My Reserve, Our Coasts: Save Our Local Resource - the JCNERR

I don't get political too often and there is good reason for it.  I don't follow politics.  I am not well versed in them.  With the way the world is now, I don't WANT to know them either, quite frankly.  What I DO know is that when something that is good for my family, the community, my friends, and the world is threatened, I will fight  for it.  

Right now, the funding for our coastal reserves is in danger due to budget cuts within several federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Our local reserve the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JCNERR) - where our children learn about our area - could be shut down.  In fact, without our help, it could be gone as early as 2018. That means research will stop.  Jobs will be lost.  Our children will lose the most convenient environmental resource available to them.

  

You probably don't realize how much you have used the JCNERR.  If you'e ever visited the Tuckerton Seaport's third floor, you should know that all that great hands-on equipment is there because of the JCNERR.  If you've ever taken a class at the Field Station, that's run by the JCNERR.  

I asked around to see how many of my local friends have utilized the resources at the JCNERR  and was so pleased to learn that SO many have taken their classes with rave reviews:

 
 
 "They have great programs there, all three of my kids have been involved over the years. What a unique opportunity to learn about our local environment! Losing funding and those programs would cheat the coming generations." - Vicki Falkinburg 
 
"I took my boys when they were little. Loved it. Austin dissected a squid when he was 7. The "build a water robot class" was amazing. We also made a birdhouse that we still use.  We went seining one day too." -Kate Janney 
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Austin and Ryan Janney with their underwater robot
 
"I took the boys there twice. We had a great time! The staff was super informative and so nice! The boys loved it. They did the underwater robot and the penguin visit."- Samantha Colandrea
 
"We went one summer and it was great. I was hoping to do one this summer for Hope. She wants to be a scientist when she grows up and loves these types programs."- Jessica Shertenlieb
 
"The kids really enjoyed all of the hands on experiences."- Maureen Tyhanic
 
"Stephen (grandson) attended the summer classes since he was in first grade until he was too old to attend. Big classes full of children learned a lot each summer."- Joan Neuroth
 
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Leanora Earle after a great class at the JCNERR

 If you have a great experience with the JCNERR. please tell everyone about it! You can comment on this post, or share it on social media using hashtag #MyReserveOurCoast.  

PLEASE read the article in the Sandpaper for more information. http://thesandpaper.villagesoup.com/p/area-environmental-groups-fear-possible-federal-budget-cuts/1639182 

I know I'm not doing much justice to how important saving this program is for our future.

Find out what else you can do to save your local reserve by checking out http://www.nerra.org/my-reserve-our-coasts .  Use the hashtag #myreserveourcoasts whenever you're taking pics at the beach or visiting your local reserve!

The best thing is to get the word out that WE LOVE OUR RESERVE, OUR COASTS!  Share this article, share your experience, call your local representatives, do whatever you can.  

Thank you. 

 


Save every time you shop with Groupon Coupons

If you've been following along for a while, you know that my blog is mostly about feelings.  I'm a feelings person.  Everything I do has some sort of feeling attached.  I try my best to make most of those feelings good ones.  And I don't particularly like writing about things I don't like.  When I get the opportunity to work with a brand, I will NOT write about it if I don't like it regardless of compensation.  If you see it on here, you can be sure it's because I like the product. In this case, this is a sponsored post, but I look at it as a bonus for writing about a product I truly adore. 

GrouponLogo

With that in mind, I'm glad to be posting once again about Groupon.  

Back in November of 2015, I had the pleasure of introducing Groupon Coupons to you here on my blog.  Since then I'm happy to report they are still going strong and still saving me plenty of money both online and off. 

A quick story for you...

My son recently got a hand-me-down drum set from a friend.  He took to it pretty quickly and loves banging out tunes for us, which made us want to fix up the set for him.  Our quest lead us to Guitar Center to find out how much the replacement parts would cost.  While there, we found that buying a new-to-us (AKA: used) set would be more cost effective, so we did.  

Now the only thing our little Josh Dun/Neil Peart wannabe wants to do is drum and visit Guitar Center.  I love watching his eyes light up when he sees the newest arrivals on the sales floor.  It gives me great ideas for gifts.  I like to take pics with my phone for reference so I can come home and sneakily purchase that new set of sticks or the cowbell he was eyeing up at the store.  But before I purchase anything, I check Groupon first!  Right now, Guitar Center has over 50 coupons listed - most for online purchases, but with some In Store printables.  

Look for yourself: https://www.groupon.com/coupons/stores/guitarcenter.com 

Of course Guitar Center isn't the only store Groupon has coupons for.  There are over 11,700 stores using Groupon's services with over 79,700 FREE coupons.  

