Monday, June 27, 2011

Little patch of heaven

Two summers ago in the middle of the heat, with my pregnant belly growing, we picked raspberries.

Last summer, as he started learning to eat more foods, i carried him in a sling and we plucked enormous, fragrant peaches. At home they were bar none his favorite food to pick up with the fingers he was still learning to master. We made peach butter, salsa, chutney. As fall came, we went there to take pictures and pick out pumpkins.

In the spring, we walked among the rows and rows of blossoming trees.

Now this summer, my son has enjoyed swiping strawberries from a bucket full of overripe seconds, and most recently, cautiously reclining to the point of lying flat on his back - learning what it felt like to let blades of grass prick his neck for the first time, with fruit trees - and tables of pies - stretching out in front of us.
 
 Step outside the world of babies - with cloth diapers, babywearing, breastfeeding, etc - and one of the bigger trends you'll notice when it comes to going green is the local foods movement, and it's a wagon I've fully hopped on and ridden among the peach and apple trees. Well, I take that back, I am sure I could put forth a better effort to make sure more of the food my family eats is local. We could head out to our favorite orchard more often than we do. But the times that we get out there, I feel like it's my own little patch of heaven. Even though I - and most people - can't have the luxury of growing much of my own vegetables or fruits, there is a spot nearby where everything is fresh and the farmers are friendly. We've already made so many memories there, and I look forward to many more.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Why I'm Marching

I'm not always the big community-service, make-the-world-a-better-place kinda girl. I use cloth diapers because I think it's cheaper, and if it saves the planet, that's great. I work at a newspaper, because I like to write, and if that touches someone or connects someone to the services they need, that's sprinkles on top.

But having a kid, a healthy, rambunctious, infection-fighting-on-his-own, kid, makes me want to make this world a better place. If I can help bring more healthy babies into this world, I'm gonna try to do it.

That's why I started doing the March of Dimes March for Babies. I'm so thankful when they hand out balloons on march day, I get to write on mine, "In honor of," and not "In memory of." If the money I raise can lead to another mom getting to do that, I'm gonna keep begging for money.

This year's march is tomorrow. If you would like to sponsor me, you can go to my personal page and use your credit card right there on the website. Thanks!

www.marchforbabies.org/jessicawiant

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

He'll be missed

Can't believe it's been more than a month since I have blogged. Guess I just haven't felt very "green" lately! So hhere's something from the heart instead:

As a puppy, we dubbed him a bad dog. He was always the one that couldn’t figure out not to jump all over visitors or growl over his food bowl if you got too close during dinner.

He was also an oddball. From day one, I wondered at times if he thought he was a cat instead, for his paw-grooming habit wasn’t exactly very canine, and he was finnicky about having his ears touched.
Still, he took seriously his job as my protector (even if at times a little too seriously) and I did my best to keep him — my first pet as an adult — fat and happy.

My Pemboke Welsh corgi, Dexter, had short legs, a stubby tail and a big, wide body. He had a fox-like snout and ears, but made pig-like grunts.

Classified as “sable,” he had a white belly and feet and mostly reddish, fox-like hair on the rest of his body. During a Spanish class, when I answered what color my pet was with “naranja” — orange — my teacher laughed.

At 19 and with just one year of school under my belt, I wouldn’t have had the money to invest in a purebred dog. He was a wedding gift from my aunt and uncle. In 2002, I married my high school sweetheart and moved off campus, though during the week my husband worked too far away to be at home with me. So most of the time it was just the two of us, me and my dog.

I graduated, and time came for looking for first jobs and a first home, and we added another dog to the family. Gertie, a rescued mutt pup, came into Dexter’s world bouncing and biting, and my grumpy corgi showed he was more adaptable than I expected by learning to play with her.

When we took them both on a cabin vacation one summer, Dexter was content to nap on the porch, while Gertie chased groundhogs up and down the ridge.

A couple years later, I brought home a kitten found on the mean streets of Strasburg, and Dexter politely ignored her when she swatted him on the behind every time he walked by.

Next, came baby. And again, Dexter surprised me by minding his own business and staying calm even when baby cried.

A few weeks ago, almost 9 years old, Dexter’s behavior took some major turns, and we discovered a mass on his shoulder. Each day he bacame worse, and by a week later, the tired eyes that looked back at me made our next, painful course of action clear.

