Monthly Archives: March 2013

Easter…Pumpkins?

First off, I would like to say that I am horrified that I can’t find my camera. Kitchenfoolery and baked goods always taste better when you can actually see them. Sorry about this. Issue fixed! Adding photos now!

That aside, I finally got around to preparing the last of our pumpkin stash. I had three left, two of which I roasted, one of which I pitched unceremoniously into the compost bin (much too soft). So far I have only used the meat from one pumpkin, and these are the four recipes I have tried thus far. I realized too late that I didn’t take any photos of the actual pumpkins before I hacked them up and cooked them. ūüė¶

I also washed, dried, and saved all of the seeds so I can plant more this year…and roast the rest. Enjoy!

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Roasted Ginger Pumpkin-Pear Soup
1-1/2 pounds fresh pumpkin, seeds and fibers removed, cut into big chunks
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing on pumpkin
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tsp salt
1-2 red or green Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and cut in chunks
4 cups chicken broth, homemade if possible
1/2 cup half-and-half (optional)

Heat the oven to 400F.
Brush each pumpkin chunk with oil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. When cool enough to handle, peel, mash, and measure 3 cups. Store the rest in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 minutes.
Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onion and shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent, stiring occasionally. Add 1 tsp of the ginger, the salt, and the pumpkin. Cook for another minute until warm.
Add the pear and broth and cook for about 20 minutes, until the pear is easily pierced with a fork. Stir in the remaining tsp of ginger.
In small batches, puree the soup in a blender or with a hand-held blender in the saucepan, until the consistency is smooth and creamy.
Return the soup to the saucepan and add half-and-half, if desired. Gently heat, but do not boil. Serve hot.
[from Pumpkin: A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year by DeeDee Stovel]

Notes: I didn’t have shallots, so I didn’t use them. I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Turned out well. I will definately keep this recipe on my list.

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Pumpkin Butter
2 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes until thickened and darkened. Stir regularly while cooking.
Cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for several weeks.
[from Pumpkin: A Super Food for all 12 Months of the Year by DeeDee Stovel]

Note: This stuff is fantastic, and we put it on our waffles this morning.

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Healthy Pumpkin Smoothie
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 very ripe medium-sized banana
3/4 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt (I used Oikos 0% fat Greek vanilla yogurt)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup crushed ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, making sure the ice is completely crushed.
Makes two servings
Per 8-10 ounce serving: Calories 167, Calories from Fat 5, Total Fat 0.7g (aat 0.3g), Cholesterol 2mg, Sodium 74mg, Carbohydrate 34g, Fiber 3.1g, Protein 6.6g
[from http://lowfatcooking.about.com/od/breakfastandlunch/r/pumpkinsmoothie.htm%5D

Note: This smoothie came out really thick, so I added milk to thin it a little bit.

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Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
1-2/3 cups pumpkin puree
4-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
5 tbsp raw wheat germ
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cumin
1-1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, lighlty toasted

In a medium bowl, combine 1/3 cup pumpkin and 1/3 cup of the flour, then stir in 2/3 cup boiling water. Allow to cool to lukewarm, then stir in the yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until foamy and bubbling, about 1 hour.
Transfer the yeast starter to a large bowl. Stir in the remaining pumpkin, honey, 1/3 cup cold water, then the remaining all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, salt, and cumin. Transfer the dough to a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 12 to 15 minutes, adding more flour as neccessary. Try not to use any more flour than you need to keep the dough from sticking. Alternatively, use a heavy duty mixer outfitted with a dough hook. Work in the pumpkin seeds.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 2-1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough and form into 24 rolls. Set on two cookie sheets lined with parchment. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450F.
Bake the rolls in the center of the oven until puffed and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Rolls should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
[from The Great Little Pumpkin Cookbook by Michael Krondl]

Note: You can skip the entire yeast-rising-punching-down step if you are in a rush. Just substitute the 4-1/3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour with self-rising flour and you are all set. Also, these are great with dark chocolate morsels, too.

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I cooked waffles for the family this morning, so I am updating with a fifth recipe.

