Leaving a Child Alone in the Car for a Minute: I’ve Done It

Not too long ago, when Levy was in preschool and Jack was just a tiny baby, I pulled into the preschool parking lot on a very cold, snowy and icy morning to pick her up. The car was toasty warm and he was snoozing contentedly in her carseat in the back. I got out, locked the car doors, and dashed in quick to get Levy, something I had done before without thinking about it. It was so cold, and I knew I would wake Jack up if I took him out of the car. I had snagged a spot right by the door, so I could almost maintain eye contact with the car the entire time I was inside.

Once inside Levy’s teacher asked where Jack was since I had him with me when I dropped her off, and I explained that with the nasty weather I just let him snooze in the car for a minute rather than bring him in for the two seconds it took to get Levy. “Oh no, no, don’t do that, a mom got arrested for doing that not long ago, it’s not allowed,” she told me, her voice full of concern, not judgment. Arrested?! Visions of me getting handcuffed and put into the back of a police car while my two small children were taken away jumped into my head and it was jarring to say the least.

Before I go any further, let me just say that I would not, and never have, willfully neglected my children in any serious way. Have I brushed them off while I was on the phone? Sure. Have I told them to scram when I needed a few seconds to myself to actually use the bathroom? Absolutely. Have I left them in the (locked) car while I ran in to put a letter in the post office mailbox? Yes, I have. Why? Well the last time I remember doing it I think the reason was I was running late and I quickly weighed my options, do I take all three kids out of the car for the fifteen step walk it would take to slide the letter into the slot inside the tiny post office, which I was parked in front of, that also had windows through which I could see my car? Maybe my seven year old second grader is big enough to make sure nothing happens in that under a minute time frame? Or do I hop out of the car, lock it, dash in, slide the letter in and dash back out, taking up WAY less time than if I had to wake up and unbuckle everyone? I chose the dash in and dash out. We all most likely are NOT in agreement on doing this however, and I realize that. All parents are different, and what might be okay behavior for some is not okay with others. I get that. For me though, I’m okay with the quick dash in and dash out.

Now, also let me say that I think child abuse and neglect is extremely serious, and something that should never, ever be taken lightly, not in any circumstance. We have all heard the horror stories about children being left in hot cars, either intentionally or by accident, and that, I believe, is a separate issue from the one I’m talking about. I have read countless heartbreaking stories of parents who have simply forgotten to drop a child off, for whatever innocent reason, and the child winds up dying. But that is not what I’m talking about today.

What I want to ask is, would you classify leaving a sleeping child in a locked car for a matter of a couple minutes child neglect? It’s an honest question, and again, one that we might not all agree on. Let’s say the car is a comfortable, safe temperature, the area around the car is safe by all accounts, the car is off and locked, you have checked on the child before doing the quick run in, and you know you will only be in and out in just a few minutes? Is that neglect? In my opinion, it’s not. And if it is, I’m guilty of that type of neglect as well.

Just this week, a woman in Saratoga Springs was charged with endangering the welfare of a child after leaving her 6-month-old infant unattended at Saratoga Springs Public Library. She had left her cellphone in the library which she had just come from and left the baby in the car while she ran in to get it, the baby was unharmed, and according to reports she was gone for approximately 3 minutes. Two police cars came, handcuffed the woman, who was crying, and took her into custody. Just to clarify, I was not present when this happened, and my information is based on local news reports, so I can’t really give any further back history or information besides this.

Now, the second question I ask you is, did you know that this was actually against the law? If the preschool teacher hadn’t told me, I would not have known. In fact, a bill was only recently passed in 2012 in New York state making it illegal for parents or guardians to leave children under the age of 8 alone in a motor vehicle. Multiple infractions constitute a misdemeanor.

