or click the link to see it in it's entirety!!)!

For More on Santa, especially here in the final stretch...and especially if you are interested in tracking him here in the final hours...Check out NORAD Tracks Santa's site: 

Image from; Infographic from:, Video from

Thursday, December 22, 2011

One of My Favorite Things: The Old Book Barn

I'm struck this morning with the sometime-associated-Christmas song "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.  Strains of Julie Andrews' voice & the lyrics are circling my mind, and I am finding myself humming.  Why?  Well, some pretty obvious reasons:

a).  It's Christmastime.
b).  Music has always been a big part of my holiday season, and thus one of "my favorite things."
c).  Between the "brown paper packages tied up with strings" and the wrapping galore that's happening in my house around me, it makes sense.

But add in, yesterday I went to one of my favorite places in the world yesterday.  No, not Paris, Rome, or somewhere exotic on that scale, but a nirvana in and of itself for me.

I've written about this gem of Forsyth, Illinois before (see my June 27th, 2011 blog entry).  With over 200,000 books (the lion share are reused), it's a book lover's dream....and a great "green" example!  It is always one of my stops when I'm in the neighborhood.  My classroom always gets a major boost to its library after a stop here, as I take home a bag-full of "gently used" books.  My own children love pouring over the Kids' Section (pictured above with the Christmas tree!)  Of course, at this time of the year, the Christmas room is magical in and of itself!!  Yes, it is easy to lose yourself in the stacks, and time flies at the Old Book Barn. 

So, until they open up a franchise on the East Coast (and I tried to talk them into it when I was there!), I'll have to savor my visits as I get them!!  And savor, I do!! 

Pictures from my camera; Video from 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Have Yourself a "Green" Li'l Christmas

Okay, it's true:  I love my school, and all that we represent.  As a Maryland "Green" School since 2006, Eagle Cove School is "green," through and through!

Whether it is students in my class (who know that they have an eco-crazy teacher), or my own two children and their classes (heck, ALL the classes at Eagle Cove School), yep, we're green--especially at Christmastime!

Case and point:

a).  In art, my son's kindergarten class made Rudolph necklaces out of old light bulbs.
b).  In 4th grade science, my daughter made evergreen wreaths out of holly leaves and pine needles as a gift to her parents.
c).  In my son's kindergarten class, they wrapped special gifts: angels out of oyster shells, wrapped in reused tissue paper, and wrapped in lamination scrap remnants, formed into gift bags.
d).  In my 3rd grade class, we took stockings sewn from old sweatshirts, painted them, and used them as "reusable" wrapping for the class gifts we made.
e).  As for our class gifts:  ornaments for moms and dads with a picture of our first day of 3rd grade on one side.
f).  In my class gift pile, I had a student who had made ornaments out of crab shells, painted silver, complete with a li'l holiday scene inside.
g).  At our 3rd grade class party, our room mom had the kids make ornaments out of old Christmas card fronts...I think there's one of these ornaments, circa 1976, on my mom's Christmas tree!
h).  My own 2 children made ornaments for their teachers, complete with reused vino corks.
i).  And then there was my gift from my son's PreK class last year, which is right on my mantle, and one of my favorite gifts of all time: A winter snowglobe!!

Yep, I love my school, and its creativity and "green-ness!!"!!

Pictures a la my camera!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

When Left and Right Brains Unite: The Symphony of Science

In our science room at school, we have this amazing poster visually showcasing the left and right sides of the brain.  (Ironically, it's an advertisement for Mercedes-Benz!)

Our science teacher chuckles over the commentary he gets from the kids: 
  • "Why is the left side so plain?" 
  • "Why is the right side so messy?"
  • "Oh!  Look at all the beautiful colors on the right side."
  • "The left side makes me feel so calm and relaxed."
Gee, can you figure out which "side" each one of those comments come from?!

I happened to think of this poster today as I happened upon this video entitled "The Symphony of Science:  We Are All Connected."  Where else can you have Carl Sagan (Pulitzer Prize winning astrophysicist and author), Richard Feynman (Nobel Prize winning physicist), Neil deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist, NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, and the person known for re-classifying Pluto as a "dwarf planet" rather than a full-fledged planet) & Bill Nye the Science Guy all set to music discussing the interconnectedness of individuals with the Earth and the Universe: biologically, chemically, and atomically?  A pretty powerful way to show the interrelatedness of people to the planet and beyond, in a way that sticks with you.