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 pinch salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 2/3 cups milk

4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. In a second bowl, add eggs, sugar, pumpkin, milk, and butter; beat well. Gently fold in the flour mixture. Cook according to your waffle iron directions. I do these in my belgian waffle iron and it uses about 1 cup batter and takes 4-5 minutes to bake. They come out a nice deep, golden brown. These are great with a little bit of syrup, but would also be great with honey butter.

[from http://www.food.com/recipe/spiced-pumpkin-waffles-67930]

Note: Something isn’t quite right with this recipe. My first waffles came apart in the middle, leaving two layers of waffle – one on the top of the waffle iron and one on the bottom. I added more flour and butter to try to correct this, and I let the waffles cook a little longer. This only moderately fixed things, as I still had to peel each waffle off of the iron with a butter knife. The flavors were really good. I will try a different recipe next time.

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And now tonight (March 31), for dinner we ate leftovers of all pumpkin dishes plus a new side that I whipped up.

Spinach and Pumpkin

1 tbsp peanut oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 package (10 oz) frozen spinach, cooked and drained, or 1 pound of fresh spinach, cooked and chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
1-1/2 cups roasted pumpkin, mashed
1/2 tsp salt

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook the onion in the oil for 5 to 7 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.

Stir in the spinach, pumpkin, and salt. Cook over low heat, without stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until a brown crust forms on the bottom. Serve hot.

[from Pumpkin: A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year by DeeDee Stovel]

Note: This was Waaaay better than I expected. The ingredients are so very simple, yet this was quite a tasty dish. Both my husband and I agreed that we enjoyed the taste even more after eating this dish for a while. Also, there is a note in my cookbook that says that this is a Kenyan recipe from a book called The African Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent Simon & Schuster, 1998.

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Arbor Day Farm: Nature Photography

Yesterday I posted about my family’s vacation experience at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City, Nebraska. Today I’d like to continue by sharing some of my favorite nature photographs from that visit. I’ll warn you ahead of time, I’m no good at remembering the names of plants, flowers, trees, etc., so I’m not offering much labeling here. Please enjoy my photocraftiness!

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Arbor Day Farms, Nebraska City, Nebraska

It’s only 30 days until Arbor Day, people! This got me to thinking about creating a post about an adventure me and my family had last year at Arbor Day Farm, one of the coolest places on Earth. I had gone to a conference at Lied Lodge (at Arbor Day Farm) two years ago¬†and was determined to bring my boys back some day to experience the Tree Adventure.

Fall is the best time of year to visit Arbor Day Farm. This is the time of year when the Farm itself, an actual, operational farm and orchard, has all kinds of great stuff for sale – a ton of apple varieties, fresh baked pies, preserves, and all sorts of wonderful food.

First, though, I need to tell you about a great Super 8 motel in Percival, Iowa. I booked a room on Priceline.com the same day we stayed there and paid something like $45 per night. Percival is about 15 minutes from Arbor Day Farm, and, after looking around places to stay in Nebraska City, this was our clear choice. The room comes complete with complimentary breakfast in the morning and was $50 – $60 cheaper than the competition. My boys behaved really well there, as you can tell from this photo:

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We started our day at the Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure. I think it was $6 a person to get in.

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Everything was a “yes” for the kids. Everything was touchable, climbable, and kid-oriented.

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There were a ton of learning opportunities along the path, too. The kids were very interested in all of the interactive displays. Bird calls:

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Scent ID:

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Sounds of the forst amplified (some unnatural sounds, too):

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Animal track IDing:

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The boys loved the 500 ft tall treehouse. This height puts you right up in the canopy for all kinds of good viewing. There is a little hut attached that has all kinds of natural things to touch and feel as well.

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There were games for the kids to play:

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And a lot of stuff to climb on:

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Thing1 gets his Metallica on:

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Floating a leaf down a “river”:

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Building with natural things, and then unbuilding (do you like how poor little kittentoy is going for an unfortunate ride here):

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We took a tractor ride through the orchards and fields that make up Arbor Day Farm.

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And stopped to pick apples along the way.

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There was also a corn maze – small and simple, the kind that a 7 and 3 year old really enjoy.

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And we hiked over to Lied Lodge as well. The trail winds through the woods between Lied Lodge and Arbor Day Farm. The boys seemed to enjoy the bridges the most and were very curious about their construction.