The bill applies to any person legally charged with care of a child and states that they cannot be left alone or with anyone under the age of 12, “under conditions which would knowingly or recklessly present a significant risk to the health or safety of the child.” Opponents of the bill argue that it doesn’t differentiate between parents who leave a child in a car for a few minutes while they run into a grocery store to get milk and drug addicts who leave their vehicle to buy narcotics and completely forget the child was with them.

According to the bill, studies show that when outdoor temperatures range from 72 to 96 degrees, the temperature inside of a vehicle rises approximately 19 degrees in the first ten minutes, 29 degrees after 20 minutes, 34 degrees after 30 minutes and 43 degrees after 60 minutes.

The legislation cites data from the journal Pediatrics that shows between 1998 and 2004, 230 children in the United States died of hyperthermia — overheating — from being left in cars. Those victims were all 15 or younger. In 2005, there were 19 deaths by mid-summer for the same reason and simply cracking the windows has little effect on the interior temperature. Again, I have to reiterate, I think this type of neglect is very serious and in no way, shape, or form do I think that it should be overlooked. I also think that educating people about this type of danger, as well as the danger it poses to pets left in cars as well, is extremely important. It also needs to be pointed out that experts now warn against letting your baby sleep for any extended period of time in their carseat because it may hinder their breathing.

However, heat was not an issue on Tuesday in this instance. Nor did the woman leave the child in the car for even as long as five minutes according to reports. I’m not going to link this piece to the Saratoga Wire article or the Saratogian article, which also names the mom who was charged, because I’m sure she wouldn’t want her name being further brought up along with the idea that she had “neglected” her baby and again I don’t have any further information or back story to help fill in any questions people might have. I don’t know this woman, but I do want her to know that I myself, writer of a local parenting website, have done this, on more than one occasion. So you are not alone. It isn’t something I will continue to do in the future because I’m aware of this new law, but it is something I will readily admit to doing in the past.

Before you write a comment, let me just say that for those of you that would NEVER leave your child in a car for even a second alone, there most likely are things that YOU do that other parents would NEVER DO either. That’s the thing about parenting, we all make our own different choices and it is extremely difficult to get into right and wrong with so many gray areas. Is it a possibility that the window could get smashed and the child could be snatched out of the car? Anything is possible. So is the possibility that you could get run over in the parking lot after taking your child out of the car. There are no hard and fast statistics or stories I could find on the occurrence of children being abducted from locked cars while their parents dashed in somewhere for a minute, so I can’t put that out there as a deterrent any more than the number of fatal car accidents while driving to wherever you are going acts as a deterrent. One might argue that it is not necessary to leave your child in the car, while it might be necessary to drive to where you need to go, and that is valid, but to those of you who never EVER EVER cut ANY corners while parenting whatsoever, let you be the only ones to pass judgment.

Sometimes being a mom, especially being a new mom, can seem like a minefield of new information that sometimes changes week to week. Things are recalled, parenting techniques are applauded and then quickly dissected and called flawed. One family might happily co-sleep while another family might argue that co-sleeping is dangerous and poses a risk of SIDS. One mom might bottle feed while another mom might claim that “formula is poison”. You might have the best intentions of keeping your child safe only to discover that you are actually doing something illegal or something that your neighbor might frown upon. Again, we are all different, and things that seem crazy to you might not be so crazy to someone else. Would you ever let your baby sleep outside a restaurant in the cold while you eat your lunch with a friend? These moms would, in a major city no less.

My intention for sharing this story is not to pass judgment on this mom, or moms who fall into the category of the dash in dash out type (like myself). Nor is it to pass judgment on moms who would never consider doing a dash in dash out, either. As I said, everyone has their own way of parenting and what might work for you might not work for another family. So no name calling in the comments, no saying this woman was “lazy” for not just taking her baby out of the car to get her cellphone, none of that. I simply wanted to let you guys know that it is, in fact, illegal, and it could happen to you, or me, if we leave our kids in the car alone even for just a minute. Let’s take this as an educational opportunity and most of all just be supportive of each other.

