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Monday, December 27, 2010

Catching Up on Christmastime




I hope you had yourselves a Merry Christmas! We sure did. And somehow, I made it through the other side of Christmas without completely crashing. Oh, I got sick all right, and I got the first really gross cough I have had in years, but Santa came, my son loves his new toys, my husband and I actually have had time to spend together, and we had a lovely time with our family.

A blurry, but cute picture of Gabriel in his new Ikea chair (and wow, he loves it).
Thanks MomMom & Grandad!

So what now? Back to life. But it's starting to feel like a different life is unfolding for me lately. I think it has to do with the budding belly I have (and I might have been eating jolly the past weeks, but that bump is mostly baby, I promise).

Things just seem different to me. My purpose, I guess. I feel much more connected with being a mother than ever before. I feel like I CAN manage things. And it isn't that I didn't feel that way before-- I just think that somehow getting all our Christmas shopping done, stripping our cloth diapers of ammonia, cleaning, baking cookies, working, and being Mommy all at once made me feel good about myself. I mean, wow, I got a lot done in December.

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Except blogging. Errr... sorry about that.

To follow, though, I want to say that I am feeling much more at peace with our decision to prepare for a natural birth. My husband bought me two books for Christmas (ones I wanted), which most natural birth Moms know (Birthing From Within and Hypnobirthing). They are excellent reads thus far, and they even came with a very sincere note from my husband that he is totally engaged in our preparation and pursuit of a natural birth. It was really touching to read his sincere commitment to something I want so badly. It made me realize this is something WE want, and I know that is going to be important.


Almost 19 Weeks along with our Gumdrop (#2)
Our "big" ultrasound is January 4th
!

I guess where I am going with this is that pursuing a natural birth needing to be a team effort is much like the effort to go green. It has to be a team thing. You can't do it alone, and it's not always easy to make the choices you do. As this year closes, I realize we have so much more to do to be a greener household, but I feel exhilarated about making further changes (maybe taking on composting next Summer?!) rather than daunted because this is something we do as a family. And maybe that is what this Christmas has taught me. Making the journey of life as a family is a true gift.

I am lucky to have a beautiful, blossoming family.

(Review and Giveaway of The Best Homemade Baby Food On The Planet & a Review of Rockin Green Funk Rock coming later this week! Don't miss it!!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Snow Baby.

video



Gabe explored snowfall for the first time today. There was plenty of snow last winter, but he wasn't really able to comprehend it. This year, he is a curious little man.

Hi, snow!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Not At Peace with Separation


My son would like to be on the E*Trade commercials.

Or at least own a Blackberry.


I know my posting has really slowed down the past two months, and I am sorry for it, but things are seeming nonstop here in our little household. For one, I took on a 25 hour (4 almost full days) per week schedule to attack student loans, and second, we have a very curious toddler. I miss writing almost daily so much, but running around has really gotten in the way of it. I am going to try and pick up steam over the holidays, but we'll see! I do have a fun giveaway coming up-- a newly published book on homemade baby food. Yum!

In any case, things have really been full speed ahead. We're now 17 weeks along with our gumdrop (this is the nickname I have been calling the baby, though I don't think anyone else knows it), and I have been battling separation anxiety.

No, not my child's separation anxiety. Mine.

I feel so guilty for leaving him at childcare. And I know this is a working Mom's plight-- something that sort of will bother me in waves. But for some reason, the past few weeks have been brutal, and I am hormonal from the pregnancy anyway. I find myself crying on my way to work quite often, whether I am leaving him with my Mom on Mondays or at "school" on other days of the week.

Maybe it is that he is now so much more a little person than ever before, with clear preferences, pet peeves, varied physical abilities, and a clearly curious nature. And a strong-willed sense of self. (as in, he has a hard time listening to me say, "No.")

Either way, it has just been hard. I want so much to be with my baby, to be the one teaching him, feeding him, loving him. But at the same time I know that being a good Mommy to him right now is working. The bills can't pay themselves.

So that's where I am tonight... not really thinking about life as a green Momma, but just life as a Mom in general, wishing so badly I could spend more days like tomorrow (I don't work tomorrow!) with my son.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Little Saint Nick...