The Symphony of Science is the work of musician/producer John Boswell.  Through it, he brings the two hemispheres of the brain together, by incorporating the words of scientists with music.  Pretty memorable approach, if you ask me. Click here for a pretty lengthy list of his remixes.

Truthfully, I think this is the approach that Sheldon should take with Penny on "Big Bang Theory!"  I think if he presented some of his left brain physics concepts to his quirky actress neighbor Penny using the "Symphony of Science," Sheldon may indeed have a lot more luck!!  Plus, then, when I watched, I could sing along!

Left-Right brain image from; Symphony of Science pic from  The Symphony of Science:  We are All Connected from

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Visions of a Sustainable World

Here is a wonderful ten minute video from Dr. Paul Raskin, of Yale's School of Forestry. Entitled "Visions of a Sustainable World," this video (and Dr. Raskin) describe the key elements needed for improved quality of life--on a sustainable level.  He touches not only on global improvements, but also on personal improvements for our daily life, moving beyond a "things = happiness" stance. 

Video from

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"MuppetGate" = Mayhem & Madness!!

I like to refer to it as "MuppetGate"... especially since it is starting to get as much press as any other "-gate:"
I could go on, as it has been a pretty highly covered story. 

Muppet CommunistsI am still shaking my head at the attack that Kermie and company have been getting this week, all stemming from Eric Bolling (of Fox's Business News) and his Muppet name-calling, equating them to "communists" and "anti-capitalists."  It even evoked an entire Facebook debate in my own world based on my dismay over the Huffington Post link.

They're muppets people!?  They're lovers and dreamers and rainbow connectors. They're singers. They are entertainment meant to bring a smile or two in our pent up, stressed out, over-worked, over-serious world!

Can't "they" (the universal "they" that's always out there)...can't "they" realize it's a movie?!? Not a propagandizing anti-capitalist attack.  Movies have plots. Some plots are against the bad guy... and some bad guys are oil tycoons. The plot point of the movie is that Tex Richman wants to tear down the Muppets' theater, which is something that the Muppet love. Which is the point of the story: be passionate enough about something you love and do what you can to save it.
Co-filmmaker & scriptwriter Jason Segel (and human lead male in the latest Muppet movie) needed a plot point that would put the Muppets in need of saving their theater. The choices are always plentiful:  it could have been to tear it down for condos, to make a strip mall, or to renovate the neighborhood.  Segel and company opted for the demise being to dig for oil right under the land where the theater stands. Any of the choices would have been considered by the far-right as anti-capitalist.  The movie doesn't have the same draw, appeal, or plot "sense of urgency" if you are tearing down the Muppet theater to build a day care center,  organic food market, or welfare office for Muppets who are down on their luck. Bottom line: movies need plots. Sometimes it's about vampires, sometimes it is about a talking cat who wears boots, and sometimes it is about a New York City crime caper. Aren't we lucky we live in a country where all these movies can hang out under one roof together?!

To quote a friend of mine:
"I guess boycotting A Charlie Brown Christmas is next, since they [the Peanuts gang] didn't splurge on the big shiny corporate Christmas tree, but bought the little, organic one.   If you don't like the Muppet movie for 'anti-capitalistic' reasons, well, then you shouldn't like Charlie Brown. Or for that matter, any Muppet movie."
Plus, hasn't Kermit had it rough enough? I mean, come on, man! He's an amphibian living in a human world. He's lived the life faced with the fact that it's not easy to be green, he's in love with a pig, and now he's facing name callers and bullies telling him he's unAmerican AND a Commie? Yes, that indeed is high travesty in my book!

In today's world, where a song and a smile are a welcome respite, I will always choose the Muppets.  It brings new meaning to the "Man or Muppet" Song from this now-controversial Muppet movie.  Maybe I'm naive to think that movies can be fun and entertaining alone, lacking of bipartisanship & name-calling negativity. Or perhaps, just perhaps, I'm a very wo-man Muppet.... or maybe rather, a Muppet of a wo-man.