Suddenly, life at our house was a little more quiet.


I’ve spent a lot of time in the last month thinking about Dexter, my grumpy dog: Some of our happiest times together, the ways he’d drive me crazy and the things I’ll miss. But I keep coming back to two things.
First, is all that has transpired in his lifetime. I feel a little older, and a little wiser with his passing. I feel a bit like my life is entering a new era now that I’ve been an adult for the lifetime of a pet. The cycle of life, birth and death, is a little more real for me now.

Secondly, is that he wasn’t such a bad dog, after all.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My dirty little (diaper) secrets to saving money

I have less than $300 in all my diapers (listed in the last post) - and that's including two wet bags (well, actually three) and a bag of Rockin Green.

People complain that the initial investment is one impediment to their deciding to go with cloth diapers, so here are my four secrets for cutting back on that as much as possible:

1) Have a diaper party. Everything Birth, an online diaper and birth supplies store, hosts diaperparties.com, a service with reps a la Tupperware or Mary Kay, that lets you see and touch, and earn commission, before you buy. For my initial investments in cloth, I hosted a party (I included the $25 it took to ship all the supplies in my total investment figure) and was able to snag a free wet bag for being a host as well as credit off my purchase. I posted my party on craigslist and invited my other mommy friends and was able to help several people convert to cloth with me AND get some good deals.

2) Earn diaper rewards. A lot of diaper-specific websites give you points for every dollar you spend and many have offers from time to time for free diapers or other items with purchases of a certain amount. I have gotten at least three diapers through such offers and accumulated enough points for about $20 off other purchases. My personal favorite for this has been kellyscloset.com, though everythingbirth.com has also added diaper rewards feature recently.

3) Guest blog. I have written three or four guests posts for The Cloth Diaper Whisperer, the blog for Kelly's Closet, and earned extra diaper rewards points that way.

4) Buy local. I have gotten a couple of diapers and some more Rockin' Green from a local retailer, Rosebud Diaper Boutique (www.rosebuddiaperboutique.com), meeting her in person or having her swing by my house to save on shipping!

A few other pointers: consolidate orders for free shipping because most stores offer it on purchases of at least a certain amount. Watch for sales - and giveaways. I haven't had any luck yet with the giveaways but between facebook, twitter and other websites people are CONSTANTLY giving away free stuff. Can't hurt to try! Finally, consider off-brands. Several places sell Kawaii diapers from $8 to $11 a piece - that's a lot less than the $22 or $23 that some diapers cost but I have liked these diapers just as much.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stash

I could talk forever about a million different facets of cloth diapers, and I am sure I will eventually. I am tired though, but still want to post SOMEthing to keep readership from totally fizzling so ...

Cloth diaperers and diapers-to-be talk a lot about their stashes. I feel like I have plenty enough for full time with a 16-month old in day care. If I play my cards right I can probably do wash every third day, and here is what I have (note that one common element is that all of my diapers are one-size):

Diapers:
12 Flip Stay-Dry inserts - we only use these at home
4 Flip snaps covers - again, don't send to day care
1 Grovia aplix cover - love it with my Flips at home and out and about

5 BumGenius aplix pockets - perfect for day care
3 Kawaii aplix pockets - work just as well as BumGenius and almost half the price
2 Fuzzibunz one-size - love them, they are by far the trimmest and softest but I avoid sending snaps to day care usually

1 Bamboo Baby All-In-One - handy in a pinch as a backup but small than other one-sizes and Velcro not quite holding up as well, though it is super soft if you put it in the dryer, which I hate to do.

Accessories:

2 BumGenius insert socks - handy to turn extra microfiber inserts from other diapers into something that I can use in one of my covers
Rockin Green Laundry detergent (classic) - I have been using it exclusively for all washing diaper-related
1 large hanging Planet Wise wet-dry bag kept in bathroom for dirty diapers
1 medium Planet Wise wet-dry bag for back and forth to day care and any small trips out on weekends
Flannel blankets cut up into small squares for wipes and rectangles for liners
squirt bottle filled with water and drop of creamy baby oil for wetting wipes as I need one


As you can see I took the "I'll try a little bit of everything" approach. It might have been simpler just to stick with one diaper brand from the get-go - if I had, it probably in retrospect would be Fuzzibunz. But trying different things made me more comfortable because I was afraid of getting something that didn't work for us or that I didn't like. So far everything has worked great and each item has its pros and cons.

