Author Archives: melzer5129

Aside

Over the years our family has gone through many changes: new jobs, moving, new babies, trials and tribulations. To me, it seemed that our compass was trying to head north, but would find itself stuck in various directions, waiting for us to find our way again. I have to admit I find that to be quite uncomfortable, and I have been irritated and anxious about the future and not having a clear plan.

However, it seems life has a way of setting you straight when you just take some time and listen and wait. Our family recently moved to a farm in Oberlin, Ohio so my husband could manage it. Not only is this a great opportunity for Brad; it’s also a wonderful place for the kids to grow up, and it was what I was craving: distance, peace, quiet, and a supportive community.

There have been some challenges. Getting W to a school 35 minutes away for a month was one of them. And I really don’t like bugs and I have crazy allergies. But so far, it has been worth it. The old farm house, the awesome people, the fresh produce, the local eggs, the new piggies, the lightly scented air, and watching the boys run and play. Such good vibrations.

And so our farm lives begin.

Over the years our family has gone through

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We are Trayvon Martin

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So many things have been written and said about the young man who was gunned down for being thought of as suspicious. My heart gets so heavy that I can’t bring myself to write about it now. So instead I share pictures of my family in hoodies. We are in solidarity. Justice for Trayvon Martin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are cute now. 10 or 15 years from now will they be "suspicious"?

The Lorax Movie

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Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is one of our family’s favorite books.We own it, read it regularly, and our sons can recite sections of the book. Winston’s favorite line: “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the tress have no tongues.” Yesterday, we took our family to see the Lorax movie. While we were admittedly wary of what the movie would be like, we were also hopeful and pleasantly surprised. However, after seeing other reviews suggesting to skip seeing the Lorax, Brad and I decided to post a review/critique of a review on my blog. This is also our first joint post.

The review that prompted this response was by Sunita Pillay, a freelance writer for Elephant Journal. Here is the link to her review that ultimately says to pass up seeing the movie: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/03/movie-review-take-a-pass-on-the-lorax/

Let me say a few words about my husband. Brad Charles Melzer is a Professor of Sustainability at Baldwin-Wallace College. He is an ecologist and a permaculturalist. He is a board member for Green Triangle, a non-profit permaculture organization based in Cleveland, Ohio. He has been working for environmental awareness for 15 years. He is also a wonder father and husband who partners with me to teach our children our values. Without further ado, here is Brad’s take on the Lorax movie.

I disagree with this writer. It seems to me that she doesn’t remember being a child and her observations are off the mark. I saw the film yesterday and I was hopeful, but very wary. I thought for sure they would screw it up. To my pleasant surprise they didn’t. I’ll explain why, but first, let me critique this author’s observations. (1) She claims that the new villain, O’Hare, is Asian. Neither myself nor my wife thought that, just that he was short with a weird black haircut. (2) Her “major facepalm moment”, of which I surprisingly had none, was “Ted has to dodge mechanical swishing axes strategically placed on the side of the road, to escape from, um, being decapitated.” Apparently she didn’t realize that these were decrepit Super Axe Hackers strewn about in disuse. (3) She complains that there is a happy ending. In the process of expanding the story, the Once-ler character gets expanded and in the end finds a sort of redemption, which I thought, was handled very respectfully and well. (4) She claims that the Lorax comes off as a “bumbling buffoon” rather than a wisdom teacher/guru. However, to me the film portrays him as nothing less than holy. He flies into and out of “the light” in different scenes; very beautifully portrayed. (5) So. Another of the author’s criticisms was that the film was “an adrenaline-fueled extravaganza”. While it did have some action sequences (it is a 3-D film for children), it was hardly “adrenaline-fueled”. As an adult, I could’ve done without those, but the kids did seem to enjoy those parts of the film. (6) She’s “not even sure what the message is”, but to me they maintained the spirit of the book.

 I will concede that the marketing for the film is sketchy at best, but was EXTRAORDINARILY relieved that there was no product placement in the film, and that the film-makers addressed the woes of consumerism (exemplified in the bottled air commercial pitch). Also, some of the marketing (of which I am very critical of) is not the worst I have seen. For example, IHOP is trying to plant 3 million trees. And the disposable diapers that the author mentions are from 7th Generation. My wife and I used cloth diapers on both our children, but used 7th Generation disposables as a backup. Although, they aren’t perfect in terms of sustainability (they use petroleum products, the fibers are wood and not recycled) the company as a whole is one of the leaders in sustainable practices. But they did fail, ultimately. From Mother Jones: “They had an opportunity to partner with brands that could have wowed us with what they were doing in the world,” Bittel told Mother Jones. “Instead they found a brand that sort of worked. In the end, it’s still a combustion engine, and it’s still a movie about overusing resources, and that just doesn’t match up.” He likened it, colorfully, to the film Finding Nemo partnering with a company that makes fish sticks. http://motherjones.com/environment/2012/03/lorax-film-greenwashing-Mazda