Oh, did I mention using Groupon is also FREE?

So next time (and every time after that) you want to buy ANYthing, check Groupon first. You may be surprised at the savings you can get by simply taking one tiny extra step. 

 Some more examples of Groupon Coupon deals: 

 Check their site for even more! 


...of my whole life

Hug

Sometimes I hear young people say so-and-so was the best whatever of my whole life.  I've said it, too.  When I was younger, I didn't realize that life hadn't even started yet.  Even now, I know that telling younger people that life really doesn't start until you are well into your 20s or 30s sounds ridiculous.  Unbelievable.  Absolute garbage.  But it's true, and I wish that there was a way I could tell every young person.  But young people don't find stats as cool as I do.  They don't want to listen to an old happy person talk about the pleasure of watching their small children do homework at the kitchen table or how fulfilling it is to grow an avocado tree from a seed.  They need info quick and now and to their liking.  I often wonder if there is a way to get the point across without sounding like an old codger stumbling over "when I was your age..."

I worry.

I think kids are the same as we were when we were kids, but with different surroundings.  They know so much more about so many different things than we did.  They have access to anything they want to know within milliseconds of typing in a word.  They don't even have to finish typing that word and the world responds with information.  It's that fast.  Processing all that information can sometimes be scary and intimidating.  Their brains can sometimes be overloaded with information about things they know exist, but haven't actually participated in themselves, giving them false senses of experience. They think they are worldly.  But they are just kids.

 I try my best to step back into my own kids' shoes and remember what it was like when everything I did was the best thing of my whole life.  I remember that that statement was actually true at the time.  When I was 12 I entered a cooking contest and thought winning 2nd place was the best thing in my whole life.  Then in high school when the guy I liked called me, that was the best thing in my whole life.  

Then I think about now and how I still have the ability to say that about experiences.  What does that mean?  It means that when I was young, those experiences that were the best ones of my whole life have gotten even better.  Now I can cook for my family.  Now I am married to the man of my dreams.  These are the best things of my whole life.  

The point is, the best things keep getting better and better with age.  They don't stop once you say it once.  You can continue to have the best every single day and that best will always be better than the one before.  It's important for kids to know that.  

Bad days happen, but so do good days.  So do the BEST days.


Open letter of thanks to Kelly Joseph and Laura Dun

Where to start...

I obviously don't know either of you personally.  I hope I don't overstep at all with this post.  I have just been feeling this overwhelming urge to write it.

 

This has always been one of my favorites by @bridge.art_

A post shared by Cindy Dudas (@wthbonbon) on

We share a bond as moms.  Whether we know each other or not, we still know the same love and yearning for our respective children's health, happiness, and success. We may be at different stages of their lives as parents, but I am certain the feelings remain regardless of their ages or ours. I just want to point out something that you probably already know and don't need to hear from a stranger, but regardless... here it is... your sons are wonderful.  They have changed my daughter's life with their music.  

I want - no, NEED to thank you for that.

I know all parents think their kids are rock stars.  In your case, that's obviously 100% accurate. While mine aren't in the global spotlight, they are still rock stars within our own realm.  My son is still very young and is thriving in 3rd grade.  My daughter just started middle school.  Her report card just came home with straight As for the second marking period in a row in her accelerated academic program. She kills it on the basketball court and is becoming such a great artist, it amazes me.

Pure. Rock. Star.

But there are plenty of times when she doesn't think so.  Like a lot of teenagers, she can not see what I see on more than a few occasions.  She can not feel the happiness I feel.  She does not think she should.  I know this because I had the same feelings when I was her age.  Maybe you did, too?  I don't know.

 

A post shared by Art🎨 (@bridge.art_) on

I'm not going to pretend to know what your sons were like before their fame or even before their desire to make music took over.  But from the lyrics I've heard and the hearts they display so boldly on their sleeves (well, arm in Josh's case considering I don't think I've really seen him with many sleeves) I can tell they are true to their Few/Proud/Emotional stance.  I can tell they have been through some thoughts that may not have been easy for you to take comfort in as their moms.    

I just want to thank you for being there.  For raising these boys (and of course all your other children as well) to be kind and share their gifts with the world.  I truly believe they were put here for the purpose of hope. 

When my daughter started listening, like really listening to twenty one pilots, I secretly started listening too.  I wanted to know what could possibly be taking up so much of her time?  Why was she suddenly immersed in red and black clothes and drawing little skeletons and aliens?  So I listened.  And I got it. 