Tune in next time and I will share with you how I got this pretty-decent stash for way less than sticker price!

Monday, March 7, 2011

My answer to diaper liners

When I switched to cloth diapers, the point was to cut down on both waste and cost, so the idea of disposable inserts or liners seemed counter-intuitive. Since making the switch, however, I have dealt with several episodes of one rash or another and it's caused a serious headache when washing our diapers. First, day care unknowing used the same cream we'd used with disposables: Lots of scrubbing and Dawn and other things I won't even mention and there are still stains from the cream on a couple of our diapers. THEN, I went with the disposable liners thinking they'd make cream safe only to find out that cream either goes straight through the liner or the liner bunches up and cream still makes contact. Now I have a couple more diapers that have suffered some damage.

After reading a little about reusable liners the other day and pondering just stocking up on more disposables for those times when we need cream, a lightbulb went off: I went to the closet where I have what seems like a dozen flannel receiving blankets that I have never used. I cut one up into rectangular squares about the same length as our Flip inserts and, voila, reusable liners. I washed them separately from the diaper load and because they are flannel they haven't scooted around much. I think this will be THE thing to allow us to do without our back-up Pampers forever more. And if they get yucky, I won't feel terrible about tossing one from time to time and cutting up another blanket! I am so happy!

It would probably be even better and longer lasting if you stitched two together, and you could probably even use a cuter pattern of flannel, but I am not a seamstress (yet!) so this will definitely do for now!

I cut the same blankets up into smaller squares for cloth wipes along time ago and they are still going strong but do fray some, obviously.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Ferber success story

"Ferberization" was yet another word I'd never heard before having a wee one. A few posts ago I wrote about our "problem" with baby in the bed.

So many times in my life, my course of action has been determined because of a good deal:

As you have probably heard, several Borders stores are closing. I went to the nearest one last Saturday hoping to find some deals, in particular a baby sleep book. It turns out that the book by Dr. Ferber was on mega, mega sale so I thought I'd grab it and at least give it a flip-through. (For any of my friends who are "attachment-parenting" fans you are probably already getting nervous.) Dr. Ferber is the one whose sleep training method often gets dubbed "cry it out." I read the book straight through the first night (as my baby slept beside me in our bed) and started trying the method the following night. Now a week later, as I write this, the kid is in HIS bed sleeping soundly and I can actually have a bit of an evening. He has spent the past week each night all night in his crib.

There was some crying involved, but it wasn't unreasonable, and it worked. Letting him "cry it out" for over an hour once the other night before I had the book didn't work. This method involves more than that, and most importantly it explains that it is teaching him to fall asleep on his own - not the crying - that is beneficial. I need my bed. I need my son to sleep in his room. It's just my style, and overall this was pretty painless and well worth the reward for all of us.

Night one - he cried about 40 minutes before going to sleep. I went in at 5, then 10, then 15 minutes. At the end of the next 15 minutes he fell asleep. He woke up twice in the night and didn't cry more than about 20 minutes.

Night two - It took him 20 minutes to go to sleep. He woke up twice, for a little while each time. It sucked, and I wanted to give up but did not.

Night three - went to sleep in 6 minutes. Woke up once in night but not for long enough for me to go in.

Night four - went to sleep in about 6 minutes. Slept til 6:30.

A week in I think we are about back to where we were before his last illness when he ended up in our bed. He's 16 months old now so I think he was old enough to actually be mad and that made him cry more than maybe some younger babies. If we'd stuck to this from an earlier age it might have been easier, but it was simple enough just to correct his sleep after that hiccup in our schedule. Overall, I am VERY pleased with the result.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sweepstakes

There are oh so many elements to motherhood that you never hear about until you're in it. Diseases like roseola and fifth disease and hand, foot and mouth disease. Pieces of baby gear with names like Ergo, Boba and Bumbo.

And since I switched to cloth diapers, a whole world wide web full of sweepstakes, giving away everything from diapers to diaper bags to laundry detergent. I am sorta obsessed, and though I haven't won anything yet, I go back and forth between swearing I won't enter another one and frantically filling out entries thinking I eventually HAVE to win SOMEthing.