 

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I Am That Crazy Hormonal Pregnant Lady

dove barWhen I was pregnant with my first child, I developed a rather, shall we say “intense” relationship with Dove bars. Not just chocolate covered ice cream bars, DOVE BARS. They had to be Dove bars and Dove bars only. There was something about the thickness of the chocolate coating combined with the quality of vanilla ice cream that just did it for me and I really needed them in my life in a serious and meaningful way. Now, my favorite grocery store was always fully stocked with Dove bars and we had easily avoided any issues up until one fateful day when I happily pushed my cart to the frozen treats aisle only to find no Dove bars. No Dove bars? The rage already was welling up inside me as I hunted through the freezer case, tossing aside boxes of, ugh, yogurt bars and those real fruit bars that are always so thick and have seeds and just no thanks, only to find NO DOVE BARS. I whipped my cart around and steered it rather quickly toward the customer service desk and actually asked for a manager. Something I have NEVER DONE IN MY LIFE. (This entire thing really made sense to me at the time, I cannot stress that enough). Once the manager was in front of me, polite, smiling, ready to be helpful, I unloaded what can only be described as a “barrage” of complaints and near profanities as I tried to ask him WHY THEY WERE OUT OF DOVE BARS and how it could possibly come to pass that they would run out.

Now, this poor guy’s survival instinct must have kicked in, or he must have noticed that my shopping basket was stocked with two different kinds of Tums, cheese danish, jalapeno cheese and Little Debbie Zebra Cakes and combined that info with the fact that I was hugely pregnant and decided to save himself. He calmly wrote down my complaint about the Dove bars and assured me that they would have them in stock as soon as possible, even going as far as giving me a coupon to use toward a box of Dove bars the next time I came in. After my little outburst I left feeling embarrassed and out of control, and wound up crying in my car in the parking lot, mostly because I felt totally foolish and a little concerned with how easily I flipped out over a chocolate ice cream bar, but also because I just couldn’t help it, I was a hormonal pregnant lady and there was no rhyme or reason to what might happen with my emotions.

The scary part about it was that in my everyday non-pregnant life, I really wasn’t too overly “emotional”, at least not in the stereotypical sense. I never cried at movies (okay I cried during La Bamba once and always when the horse dies in the Swamp of Sadness during The Neverending Story) and it usually had to be something pretty meaningful to drive me to actual tears, especially in public. But when I was pregnant the floodgates opened and I turned into a completely different person emotionally. The littlest thing set me off, either positive or negative. One time a stranger tracked me down on the sidewalk after we left the bookstore to return Levy’s hair bow that she accidentally left there, and the kindness and effort of the person moved me to tears for a second (thankfully after they had left or else I probably would have REALLY weirded them out). Another time someone almost slammed into my car by not following the signs going into the mall and I flipped out, delusions of following the person and telling them off filling my head until I finally calmed myself down enough to not go completely insane (helped by those cookie dough brownie things they sell at Healthy Living Market and Cafe).

The other thing that got out of control was the completely irrational rage over truly unimportant things. This was also very uncharacteristic for me, as I usually can keep my composure and tend to avoid any sort of public displays of anger or emotion. The rage is almost always married to irrationality, and that combo seems to for some reason fuel the fire of my rage even more. On a day not too long ago (okay it was Sunday) I was all ready to get dressed for our Easter Brunch. Everyone had their little outfits all ready down to what socks they were going to wear and I even had two (TWO!!) dressed that still fit me that I thought would look cute for Easter. I tried the first dress on and no dice. Sean very gingerly tried to zip it up and I could almost sense his apprehension as he most likely weighed in his mind what to do: Should I continue to try to zip the dress up and possibly rip the dress or should I say something nicely about this not fitting and hopefully Jenny won’t flip out? I feel bad for him now, because I didn’t give him the chance to do either. I knew it wasn’t going to fit (not only do I already look VERY pregnant at 5 months I also already went from an A to a D cup, so my dresses are pretty much out at this point) and I along with throwing the dress off over my head I threw an unholy temper tantrum, raging against the fact that I had nothing to wear and zero desire to buy any overpriced maternity dresses with some rather choice words about pantyhose thrown in for good measure. This quickly dissolved into a rant about how unfair it is that it is only the women that have to put on weight/have their bodies change/give birth/etc. and Sean, literally cornered by the fact that I was blocking his way out of the bedroom while flailing around throwing dresses and Belly Bands all over the place, had to just sit there and attempt to make me feel better, which was futile anyway.