Tonight is December 5th, which in my family and many family's traditions, it is St. Nicholas Night. We, like many children in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium (we're not German to my knowledge, but who cares!) put our shoes out in the hallway in the hopes that St. Nick will leave us a little something. And this year, the tradition continued from my childhood to Gabriel's!

He put out his shoes in his stylish Santa in Space pajamas (compliments of his MomMom and Grandad)...



He had a nice evening looking at books and reading with his Mommy and Daddy...




And then St. Nick stopped by with exactly what every little boy and girls wants... an organic brown rice yogurt bar and banana! I smile because my little man really does find these things to be a treat.



Nom. Nom. Nom.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You can bet your bottom dollar...

Or can you? I was driving home tonight, and I heard an advertisement for a new food chain in my area. Bottom Dollar Food.

A rose by any other name would smell... better than that! I KNOW that times are rough, and I know families are struggling to feed their little ones more than ever, but with stores called Bottom Dollar Food coming out of the woodwork pretending to be saintly, consumers are bound to be fooled.

I wish I could hear advertisements on the radio explaining that WIC and senior citizen food programs can be applied toward fresh farmers market food-- and believe it or not, farm fresh food is not always the most expensive (Yes, free range meat is pricey, but string beans? pumpkins? These things go for a steal straight from the farm.)

So that's my little rant for the day. And sorry for ranting, actually-- that is not normally my style!

--

In other news, Gabe is now a full fledged toddler, and he enjoys getting into everything, and ignoring the word, "No." Hi, temper tantrums! I feel like the world of parenting is now just beginning for my husband and me. It's a wonderful challenge.

Oh, and Gabe also now sings "Lalala" if I ask him where his tongue is. It's adorable.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Quest for a Natural Birth with Baby #2

So we're out of the first trimester (Whew!), and I am finally starting to feel human again-- as in, food is not repulsive, I can cook and change diapers without gagging, and I do not fall asleep sitting up on our futon watching Gossip Girl (Yes, I watch Gossip Girl. It is my one guilty pleasure).

And now it's starting to really hit me-- we're actually having another baby. And let's focus on the verb there. HAVING. As in, there will be labor.

I had preterm labor with Gabriel, and I contracted for seven weeks before I was induced with our first little nugget. My husband and I had signed up for breathing and relaxation classes that were scheduled for while I was on bedrest. As in, we never went to them. And in all the fear of "I'm not ready to be a Mom of a preemie," etc., our plans for an epidural-free birth went out of the window.

And now I'm not scared. Of preterm labor anyway. If it comes again, I am not going to let it intimidate me from having the birth I want. And I will say that Gabriel's birth was beautiful-- I was very clear that I would only go with induction if I had extremely good odds of it working well (I was dilated to 3 cm before any pitocin, and Gabe was very low-- I had very good numbers in the "this will work well" column), and things took off once my water was broken. I had a vaginal birth, which was the most important thing to me in the world, and I am so glad for that.

What was awful? The epidural. I was stuck more than five times. Whatever the resident did to me made me feel like a metal straw was being stuck into my vertebrae over and over again. The head anesthesiologist of the hospital then came to patching things up, and things went uphill from there... but the mere thought of an epidural sends crampy aches through my lower spine. I just can't even imagine thinking about epidurals while in labor. I just want to labor.

Is that reason I want a natural birth? No. I want to experience natural birth because I feel strongly that I want to experience the full-natured embodiment of child birth. I want to birth a baby without drugs going into his or her little body. I want to be able to walk right away without nurses hovering at my sides. I want a lot of things.

And so now, we're figuring out how to do this. We have decided, and to some natural birth mothers this may seem odd, to remain in the care of our OB team. I really have enjoyed working with these doctors, and they are in full support of letting us go natural. They have agreed to allow us a low intervention experience at the hospital without the constant monitors and IVs (so long as there is no emergency). And I do think this practice roots for vaginal birth. And they did a few things that made me happy while in labor with Gabriel-- one of them being a massage of oil for my perineum while I pushed rather than an episiotomy.