 The film is one of Dr. Suess’ most beloved and was released on his birthday. Plus I’m sure that the film’s makers were well aware that they would receive some froth-at-the-mouth criticism regardless of what they did. To me though, once the marketing frenzy passes, the film will stand up as solid piece of art on its own. Not as potent as the book of course, but solid. As I mentioned previously, the film-makers stayed true to the the spirit of the book. The cartoon from the 70’s is a more faithful adaptation, but this is a major motion picture-length work and they were going to have to make some creative decisions. In the end, both my wife and I were relieved and our boys enjoyed it thoroughly. Winston (5) said: “It had so many adventures that Teddy had and he was brave enough to meet the Once-ler and the Lorax was brave enough to save his great Bar-ba-loots frisking about in their Bar-ba-loot suits, and his precious animals. And we get new trees by planting them, of course”. Miles (3) said: “because the Once-ler became good and helped the Lorax and the Lorax said ‘nice mustache'”.

Clearly, the movie isn’t the same as our beloved book, but we believe that it has value nonetheless. On a personal note, I wonder if some members of the green movement are so caught up in wanting ‘eco-perfection’ that they cannot see when progress is and has been made. Are we capable of being reasonable and embracing the good while striving for better? I hope so.

Newly vegetarian, soon to be vegan?

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Hello again! I’ve been away but I’ve been itching to talk about my newest undertaking. It all started on January 2, but it’s been a long time coming.

I have been trying to eat healthier for years. Before I moved the St. Croix, I ate pretty well by S.A.D (standard American diet) standards but I exercised so I stayed fit and curvy. Once I met my then-boyfriend, we started eating out more and he introduced me to fine dining and foods I had never tasted before. So the pounds started to pile on, but I was in love and having fun so I didn’t mind it so much. Once me moved, the food was more fun to eat because of the company we were keeping, and how could I resist fresh seafood with savory sauces?! Then I became pregnant and food was my everything. Upon moving back to Ohio, I would eat cheese steaks like it was my job and my exercise consisted of moving from couch to chair. I gained pregnancy weight and only lost half of it with each pregnancy. Now, I know this may sound normal, but it made me feel sluggish and uncomfortable.

I wear my extra pounds pretty well (so I’ve been told), but I just don’t feel right. So I started my health improvement journey 2 years ago. I’ll talk more about it in future posts. Here’s where I am now:

I’m still not where I want to be weight-wise or dietary-wise. I had been feeling kinda gross (just plain icky) over the holidays and it only got worse on New Year’s Day when I ate WAY TOO MUCH MEAT. Feeling horrid and worn out, I decided on January 2 not to eat anymore meat. Which meant I had to figure out what I could eat. So I started doing research online, watched a few awesome documentaries, and read some good books. Lo and behold, I have been vegetarian ever since! Yaay!

I’ve been eating faux-meats, veggies, grains, seeds, nuts and legumes. But I’ve also been eating cheese (I’m lactose-intolerant & addicted to creamy cheese) and far too many fats to have seen any real improvement in my weight. But I do feel a little better.

So what’s my next step? Veganism. Yes, I know that true vegans prescribe to a life void of animal cruelty and animal products/by-products. And while I don’t wear fur or condone any kind of animal cruelty, I do wear leather boats and crochet with wool yarn, so I will NOT call myself a vegan. No. Instead I’m “embracing a vegan diet.”

So, no diary. No honey. No eggs. No, no, no. But yes to more veggies and more fruits, and all the cool things you can make with them. I have a newfound love for raw nuts and seeds and I’ve been making my own coconut milk lately. I have even given up caffeine! I’ve been making more of my food, though I admit I need to do better at preparation and having things on hand for me to eat. There have been too many times when I’ve been hungry and on my way to work and I’ve picked a vegetarian meal that is lacking of anything healthy. Tisk.

My plan for the future is to use my upcoming 10k walk training to push through the cravings and I want to eat more raw foods come spring and summer.

Today’s challenge was to eat after having partied the night before. I have to say that I didn’t do very well. But I got back on track later in the day when I had regained my senses. This evening I’m making baked tofu and I’m trying my hand at making seitan. Hopefully these staples will keep me and my family for the week.

