BEN’S BIG BELATED BABY BLOG!!

Julie and I are thrilled to welcome Bailey Elise Evans into the world!! She arrived at 11:14 am on Saturday July 19th, after 33 hours of intense labor and, finally, a successful C-section. We had decided to try to have as natural a childbirth as possible and, to that end, availed ourselves of some Bradley “husband-coached childbirth” classes. This made for a very interesting hands on and profoundly participatory birthing experience for myself as well as Julie. In spite of our best intentions, sometimes life has other plans, and because of some extenuating circumstances, after many hours of labor, we were left with no other option but to have a C-section. It may not have been the optimal situation, but when a healthy baby and a healthy mother are the necessary outcome, one’s perfectionism flies right out the window. I have never been so proud of anyone in my life as I was of my wife for those 33 hours – I was literally moved to tears by Julie’s courage, strength, and unbelievable focus during what became a very long and intense labor. What a truly amazing woman. Never have I been so in love…never, that is, until little Bailey showed up.

Bailey arrived as 6.85 pounds and 19 1/2 inches of life-changing wonderfulness – we are completely smitten! Holding a newborn in your arms as she falls asleep on your chest to the sound of your heartbeat has to be one of life’s most sublime pleasures. People always said, “Just wait. Having a child will change your life.” I always believed them, of course, but there really was no way to wrap my mind around the depth of that change and the capacity of my own heart to leap out of my body with love until I cradled that piece of soft innocent magic in my arms for the first time. Then I got it. It just hits me like a wave – completely heartbreaking love every time I look at her. I know there’ll be many more life-changes to follow from parenthood, but I swear I could spend the rest of my life in a rocker with my tiny baby girl and be in absolute heaven.

(Also, our apologies for the belated announcement, but the C-section made life a little more interesting and even less restful than we had anticipated. We’ve just returned from recovery in an internet-free hospital and have each had a total of about 14 hours of actual sleep in the last seven days…literally. Julie and I had no idea that after 3 days of zero sleep you actually start hallucinating – now we know.)

That said, enjoy these pictures from Bailey’s first couple of days. Lots of love to all the YERTians! And now….sweet slumber…..

delirious with joy and sleeplessness,

Ben & Julie

PS – Julie’s breastfeeding right now, or I’m sure she would have written this blog. Poor thing is a nursing machine :).



Bailey Elise Evans is Born! Woohooo!!!

Dear YERTians,

Ben and his new girl, Bailey!

I just received a very happy text message from Ben and Julie– their brand new happy, healthy baby GIRL, Bailey Elise Evans, was born at 11:14 AM today, July 19, 2008. Feel free to add congratulatory comments to this blog entry, or e-mail them directly at ben@yert.com and julie@yert.com. More details coming soon…

Cheerioio,
Mark

YERTies in the family way, and counting the days….

haha well…

just thought i would check in since we have bypassed both of the projected “due dates” and I am sure there are some people who are wondering if we just neglected to make any announcement.

We haven’t forgotten. (How could we??) We’ve had “false labor” a couple of times now but are patiently waiting to see when little one wants to come out. I have stopped making predictions but I have heard that very many babes are born during the Full Moon, which would be Thursday/Friday of this week. Surely, she isn’t waiting to be a Gemini!!! haha. I have had to put the Baby Book I am building on hold…

We have been walking 40 minutes twice a day, and have tried quite a few natural labor “enhancements” but, so far, baby just seems pretty darned comfortable in there. And, frankly, I am pretty comfortable too! Fortunately, our midwife thinks our baby is not so big…so far…(though I keep thinking that the longer she is in there…the bigger she gets!)

We will keep posting. Bags have been packed for 2 weeks already, and everything seems to be ready at home…cloth diapers ready to go!!! OK baby, you are good enough to wait for. xox your mama

July 4th, 2008: 50 Down, NONE to Go! YERT Completes Initial Travel…

50 States in One Year? CHECK.
Happy 4th of July, 2008! So here we are – one year later, one year older, and one year wiser. We’ve covered a lot of ground in the last 366 days – through 50 states and nearly 45,000 miles of travel (excluding the ferry from Alaska and the plane to/from Hawaii), we’ve logged over 450 hours of footage and interviewed more than 800 people. And we’ve only accumulated a mere 43 pounds of trash & recyclables over the course of 12 months – including junk mail! We’ll be taking suggestions of what we should do with it – perhaps sculpt it into a giant “garbage unicorn.”