But what now? How are we planning to cope with the pain? Will I be able to get the room with the tub at the hospital so that I can labor while in water? What about water birth? Lamaze? Bradley? Hire a doula? Can we do any of this without spending a bagillion dollars? Is anything natural covered by insurance? What?

These questions all seem awkward, because a lot of the classes and things are meant for first time parents. And I have already been in labor and been coached and pushed. My husband and mother were amazing. My husband was such a calm, loving, and encouraging presence, and my Mom was empowering-- she always let me know that the head was coming closer or that she could see more. They helped me along so well. So I know that as my husband undertakes the role of a hands-on labor coach (I'm thinking massages and the like), he will be amazing at it. We just need the details.

So here we are... looking for the details. Any suggestions on our quest for a natural birth, including books, etc., would be great!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Willkommen Bienvenue Welcome

Hi there! If you have hiked your way over to A Mom Writing from CNN's Living Green Series Recap page, I'm glad you did. I'll use this post as a little way to orient yourself on my blog so that you can find the information you would like.


If you are parents looking to green your home, feel free to read about my love affair with cloth diapers, recipes and experiences making homemade baby food (and food in general), our different going green efforts, and our experience doing Colin Beavan's (of No Impact Man) No Impact Week.

Fellow hikers? Take a look at our recent hikes with our baby.

And if you are a nursing Mommy, I have written plenty in the past year about breastfeeding, including my experience donating breast milk for preemies and infants in America and abroad-- places such as Haiti and Africa.

So welcome, and I hope you visit again! Right now a lot of my posts are focusing on our continuing green efforts and our second pregnancy. And this time, we are planning for a natural birth.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On the news...

So, we had a visit from CNN American Morning last week, and we were on CNN today about our eco-conscious parenting. Take a look at our family first hand (my last name is Bernard, by the way-- I didn't change my name, and I am a freelance writer so I like the correct one being out there).



If you watch the clip, please know...
We said cloth diapering was EASY, Dave went on to say he loves using cloth (it's cheap and green), cloth does have less impact over disposables (hello, no landfills), AND we talked about lots of other things we do that are important, most specifically-- eating locally.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Walk in the Woods



We took Gabe out for a spin in his new wagon (thanks to his Mom-Mom and Grandad) on Sunday, and we explored the trails behind our condo. It was a beautiful afternoon, and Gabriel loves his wheels.


It really was a beautiful day for a walk in the woods.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Personality of Green

I've been wondering lately... Am I going green because I love the environment or because it's just my personality? And don't take that the wrong way, because of course I love the environment.

But then I think about the fact that generally I do not wear make up anymore. I generally don't care we have a tiny, tiny television. I generally don't buy purses or shoes or things...

And even if my family was not "going green," I think we would do some of the same things. So does a green Mom get credit for doing green things that just come naturally to her? I've been wondering...

-

For awhile cloth diapers were new to us, then they became routine, and then as I dealt with serious morning sickness from September until now, I felt the temptation to use disposables again. Because every very dirty diaper turned into a gagging session. And not your average gagging session. I'll spare you most of the details, but tonight I literally barfed while cleaning Gabe's diaper.

And that's when I decided that at that moment, nothing about my personality wanted to be green. But I did it-- because I love the earth and because I love my son.

So is it love that drives my actions? I'll shrug again because I'm just not sure. But the cloth diapers will get washed, and I'll be willing to gag yet again. Oh, and let's hope my morning sickness ends asap.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No Impact Man Free Winter Retreat

I wanted to share this super cool information with you all in case any of you would be interested...

I have blogged plenty about No Impact Man and No Impact Week in the past (including the actual week my family participated in No Impact Week in late August), and I have more fun stuff to share about it.

The No Impact Project is hosting a free winter retreat in New York state in January 2011. Applications are due on November 15, 2010, and applicants should received word by November 23, 2010 as to whether they were accepted for the workshop.

I am sure you all know I just applied. I am a hopeful, pregnant green Momma! I can just imagine the wealth of information I would receive and the potential connections I could make with other like-minded eco-friendly individuals. Do you feel passionately about energizing your community and rockin' the green where you live? If so, you should apply, too. Just head on over to the No Impact Project website.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gabriel's Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party

As of October 26th, we have a one-year-old in our home. And yesterday, we got to celebrate with family. We threw a Very Hungry Caterpillar Party, and it was really cute.