After Sean somehow coaxed me into the idea of trying on the other dress (oh this tantrum was only after trying on ONE dress) and it fit I sat down and tried to collect myself, smoothing my hair back out and taking deep breaths, all the while wishing I could justify my out of nowhere freak out and somehow explain it to myself and to Sean, who didn’t deserve to be at the epicenter of my meltdown. But I couldn’t. It had to be chalked up to pregnancy hormones, and I had to just move on and roll with it, which I did, and our Sunday wound up being pretty nice.

Even though I’m in my fourth pregnancy, there is still a lot about pregnancy that catches me off guard (like the Dove bar rage), and a lot that I feel like I should be prepared for but I’m not, and in a lot of ways, I sort of love that. Even though a lot of it is tough to handle, I cherish the fact that it makes each pregnancy seem new to me, not like it’s old hat this time around. Each pregnancy and each child has changed me, and although I am not one of those women who glow and rub their bellies throughout pregnancy with a calm, Zen-like wholeness, in my more clear, rage free moments I am grateful to have the opportunity to grow as a person (both literally and figuratively as this point) by learning how to deal with this kind of stuff.

In a lot of ways, the hormonal roller coaster I’m on feels a lot like how parenting feels in general, out of my control. I’m not a complete control freak, instead I prefer to say I have control freak tendencies and learning how to deal with my own completely irrational behavior helps me to understand out of control toddlers or sullen seven year olds who don’t get their way. It also helps me to learn to cut everyone, including myself, some slack. We all have bad days, we all have days when the Dove bars run out, and sometimes we handle them in not the best of ways, but you’ve gotta just get up off the floor, brush yourself off and move on.

 

 

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my {easter} weekend in photos

The weather turned out so lovely for Easter, and we were so excited to be outside for the Easter egg hunt at McGregor Links (after a mini hunt of our own at the house). No one was more excited than Jack though, who at two years old was first getting the idea that you get to run around and find candy filled eggs. It was all we could do to keep him inside during brunch before the hunt. I hope you all had a great weekend and a great Easter…xoxo

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Everything is Uncomfortable {or why I hate maternity clothes}

10154428_551358188296881_1545570286_nWhen I was pregnant with my first, I didn’t have to wear maternity clothes till I was like seven months pregnant. I really wanted to wear maternity clothes, however, and bought a whole bunch, maternity jeans with the panel, tops, dresses, you name it. And I waited patiently (okay, impatiently) for them to actually fit, which they did, for a matter of weeks. I learned my lesson that maternity clothes, while useful for those certain weeks, aren’t super duper practical nor worth the money. And the sad truth is, the really cute maternity clothes are so ridiculously expensive that it’s hard to pull the trigger on purchasing them.

Belly bands are great, you can extend the life of your pre-baby jeans by simply not zipping them up and covering the potentially exposed area with a little tube top looking thing that is supposed to keep it all up and together. Supposed to being the operative words there. Because in reality when you sit down get ready to do some major overhauling before you get back up otherwise you are going to have some pretty hot pregnancy plumber’s crack with a belly tube top bunched somewhere around your mid-section.

And it’s great that I feel good about being able to still fit my legs into the jeans, never mind my belly, except that now the zipper that I can’t actually pull up on those jeans is digging it’s tiny metal rectangle directly into my skin and adjusting it in public means yanking material covering my general groin area and that is usually something I try to avoid doing. By the end of the day I want to tear that thing off of me and banish it to a dark, dark place, never to be worn again.