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This is the back of Lied Lodge. The Lodge recycles and tries to be as self-sustainable as they possibly can. You can read more about this online here. It’s a beautiful place that has incorporated a number of Frank Lloyd Wright elements into their arcetectural and furnishing design.

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Since Arbor Day Farm is at least a 5 hour drive from where we live, we did the trip in two days. We went back to the hotel midday so the boys could have a nap and we could avoid the hottest hours. At this age I swear that sometimes the hotel is more of a fun adventure for the kids than the actual attraction we go to, but Arbor Lodge had so much to offer them that they thouroughly enjoyed every minute of their adventure.

You should consider a visit to Arbor Day Farm in the future!

Emily, Doer of Stuff

The Lincoln Cottage, Washington, D.C.

Have you ever heard of the Lincoln Cottage? I hadn’t until last month when I had the opportunity to go there and see it (and all its Gothic Revival goodness) for myself. I wondered how I hadn’t known about this landmark in Washington, D.C., only three miles away from the White House. After all, I grew up in the D.C./Baltimore area and had numerous school field trips to all of the major educational hotspots in D.C. (the National Zoo was always my favorite). Apparently it only opened to the public in 2008 and is run by the non-profit National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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One fascinating aspect of the Lincoln Cottage is that it is located adjacent to a retired veteran’s building, the Armed Forces Retirement Home, which was, in Lincoln’s Day, a hospital for soldiers called the Soldier’s home. The wounded warriors of the Civil War and beyond came here to be treated, heal, or die. The dead were buried on site.

Lincoln surveyed the cottage just three days after his inauguration in 1861, and he lived there for 13 months between 1862 and 1864, riding his horse the three miles to the White House regularly. He wrote much of the Emancipation Proclamation from his office at the Soldier’s Home during the summer of 1862. His last visit to the cottage was the day before he was assasinated. The American Civil War took place all around him in Washington, D.C. during much of his presidency.

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One D.C. native wrote:

Arid hill, and sodden plain showed alike the horrid trail of war. Forts bristled above every hill-top. Soldiers were entrenched at every gate-way. Shed hospitals covered acres on acres in every suburb. Churches, art-halls and private mansions were filled with the wounded and dying of the American armies. The endless roll of the army wagon seemed never still. The rattle of the anguish-laden ambulance, the piercing cries of the sufferers‚Ķ made morning, noon and night too dreadful to be borne. ‚ÄĒ Mary Clemmer Ames, Washington resident during the Civil War

Standing in Lincoln’s large, wood-lined personal office, I was able to understand Lincoln’s mind more clearly. Was he apart from the war when he spent time in his summer home? Was he gettig away from all of his stress as leader of the U.S.? Absolutely not. Looking out the triple windows, his windows, I saw what seemed like an endless field of white headstones, markers for graves that were contemporary with Lincoln’s time. The boys who were buried there were being buried there as Lincoln sat and wrote the Emancipation Proclamation from his desk in this very room. Zachary Klitzman writes, “At the Soldiers‚Äô Home just as at the White House, Abraham Lincoln shouldered the burdens of wartime leadership and personal and national tragedy. During this time of grief and stress, Lincoln often was described as sad, restless, and always anxious about the future of his country.”

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Mrs. Lincoln often visited the ailing soldiers on her own. And the soldiers gave the Lincoln’s son Tad a “mini” uniform and let him practice his skills alongside them. The soldiers seemed to be an extended family for the Lincolns, who had faced the loss of two of their own children, sons Eddie and Willie, by this point in time.

One interesting thing about the Lincoln Cottage is that it is devoid of artifacts. There are no pieces of furniture from Lincoln’s time, just a few replicas to educate the public about Lincoln. You can sit in the chairs yourself. There aren’t any roped off areas to speak of. There sits a rocking chair in one room where a quote of Lincoln was read – Lincoln was tired and overwhelmed, and a man came to him in the evening to ask Lincoln to do something. Lincoln was stern with the man and sent him away. After sitting in a similar rocking chair, all those years ago, Lincoln got to thinking about how he spoke to this man who had asked for help and felt badly, couldn’t even sleep properly that night. The next day, Lincoln sought this man out, having already made the arrangements to help.