The cake was pumpkin with whipped cream icing. I covered the head (Gabe's "smash cake") with natural fruit roll-ups so we could peel them off as he destroyed it. I was dreading bright red icing being all over his everything.

I also made sugar cookies designed like the food the caterpillar ate through in the book. Hence, the sugar cookies all have holes in them! Yum.




Gabe didn't have any problems eating pumpkin cake... (it seemed like a more natural option, along side some fruit salad instead of the typical ice cream).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Turkey Lurkey.


Or rather, make that Turkeys.

Parading behind our condo almost every weekend morning.

We had an encounter a few weeks back when the gobbling was exceptionally loud. My husband pulled up our blinds, and sitting there on the pile of mulch which rises to the bottom of our bedroom window, was a huge turkey.

And when that fat turkey saw my husband, he pecked the window and ruffled its feathers. Annnnnd then my husband did some sort of battle cry so that the turkey sort of scuttled/flew away.

I never saw a turkey in South Jersey until the year 2009. I was born in New Jersey in 1985. Hmmm.... maybe I should have one of these true free range birds for Thanksgiving. (I'm kidding.)

The Power of Hand-Me-Downs

As a kid, I sort of just rolled my eyes when my family got a a batch of hand-me-downs from family or friends. I would peer over my Mom's shoulder as she carefully removed each article of clothing from the bag spying the random wardrobe treasure and faux pas within the batch. I had no issue wearing hand-me-downs... as long as they were cool. And mostly they were.

As a Mom, my eyes grow wide when I am lucky enough to be given hand-me-downs. And luckily, Gabriel has really gotten a ton of hand-me-down clothes. I have a cousin (I guess it's relevant to mention here that I am the oldest child of my Dad, who is the oldest of his four siblings, so this age difference sort of makes sense) who is just 6 months older than Gabe, and because he is the youngest of his siblings, we have been given tons of little boy clothes. We've also gotten a bag here and there from other generous people, and it has really kept our clothes purchasing to a minimum.

Just recently, Gabe has caught up with my cousin so the hand-me-downs are trickling down less frequently. But I have discovered a whole new fun place to find hand-me-downs for the little ones---- children's consignment shops.

They are a gold mine, and honestly, more for little girls than for boys, but seriously, there are just piles and piles of beautiful, gently-used, nicely-priced clothing in these places. I bought Gabriel tweed pants complete with a sweater vest and button up shirt (with a decent tag) for $18. Bought new, this outfit would have been over $40 at this store. And now Gabe has something to wear to my Grandparents' 50th Wedding Renewal for a price I can handle, and a carbon footprint that makes me smile, too.

Because that's the thing I am getting at here-- Hand-me-downs are not just good for your wallet. They are good for the earth. Instead of heading out and purchasing ((I consider every purchase I make a vote for a product)) new, you can reuse something already made. In the long run, you can think of yourself sending a message to companies that you just do not need the new stuff... and if lots and lots of people start using more hand-me-downs and consignment clothing, demand will decrease. And that's less impact on the environment.

Sounds good to me! Here's a web directory of consignment shops to get you started. Word of mouth is your best bet when finding a real gem of a store, though.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What It Is.

Holy guacamole, it has been an insane ride since the end of September, and I am finally getting a chance to open up about it to you all. Let's be honest, I am finally just up to writing at all-- I have been fighting a level of tired I have never known --it's less than, but different from (in a very hard way) the exhaustion of the early days of parenthood and breastfeeding-- and it has made it hard to keep my eyes open at times.

I am learning that this is what being pregnant with a baby-turning-toddler is.

It's a fast road... really. Time has literally flown since we got our BFP. When I was pregnant with Gabriel, time crawled. I was not working full-time so I literally almost slept through my first trimester (apparently pregnancy makes me extremely tired), but the weeks went by so slowly for me.

And I guess it makes sense-- I was pregnant for the first time. Every little part of the experience, every office visit, every test, every page of the books, every entry on the online pregnancy boards... they were new to me. I was restless to show, restless to feel the baby move, restless to meet our little baby.

