May 9, 2010

Mothering Day

If you have been kept up late by baby kicks, you are a mother.

If you have lost sleep over teething, you are a mother.

If you have sacrificed a night out for a sick child, you are a mother.

If you have cried tears for a child in pain, you are a mother.

If you have kissed a boo-boo to make it all better, you are a mother.

If you ache at the sight of the children in Haiti, you are a mother.

If you have a picture on your fridge, slathered in abstract colors, having no idea what it is supposed to be, you are a mother.

If you have ever skipped your morning coffee for an early Easter egg hunt, you are a mother.

If your car is littered with Cheerios and sand, you are a mother.

If you have uttered the words "Goodnight Moon," you are a mother.

If you have calmed someone's fears, you are a mother.

If you bear the cross of caring proudly, you are a mother.

A mother is what a mother does. Mother is a verb. You do not have to give birth to Mother. You do not have to be a woman to Mother. You can be a Father, sister, grandparent.

Mothering: The capacity to give care, the innate desire to share warmth. Mothering is the purest form of love that all humans are capable of sharing.

Mar 17, 2010

Time: Planning a day, week, lifetime wisely

Nothing works out as planned. So many interrupted thoughts, too many glances at the computer and frequent unexpected events turn my day into one long string of one consistent regret. At the end of every evening I regret how I managed my time that day, It's a fairly negative way to fall asleep. I think of how I should have gone for a walk, I should have started dinner earlier. I should have sent that email.

I spend a considerable amount of time finding ways to save time, yet never really enjoying time. I often wonder if I gardened if I would value the time spent and hard work more than a fast, easy meal designed to give me more free time. How did our culture manage to become so obsessed with time savers? In the beginning it was because quite frankly, there weren't enough hours in the day. With the inventions like the ice box, washing machine and microwave, we have saved ourselves countless hours of labor in order to enjoy our clean clothes, cold beverages and meals more quickly. However, what is the point of saving time in our efforts if we aren't enjoying them?

Studies have shown that children who participate in gardening are more likely to genuinely enjoy the taste of vegetables. It's the things we labor over that bring up the most satisfaction. People who work hard for their money spend it wisely while lottery winners and gamblers go broke more often than the average wage earner.

Multitasking has it's benefits, but I am starting to see that doing two (or three) things at once is taking the fun, or what could be fun, out of the equation. I read an article recently that touched on the common error of eating during activities. Dieters were less like to feel full after a meal when the parts of their brains experience pleasure from eating are otherwise engaged in television, email, conversation or driving.

The hands free law passed recently and my husband got me a Bluetooth for Christmas and I am very grateful. However, I am making a conscious effort to cut down on my car phone conversations. When given the chance to find pleasure in driving (difficult in a minivan)I become one with the car, playing my music and enjoying me brief time alone. I'm starting to remind myself that just because the phone rings, doesn't mean I have to answer it.

I am also starting to take note of what I am doing with the time I save. The dishwasher is designed to save time, so what am I doing while my dishes wash themselves? Usually making attempts as=t being productive, but often only "looking productive". You can't bank time. I could save myself numerous hours by feeding my family TV dinners every night, but it isn't as though I can bundle those hours up into one long string of time off. If only it worked that way. The truth is, my time would be better spent caring for my family in a way that beings me pleasure. By involving them and bringing us closer together, I am saving time and enjoying productive activities that create a bond that TV dinners and get rich quick just can't replace.

Mar 13, 2010

Family cloth- this is where I draw the line

Have you heard of this new trend? It's been floating around the interwebs for a while now. The idea is to replace good ol' toilet paper with with cloth wipes and wash and reuse them. I do appreciate this effort, if anything because of the sacrifice some people are willing to make for the sake of the earth and some reviews boast that 'family cloth' is actually more pleasing to use than TP. However, I'm trying to picture how this could be done in a sanitary manner. Washing and reusing cloth diapers for baby poo is one thing, but when the whole family has chili for dinner...I just can't wrap my head around the aftermath that lies ahead. So please don't think me shallow when I say this, but no frickin' way will I give up my toilet paper.

Mar 10, 2010

The choice to cloth diaper

When you procreate, you in effect add a great deal of poop to your daily life for a number of years. Even if your little one is potty trained early on, you most likely will still be up to your elbows in poo for a time. It's a sunny afternoon and my hands are in the toilet. Why, you may ask? Because I am one of those crazy moms who prefers scraping poo over twisting a Diaper Genie.

I have used disposables before and can appreciate having them on hand occasionally, but cannot justify buying them on a regular basis when cloth is so much cheaper. While there is definitely a green factor to my decision to go cloth, it wasn’t the driving incentive in my plan. Nor is it about following a trend or being a better mom. I do not feel that anyone should be shamefaced into using cloth. Arial Gore said it best in her book The Hip Mama Survival Guide, "I mean, couldn't we start saving the world somewhere else? Couldn't we ban cars or something? How about just shutting down McDonald's and Exxon? Yes, I have to agree with Erma Bombeck on this one: 'I'd rather do away with foam cups and have hot coffee poured into both of my hands and drink fast than do away with disposable diapers'."