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I got the sense from visiting the Cottage and its grounds that Lincoln was an extremely contemplative man, moreso than I had realized, though this is a quality well-known about Lincoln from history. For me, the Lincoln Cottage put the mind of Lincoln into a setting for me and made his thoughts more real. The “story” has more meaning for me now that I have stood at the very same window and looked out over the view of endless headstones, right there in Washington, D.C., only three miles away from the White House.

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You need to go check out the Lincoln Cottage for yourself. Go. Do Stuff.

[Much of my data comes from the Lincoln Cottage website, although I did a pretty good job of remembering historic details.]

I Am A Geographer

I attended the 44th Annual South Dakota State University Geography Convention last week, representing the South Dakota Geographic Alliance. I love this opportunity to see what the grad students are working on for their research projects and to hear guest speakers talk about issues in Geography. This year seemed particularly great – Fred Shelley, University of Oklahama, talked about the electoral geography of the most recent Presidential election, John Fraser Hart, University of Minnesota, shared his research about the changing landscape of farming in rural Wisconsin, Trisha Jackson, South Dakota State University, showed the effect of Perennial plants and root mass on the viability of soils, alongside other colleagues from across the country. I love the sharing of information in a smaller setting than a national conference.

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[Joseph Kerski, ESRI, and myself at the 44th Annual SDSU Geography Convention]

I believe that my work is important. Being a Geography Educator, in my case supporting geo-literacy in K-12, is probably one of the most important jobs out there, though most Americans would disagree. Or not realize that the field of Geography actually encompasses more than ‘states and capitols’ or knowing the population statistics for the largest cities. People with geography backgrounds are urban planners, transportation specialists, environmental scientists, disaster risk analysts, emergency planners, economic developers, Geographic Information Systems analysts, teachers, professors, remote sensors, and others. Geographers work for the military, government, private industry, defence sector, homeland security, the census, the USGS, education institutions, non-profits, and so many other places across the globe.

The National Center for Education Statistics released their results from the 2010 National Assessment of Education Progress, and the lack of geography skills and knowledge was , unfortunately, well documented. Daniel Edelson, Vice President of Education at National Geographic commented that ‚Äú…we have not invested in geography education at all in the last decade. Both for workforce preparedness and national security, there are big costs to neglecting geography education,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúYou need people who can reason about geographic challenges ‚Ķ people who understand water and energy systems. The more we wait to make these investments, the more we‚Äôre going to have to catch up to the rest of the world.‚ÄĚ

Geography, as it turns out, is a rather critical subject for today’s young people if they want to be competative in the global job market. Other countries understand how Geography fits into the larger world around them and invest heavily in geographic education in both K-12 and at the University level. The United States? Not so much. Of the nine areas¬†mandated by No Child Left Behind, only Geography has remained unfunded since the beginning of NCLB. Why? One reason I have heard for this lack of funding (while hanging out with academics for a few days) is that the United States has the ability to hire well-trained people from other countries to fill critical geography, GIS, and remote sensing positions stateside.

This “plan” is very short-sighted, though. According to ‘ESRI Insider’ (Oct 15, 2012), “…the need for geoscience jobs will grow far faster than the current stream of incoming geoscience graduates are entering the workforce. The combination of rapidly advancing Baby Boom generation retirements and constrained flow of new qualified entrants equates to a potential gap of 145,000 to 202,000 geoscience jobs left unfilled by 2021.” Has anyone heard about unemplyment issues in the U.S. lately? I’m willing to bet that there are a number of unemployed professionals out there right now that would love to have a career in the geo-sciences. Perhaps if we, as a country, had been taking Geography seriously in the past decade, we wouldn’t have such a high unemploment rate nor a growing gap in the number of geo-related jobs and the number of people in this country qualified for them.

Geography is one of those skills that allows a person to develop critical thinking skills and solid decision making skills. All a person has to do to understand this is watch the evening news. Why are particular countries at war? Are these wars strictly about culture and religion? How does the location of natural resources factor in? Where are water resources located? Take Israel, for example. If a person were to look at a political map, one that shows man-made boundary lines that seperate countries one from another by a nice, neat purple or green line, one might not understand why there is conflict in this region. After all, all of the countries have these very clear and well-defined lines drawn on the map. One must delve deeper into the layers of information out there to really be able to understand what is going on in the world around them. This is what a geographer does well.