The latest and biggest giveaway is for a full kit of BumGenius "fluff" complete with sprayer and I think even wipes! If I'm gonna win, well this would be the mother of all giveaways. You can enter and then earn extra entries for each friend who enters because of you, so: friends, enter! And I also get 20 extra points for blogging about the giveaway so, wish me luck!

Here's the link: http://www.facebook.com/Kellywels?sk=app_28134323652

I intend to talk a lot more about cloth diapers eventually, but for now, let me just say that BumGenius is one of the "big" brands and it and its fellow Flip system are two I am becoming loyal to for their durability, good fit and performance - so it'd be awesome to win something from them!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Last one standing

Before my son was born, I had a whole closet full of wipes and dipes ready to go thinking it'd be months before I'd ever have to buy any. Then they disappeared. Then we kept buying them. It was getting a little old, and long story short, we gradually switched to cloth diapers. We bought our last Pampers before Christmas and have only been using one here and there if he had a rash, etc. And now, at the end of February, we have ONE from that pack of 30-something of them left.
I guess the Pampers in the closet felt like a safety net of sorts. I kept thinking when I ran out that I would never buy any again, but I am fairly certain we will have to end up with some at some point. So, the big question is, how long will this single diaper last me? When will I give in and buy another pack?

It'd be pretty cool if I could kiss them goodbye for good.

Monday, February 21, 2011

You can't always get what you want

Let me preface this by saying that as I am typing I have a rambunctious toddler sitting in front of me watching Barney. Watching him never gets any less satisfying. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with emotion just at the sight of his smile, or the sound of his laughing or learning to say a new word.

But, there was a time when I didn't know him yet. A time when I couldn't see past his delivery. I thought about it constantly, assuring myself that I would be bad-ass. I wouldn't need pain meds or Pitocin or a C-section. I'd have the natural delivery of my dreams because I was tough enough. Because my mother delivered my 11-pound brother. Because I wanted what was best for my baby.

First photo with our little bruiser back on Oct. 31, 2009.
Sometimes wanting something isn't enough, unfortunately, and instead of the perfect delivery, literally right out of the gate I wasn't the mother I envisioned myself to be. Later, as I read more from the natural parenting movement that so often derides the C-section "epidemic," I have alternated from feeling guilty, embarrassed or ashamed to feeling defensive and pretty perturbed. While I don't always agree with everything crunchy, a natural childbirth was my ideal way to kick off parenting. What could be greener and better for all involved? But I failed.

Long, long story short (and one that's pretty hazy now, 16 months later) I went through labor pretty much every way possible before my son was finally delivered by C-section. I made it many hours drug free, then gave in and got a little IV relief. Hours later, I succumbed to the epidural. Hours after that, and I still couldn't deliver my baby. All told it was about 28 hours, my son was 9 pounds. We didn't set any kind of a record, he just simply was lodged at my pelvis and not coming out, regardless of how well I was or wasn't dealing with the pain. Immediately after, my thoughts were that if labor is always like this, one is plenty. Days later, I was asking the doctor if I would always have to have C-sections. Now over a year later, I am back to thinking I can someday have the natural delivery I wanted someday. There has been quite a roller coaster of emotions in between.

I'm left still believing that natural childbirth is ideal, but that I might not have had a healthy baby boy without C-sections. Sure, they are probably performed unnecessarily at times, but I believe that more babies and moms are surviving nowadays than ever before, and that can't be so bad. Next time, hoping there is one, I will be way more prepared to give it another go. It's going to take more than willpower to get through labor for me.

In the end, I am thankful for my C-section and confident I did the best I could given the circumstances. True, I didn't get what I wanted: That kid is more amazing than I could have even hoped for.
Search Amazon.com for childbirth

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's for lunch Wednesday: So many uses for tortillas

A messy but tasty lunch at day care.
I've got a new staple in my pantry: Wrap-Itz.

I started buying these whole-wheat tortillas a month ago when I did a diet (The Game On! Diet) with some co-workers that challenged us to avoid white flour and sugar. I had tried other whole-wheat tortillas before that we didn't like at all, but these are awesome, not only for me but for my toddler.

Best I can tell they don't have any negative ingredients, but they taste good. I used them for the "toddler pizza" recipe, for a turkey and cheese roll-up and now that we've introduced peanut butter the possibilities are endless.