I use cloth because it saves me money. It's a bonus that it also means less waste for the landfill and it’s better for my baby’s bum. The factor here is that even if you go all out and spend more than you can afford on the best cloth diapers and buy them in abundance and end up only using half of them, you still save money. Here’s how; by using this handy dandy calculator, I factored in twice as many cloth diapers than I will ever need (36 prefolds, 20 covers, 60 One Size all-in-ones and 1o night-time diapers) and priced them at 25-50% more one should expect to pay for them. Then I priced the disposables to an unbelievably low price of $.09 per diaper. The calculations said I would break even in one year. The reality is that if you go bottom of the barrel and just do prefolds and plastic covers, you can break even in less than 20 weeks and save over $1500 in the course of 1.5 years. And let's face it, most kids don't potty train until 2 and a half, boys can take longer, so you're looking at nearly $3,000 in savings from going cloth. If you want to have fitted diapers, All-In-Ones and One Size fits all, you will still save money. When entering in the factual information for my diaper collection, my savings come to $1,347! When it's time for Jack to move into the next size, I'll be going on Diaper Swapper to sell his size Large and move on to the XL for much less.

Here are some great diaper deals:

Fuzzi Bunz

Amazing package deal for newborn to toddler

Did I mention that cloth diapering can be addicting?

Other helpful links:

Whether I want to admit it or not, it is trendy

Washing cloth diapers

Why use cloth?

Mar 6, 2010


Now don't get your panties in a bunch. This is not a commentary on the benefits of the landfill. This is a plea to the masses to stop using recycling as a get-out-of-jail-free-card to soften the blow of material waste. Over consumption is no stranger to Western culture. In order to go about our daily lives, Americans usurp roughly 70% of the earth's natural resources and we ease our conscience when we find the triangle of arrows on the bottom of our yogurt container. We rinse it out and toss it in the appropriate bin. Problem solved, right? Not exactly.

The three R's; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are essential to maintain sustainability for our planet. However, reducing and reusing are far more effective than recycling. In fact, by reducing your consumption of unnecessary materials and reusing the essentials whenever possible can by effect, reduce the amount of pollution incurred from production and recycling.

Feb 27, 2010

There is something seriously wrong with me

I have a disease. OK, maybe not a disease, but at the very least I'm quite certain that if I were to seek professional help, a Dr. would have a name for this affliction. Recently my friend compared me to an old woman she saw on TV who hoarded everything from cereal boxes to used cat litter, convinced she could make good use of it. Well, I am one if those people. I simply cannot throw anything in the trash without feeling a pang of horrible guilt. I have to take a closer look at the alleged 'garbage' and ask myself, "Why must I purge this? Couldn't I find something to do with it before tossing it?" While I recognize this is a redeeming quality, I have gone somewhat overboard. This is a problem because 1) I irrationally convince myself that I have abilities beyond the super-human mind to turn anything one would deem 'refuse' into something practical and 2) I am a HUGE flake. A great idea soon becomes an onus that I can't seem to achieve because in reality I am a mother of three who suffers from ADD, I'm lucky if I can stay on top of feeding my own children on a daily basis (or I should say they are lucky).

I recently took stock of my hoarding and decided to document my steps in ridding my house of these barriers between myself and my sanity. I am starting with the kitchen for reasons mentioned on my last post. Behold the fruits of my recent labors.

Paper bags and mandarin crates:

Expired food:

Bottle caps
um...I've decided to keep these.

More mandarin crates (this one actually serves a purpose)

Baby food jars (this represents only a fraction):
I was saving them for bead storage and then I realized, I gave away my beads.

And the root of all evil...plastic grocery bags!
I'm so embarrassed...

Feb 26, 2010

A Family Infirm

The nasty cold bug has been dutiful in its rounds this season. It reared its ugly head in mid December, late January and again just a couple weeks later. I pray the encroaching spring will be kinder.

One morning earlier this month I staggered from bed, my head pounding, my chest aching. I could feel the house quake with each cough coming from all ends of the house. A haze of funk loomed over our street, the neighborhood steeped in miasma. What I needed was to return to the warm confines of my bed. But I was so desperate to escape hibernation. I went to the kitchen in search of a suitable source of caffeine. What I found left me speechless. So speechless in fact, that I grabbed my camera.

From that moment on, my kitchen has had little chance to recuperate. Between recoveries, each member of the family has done their part to reduce the sink to little more than an In-Sink-Erator; yet we have no disposal. Often I come to find the basin filled with cereal, milk, tea bags and floaters of an unknown origin and then see that the drain stoppers are sitting out of harm’s way on the counter. How did this happen? When did animals take up residence in this house? This whole situation is much like going to the gym; you only see results when you commit to go every day. Except in this analogy, it’s like I have to expect my entire family to work out every day just so I can lose ten pounds!

It may take a while before my kitchen becomes what it once was; an acceptably messy, lived-in room that serves its purpose adequately. I long for the days when making a cup of tea doesn’t require clamping a clothes pin to my nose just to empty the sink so that I can wash a mug.