That brings me to maternity jeans. These almost always fall under the “the cheaper the uglier” banner, which sadly a lot of maternity wear falls under. While I’d love to shell out the $216 for a great pair of J.Brand maternity jeans I just can’t bring myself to do so, especially for an item that I will only be wearing temporarily. That brings me to the cheaper versions. The cheaper versions usually look like they were cut by a drunk person working in the dark, and have this super thick band, so if you wear them under a thin top you have this fairly mysterious looking ridge surrounding your belly like you pulled your pants up to just under your boobs (which you did). Really makes you feel confident, doesn’t it?

I tried going the dress route, sort of like letting my more bohemian side out a little, the flowy, flower child kind of thing. Which is more comfortable, for sure, but the problem is that the flowy dress will hit you on your largest spot and fall from there, thus creating what I like to call the “Parade Float Effect”, where you appear MUCH larger than you actually are (especially in photos) and you seem to enter a room in a series of stages rather than at once: belly, more belly, then boobs, then face, and then you’re in the room.

I find myself drifting off during work to websites like Hatch Collection and A Pea in the Pod and gazing admiringly at the models who look like they just tossed on a really great chambray shirt and some old boyfriend jeans to go pick up tulips from the farmers market and maybe a baguette and oh hey, they’re nine months pregnant, no big deal. So I’ll click on the outfit I am most longing for, determined to maybe buy at least ONE outfit I can feel good in, but then choke on my morning ice cream at the $288 price tag (for a shirt, just a shirt, not a magical one either).

Perhaps my aversion to buying maternity clothes comes from an experience I had once on my way to a wedding with my mother. She had bought me this really beautiful Lilly Pulitzer silk madras maternity dress, it was perfect, and I loved it. I had been saving it for this specific wedding and couldn’t wait to actually feel pretty good in what I was wearing for a change. The wedding was a couple hours away, and so I wore sweatpants and a t-shirt on the drive then had her stop so I could change quick before we got there. Trying to get dressed in a gas station bathroom while avoiding having anything touch the ground is hard, not to mention doing it while hugely pregnant, but I managed to wiggle into this little silk preppy perfection with no problem and walked out to the car, already feeling much better in my new dress. It was short lived, because as I sat down I heard a distinctive ripping noise. I didn’t need to reach back to confirm what I already knew, but I did anyway, and found that the zipper had come away from the silk fabric, leaving a large hole. I was crushed, absolutely crushed. Not only did I just rip my brand new dress, a generous and thoughtful gift from my mother that I had been looking forward to for weeks, I also felt like my body was completely out of control. I didn’t even know that I was too big for the dress, I felt like I wasn’t even myself anymore.

I cried, of course I cried. I cried like a little baby, even more so because I didn’t have a back up dress, nor a cover up (it was so hot that day). I had no dress, just sweats and yoga pants, and we were already late for this wedding which we had driven hours to get to. We wound up making a mad dash through a mall with no maternity store nor any maternity options, and I wound up with a dress that barely contained my boobs with a huge ugly flower on it, leaving me feeling a little silly and completely uncomfortable. I hate to say it ruined my weekend, but it did.

I’m not saying I need fancy overpriced maternity clothes to feel good about myself, but I will admit that feeling pulled together, feeling like your clothes actually fit, does go a long way in boosting your self confidence sometimes, especially on those days where you feel like you’re sleepwalking after being up all night with heartburn or a sick child. Having that little extra oomph can put a little smile on your face in a way that old yoga pants and a Target maternity t-shirt just can’t.