Here's one lunch I feel pretty good about being healthy for my son:

PB & C Roll-Up:


Take one Wrap-Itz whole wheat tortilla (www.tamxicos.com/Wrap-Itz-My-Choice.aspx), and spread on the following: 1 tablespoon reduced-fat cream cheese, one tablespoon natural peanut butter, and about half a jar sweet potato baby food or some
pureed baked sweet potato. Roll it up and let 'em gobble.

Monday, February 14, 2011

One crisis at a time

It's taken me well over a year to figure it out. This Friday actually marks two years to the day since I got that earth-shattering positive pregnancy test. Wow, how life has changed. But, here I am almost two years later and I have finally figured out one of the important psychological truths of parenting (or at least how I've experienced and seen most others experience it): We obsess about one thing at a time.
It's always something. ALWAYS. There's always one thing occupying your thoughts, and as soon as it's solved, something else is waiting in the wings. For me, it has gone probably something like this since that fateful day I got a blue plus sign: morning sickness, kidney stones, nursery, baby gear, delivery, nursing/sleeping, going back to work, introducing solids, sleeping all night, crawling/walking/speaking, switching to cloth diapers, washing cloth diapers correctly, poor eating, getting Tucker back in his crib. ... There might have been some minor and major ones I am leaving out.'
The key thing is, and it's actually pretty funny if you think about it, is that our minds seem to have the energy to only focus on one crisis before it can move onto the next. Like I said, as soon as you get it figured out, then the next one is right there. I don't think it's that babies or pregnancy only actually create one problem at a time, that's for sure!

Realizing this, if I go about it right, can hopefully help me relax a little bit. The crisis always passes and I always pick something to obsess about. Maybe I can try to break the cycle a little. Nah, probably not.
With a blog about worry, I choose a photo to remind me of wonderful, warm, worry-free times. All winter long I have had plenty of time to be stuck inside sweating the small stuff, but there are brighter days ahead! This was June 2009, when I was 18-19 weeks pregnant with my baby boy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don't knock it 'til you've been there

OK, I couldn't think of a witty song title for this one. My excuse is that my son was sick last week, and now my husband is. I haven't had time to do the dishes, let alone be witty. I'll be so glad when this winter is over once and for all.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a situation we're going through that's made me think about the things I am saying/want to say on this blog: Our bed problem.

Yea, you're real cute 'til it's 3:30 a.m.and you're standing there.
From the days of pregnancy, as I have said a million times, I started formulating what kind of mom I wanted to be and what the rules of my household would be. One I was sure of is that I would NOT have a baby in my bed. I like my sleep. I like my bed. I like bending one leg slightly and stretching the other out as far as I can so that my foot is out from under the covers. A baby would cramp my style.And this has been totally fine for us, until now. Last week the little one had roseola, which meant a high fever that we didn't know the source of for a couple of days. Which meant we made an exception to the no-baby rule and put him in bed with us. And now he will NOT stay in his crib. Just like that - my whole routine is ruined. He still goes to bed on his own, but he wakes up terrified in the middle of the night and the only thing that seems to solve the problem is going back to my comfortable bed with a baby in my arms. It's the only way we're getting any sleep, at least for now.

I say all that to say this: I am not and never will be an expert. A lot of times I have grand ideas about what I expect and then they don't work out the way they do in my head. I think I know what's best and then I usually don't. So, as I struggle with where to go "green," I want to make it clear that I am just sharing the way it's happened as I have experienced it. To each his own, and, if you are making a choice I don't agree with, I probably haven't been in your shoes. I am clinging to the hope that most people do make logical, well-intended choices given the situation they're in. At least that's what I am trying to do. As for now, I am going to go get comfy in my bed until I get that wake-up call from the crib in the next room.

I have another recipe to share but just now remembered it's Wednesday. Maybe next week.

Search Amazon.com for baby sleep book

Saturday, February 5, 2011

So much to say

I can't emphasize enough all the choices that are out there once you become a parent. Within that, we face so many different approaches to making those decisions. What's best for my family's happiness? Efficiency? Wallet? And what's best for my neighbors and environment? I want to eventually talk about why I chose cloth diapering (better late than never), how the switch went, and what some of my troubleshooting has involved.

