September 17, 2014

Down Hill - Why Birthdays Leading Up To A Milestone Age Suck

The other day, it occurred to me I have a birthday coming up. I began to think of gift ideas I could share with my husband (he always asks). Then I realized I am going to turn 46. And I freaked out. In an "OMG, I'm almost 50!" kind of way.

This has happened to me over the past three decades. As soon as I am beyond the midway point, "sliding" toward a milestone birthday, I become full of angst.

I commented on Facebook about my state of anxiety, and found out I am definitely not alone. One friend dubbed them the "downhill" birthdays, and a lively discussion ensued. The general consensus was, birthdays in the second half of a decade suck, at least once you are past a certain age, which seems to be 20. And 50 freaks a lot of people out:

Yeah, I always found that the "downhill" birthdays were a lot more shocking/difficult/whatever than the milestone birthdays. 29 was horrible for me, but 30 was no big deal.

The "downhill birthdays" (that is great!) are definitely a bit harder than the uphill ones.

Hit 46 yesterday and couldn't agree more. Much harder than 40 or 45. Bummer.

Yes, in July, when I turned 49. God help me.

I just turned 47 and yes it does feel worse. My sister said something the other day about me being "almost 50" and if looks could kill she'd be gone.

I was given (without asking for it) the senior citizen discount at Wendy's today. I turn 50 in November. Usually I'm all for saving money but ........ in this case I would have spent the extra thirty cent!

My husband turned 50 this summer, and he seemed to take it all in stride. Although he was pretty quiet about the whole thing. And when I asked if he wanted a party, he chose a family vacation instead.

I know: age is just a number. And by no means I am insinuating I am not comfortable in my own skin. Yes, I am getting grey hairs. I have wrinkles. Parts of me are saggy. But I'm enjoying the best decade of my life so far. I'm not complaining.

I’m aging, and I’m totally cool with it. I’m happy with how I am. Where I am in my life. And I don't seem to be alone in that respect either:

Now I'd rather be 55 than 45. Don't fret. You might have more fun than you would have dared in your forties!!

If you're happy and healthy enjoy every day blessed.

You are not getting older; you are getting better; and consider the alternative.

Age is an attitude.

This is true. But it seems birthdays with a six, seven, eight and nine appear to have some sort of psychological effect on people. Once the milestone birthdays arrive, we're fine. We celebrate and revel in our age. It's the approach to 30, 40, 50 and beyond we dread...

What about you? Have you experienced this? Do you ever freak out about your age, and if so, does that tend to happen in the "downhill" period?

September 15, 2014

Girl on a Mission

"Mommy, I'm sad about the animals who are in danger of becoming extinct."

This is something I hear from my daughter every day. She is not just concerned about her favorite animal, the tiger. She worries about all endangered species. And wants desperately to do something to help them.

When we saw Island of Lemurs: Madagascar at the IMAX theater, she wanted to get on a plane immediately to help fight the fires destroying their habitat.

Because when you are five, you think that way. Then, the other day I heard a plaintive:

"No one has given money to my tiger campaign in a long time."

"Well, sweetie, we asked everyone we know when we first kicked it off, and those who could gave money to support your cause. That is how fundraising works. You tend to have a strong immediate response, and then it dies down. You did a wonderful job and you should be very proud."

"But it's not enough. The tigers need more. We need to meet more people."

"We can't just meet people and ask them to give money. And you cannot save the tigers all by yourself. You care and are doing what you can. That is what matters. If enough people out there are like you, the tigers have a chance."

"What about palm oil?"

"What about it?"

"The tiger keepers said it is destroying the tiger's habitat."

Each day at our local zoo, the tiger keepers do a training demonstration. As part of the presentation, they talk about the threats tigers face in the wild. One of the main causes of habitat destruction is palm oil production.

Tigers are not the only endangered species impacted by this. So, SB and I decided to see what we as a family could do about it.

The first thing we did was head to the kitchen. We pulled out every packaged item from our pantry, fridge and freezer and read the labels. This is more complicated than it may sound. If any of of these ingredients appears on a label, there is palm oil in it:

We were pleased to only find a handful of products in our kitchen that had palm oil in them:

But SB was dismayed to see one of her favorites (Nutella) in the mix.

"Do I have to give this up, Mommy?'

"No, sweetie. You don't. It is a choice, and it is entirely yours to make."

She looked at the container for a moment, then back at me.

"I choose the tigers. No more palm oil."


I explained to SB we would use what was left of the products, since we had paid for them. But moving forward, I promised I would support her choice by reading all labels, conducting research online and working to ensure we found acceptable substitutes for those products, while not purchasing any other food items that include palm oil.

To which she added, "We have to tell Daddy, too."

Then we began to look around the house at personal care, cleaning and additional products. That is when things got interesting. Here are just some of the items we found in our home containing palm oil:

Yikes! This represents many of the things our family uses in our daily lives. And I didn't even check my cosmetics, our first aid materials or all our various sunscreen products.

Later I came across a free app that uses your phone's camera to scan UPC codes and reports whether or not something has palm oil in it. If palm oil free, the product is declared, "rainforest friendly" and cheering ensues. If palm oil is detected, you hear the sound of a chainsaw and are told, "The Choice Is Yours!"

SB went through the pantry with my phone and identified even MORE palm oil products than our initial search had uncovered. There is not going to be a quick, easy fix, that is obvious.

So, we have begun to conduct research together online. The issue is complicated, and not without controversy. Most conservationists agree there is no way to completely eliminate palm oil products. The focus instead for many (though not all) is on supporting sustainable, "conflict-free" production. In many ways, it reminds me of the dolphin-safe tuna labeling movement.

This is going to become SB's very first school science fair project, and she is well under way. In addition, she has recruited a team of like-minded friends to develop a project on this issue and compete in a city-wide science festival to be held in early 2015. Together they will develop a booth using the principles of STEAM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics).

Fittingly, the event will be held at our local zoo, as well as the science and history museum. Stay tuned for updates, as I'm sure I will have much more to share!

September 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Grandparents' Day

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