The problem gets confounded for me further because my part time job as a social reporter requires me to wear dresses to events, sometimes two to three events a week, and I have two dresses total right now that fit me. Two. One of which I put on last week, only to hear my seven year old tell me (in an honest way, not in a mean way) that it looked like I was “wearing a tablecloth” because the colors and pattern resembled our favorite summertime tablecloth. The other one, pictured above, is actually not even a maternity dress, but a wrap/convertible dress, one that I have worn both pregnant and not pregnant and is nothing short of a miracle. Extensive boob management was necessary to wear that dress, but it was worth it. I have contemplated just wearing that dress and that dress only for the remainder of my pregnancy but don’t want to alarm anyone regarding my mental state.

So, as I sit here typing this in my sweatpants and oversized cardigan that I wear literally every day (SO GLAD I work from home, I think my coworkers would call HR regarding my outfits if I worked in an office still) I will dream of a day when well designed and well made maternity clothes don’t cost more than I spend on groceries to feed my family of five. Sometimes I even get a crazy notion that I should design inexpensive yet still stylish maternity wear and then I remember that 1) I have zero design talent and/or knowledge whatsoever and 2) Have zero extra time to start a new business regardless. Therefore, I am left in the style desert that is pregnancy.

It doesn’t help that the tabloids and celebrity websites have gone nuts over celebrity “pregnancy style” and you can barely blink without seeing a photo of someone like Kristin Cavallari popping into Starbucks wearing heels, hair all done, in skinny maternity jeans (yes these are a real thing) and some to die for flowy top looking like a pregnancy goddess come to earth. I know there are real life non-celebrity women who can pull this look off too, and my hat is off to them. For me, that’s not the case, and I’m okay with that. I will chalk this up to another reason pregnancy is sometimes difficult (albeit not a huge super important reason), and just focus on the important stuff, and if (when) you see me wearing the same dress over and over again this summer, you will know why.

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Homemade Peeps by Deanna Fox

peepsFew things will divide a household on Easter as Peeps ™ will. Some people love them. Some people hate them. Some like to freeze them, while others enjoy them stale.

Regardless of which camp you fall into, homemade marshmallow treats are Easter basket delights that few can avoid. Soft, fluffy, and wholesome tasting, they are easier to make than you might think. The key is to incorporate as much air as possible into the marshmallow mix. A deft piping hand also helps, but just try your best to make bulbous bodies and peaked heads and beaks for that classic chick design.

Homemade Peeps ™

Makes about a dozen

INGREDIENTS

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2 ½ teaspoons) – find it near the Jello and pudding mix at your grocer

1/3 cup cold water, for gelatin, plus ¼ cup for sugar syrup

1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkle

2-3 drops yellow food color (click here for some natural food coloring recipes)

Confectioner’s sugar

Melted chocolate

METHOD

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Allow gelatin to soften, about five minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine ¼ cup water and 1 cup of sugar, and stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and place a candy thermometer into the sugar syrup. Wipe the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush if sugar crystals have splattered up. Boil the sugar until the temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238 degrees). Remove syrup from the heat; add to the softened gelatin slowly.

Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, slowly whip together the mixture to cool (about one minute). Add in food coloring to reach desired color (it will be lighter once it is completely whipped, so don’t worry now if it seems to dark). Beat the mixture on medium-high until soft peaks form and the mixture holds its shape, about eight minutes.

Transfer this marshmallow mixture to a large pastry bag or zip-top bag, seal after pushing out extra air. Snip the corner/tip to make a half-inch opening. Form the Peeps by piping the shapes onto a piece of wax paper sprinkled with Confectioner’s sugar. Once formed, sprinkle with sugar, then dip a toothpick in melted chocolate and apply to make eyes. Allow to set-up for 15 minutes. Eat immediately or store in an air-tight container for up to three days.

Click here for another great Easter recipe from Deanna in Mamatoga Magazine, the braided egg recipe. If you want some all natural egg dye recipes, click here. Find more from Deanna here on her Eat Local blog and right here at Silly Goose Farm. xoxo

 

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my weekend in photos

Saturday was so gorgeous we wanted to be outside, so we took a little drive to visit Nettle Meadow Farm not far from Warrensburg, makers of some truly amazing goat cheese (my favorite). On the farm they have more than 300 goats, and several dozen sheep, and they are also home to several llamas and friendly chickens and ducks. Over 100 goats are milking at any one time and there are goats of all ages living on the farm. The goats and other animals are housed in four large barns and four out buildings including a brand new barn and an historic barn built in 1903.