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Why does this matter? And what do I do with this information? If our government, for example, did not understand the importance of this kind of information (and some may argue that our government doesn’t), our country would not be able to take educated action in situations that require the U.S. to move quickly. But these questions are also very important to ask when planning long term projects as well.

Think with me on these hot topics for a moment:

Is it important to know if an area is likely to develop sinkholes in the future?

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Will proper intelligence allow us to plan better when moving our military into a war zone?

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Do we need to understand where flood zones are?

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Questions like these are important for decision makers. Other people depend on the outcome of these decisions. This is why a geographic background is so important. Educated decisions are better decisions. A solid background in geography makes educated decision makers. Geography is important. And that is why I am a Geographer.

Emily Gets Up At 5:30 am And Survives

I am a self-proclaimed Doer of Stuff, and one of the concepts that I laid out early on in this blog is that I am open to suggestions of Stuff to Do. I was recently challenged by a visiting friend to get up in the morning and go for a walk…at 5:30 am. I’m not usually up at that time if I can at all help it. But I thought, for the sake of life experience, let’s do this. The exercise will be good for me, and no one else in the house will be up yet, so I’m off the hook for taking care of anyone that early in the day.

It occured to me early on that it won’t actually be light out, not this time of the year. And it will be very cold. But doable. I actually laid out my layers the night before so I could wake up and slip right into my Addidas pants and fleece while still wearing my pajamas.

A few immediate changes occured. I woke up and was actually awake, not groggy and mystified as to why my alarm was going off at that hour. I opted for jeans and a wool sweater with a light fleece jacket because my iPod told me that it was 30F outside, not as cold as I anticipated. I still wore my hiking boots rather than tennis shoes because I imagined that we would be encountering snow and ice. I didn’t really realize just how much ice we’d be tromping over. I only slipped and fell once during our walk, no damage done. Just served to wake me up a little more.

My buddy Joseph was up and ready to go. He obviously does this a lot because he set off on a pace that was healthy, rather than my normal “I’m following a circuitous three year old” gait. Luckily, my husband is 6′ 3″ so I can shift rather easily into the “person with long legs” gait.

A few observations:

1. I thought that I would be able to see a unique side of my town this early in the morning. But it was dark and icy, so I found myself looking more at my feet than at my surroundings.

2. I wouldn’t have guessed that we walked 4 miles.

3. 4 miles at our pace = 440 calories burned.

4. I expected to be totally beat when I got home. Instead I was happily awake, and the morning started off just fine when the kids woke up. I did sneak a little nap on the couch later on in the morning.

5. My inner ears were cold. If I do this again I will wear a better hat that covers my ears.

6. Joseph is a cool guy. We chatted the whole time (left me a little winded at times, but I wouldn’t admit this out loud). I learned a lot about him and his world. We are both educators and have similar interests at heart.

No particularly deep, life-altering ‘Eurekas’ while out this morning, but I did enjoy the cool, fresh air in my lungs and the company of a good friend.

I’m pretty sure my husband thought I was crazy, especially since I’m always complaining that I don’t get enough sleep. He laughed and said, You’ve never done this with me before. Of course not, he’s never asked. Plus, someone has to stay home with the kids.

Who else gets up this early to exercise? Comments always welcome here.

Emily,

Doer of Stuff

A Shot@Life, or Emily Goes To Washington

I promised to write more about my experience with Shot@Life when I traveled to Washington, D.C. in February to receive training to become a Shot@Life Champion. I have been on the road ever since! It feels like I have only been home for four minutes this month. And, by “this month”, I mean February. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around the fact that it is already March and that March is half over!