Life-Changing? CHECK.
We left on our 50-state YERT adventure on the 4 of July, 2007 and, my oh my, how our worlds have changed in just 12 months! Julie and I are expecting our first child any day now – conceived and “baked” on the YERT trip. Mark, through this adventure, met Erika, who valiantly jumped in for Julie and me as baby duties took over in these final weeks. And we’ve all gained some really good new habits and learned an incredible amount about how better to live on Planet Earth – all of which we will continue to share with you over the coming months. We still have all sorts of fun videos to create before we declare this project complete, and our first priority is to finish at least one video per state. So to those of you out there in Ohio, Texas, Alaska, and the 25 or so other second-half states: HANG IN THERE! Your videos will be coming out ASAP. We’ll be targeting one video per week, with a few breaks built into the schedule.

World-Changing? CHECK.
While our lives may have changed, the world around us has also changed dramatically. Gasoline prices have risen about 50% in the last year from an average of $2.93/gal in PA when we started to $4.57/gal in CA today (and $4.07 in PA). Oil futures have more than doubled in the past year from about $70 to $145 per barrel. Only San Francisco had banned publicly funded bottled water when we started – ten days ago, a majority of 250 US mayors voted to “phase out” government use of bottled water. Only one US city (San Francisco, again) had banned disposable plastic bags when we started – now that movement is spreading across the globe and numerous cities and organizations around the world have either severely curtailed or begun to ban the use of plastic bags. Numerous “green” TV channels, shows, and environmental initiatives and legislation have taken off in the last year – “green” is going mainstream…big-time. This country is finally turning a corner, and it’s been exhilarating to witness this over the past 12 months – to “hang 10” on the “green wave” as it sweeps the nation – and to have helped turn the tide in some small way. It hasn’t been a perfect process, and huge challenges lie ahead, but there are certainly encouraging signs that people everywhere are starting to wake up.

Party! Party! Party!? COMING…
To celebrate the completion of the road trip, YERT will be holding two finale events, and you’re invited to both. You can expect stories and videos and photos and fun, at special venues with unique environmental features.

The first is a shindig in San Francisco at The Temple – the perfect location for a sleek meet and greet. It kicks off at 6:00 P.M. on Friday, July 11, at this renowned club with its very own sustainability coordinator and a slew of groundbreaking initiatives in place and on the way. And the place just looks cool. Please RSVP on eVite or Facebook.

The second is our Grand Finale in Pittsburgh at the Rachel Carson Homestead – Join us for our final gala at the home of the famous author of “Silent Spring,” on Saturday, August 9 at 3:00 P.M. Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book opened the world’s eyes to the unintended consequences of chemical pest management and essentially jump started the modern environmental movement. YERT’s first stop was her home, and it will be our last stop, too—at least on this particular adventure. Please RSVP on eVite or Facebook.

YERT’s Feature Film? COMING…
It seems that there are few better ways to tell a story these days than in the form of a feature-length film. So for as long as we can scrape up enough money to pay for food, we’ll be working to compile our footage down into a feature-length film with YERTy zip and eco-fun built into every moment. We’ll need plenty of help for the film, so if you’d like to volunteer for a role, make yourself known by writing to us at team@yert.com. We’ll need outreach coordinators, video watchers, musicians, editors, and some angel investors – not to mention things that we don’t even know we need yet.

Start Spreading the News!
If you think that YERT’s story is worth spreading around, we’d love it if you did just that—spread it around! We’ll be presenting audience comments at our finale events, and we’d love to include yours. Just send a note to team@yert.com. You can also help us enter film festivals, screen our videos at your school, tell all your facebook friends about us, or invite us to give a presentation to your community. We’re open to ideas and want to share, so drop us a line. Make it YOUR Environmental Road Trip.