And this time? I'm chasing Gabriel around the house, rushing to work, making sure Gabe eats a healthy meal even if I don't cook dinner (let's be clear here- my morning sickness is wicked), and trying to keep our home in order. My husband has been amazing at helping more than ever, and he has been changing Gabe's poopie diapers whenever he can (I am gagging so badly from them, I don't even believe it. I never even blinked an eye when swishing a prefold caked in peanut butter poop until now.)

Honestly, this pregnancy, I would be happy for time to pass slowly, savoring my time carrying Gabriel and relishing the straight eight hours of sleep I can get every night.

But time is flying. And I am hoping I don't wake up tomorrow morning to find it's already May...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Letting the cat out of the bag...


We're on the road to two under two!

Now that I have told my employer, I can finally let the blogging on our pregnancy begin...!
As in, I have been dealing with weaning due to low supply, morning sickness, exhaustion with a newly walking little one, and gagging worse than I ever knew I could while cleaning dirty cloth diapers. Oh, and with a due date of May 27, 2011 and a plan to have a natural birth, we're nine weeks along right now. Ole'!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Milk Mustache.


I owe a real post very soon-- I promise I will explain my silence asap-- but for now, just know our little monster is starting to toddle around, and he has started to drink organic cow's milk in combo with formula (my supply is pretty much gone, and he is only really nursing when he first wakes up now).

Obviously we have decided Gabe can have cow's milk-- only organic whole milk-- but many people are anti-milk or anti-pasteurized milk. How do you feel about milk and why? I'm very curious!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Musical Babies.

My husband and I met in college, on the dorm floor. As in, we were neighbors... on the music floor. Yes, Temple University has an entire floor devoted to its music and dance students. This is an overdramatic mess. But it's sort of fun, too... if you don't mind someone playing trumpet in the common room at 1 a.m. every few days.

In any case, my husband has both a performance and education degree in music, and I have a minor (I switched to journalism after 1.5 years of voice. Opera star? Seriously?). My point in this is really that with two musical parents, Gabriel is destined to be surrounded with... surround sound.

And he loves music. He dances on demand (Literally, we say, "Dance," and off he goes). He loves every little piece we have played for him, from classical to jazz to folk to plain old radio. It's wonderful, and we look forward to fostering his love of music wherever it takes him.

One little thing my husband discovered that is a real hit? The video below. There are quite a few of these videos on youtube-- classical pieces dissected by meticulous music theory students and illustrated with pain-staking detail. But the videos are musical in presentation, AND they keeps baby quite engaged. Something that our television does not do (oh how proud I am that my baby is not interested in television)! I love that it tantalizes Gabe's ears and eyes together.

So, check it out~ it's fun for adults, too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm so tired.

No, really. I am. Gabriel is about to start walking-- he went four full balanced steps after dinner tonight-- and all I want to do is nap. Somehow I think this mix is not a good one!

But what is good?
The nursery artwork pictured below. I made it for some friends who are decorating a frog nursery. Their shower was this past Saturday, and it was wonderful. I was quite excited to give them a bumgenius 4.0 as part of their gift. Wow, I'm a regular cloth-diapering nerd, ay?






ribbit. ribbit.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mom Wars

The more you read around the internet and peruse chat forums, the more you find a scary thing that I'd like to call Mom Wars.

Sure, it might sound fun, but it doesn't come with an amazing soundtrack or Darth Vader.

It DOES come with some topics of heated debate. People get really mad at Moms who do not think and act as they do... and I definitely understand some of the heat. I am an opinionated person, but a lot of these topics have to do with parenting choices. And ya know, the fact that we have choices in raising our children is a good thing-- I think. I often may not agree with someone's parenting style, but is it my place to correct him or her? And of course, if a child is clearly in danger, yes I should say something, but if not, is it really my place? This is what I have been wondering tonight.