Muppet Movie Poster from; Muppet pic from, "Muppet or Man" Video from

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Long Live The Lorax!

Hurrah!  Mark your calendars!!! 
Dr. Seuss's The Lorax is coming to a theater near you.
Anticipated arrival:  March 2, 2012!
Just in time for Earth Hour & Earth Day!

(Of course, it leaves me wondering what all the noisy newsfolks of Fox who have equated the Muppets with anti-capitalist communists will think of the radical Truffula Tree-Loving Lorax, but that's blog fodder for another day!)

Movie Trailer from

Monday, December 5, 2011

The 5 Best Toys of All Time

For an article, that's one heck of a title.  It has a definite draw-- as an educator, it has all of the elements of a "hook," and the ability to grab the reader. We talk about this all the time in my 3rd grade classroom.

As a parent, that title makes you want to go check it out because, as we all know...we want the best for our kidderoos.

After reading THE Article, Johnathon Liu, of's "GeekDad" has hit the nail on the head.  Best Toys Ever... INDEED!!!  And, as a "GeekDad,"  he knows the ins and outs of all the good stuff these days!!


(Seriously, don't read ahead if you don't want to see the "inside scoop" from me, because I'm going to definitely hint about what Jonathan Liu has to say about the top 5 Best Toys of All Times.  So don't read on if you're wanting to read it for yourself first!!)

For your best five "ever"... You won't find any of these at Target, Walmart, or Toys 'R Us.

Despite that...all 5 gifts will match any and all budgets.

They only require one pre-requisite (which comes by many names):  creativity, imagination, being "unplugged," inspiration, novelty, cleverness.  All of which = the more you use it, the more you create it!

Yep, best gifts ever....and a darned good read.  Go, now, and read and chuckle, have your "ah ha moment," and check out Jonathon Liu's commentary!!

"GeekDad" pic from Wired's "Geek Dad" and present pic from

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Past in My Kids' Toy Room

With a nearly 10 year old and a 6 year old, my house has had a lot of time to accumulate a lot of stuff.  Never do you realize that more than when you are trying to house the contents of the basement-sized toy room in your garage (and beyond) after a fall flooding (then subsequent carpet removal and new tile placement) due to a wacky weather incident back in August.

Yes, in a decade, you accumulate a lot of stuff.  Multiply that times two (or maybe even more) with two kids. And although we've sorted through it all time and time again, this overhaul was a big one!  Of course, trying to do it while decking the holiday halls (and simultaneously tackling 3 or so "dump piles" of kid-accumulated bedroom clutter), it might have been a bit excessive, here in one 7 hour shift in December.  Are we finished?  Yeah, right!!  No way!  But getting there.  Of course, it takes me back to just over a year ago, when I wrote about the tackle of my garage.... bringing about the point that the more things change, the more they stay the same!!

So it's Christmas season in my world, the li'l ones' lists have been created and sent out to the relatives. I shake my head:  boy oh boy were they long!  Doubly hard to deal with while going through all the toys we had from Christmases past.  Materialism and consumerism are transparent.. and clearly running rampant in own my household.  Frustration Station.  But how do you battle over consumption logically with wee ones who have been twisted around the pinkie of media commercials and addictive advertisements?   It's a hard one on the environmental-parental side. 

And sadly, I have no answer.

But, now, I do have an immaculately clean basement and a reduced amount of "stuff."  Organizational bliss (aka, nirvana). On top of that, I have a handful of wire hangers I can take back to the dry cleaners (thus eliminating more waste in the landfill or even space at the recycling center).  I have a car-full of items I can re-use at school, or give to the PreK class--even one exciting idea brewing for a future math game for my class.  I have (so far) 2 big bags of clothes and toys to take to GoodWill or a mothers/children homeless shelter where they'll be able to reuse our gently used items. I have a paper products galore and more that are now in the recycle bin.  I even have a re-gift or two for the perfect pal(s) who I know would love it.  And, I have my laundry baskets back!  Bonus!  If that doesn't make for a Very Merry Christmas, I don't know what does!!

Pics from my camera of my basement organizational nirvana.