I love how every song not only acknowledges pain, but then takes it further to explain that it's ok.  It's ok to feel the way we feel sometimes.  Sadness isn't the end.  Sadness can be overcome.  I love that every song gives that hope to my daughter.  By making it all so upbeat and light, it just makes it all seem much more acceptable.  Not as scary.  

There are so many times when I just don't know.  I don't know if "I'm fine, Mom" is accurate.  I am grateful that she has your sons' music to turn to when she doesn't know either.  

 So thanks.  For being their moms.  For supporting them so they can support so many. 

 

 

A post shared by Cindy Dudas (@wthbonbon) on


It's OK to be happy

This post is for myself as much as it is for anyone else struggling today.  

Some days I feel like being happy isn't a good idea. I'm struggling with those emotions today.  

It happens every once in a while when all around me seems like a shit storm of terrible.  I find myself watching the news or hearing something awful during a phone call and I get a heavy sinking feeling in my chest.  The sadness is overwhelming.  What can I do?  How can I do anything in a world that doesn't seem to want to help itself?  Sadness is the only thing that everyone shares.

But then something funny will happen... like maybe a great joke slides past my cursor while I'm scrolling through Facebook or my news-oblivious son will laugh after passing gas in the living room.  

And I'll laugh.  

But then I stifle that laugh and stop myself from sharing it with anyone.  Because it's a sad day.  Sad days should be SAD.  No happiness should poke through.  It's just not right. 

Snicker.

STOP!  Today is a sad day.  Not a happy one.  There will be no laughing today.  Keep scrolling.  Don't read the jokes.  Don't have fun.  Do NOT laugh at the fact that your son just tooted again.

...And that's when the realization comes through.

WHY would we not laugh?  Why NOT be happy?  Yes, the world sucks.  Yes, people are being murdered left and right.  Yes, there is a shit storm of terrible occurring daily in the news.  

So WHAT does that mean?! That I can't smile anymore? That laughing is out the window?

NO.

It's OK to be happy.  In fact, it's GREAT to be happy.  Be happy because if you're not then what happens?  Nothing good at all.  The world becomes dark when the light completely burns out.  

Laugh when you can.  

It's OK.  

Share your happiness.  

We all need it.

Laugh


Discontented by disposability - Guest post

Recycle

My running buddy Bridget and I always have great talks during our jogs.  Some days we just chat about the funny things our kids do or our favorite ways to eat certain foods.  Other days we might discuss terrorism or sad affairs that make us question the world.  The range of our conversations really is infinite which is why I love our time together.

The other day while making our way through the woods, she told me she had been thinking about all the disposable products we use as a society.  She thought it might make a great blog post.  I agreed.  I said, "You write it.  I'll post it."  

So here it is... my friend Bridget's first blog post.  Hope it helps raise some questions about how much we all throw away each day and maybe gives some ideas on how to prevent so much trash. 

 Many thanks to you, Cynthia Lee, for allowing me to be a guest blogger. Readers, this is my first foray into blogging, so forgive me if I ramble a bit! Have you ever thought about how many things a day you throw away? I’d never really thought about it until recently. Disposability and convenience is a part of who we are as consumers. Now, let me back the story up a little bit to explain why my wheels got turning on this topic. In the past year, I found myself fortunate enough to be able to take an extended maternity leave after the birth of our son. I had also done this with our daughter when she was born, so I was ready and laid out a plan. Now this may not be your experience, but in my life every plan comes with a surprise. And this one was a biggie! Our family had been searching for quite some time for a larger home. Just about when I was ready to abandon the search we found, bought, and moved into our dream house right at the end of my pregnancy. Needless to say, the plan and careful family budget I had laid out got blown to smithereens in the blink of an eye! We found ourselves in a tight financial spot, which was a place that my husband and I found very unfamiliar. Having a larger house, a preschooler and a new baby, and being down by one source of income forced us to take a look at ways to save that we had never really considered before. I would consider us to be an average American family. We buy things like single serving yogurts, canned beverages, and juice pouches. The one thing that all of these have in common? You toss the whole package after you’re finished with it. Totally convenient, but it got me thinking about the cost of the packaging AND the environmental impact our family was having. It seemed to me that eliminating some of the disposable things we use would be a good place to start saving.


Having an infant, disposable diapers and wipes are an unavoidable purchase for us. Washing piles of messy cloth diapers and wipes in a day was not an idea that I was comfortable with. This made me take a closer look at the disposable overnight undies my daughter was wearing. At four years of age, she isn’t physiologically capable of holding it all night yet. On top of that, the disposables were leaking on us at least three days a week. You may think I was buying the wrong size, but I assure you I had it right. These leaks meant stripping the bed of the sheets, mattress pad, and (sometimes) the comforter and washing all of them. There MUST be a better way! I was buying a case of these disposable overnight undies a month and throwing every last one away because they were wet. Washing wet ones I can handle- so I began researching reusable bedwetting underwear. After all, there had to be a product out there. There’s cloth diapers, so why not? Thirty years ago (give or take a few), disposable diapers were a new and expensive craze. People have been having babies and potty training their children for ages. What did they use?