~Audrey

Monday feels like a Sunday

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Good morning! It’s a little cool in Cleveland today but our home is warm and blissful. Here’s a rundown of the on-goings in the nest:

  1. We’ve discovered Spotify. Actually I sign-up a while back and was just able to download the player (my computer is a mess!).  I showed it to B and he flipped for joy. We’ve been listening to Sting, David Bowie, MGMT, Mos Def, and Kid Cudi’s Pursuit of Happiness. Awesome breakfast music!
  2. Speaking of breakfast, Brad made french toast with an array of great ingredients including the vanilla extract I made last year. When he opened the mason jar the whole upstairs smelled heavenly. Yum!
  3. W learned how to use a knife and fork about a year ago, but today his motor skills clicked and he was using it like a pro! Cutting his own french toast. What a big boy!
  4. M is a 3 year old terror and sweetie pie all in one. I’ll do a post my cute little Jekyll/Hyde later.
  5. I’m wearing a sweater. It’s nothing special, but it’s the first sweater of the season so I’m excited.
  6. Teavana Tea. Check them out. I just gave up coffee for my health, ’cause it was hurting me. I’d have a cup a day for two days and if I didn’t have a cup on the third, I’d have a migraine. So tea is now my friend like it was when I was young. I’m going to have fun this fall and winter trying new teas.
  7. We’ve been making a lot of stove top popcorn recently. A dear friend of mine makes it with coconut oil so of course I had to try that.Then last week when I was at L.E.A.F. night (a CSA night in Lakewood, OH) I found a vendor that sells red, blue, yellow and white kernels. I couldn’t decide what to try so I got a mix of all of them. Popcorn madness ensued. Popped in coconut oil and sprinkled with adobo seasoning and nutritional yeast flakes, this popcorn is better than anything I’ve even popped in a microwavable bag.

I think that’s about it. So enjoy your long weekend!

Home school is in session!

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Today marked the first day of our home schooling year for W. I am so excited to get him ready for kindergarten next year. We have been teaching both of our kids at home for a while but this is the first time we will be doing so “officially.” Or rather, as officially as you can for pre-school.

So our day started off with breakfast and playing as it should. Once I got the table cleared and my thoughts in order, we sat down to do a name puzzle. Even little M was included and he did a great job! Each child was given a piece of paper with his name on it. They also had little letter cards that were all mixed up that they had to put in the correct order to spell the name. This kept them occupied for ten minutes. No joke.

Then I decided it was a good idea to make a calendar for September and get W to count to 30. So out came the construction paper, marker and stapler and our final product was a paper chain calendar that is now hanging in their room.

Next was story time. I bought them a new book yesterday and they were super eager to read it. We got half way through it and book marked the page for later, which was hard for them. Clearly patience will be a part of our lessons.

Then I had a good moment to go over the golden rule because W decided he wanted something of M’s and shoved him. So many teaching opportunities! All ended well.

While W was working in his number book, I had rhythm play with M. Using the rhythm cards I made years ago for a class I was teaching in St. Croix, we said the rhythms aloud, clapped them, and played them on wooden slide whistles I brought back from the Colorado Suzuki Institute this summer.

Our morning ended with button sorting, a review of counting to 30 on the abacus and a tired mommy.

But I’m a happy mommy nonetheless. Besides, M made me laugh!

on gratitude

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When I was a child I was taught to say grace before meals, say “thank you,” and to say my prayers. I’m sure many other children were reared in the same way. I carried those practices with me once I left home for college. I also thought I would be greeted by people who practiced the same things. Surprise. I wasn’t.

The fact is I was so grateful to get into a college and have a way to pay for it, that I knew how lucky I was. It really hit me hard when I saw how many people took such a great opportunity for granted. As the years went by I became disgruntled and took less time to give thanks for all that was going right in my life. That probably had to do with the many things that seemed to be wrong: bad relationships, parents’ divorce, mother’s mental illness, my own insecurities. I would give thanks when I was doing well, but I would brood when I wasn’t.

Almost ten years have gone by since I graduated college and began my life. I have had some crazy ups and downs and now I see that gratitude should be a daily practice; not an every-once-and-awhile endeavor.

As I teach my children to say grace and say “thank you,” I find myself saying “thank you” to whatever God/Spirits are keeping me. Thank you for waking me this morning. Thank you for the food I served. Thank you for this coffee. Thank you for the little money we have to pay bills. Thank you for my sons’ smiles. Thank you for giving me a husband to argue with. Thank you for giving me the courage and audacity to build my own studio and work to make a living by teaching on my terms. Thank you for sending my husband a job lead. It goes on and on.

To whomever is reading this, I challenge you to take time during your day to show gratitude. Don’t ask for anything. Just say thank you. Appreciate the positive things in the world around you. Show kindness to the people you interact with. Don’t be afraid to give. I bet you’ll reap the benefits of having a strong gratitude practice.

Namaste,

Audrey