They give free tours on Saturdays at noon (weather permitting so I would call ahead to make sure) and afterward you get to pop into their little cheese shop to take home some of their amazing goat cheese (if you want to try their cheese locally they have some at Healthy Living Market and Cafe, try the Kunik, it is delicious). Stomping around in the mud, petting llamas and trying to kiss chickens, the kids had a great time, and I am still enjoying the goat cheese. On the way home we took a detour to Brant Lake to see how things were thawing, looking forward to the warmer months…

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DIY: Make Your Own Natural Egg Dyes {plus DIY deco ideas}

diy

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Don’t Miss Tree Toga: Saturday, April 26th

Screenshot 2014-04-08 13.28.57Trees. They brighten city streets and delight nature-starved urbanites. In our busy lives many of us take trees for granted, but when we slow down to appreciate their service our attention is brought to their offering of comfort, adornment and bounty.

Saratoga Springboard has wrapped its roots around Sustainable Saratoga’s Urban Forestry Project. This branch of Sustainable Saratoga focuses on reforesting Saratoga’s urban landscape by facilitating strategic tree plantings. The group also aims to raise awareness about the benefits of trees, about the newly adopted Urban Forest Master Plan and newly hired City Arborist.

Historic pictures from Progressive Era (1890-1920) of the city often show majestic elms or other great street trees towering almost as high as, if not higher than, the buildings on Broadway. Since those days, because of Dutch elm disease, soil compaction and age, the shade of those giants has diminished.

Sustainable Saratoga’s Urban Forestry Project, in partnership with Saratoga’s Department of Public Works and Saratoga Springboard, is hoping to bring the great street trees back.

Through this collaboration, they are going to educate and engage citizens about the urban forest.  SSUFP will engage the public to cultivate support for the Master Plan, which will ensure the SSFUP is not felled by the test of time.

Tree Toga: Growing Saratoga’s Urban Forest, a celebration projected to be an annual Arbor Day event, will take place on Saturday, April 26th from 10am-2pm and feature children and adult educational activities, free trees, specials at participating restaurants and businesses, and, of course commemorative tree plantings.

Join in for a family friendly day complete with activities for children, educational workshops, how-to demonstrations, live music, opportunities to get involved and much more. Attendees will also have an opportunity to visit with a number of forest experts including the City Arborist. On site will be representatives from the City of Saratoga, Sustainable Saratoga, and Saratoga Springboard.

The first 100 attendees will receive a FREE seedling—ready to plant! 

Tree Toga is taking place on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, April 26th. It is free and open to the public. Here are some of the highlights taking place, click the photo at the bottom of the post for even more activities and info:

10a – 10:45a: Around the House Music with Terri Roben (Henry Street)
Don’t miss this family friendly musical showcase!

11a – 12:00p: Northshire Bookstore reading (at their store, 424 Broadway)
Join bookseller, Leah, for fun stories and art projects inspired by trees and sustainability. Bring some child safe recyclables to “upcycle” into a fun project to keep! Projects are appropriate for ages 4 and up, with adult helper!

  • 12 – 2pm: Beyond the Bark at The Children’s Museum at Saratoga (69 Caroline Street)
  • Grab the family and head over to the parking lot of The  Children’s Museum at Saratoga to find their Beyond the Bark activity.
  • 10am – 2pm: Branch out and visit these vendors all day long! (Henry Street)
  • Face painting at Saratoga Paint and Sip
  • Photobooth by Niki Rossi Photography
  • $1 tree cookies at Sweet Mimi’s Café and Bakery
  • Meet up and coming author of the series The Adventures of Fifi Divine. T.A. Drew will be meeting fans – enter to win prizes and receive a reusable grocery bag!