Time to cue the angelic choir- I found THE product for us to stop the cycle of leaky disposables and washing all of the bed coverings multiple times a week. We call them “Bedtime Pants” but they’re actually Mother-Ease Bedwetter Pants. No, you HAVE NOT been duped into reading a commercial. I have absolutely no endorsement from or affiliation with this company, I just REALLY loved their product and what it did for our daughter, so I had to acknowledge them. She was so upset to tell me every morning that her disposable leaked and I was really getting worried about what this was doing to her self confidence. The “Bedtime Pants” are soft, comfortable, and have not leaked one drip EVER in the three months we’ve had them. She is so happy to have them! If you want to know more about this product, fire up your favorite search engine and check it (and it’s reviews) out. Back to my tale of discontent with disposability. So, the “Bedtime Pants” experiment really worked out! We’ve had several weeks where our family of 4 has only created one bag of trash—and that’s WITH a baby in diapers!


After this success, I really wondered what other disposable thing in our household could be replaced with a viable reusable option. It was then that I remembered a conversation I had had with a friend during my pregnancy about menstrual cups. At the time, I had dismissed it offhand. After all, I was pregnant and had no need for such a thing for quite a while after the conversation happened. And, quite honestly, the idea kind of grossed me out. My favorite search engine and I were all over this topic for several nights after I remembered the conversation. After many hours of reading, I decided to take a chance and buy one. Now it may not be for everyone, again do your research, but it is TOTALLY for me. The cost benefit analysis I did before making the purchases of both of these products was enough to convince me that I would be making a more pricey purchase initially, but I’d quickly make back my money. And the best part? I’m keeping these items for at least a year, eliminating trash from the landfill, and doing the little bit I can to break the cycle of dependence on convenient disposable stuff.


This whole experiment made me think about my grandparents. They grew up during the Great Depression and lived through the lean times during World War II. These people had the mindset that nothing was disposable. They fixed things that broke or found ways to give an object another life as something else once it came into their households (maybe that’s a topic for another post?). I know, you’re thinking, “But they had to.” Maybe we don’t “have to,” but perhaps we should. We should make a little extra effort and take on a little inconvenience if it means that better things are coming our way. Now I’m not saying that everything has to be reusable, but take a look at the items you bring home the next time you go shopping. If you chose one item to replace with a reusable version OR find a way to upcycle it, you’d be making a positive change for your wallet and the planet. You’ll be taking part in a HUGE trend too if you upcycle! If every person that reads this post does just that, it may actually start to have a ripple effect. After all, if something works great for you, aren’t you bursting to share your experience with others? Each of us only gets so many trips around the sun to discover what works for us and make some sort of impact on society as a whole. I’m hoping that this little choice I’ve made gets you thinking, and talking, about disposability in our society. Maybe my discontent with disposability will turn out to be a positive thing.

Thanks, Bridget!  Hope you enjoyed writing it as much as I enjoyed reading it!


Today I felt small

I found this post lurking in my unpublished folder just now.  I am not sure why I didn't publish it.  I can only assume that I was waiting until that "small" day had passed and it was far enough away that I wouldn't remember at all what day it was.  I guess today is that day.  So here you go...

 

Today I felt small.

I hate days like this because they start with the feeling of hands covering my head pushing me down into a dark corner with wild laughing eyes staring at me from above and all around.  Telling me I'm wrong.  Holding their arms and hands up and walking away as if I'm a dog they want to stay put.  Only glancing back while they move on to other things.  Leaving me there in a heap to question myself forever.

But then the day shifts and I stand up without a care for those who put me in my slump.  Because they didn't really put me there.  I did that myself.  And I realize that I'm still in control no matter what.  My ideas are good.  My thoughts are strong.  And it's OK to be happy.  

I learn a lot about myself on days like today.  


The stuff I crave

Yesterday my daughter and I got to spend some quality time together. We get to spend a lot of time together on a daily basis, but about 19 minutes of that time is quality.  And I'm talking per week, not per day, it seems.  Most of the time we just happen to be going the same direction but completely in our own worlds just glancing over to give a thumbs up or blow a quick kiss.  But yesterday we had about 4 full hours of embracing each other's voices and holding onto each word while it seeped in.  We talked about everything we wanted.  Some serious, some silly.  And I saw something I had been missing.