This is just one of our baby carriers.
For now though: Fortunately, many of the tenets of  "natural" parenting just make sense all around. A ground breaking moment for me happened in Wal-Mart of all places. We had run in for a few essentials (though we try to avoid Wal-Mart whenever possible, but that is another story). My son was maybe 8 or 9 months old at the time, and I had him on my hip with the support of our sling. During those months, when he was too big to haul around in the infant carrier or carry by himself, and too small to sit in a cart or walk along with us, the sling was my lifesaver. On any trip, no matter how small, I kept the sling in the floor of my car beneath his car seat. When we were making a stop, I'd open the door, whip on the sling, get him out of the car seat and tuck him between my hip and the sling. Voila! Hands-free shopping.

So, we had that arrangement going, when, a total stranger stopped me in my tracks and told me how nifty this was, and if only she'd had something like that when she was raising her kids. I didn't realize it was such a novel idea. Much later, as I have gotten more involved with cloth diapering, I've learned what a cult following that "babywearing," has among the people who like to call themselves "crunchy." Of all people, Mrs. Wal-Mart shopper is not one of these people.

I guess that's what I think is unfortunate. It seems like so many of the things that just make good sense look a little less appealing when the people who promote them come across as extreme.

I guess I was a babywearer, though I didn't set out to be. I don't really like the label. But, come to think of it, labeling a mom as just one thing or another, when she has so many choices to make each day, is leaving out so much of the story.

.Search Amazon.com for sling baby carrier

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's for lunch Wednesday: Toddler pizza

From the start, I knew that whatever the label (green, natural, organic or otherwise), I wanted to be selective with what I fed my son. I don't have the best relationship with food and I want my son to have a healthy one. In his first months of life, of course, that meant breastmilk, which I will talk about plenty I'm sure later on. Once food became involved, in our house that meant looking at ingredients on baby food jars and picking ones that didn't have any weird-sounding ones. A lot of the time, I found that meant that organic was the way to go. When I didn't buy organic, I watched out for added ingredients that he hadn't tried yet. Sometimes the labels shocked me! (Probably will talk about this at some point too.)

Later, a friend convinced me that making our own food wasn't that hard, so for a few good months I made sweet potatoes, green beans, peaches, apples, pears, peas and more in batches that we froze for him.

Before I knew it though, the baby food days were waning and my son still ate jars of things like broccoli, zucchini and even spinach, but wouldn't pick up a whole pea to save his life, despite having almost an entire set of pearly whites.

He chews like a champ, but favors chicken nuggets over corn or green beans.

So, basically I'm saying that the beginning was easy - we avoided salt and sugar and other things I saw no point in introducing too soon. Now, though, it's getting much harder to steer my son in a better direction than the typical American toddler diet.

One day he eats nuggets with ketchup. The next, he tosses them on the floor.
I've bought both of Jessica Seinfeld's books about sneaking purees into foods, and I think there's a little bit of something to that at least. We made her version of chicken nuggets, but he only really picked them up once I added some ketchup. The next day, I sent some to day care and they ended up on the floor. Oddly, he won't eat the typical toddler staples of mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese, either.

As I experiment with keeping his diet decent, I have discovered more failures than successes so far. Every day is a challenge. Some days I send things to day care that come right back home at the end of the day. I refuse though - refuse! - to start feeding him Spagettios!

So, I thought it might be fun to dedicate Wednesdays to my culinary experiments.

Here's one that I can count as a success and that I am thinking is better than what you get pre-packaged:

Toddler pizza:

1 whole-wheat tortilla
Furmano's original pizza sauce (not a lot of additives, it seems)
mozzarella cheese
cooked ground turkey breast

Put the tortilla on a baking sheet and spread on sauce just like you're making a pizza. Sprinkle with cheese and a little bit of ground turkey. Bake it until warm and melty in the toaster over or oven. Fold in half and cut or tear into bite-size pieces. Voila! (Also, next time I think I'll add some veggie puree to the sauce!)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Paper weight

My all-time favorite TV show, "Grey's Anatomy," titles each episode after a song. I had this idea that I'd do the same thing, or at least have each blog be a play on the name of a song. It's my even-if-it's-a-stretch way of tying in something I love (music) with something I have a love-hate relationship with (namely, writing and, already, this blog).