Thanks to YOU!
This trip wouldn’t have been what it’s been if you hadn’t been a part of it – if you hadn’t tuned in, given us suggestions, helped us when we needed it, inspired us, fed us, housed us, and given so generously of yourselves in so many ways. If nothing else, this year on the road has reaffirmed our faith in the incredible goodness of the American people and of humanity in general. As we heard recently in the New Mexico video, “we’re all in this together” – and together we can meet any challenge. This entire journey has done nothing but confirm that. Our deepest gratitude to all of our YERTian friends out there who have helped make this entire project possible made this adventure truly special. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! And stay tuned – this is just the beginning…

sincerely,

Ben, Mark, Julie, and Erika – Your YERT Team

American farmers still burning crops. What will it take to get “old timers” on board with newer practices that will save $ and preserve the earth?

This morning I received an email from Arkansas farmer Norwood Creech, whom YERT corresponded with while seeking out rural farmers in the South. She wrote with great concern about “old time” farmers burning off crop stubble (rather than turning it under as compost).

There no evidence that charring fields improves soil fertility – in fact, most research shows that soil degrades much faster with charring – not to mention that burning entire fields very obviously pollutes the air and adds to the CO2 load in the atmosphere. Below is Norwood’s letter to me that I promised I would post for everyone to think about… along with her plea for ideas about how to sway people away who are clinging to this wasteful, damaging, antiquated practice. Please feel free to pass it on:

Julie,
The farmers are burning off their wheat, again.
This process is not “more better” than rolling the stubble into the ground. Burning is the ways of the old timers. However, it also seems to be the ways of the misguided and uneducated. The first 2 photos are from our roof top here in Lepanto, AR. We are seeing 8 of these [burns] plus some, every evening now for the past 5 days. And that is just in the evening… about when the wind dies down and the smoke started from late fires settles. I am talking acres and acres of these wheat fires, burning rapidly and some even make their own clouds!

As for the picture of the burn with the flag.. The farm to the right of this one burned their wheat off last year and burned up a pick up truck in the process. Fortunately this year, it looks as though they have learned from their mistake. However, this farm to its left was intentionally burned. Fire department even had to called. It almost reached a trailer home. Farmers should not play with matches! I live in the country but it sells like a dirty city. Black ash clings to the edges of the house. None of this can be good for anyone. Not to mention global warming. In the fall, after the rice crop gets cut, some burn that too. Note that rice puts a silica in the air that can shred your lungs…. None of this burning makes sense to me, How can I get this addressed and perhaps stopped? Norwood

Here are some links for further reading:

Costs of Stubble Burning

Up in Smoke – Lost Opportunities when Stubble is Burned

Managing Natural Resources – Stubble Management

P.S. Ben is telling me that this is my hundredth blog for YERT. (He likes numbers.)

June in KY: ever more pregnant lady looking for the right caregivers…

…and finding it! What a super pickle to be in – having to choose between several really positive options – especially when it comes to health care! My only lament is that we can’t use all of the caregivers we found…

So…where were we…Since I was dropped off by the boys in Kentucky at the beginning of May, I have nesting and researching like mad for the best place to give birth – the best birthing options, the best prenatal care, and the best pediatrician for our new baby (who is coming in just a few weeks now)!

Some may recall, we originally planned to give birth at The Farm – a licensed midwifery Birthing Center in Summertown, TN, with midwives who basically wrote the books on midwifery in this country. However, at some point around my 6th month, I began having 2nd thoughts – partly financial, partly emotional – and Ben and I started talking about finding a midwife to have a homebirth in KY, as well as a doula (Greek – a labor coach).

From personal referrals and information on a local website called Birthcare Network, I found and interviewed several midwives and doulas, as well as people who had either homebirthed or given birth naturally in hospital (just keeping my options open). I continued reading as many books and birth stories as I could get my hands on, and watched an eye-opening documentary called The Business of Being Born (feature length – you can watch it free here) two days in a row, trying to get a handle on my own hopes and fears and expectations about birth while husband, Ben, was still off on his tour of environmental duty through YERT’s last remaining states…

As I mentioned before, while it is not illegal in KY to give birth at home, it is illegal for a midwife to be hired to do so without a license (Licenses for midwives haven’t been offered in KY since 1976.) …And doctors are discouraged from supporting homebirths also for legal reasons. What it came down to is that birthing at home in KY means taking pretty serious risks that neither Ben nor I felt willing to take. Ben said to me, finally, “You’re not going to get hero points for giving birth at home.” And my deepest feeling is that if we ended up somehow being in the rare 1% of cases where something does go wrong, and anything bad happens to our baby because of it, I don’t see how I could ever forgive myself. I needed the backup to feel safe.

