Monday, July 13, 2009

The Summer Music "Tour"

So, in the past, I've mentioned our family tradition of compiling a list of free summer concerts within easy driving distance...this is our third summer of concert going, after attending one or two free musical events/festivals the summer of 2006.

Some of the concerts take place at historical this colonial manor:
(Shippen Manor, Oxford,NJ)

This site hosts Sunday evening concerts on the terraced lawn. In the past the programming has been primarily olde timey and blue grass. This year they seem to have branched out a bit...still with traditional music, but they have some other ethnicities represented.
We attended a Celtic performance.

This venue is the most "serious" we've attended.

It is - as I said - at a historical site, so there is no playground...the kids attending do run around, but it is not as accepted as at other sites.

Many of the concerts take place at local parks that have band shells, gazebos or other small shelters to use as performance spaces. Most of these also have play areas close by.

This is one (above) that we go to frequently. The kids love this park and the play area. It's very family friendly, close to a small lake, and you can see the whole park from wherever you sit.
This play area is at a new venue for us this year. The band shell and play area are close together, but the town planted big bushes between the "viewing" area and the play ground, so you can't watch your kids AND the band.

Sometimes the boys even sit and listen to the music- while multitasking coloring or playing with matchbox cars, of course! Especially if we are at the Sparta concerts where the playground is at least 50 feet away, behind the viewing area, through a grove of trees....

There are so many wonderful things about these concerts:
Exposure to all kinds of music...the kids don't care how good the performers are, they just like dancing to the music!
Outdoor dining opportunities!
Making new friends at every turn....
Interacting with weather, cool weather, sunset time changing, fireflies lighting up the dark - and sometimes crawling on our fingers (above pic).
In the past 3 weeks we've seen 10 FREE performances at 7 different locations, and the concert schedule for the coming weeks is full.

Will we see all of them? Probably not, but what a wonderful adventure!

If you're looking for some other good reasons to go check my first post about this family tradition.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Water Conservation - Serendipity

I always love it when things come together in mysterious and magical ways.

Earlier this week, it felt important to me to write about water conservation this week. Enough that I had 2 or 3 posts worth of information that I wanted to write about. And that's a lot for me.
And, when I started to write my first post I almost stopped, because it seemed weird to be writing about water conservation during a month-long deluge.

Today, I had an oppertunity to listen to one of my favorite NPR talk hosts interviewing Robert Glennon who has written a book called Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It .

He was talking about many of the things I have concerns about, but certainly did not touch on everything. You can listen to the podcast of the interview HERE if you are interested.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Water Conservation - If it's Yellow let it Mellow!

Ok...I've got two young boys so potty humor is at an all-time high in our house.

Truth be told, though, when it's just the four of us at home we definitely try to conserve water by making multiple uses of the water in the bowl - as long as it's yellow - before flushing it down.
It started as an overnight noise curtesy, but we don't have the most modern water-efficient fixtures and really can't afford to replace what we've got at the moment, so it has evolved into a water conservation habit.
And besides, even if we had the 1.5 gallon per flush fixtures, why waste 1.5 gallons when all four of us need to go at the same time

BUT, with the kids being little, getting it across to them, that when we've got company the multi-use rule is NOT in effect, is sometimes problematic.

Also, since implementing the multi-use rule, I've come up with some additional corollaries about single use flushing:
* If you use an upstairs bathroom and no one else is immediately using it, FLUSH.
* If you use the downstairs bathroom and we're leaving the house, FLUSH.
Because, letting it mellow all day long is just too yukkie for words and means more frequent cleaning will be needed.

Along with intentional flush frequency reduction, I have collected a number of links which use grey water or rain water for feeding a toilet. Some are quite ingenius! Enjoy!

Rain Barrel to Toilet Installation - a practical how-to guide
I really want to do this someday!

Grey Water Recycling systems for the Bathroom
Sink-Toilet Combination fixtures

Here is a system available for collecting grey water from the kitchen sink.

There are also systems available for washing machine and shower water...just google Greywater System or Greywater Recycling.