Feb 17, 2010

Getting there is...getting there

We're not out of the woods yet, but close. The whole family except Oona (knock wood) has been hit with the crud. It seems to come and go just in time for another member of the clan to catch the next wave. Soon I will be blogging like a madwoman...

Jan 12, 2010

10 arguments for organic meat

"About ten billion animals—chickens, pigs, turkeys, cows, and other animals—are raised for human consumption each year in the U.S. Most of them are raised by large producers rather than small family farmers."

I still sit on the fence when it comes to quitting meat altogether. The truth is, while there is a moral entanglement, there's also the physical component as well. Lately when I eat meat, I find myself truly revolted at the taste. With few exceptions, I just don't eat it any longer. But my family does. So for now the meat is disguised as the rest of dinner. If I can't taste it, I am able to eat it. We have cut down on our meat consumption, mostly because I do half the cooking and it's rare to see me cooking meat. However, after much research about the meat industry, I am working on budgeting around organic meat. Here are my reasons why:

1. Conventional meats contain ammonia
10. When you buy organic, you are supporting a local farm

So in conclusion, organic is best. However, I will be keeping in touch with news about whether or not it is in our food budget.

Jan 5, 2010

Paper vs. Plastic

It is safe to say that most Americans who do not live in Amish country are aware that we waste entirely too many disposable grocery bags. We've heard the countless Public Service Announcements, we can no longer play ignorant. I try to make an effort to bring my own bag. Emphasis on try. The fact is, my day goes like this:

Put kids in the car.
Drop off older kids
Go to store/playgroup/gym (yeah right)/grocery store
Pick up kids
Unload car
Put away groceries

By the end of the rigmarole, it does not cross my mind to put the grocery bags back in the car. I am safe in my home. Don't make me go out there again! So in an effort to make sure I no longer shop empty handed, I have outsourced the job of returning the bags to the car to my two older children. Problem solved. Except, there will be times when I have to answer that dreaded question..."Paper or plastic?"

What is a pseudo-environmentalist to do? Some argue that paper is better than plastic...well, in some ways it is. But don't think you're doing the earth any favors by requesting paper. Apparently there is no way to please everyone on the matter. Environmentalists go back and forth on the issue arguing that one is still the lesser of two evils. Paper and Plastic are tied for last place.

"It takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag...Paper sacks generate 70% more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.
Source: "Comparison of the Effects on the Environment of Polyethylene and Paper Carrier Bags," Federal Office of the Environment, August 1988...It takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper. But recycling rates of either type of disposable bag are extremely low, with only 10 to 15% of paper bags and 1 to 3% of plastic bags being recycled, according to the Wall Street Journal...A paper bags takes up more space than a plastic bag in a landfill, but because paper is recycled at a higher rate, saving space in landfills is less of an issue." Source

"Both paper bags and plastic bags destroy natural resources and ecosystem. Both contribute to green house gasses. However, plastic bags are more hazardous. When recycling or incinerating plastic, dioxins are produced and sent off to air. These dioxins are the ones responsible for ruining the ecosystem and the environment in general. Only one to three percent of all plastic bags are recycled. The rest are found in the streams, floating on the sea and flying around the streets." Source

The bottom line is, neither are the right choice to make. But in the event I find myself unarmed, I will choose the one I feel I am most likely to reuse responsibly. But in the meantime, I have few excuses, for my Chico bag is dangling from my key chain and it will hold far more than a plastic grocery bag can. I went to the Chico site to grab a link and I was excited to see their bags on sale! Get five Chico bags for $10!!! And if you're looking for something a bit more sporty, like a backpack or messenger bag that folds up into your glove compartment, go to and check out their new collection! No, I don't get paid to promote these products.

Creative ways to reuse paper bags:

What to do with your plastic bags:
Knit a tote bag (no, seriously)


My new favorite

Now I can fool myself into believing I've just stopped off at a coffee shop and grabbed some tea to go. There's something about the feel of the cardboard sleeve, the shape of the cup and the way my drink tastes when sipped through the lid. I'll admit I have somewhat of an addiction to stopping for an Earl Grey whenever I see a coffee stand. I've done the math, I know it's overpriced and wasteful. I can make tea and coffee at home for a fraction of the price. But until recently, I always ended up resenting my travel mugs. Often they don't fit in my cup holder and I have yet to find one that is microwave AND dishwasher safe...that is until now!

The Cupco Eco-First travel mug is the sweetest thing to hit the hot beverage market.

Eco-First - Acadia Mug Brown

Fill, Drink, Wash, Repeat - The classic To Go Coffee Cup becomes a reusable everyday mug.

    •Double-wall plastic construction for enhanced insulation
    •Quarter-turn lid sealing mechanism
    •BPA free
    •16 oz. capacity

Available exclusively at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

MSRP: $7.99

AND it's both dishwasher and microwave safe!

Jan 3, 2010

coming soon...

The new year is upon us. So many resolutions. My one promise to myself is to build this blog to become a source of information for those of you who seek education and information on making responsible decisions that will impact our world in a positive way. I welcome suggestions and questions. If you have an experience you would like to share, or links that would make this blog more helpful, please comment!