In case you were wondering, here are some of the lovely topics which get Mommies particularly mad (and yes I exaggerate slightly):

-Rear Facing v. Front Facing Car Seats for Babies Under 2
-Breast is best v. Bottle is better
-Vaccine v. Alternative Vaccine Schedule
-14 wk. NT scan v. No 14 wk. NT Scan
-Nursing while Pregnant v. Not Nursing While Pregnant
-High Fructose Corn Syrup is awesome v. High Fructose Corn Syrup is evil
-Baby Wearing is the best thing ever for you and baby v. Baby Wearing will kill everyone
-Back v. Belly Sleeping Under Age 1
-Spanking v. No Spanking
-Organic v. Conventional/Processed Food for Kids
-Stay At Home Moms have it the worst! v. No way! Working Moms have it the worst!

annnnnd a current reheated debate due to a new study released the other day:

Drinking (in moderation) while pregnant will make your kid a genius!
v.
You should be arrested if you drink while pregnant!

What do I think? (As if it matters!)
I'll never tell! But I didn't have a sip while I was pregnant with Gabe.
Never will I ever? I just don't know.
Really, I think all Moms need to just get along. Being a Mommy is hard enough!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TU offering fresh produce to students.


Here's a tidbit for you-- I'm a Temple University graduate, and I love Philadelphia.

Something green and exciting I discovered today?
Temple University offers a farm market for students on the blocks of its campus in Northern Philadelphia. And North Philly is not a farm fresh-friendly place so this news made me very happy!

How cool is it to see an urban university partner with the Food Trust in promoting local farmers and providing students with healthy produce options?! Read an article on the farm market here.

I would love to hear about other colleges making green strides for student life. Please tell me if you know something!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Squash Oatmeal


Please excuse the phone-fuzzy photo!

Thanks for joining me at the Collingswood Farmers Market last Saturday! It was great meeting so many local parents interested in homemade baby food.

As promised, here is the recipe for Cinnamon Apple Squash Oatmeal...

Your favorite baby oatmeal
(portion based on your baby's needs, mixed with water, Mom's milk or formula to desired consistency)
1 Serving Baby Food Apples
1 Serving Baby Food Butternut Squash
1 tiny dash cinnamon

To make the Butternut Squash...

1. Cut squash in half length-wise. Scoop seeds out of squash.
2. Place squash halves in pan face down. Cover in 1-inch water bath. Cover. Cook at 400 degrees for approximately one hour or until skin is clearly puckering. The squash needs to be very mushy to respond well to the blender or food processor.
3. Puree to your baby's needs. Use the blender for thinner purees. Choose the food processor for a chunkier blend, perfect for an older baby.
4. Either mix directly with the apple puree to store as a squash/apple mix or pour individual servings into ice cube tray to use in your choice of mixes. (Storing individually will allow you to change the amount of squash or apples in any dish at any time. Use baby's favorites to introduce new flavors in a subtle way.)

To make the Apples... visit my previous entry on baby apple purees.

To make the Cinnamon Apple Squash Oatmeal, mix the prepared baby oatmeal, pre-mixed squash/apple puree or individual servings of squash and apple. Add dash of cinnamon, mix, and serve.

For more information on homemade baby food, check out my other posts on the subject!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hey South Jersey, Join A Mom Writing at the Farmers Market!

Yes, I'll be at the Collingswood Farmers Market tomorrow doing a homemade baby food demo!

I'll be featuring local, seasonal ingredients to create dishes like cinnamon apple squash oatmeal. Yum! Plus, I'll offer lots of information on the basics of homemade baby food and the little tips you need to know to be your baby's #1 Chef. The demo starts at 10 a.m., and I don't expect it to last more than 30 minutes. So bring your babes and come check out A Mom Writing tomorrow!

I'll post the recipes and tips on the blog on Sunday, too!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Introducing... The Diaper Pail.

A friend of mine asked about our diaper pail today, so I figured I would share.



We use a Wahmies Pail Liner (the laundry is in right now) in a plain old plastic, foot-pedaled trash can. It works pretty good. It smells when we open it, but it contains the scent pretty darn well. When picking out a trash can, choose ones with a lip on it so that there is more of an air tight seal.

We also own a Planet Wise Hanging Wet/Dry Bag for emergencies, some laundry days, and travel. It's awesome, and the prints are fabulous. This might also be a good option for extra smelly diapers, though they do not offer the same amount of storage as the trash can.

In other news, we've been searching for a daycare, and I am so excited to let you know Gabriel will be able to sport his fluffy butt even when I work full-time!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Caution: This post requires night vision.