So, for today, we have "Paper Weight." In 2008, I did a really comprehensive story about all the recycling options in my newspaper's coverage area. What could be recycled, and where? Immediately after that, I started recycling for the first time. It was never that I had this huge conviction about saving the planet. It was that I had all this garbage, and if it could be put to use instead of just rotting, then why not? As I continue to write "Tangled up in Green," you'll discover quickly that efficiency and "why not" are my prime motivations in most any green or not green choice I make.

So, as I was saying, we started recycling.I bought a little waste basket for plastics, a big tote bin for paper, a large trash can for aluminum cans and one more little waste basket that we used for tin and glass. Our system wasn't that organized and things really piled up quickly. Our trash, however, cut down to almost nothing - maybe one bag a week. I was shocked at all the material that went through our household that we were just throwing away before. Paper, by far, made up the vast majority of our recycling. The second offender was big plastic jugs for things like laundry detergent and milk.

And so it went for a couple of years. We let the piles build and build until they drove us crazy and then drove it all to the recycling center. Until a few months ago, when it had all piled up just too much, and the man of the house set it all out with the trash. Life got busy and we took a break from it all. Now our trash is mounting again and I am feeling guilty.

I'd like to get a better routine going. The light bulb went off that maybe if I just reduce what we're bringing into the house then that might be another way to go about going green. When my husband grabbed a roll of paper towels at the store Saturday, I told him I was thinking of cutting back on those. He had a momentary freak out, told me I was taking "going green" too far, and said he refused to go without his paper towels.

Now, if you know me, you'd know that I took it as a challenge. If my husband won't give up paper towels, then I need to get a recycling regimen going again.

We don't have curbside. Any tips to share?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Saturday, right?

Another Saturday shopping trip. Grocery store, Target, lunch. We do it every week, and it's crazy when I started paying attention just how many times we face go-green-or-don't decisions. 
My grocery bag collection.
    A few years ago when grocery stores started selling reusable shopping bags on a widespread basis, we bought 6 or 7. They sat at home most of the time because we never thought to grab them. Within about the last year, though, I have gotten in the routine of actually using them, mainly because they hold more and are infinitely easier to carry and load in the car than plastic bags, with the added bonus that they don't pile up in our pantry like plastic bags do. The bags are so widely available now that they get barely a mention by some of the eco-friendly families I mingle with online. I, too, see them for sale, but don't often see people actually using them. So, for those who have overlooked the obvious, I'd recommend giving them a shot. Like so many other decisions I've made, I stick with this "green" choice not because of the benefits to the planet and all that nice stuff, but because they work within my routine and make life a little easier. When it comes down to it, that's what drives my choices more than anything. I have a full-time job, a kid, a house to take care of, two dogs and a cat. All that comes first. As for the all the other choices we have to make at the grocery store, well, I'd say that's another story, but that'd be oversimplifying things.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rainy day blogger # 12 & 35

An odd title for a first blog entry, perhaps. I named the overall blog "Tangled up in Green," a spin on the classic Dylan tune, because it was only fitting. Green. We label lots of things with it these days -- from household cleaners to vehicles and diapers -- with the underlying assumption that if it's green then it's automatically better for us. Before my first and only (to date) pregnancy in 2009, I never paid much mind to the label, but suddenly responsible for a budding human being, I found myself totally tangled up in it.

Sometimes it just made sense: Cloth breast pads that I could wash and use over were way more practical than using disposable ones. Breastfeeding, in general, might be the original "green," choice. Organic baby food seemed well worth the few extra cents, and making my own from local produce when possible came naturally. Then, gradually, and better late than never, I made the switch to cloth diapers.

The more I become immersed in green living and parenting, I realize just how hard-core some people are. I can't call myself a hippie by any means. I will NOT be encapsulating my future babies' placentas or planting them under a tree. I won't be using "family cloth" for toilet purposes - we'll stick to Angel Soft for now. I'm branching out into becoming more green, but only when it's practical, and usually in small doses. Thus, the title of this, my first blog entry. If you didn't catch the play on words, I'm citing Dylan again and his "They'll stone ya" lyrics. Surely, more purist, crunchy mothers would stone me for some of the choices I make (even if this isn't exactly how Bob meant it!).I'm doing what I can, and hope you'll join me on the journey. I'll even understand if I ruffle your feathers from time to time. After all, everybody must get stoned.
 

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