So, there it was. As I discovered that my comfort level was not going to include homebirth, I at first felt rather disappointed in myself and what I considered to be my lack of courage and faith. But then friends and family kept rallying behind me and I started looking into Clark Memorial Hospital’s Birthing Center. Just across the river from Louisville (in Jeffersonville, Indiana – a 15 minute drive), Clark seems to offer the natural birth we are looking for, with the medical back-up we want in case of emergency. Mom and I toured the facilities last week, and I must say that I was encouraged. Though the labor bed seemed a bit skinny to me, I was happy to learn that it’s specially designed to break down so that laboring moms never have to be in a horizontal position (the worst position for giving birth as it defies the Law of Gravity – the most important law in facilitating birthing!!). I was mesmerized by the giant labor tub in the Natural Birthing Room…

The last thing I found – which maybe should have been the first – was a natural birthing class, to get us ready for the big push…. We fortunately found Bethany Collins, who was able to offer us private Bradley classes (I have been going by myself, Ben will join me next week) that we will kind of cram into 8 concentrated sessions instead of the usual 12. Bethany also happens to be a doula very familiar with the nurses and midwives at Clark, having assisted many births there and delivered there herself, so I am thrilled to have her with us, and feel like we are in really great hands.

We are now down to the last few weeks, and I am just making my decisions and phone calls, so that everything is as ready as it can be. Today I went to meet the doctor who is going to be our family doc as well as baby’s pediatrician, and couldn’t be more pleased. I didn’t even know that family practice doctors – who literally take care of the whole family, from newborn to aged- still existed! I liked him immediately, and am really looking forward to feeling actually CARED FOR by a trusted physician. I’m sure I will write more about him as we get to know him better.

So, there it is!
I am about 35 weeks pregnant, seeing how long I can ride the crest of 190 pounds (zoiks???), walking a couple of miles every day (during which I experience Braxton Hicks contractions pretty much constantly), eating mostly healthy (though not always getting in my greens or my 85 recommended g of protein), enjoying baby squirming around in belly, still able to sleep for the most part (though that is getting interesting), and almost finished organizing the upstairs where Ben and i and baby will be making our home in Mom’s house for the next year or so.

Where is YERT? I hear they are on their last day in Wyoming, headed tomorrow to Montana and Big Sky Country. I am wishing them well, and trying not to feel too sorry for myself for being without my babydaddy and for missing those gorgeous states I’ve never been to…
On the days where I feel like I am doing this all alone, I just have to think of my wonderful, supportive family and beautiful friends here who are absolutely terrific, and to remember that Ben is doing all he can to help preserve what’s beautiful for our little one.

Yes, I feel a little lonely, waiting to share this amazing time with the man who made it happen…
but he will be home with us in a week, and it is all going to be so worth it!!! Wahoo!!!

Action Alert: NO-Impact Man needs our help! (particularly New Yorkers!)

For those of you who are unfamiliar, “No-Impact Man” is Colin Beavan, a New Yorker who began an experiment over a year ago to make NO IMPACT on the environment. He and his little family have been living as sustainably as possible ever since, and he has been documenting the whole thing with daily blogs…this comes down to toilet paper, people. He is serious, and his experiment is fascinating!

Now, Colin is meeting with NY Congressman, Jerrold Nadler, intending to impress upon him the importance of timely change based on science instead of politics. This is the kind of thing we all need to be doing but don’t have the time or the energy or the will or the focus, with so much going on in our daily lives, and Colin has made it his mission. Thank Goodness.
Support is fast and easy by email. Just go to the blog, read the prewritten letter of support and, if you are on board, PLEASE sign your name to the end and return to him via the email he provides. I urge you to join me in supporting what, I believe, is a very good cause.