I finally feel it is not a jinx to let you know...


Gabriel is sleeping through the night! It has been one full month of our little one willingly being rocked and sung and lowered into his crib AWAKE between 7:30-8:30 p.m. He rolls around and just wriggles his way to sleep, usually without so much as a moan. I looked at my husband earlier this evening and said, "Can you believe it has only been about one month since Gabriel started sleeping through the night?"

We couldn't believe it. It has seemed so, so long since the little man cried for milk at 2 a.m. with an insistence to stay cuddled with us, nursing from me intermittently until morning.

And there still are random nights when he just has to nurse around 11 or so, but those nights are becoming increasingly rare, and when he is finished nursing he pushes us and rolls around as if to say, "Give me my own bed!" (And so we happily carry him back to his crib).

*Sigh* My baby boy is turning into a wee little boy; he is eleven months old today.

Just one more month of an under one-year-old...

If only he would nap willingly by the age of one (He is getting to an age where I would be fine with him not napping, but he gets so grumpy without any sleep throughout the day)!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

No Impact Week: Something We've Continued...


No paper towels enter our home anymore. We use resuable kitchen towels and rags always. And it's so easy to just toss the dirty ones into the washer to be cleaned with whatever load goes in next.

My husband does sometimes suggest we have some "just in case, for the microwave," but I never give in because I am scared we would use them as a crutch for anything needing to be wiped.

But it would he handy to have them for microwave use.

But we are happier to be without them!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another Reason I Have Issues With Formula.

Beetles. In Baby Formula.

( I will guess you are thinking, "Are you kidding me?")

No, I'm not kidding you. Similac issued a huge voluntary recall today regarding "certain lines of powdered formula which comes in plastic tubs, or 8 oz., 12.4 oz., and 12.9 oz. cans" made in a plant out of Sturgis, Michigan because the formula was processed alla beetles. Whether or not the beetles are definitely in the formula is unclear.

And what little formula has Gabe been getting in two bottles per week while I work (because I only get enough while pumping over three shifts for one bottle)?
Similac Advanced with Iron.

And why do we use this formula?
We already had it in the house because the manufacturer sent it to us... so it was free (we just finished our first can after one month of using it, and we have another that would have lasted us until he started weaning from the bottle for that feeding). And our pedi recommends it.

Annnnnd was I planning on keeping him on this formula?
I was planning on buying some Earth's Best Organic formula if we ran out.

How do I feel right now?
Angry. Guilty. Infuriated. Frustrated. Disappointed. And a little lucky.

Why do I feel like this?
Because I have been trying to load Similac's recall website for a very long time now, and it is just plain overloaded. The page will not load. I managed to get on it for a second earlier this evening, and I was relieved to find the can we are just finishing was not recalled. But I didn't get to load the can we were planning to open tomorrow. And I tried calling their recall hotline for awhile, but gave up with the endless busy signals.

Oh, and because I could have been feeding my baby beetles, which are really great for a little baby's GI tract. Instances like this are surefire proof that eating local, whole foods you make for your baby and family are THEE way to live healthy, happy lives.

I do feel lucky, though, because Gabriel mainly breastfeeds so even if we were affected by the recall, he would not have had much exposure. Any exposure is horrible, but I am thankful that breastfeeding does limit Gabe's ability to be hit by things like beetles in the belly.

So what now?
I will be at Whole Foods at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning, praying that they did not sell out of Earth's Best formula tonight. And if all else fails, I will somehow have to work around Gabe nursing.

Here is the info site and Similac hotline to find out if your baby's formula was part of the recall (If you can get through!!):

Monday, September 20, 2010

Searching for Afforable, Eco-Friendly Play Kitchen

Gabe will turn one at the end of October, which means he will turn two next October. For kids with birthdays at the tail end of the year near the holidays, it seems like it makes sense for birthday gifts and Santa's sleigh to give gifts of the future. As in, we're thinking Santa will bring a play kitchen to Gabriel because that way he can start by opening and closing the drawers, moving food from compartment to compartment, and by the time he hits two, he will be playing kitchen with me.