My daughter is growing up.

It didn't hit me like a ton of bricks, but it trickled in as the day went on. Little things like carrying a purse.  With actual money in it and hand lotion. Using chopsticks to eat the spicy tuna roll she picked for her lunch.  Trying on jeans just for fun.  Skipping the toy store. 

I have always been excited and scared to watch my kids grow up.  I know I'm half of the team who is in charge of their upbringing (along with all our loved ones, of course) and that is terrifying.  I screwed up so much in my youth that I never thought I could do this.  But then days like yesterday...

There is never an end to parenthood and there is never any way of knowing whether or not we are doing a good job.  Sometimes you need your daughter's offer to buy you a smoothie from the mall food court with her own money to show you it's all alright.


These are the days

I often wonder how some days that are exactly the same can feel so different.  One day the common routine that starts with getting out of bed, walking downstairs, and making tea can feel so blah.  Other days, those same actions can feel exhilarating.  And other days still, it can feel like getting out of bed might be the worst decision you could possibly ever make.  But you do it anyway, because if you don't, then what happens?  I don't know.  I've always gotten up.  

Once I make my way downstairs and feel the tea hit my system, it starts coming together.  My husband and the kids appear with sleepy eyes.  Some days they are on the same strange trip I am and we sit quietly contemplating the day's coming events.  Other days we are off kilter and I ask them to shush just a little so I can wake up.  And on the days when I might have a lot to say first thing, they sit down on the couch and pull up blankets with their eyes closed as if to silently tell me they would like to be still and quiet just a few minutes more.

But regardless of our different perceptions of each day, we work.  We trudge through the rough days and skip through the great ones.  We hug.  We tell each other about all the best days and worst days.  We relay information about things we think others might like.  We talk.  

I don't know where I'm going with this.  It just sort of fell out of my fingertips.  I was just thinking about how much I depend on them for my sanity.  How they make me whole.

Love goes a long way.

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." - Bobby, 7


This post makes me uncomfortable

For some reason I felt the need to write this down and share it.  I don't know... maybe to help me remember when times aren't as easy as I'd like them to be.

This morning, my son came downstairs dressed as he normally would for school.  Jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt.  He looked presentable, but today he is going to sing Christmas carols at the local nursing home with his classmates so I asked him to please change into a nicer shirt.  I didn't ask for an entire wardrobe change, just a shirt.  Nothing more, nothing less.  

I brought him the shirt and he grumbled the whole time he was putting it on.  "I don't like it." "It makes me feel cold."  "Can't I just wear my other shirt?"  "Why do I have to wear this?"

Maybe it was the fact that my daughter had also just told me she doesn't like the toaster strudels we have because they are strawberry and not her favorite raspberry flavor, but I sort of lost it.  I went on a rant for a few minutes about the difference between disliking something and it simply not being your favorite.  There IS a difference.  Just because something is not your #1 top pick does not mean it is no good.  In a nutshell, this is what I told them:

Here's the thing... You're not always going to be comfortable.  

You're not always going to have your favorite thing to eat.  People aren't going to always laugh at your jokes.  You're going to hear and see people do things that make you squirm.  In a lot of cases, those people will be people you love and admire.  Some days will be just a little too warm for you.  Some days will feel too cold.  Sometimes you will watch a friend fail.  Sometimes you will just feel blah and not know why.

It's ok.

Eat the food anyway.  Wear the shirt that doesn't feel 100% right.  Keep telling jokes.  Put on a sweater.  

It's ok to feel uncomfortable sometimes.  You don't always get everything you want in life.  But there are times when it's not about you.  It's about being there for others.  Maybe wearing a nice shirt inconveniences you, but it sure does look nice and will most likely make the nursing home residents smile.  And isn't that worth it?  Yes, it is.

That small amount of personal "sacrifice" (I put that in quotes, because is it REALLY a sacrifice to wear an uncomfortable shirt? No.) will come back to you at least 10 fold.  Those smiles you will get will wash away the stiffness of the collar in no time.  And if they don't, then we'll have another talk.

And guess what?  Tomorrow, you can wear whatever you like and I'll probably make you your favorite dinner while we sit in our 72° kitchen.

There are so many HUGE things in the world that are so much worse than a little discomfort.  Get past it.  Move on.  Make someone smile when you can, because it will make you smile, too.  

 I also feel the need to add this little note:  I'm not talking about anything more than being uncomfortable in little situations like discussed above.  If you ever feel more than uncomfortable, trust your gut and get out of the situation immediately.  I'm simply offering the suggestion of learning the difference between tolerable,acceptable discomfort and knowing something is downright wrong.  There IS a difference.