Thank you for your efforts, beautiful people!

julie

KY: YERTmama’s first foray into growing food in the backyard…

Mom has always had flowers, since I can remember, which she took very good care of: lilies, iris, tulips, pansies…

But Dad planted a garden, with radishes, carrots, beans, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, canteloupe, pumpkins, even corn! I remember the first time we all helped him seed…and the first time we pulled up the mutant carrots… But Dad cared about that garden as well as for it. He watered it, tended it, and then we would bring in the bounty. Only thing was, Dad didn’t cook. And neither, really, did Mom. I am trying to remember eating this gorgeous bounty but, aside from swallowing soggy things boiled in bacon and salt water, which is how you “prepare” vegetables in the South, I do not recall ever eating any of these wonderful fruits of our labor at anything near their natural form…

Today, Mom and I had to go buy a tea kettle to replace hers that started spewing water all over the stove. On the way home, we had to wait for a train so we killed time at St Matthews Feed & Seed store. I thought to myself: It’s now or never, and walked straight over to the tomato plants. Real food. Plants you can grow which make no garbage and keep giving you food. It’s miraculous! I have grown plenty of plants in my house but, other than herbs, I have never bought and planted plants to grow food for my family. This is a first! We bought cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, cilantro, lemon mint, and seeds to start green beans.

“You don’t know if any of these seeds are GMO?” I asked the store lady. “Huh?” “Genetically modified – these are just seeds right, they haven’t been messed with or anything?” She looked at me like I was asking her to bicycle to the moon so I took our little packet of seeds and thanked her, then we paid and skedaddled. The little plants are waiting hopefully outside in their pots for the day, coming soon, when I will put them in the real ground for them to take root and start really growing…like the baby in my belly…

We can grow things. That’s amazing.

YERTmama checks in with garbage on the homefront…

YERT mama checking in… confessing to some trash-making on the home front in Louisville, whilst the remaining explorers make out across Minneapolis in search of green drinks, BagE-Wash and bees…

When I got dropped off of the road part of YERT, I knew that being trash-free would become a bigger challenge – mainly due to food preparation since, suddenly, all the packaging that the three of us had mostly managed to avoid (by not finishing people’s cartons of milk or OJ, or boxes of cereal, etc) I would now be coming face to face with in my mom’s own fridge. I mentioned a few days ago that I’ve been a little frustrated but, seriously, what do you do with a kitchen full of already packaged food? Not waste it, surely?

“Mom,” I’d said, pointing to her little under-counter bin, “this garbage bag is going to last us until the baby is born. So don’t throw anything in there that you don’t want hanging around for the next 2 months.” She’d just looked at me, big eyes. “OK.” she’d said. I’d had a feeling it might take a few days to catch on. I did pull a couple of banana peels, a few pieces of junk mail and the occasional kleenex out of there but for the most part, and no thanks to my tirades and nagging, Mom started getting the hang of it. It has been 3 weeks.

I was hoping that we wouldn’t have to take garbage out…I really was. But, I am not kidding, the trash had started to stink. I couldn’t figure it out since all we’d been putting in there was plastic, plastic and plastic. And waxed food cartons that had been washed very well. This morning I found the culprit – a disposable diaper. Yum. We had a little visitor a few days ago who isn’t quite potty trained yet and I hadn’t told his sweet mama that we were trying to keep the same garbage until July.

It’s not her fault. Anyway, I was fooling myself if I thought I could keep packing the refuse down to make that bag last another week, much less another month. So, regrettably, Mom and I took the garbage out, and took video to record the unhappy event. I have to say, though, I am so proud of mom for her efforts!! We have only one very small bag of garbage, compared to 3 BIG bags of recycling going out tomorrow, and that is a BIG change. I wonder if the garbage men will notice? Almost makes me want to get up at 6:00 am just to watch them them scratch their heads in wonder at how we manage…but not quite…

AND, yesterday, Mom turned in her gas powered lawnmower for $50 at the recycling facility in Louisville and then we went to the hardware store to pick her up an electric, battery-operated lawn mower (for which she also got a $50 rebate. She’s hoping it will pay for itself in saved gas costs, and she feels good about not polluting or using oil), and today we bought a few more CFL (Compact Flourescent) bulbs. Next on the agenda…. could it be that Mom is considering retiring her old van and buying a Prius???