Why Shot@Life? I am part of an organization called the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), an all-volunteer ladies group that has local clubs all over the United States and beyond. I am the current President of my local Club, and the 2nd Vice President at the State level. One of the organizations that we partner with on the national level is Shot@Life, which is a program of the United Nations Foundation. I met representatives of this group at the last GFWC International meeting in Charlotte, NC this past summer and was immediately impressed with thier simple, yet very real message: That a child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. We can give these children a “shot at life” by providing them with vaccines for Pneumonia, Rotovirus (diahrea), Measles, and Polio. It costs $20 to give a child these vaccines. Shot@Life organizes the donations and advocacy around this issue and then uses partners on the ground in the right locations to administer the vaccines. $20 covers all of this. $20 can save a child’s life.

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[Click on this image for more information.]

I liked this organization enough to pick up some information to bring back to my clubwomen at home. I leafed through the pamphlets and read some articles online. GFWC offered the opportunity to become an official Shot@Life Champion through an essay contest. Four clubwomen were chosen, and I was one of them.

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The training itself was outstanding. It was uplifting. It was nothing short of incredible. I met with 100+ other women and men who were from a number of different organizations around the country who all had the same idea close to their hearts: Let’s save lives by bringing this program back to our friends, family, and others. Let’s use our networks to spread the word around the internet and blogosphere, and garner interest from our Senators and Representatives in promoting children’s health issues at the gobal level.

This summit took place in Washington, D.C. So, one day, we went to Capitol Hill. I was able to meet with the offices of Senators John Thune (R) and Tim Johnson (D) of South Dakota as well as three senators from New Jersey. All of the people that we met with received us and our information well. Since there isn’t current legislation involving children’s global health issues, I’m not sure that we will see much action on the part of the Congresspeople that we met with, but these meetings were an opening, and a reason to invite those who represent our states to local events that we hold in the future. They were also a way for us to say, “What can we do for you?”. I don’t think that our people in Congress hear this very often. Is there any way that we can help to serve the people of our states with regards to children’s health issues? I know of at least one Champion who has been asked to serve on a comittee back in their state. That’s something!

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The ladies from New Jersey that I got paired up with were AWESOME, and I am now friends with them on Facebook and read their blogs. I have no doubt that we will be working together in the future. All of us Champions are interacting through a group created for us on Facebook, and multiple posts are made a day updating all of us on all of the awesome events that people are creating, the meetings being held with people of interest, the connections being made across this globe of ours.

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The Shot@Life Champion Summit was just a beginning. I’ve already been asked to speak at two conferences in my state and to talk with a doctor who is interested in Shot@Life information. My local GFWC club has plans to do a fundraiser for Shot@Life, though the details aren’t laid out just yet (something to plan for this Spring, once the frozen tundra melts off a little outside). I also have plans for the future: I will be the president of GFWC South Dakota in a year and a half, and I will highlight Shot@Life as my main program of focus for my two year administration. This means that I will be asking the ladies of my state to take part in education, advocacy, and fundraising for Shot@Life and other children’s health issues.

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Why do I do this?

1. Because vaccinations are important. FOR EVERYONE. A disease eliminated is a disease eliminated FOR EVERYONE. Everyone on planet Earth wins. By the way, polio only exists in three countries now: Afganistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.*

2. I love my boys. And, as a mother, I have this innate love for everyone else’s kids, too. Every mother deserves a healthy child. Every mother deserves a happy family. Every mother in the whole world. We all love our kids in the same ways, worldwide.

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[Only two of these guys are mine, by the way.]

3. This is something that I can do. I, one person in this great big world, CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Really. Do you have $20? Than you can make a difference, too. It really is that easy. Everything is already in place to make this happen. That’s why Shot@Life and their partner organizations are so awesome, and I am so thankful to represent them.

Will you please join me? Learn more (or donate) at the Shot@Life website.

* From the World Health Organization

Q: Polio is a disease you read about in history books. Does it still exist? Is it curable?

A: Polio does still exist, although polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated more than 350 000 cases to 650 reported cases in 2011. This reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease. Today, only three countries in the world have never stopped transmission of polio (Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan).

Despite the progress achieved since 1988, as long as a single child remains infected with poliovirus, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease. The poliovirus can easily be imported into a polio-free country and can spread rapidly amongst unimmunized populations. Failure to eradicate polio could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within ten years, all over the world.

There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life.

47805_10152576400900230_103425925_n [Click on this image for more info about how vaccines are devloped.]