For additional information on Sustainable Saratoga, please visit: http://www.sustainablesaratoga.org or Saratoga Springboard: http://saratogaspringboard.com

Thanks to Jess Updyke for this guest post on Tree Toga! Find the event page on facebook here to stay in the loop, don’t miss it!

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Preventing Lyme Disease: Tips and Info for the Whole Family

lymeThe warmer weather has literally JUST started but already I have heard of people reporting finding ticks on themselves after being outside, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to protect you and your family from ticks and Lyme Disease. First, some facts…

Lyme Disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks and typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans (the “bulls-eye rash”). However, a rash does not always present itself at the site of the tick bite, and fewer than 50% of patients ever recall a tick attachment. Furthermore, a rash may form on the scalp under hair, or the rash may come and go. Do not always count on there being a “bulls eye rash” in order to suspect Lyme. Lyme Disease symptoms may appear within days, weeks, months or even years after the initial infection. In most cases, if caught in the early stages, Lyme Disease can be treated successfully with a 4-6 week course of antibiotics, but it can be debilitating if not treated early and thoroughly. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Saratoga County is considered to be endemic (growing or existing in a certain place or region) for Lyme Disease, and according to this piece by the Boston Globe, “new estimates indicate that Lyme disease is 10 times more common than previous national counts showed, the federal government announced Monday, with about 300,000 people getting the disease each year — most in the Northeast.” It is growing at a rate four times faster than HIV/AIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It can impact any individual of any age group, but the rate of infection is highest among children, ages 5 – 14.

Last spring on one of our first walks in the woods Finn got three ticks on him, two on his face (with one heading toward his hairline) and one on his shirt, which I spotted because they were moving and because he was wearing light colored clothing. But ticks aren’t just in the woods, they can also be picked up from simply playing outside. Keep in mind that not all deer ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, only the infected ones. Furthermore, a tick that is infected has to be attached to a person’s skin for at least 24-48 hours before it can transmit that bacteria.

If you find a tick on your child (or yourself) and you do not know how long the tick was attached, watch for signs or symptoms they might be developing the illness. Click here for a list on signs and symptoms to watch for with Lyme Disease.

Sounds scary? It is. But it shouldn’t keep you and your family from being outdoors. Being aware and taking preventative measures can help protect your family from ticks and Lyme Disease, here are some tips to keep in mind as the weather warms up:

  • The biggest tip? Perform daily tick checks after being outdoors, even in your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find (click here for tips on how to safely remove ticks). Take special care to check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
    • Under the arms
    • In and around the ears
    • Inside the belly button
    • Back of the knees
    • In and around all head and body hair
    • Between the legs
    • Around the waist
  • If you are going to be in areas that are tick infested, wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before becoming attached. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and tucking pants into socks or boot tops may help keep ticks from reaching your skin. Ticks are usually located close to the ground, so wearing high rubber boots may provide additional protection. If you’re in tick-infested areas, walk in the center of trails to avoid overgrown grass and leaf litter.
  • You can also use an insect repellents containing DEET (n,n-diethyl-m toluamide) to clothes and exposed skin. When returning home immediately throw clothing in the washer and dryer to kill any ticks that may be on your clothes.
  • There are some all natural alternatives to DEET repellents (ed note: I haven’t used these in the past but will try a few all natural ones this spring). Rose Geranium has been touted as an extremely potent repellent for ticks, and the following blend can be used as a tick repellent for both you (and your dog!): Take 20 drops of Rose Geranium Oil, 3 drops of Citronella Oil and Bay Leaf Tincture and add it to 10 ounces of water. Spray this on your dog, your clothes, and exposed areas.

Most of all, be vigilant. Perform those tick checks and be thorough. The majority of infections occur between May and August when ticks are most active, but as long as the temperature is above or near freezing, ticks remain active and are a threat.

 

 

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