So here's my problem. We want Santa to bring an eco-friendly, nontoxic, wooden kitchen that isn't insanely expensive. I mean, it's a play kitchen, not a real kitchen.

And yes, I am looking now.

Any suggestions???

Friday, September 17, 2010

Teaching Gabriel to Love Animals.

I feel very responsible for how Gabriel will act toward nature as he grows. It might seem like overkill, but I am already teaching him about animals as we read books, walk outside, and play with his toys. More importantly, I am teaching him to love animals by petting them with him and explaining why each animal is special as we discover them together. Why not, right?

I tend to think simple things like telling him and showing him how to "be gentle with the dog," will go a long way because I have been showing him from an early age. I am not going to lie-- having a kid who treats animals harshly and roughly is a nightmare of mine. It would just break my heart.




Anyway, other than dogs, Gabriel particularly loves penguins. He kisses me, my husband, and his penguin quite often. (Yesterday my Mom (his MomMom) was talking to Gabe on the phone and she told him to "kiss Mommy," so he kissed the phone. So that makes four things in our home he has kissed. And I can add the word 'kiss' to the list of words he understands, while 'Mommy' is still not on it!) He particularly likes it if I make the penguin waddle across the floor to him while making honking noises.

In other news, Gabe is very into standing alone lately. Will he walk before he turns one? I can't wait to find out!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Can someone please explain...

Why MUST Gabriel crawl into the kitchen?



I mean, really. He MUST do this. Almost as much as he MUST stick his hand in the VCR. These are apparently things he just has to do or else he will flail on the ground in perilous tears (oh, hi temper tantrums!).

But if he gets to crawl on that tile... well, he sure is happy.


I really cannot handle how much older he is starting to look.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Green your peanut butter.

I'm not a member of PETA, and you all know I like my free range meatballs and burgers, but I thought this was pretty cool...
PETA Butter. As in, peanut butter, from PETA.

Here's the deets straight from the source:
"To commemorate PETA's 30th anniversary, Peanut Butter & Co. has created this special-edition "PETA Butter." It's vegan, gluten-free, and 100 percent natural with no trans fats, no cholesterol, no hydrogenated oil, and no high-fructose corn syrup. Made from pure, simple ingredients: peanuts and salt."

I LOVE peanut butter. I could probably eat a house of it, especially if paired with chocolate or strawberry jam. In fact, when it comes to pb&j, my husband and I should have bought stock in it years ago because it was our lunch staple for years.

PETA's argument for peanut butter is that it's protein and not meat. Mine is that it is delish. I have been doing some reading on it, though, and I am finding scary things in the traditional super market pb. As in, high fructose corn syrup (which I don't care what those commercials say-- it's not good for you). So when I saw this PETA butter and the fact that it's made with all-natural ingredients, my interest was piqued.

I'm thinking I might try it. Why not?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering.

I was a junior in high school on September 11, 2001. My first visit to New York City was as a senior in high school. I never saw the World Trade Center standing, but I did see its shining memorial tribute reaching into the night sky when I moved there in 2008.

May peace be with those who remember, survive, and mourn their loved ones today.

I will always be grateful for the heroes who gave their lives trying to save others. I was going through some hand-me-downs for Gabe this morning, and I came across a red long sleeve t-shirt with a firetruck with the words "to the rescue," on it. I found myself rubbing the word "rescue," feeling very moved by the courage so many American women and men exemplified nine years ago.

.......

On another less serious, but still sort of serious note, it has been exactly one year since I went into preterm labor with Gabriel. He was born in late October, but I contracted pretty strongly from September 11-October 26 when he finally decided to join us. I will always be grateful for making it full term. And wow, I am so glad I am not contracting today! *Phew*

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Food, Link.


This cute baby is now offering KISSES!
Wow, I never knew getting licked by a 10-month-old could be so sweet.


Anyway, I've been buzzing around the internet today, and I found two links I would like to share.

The first is a clip from yesterday's Today Show on homemade baby food.

Yummy (and awesome that homemade baby food got some air time), but I have to contend that adding apple juice to the cinnamon apple raisin oatmeal dish is completely unnecessary. That dish would be plenty sweet and moist with plain old water. I haven't given Gabe any juice yet... he gets his cals from my milk and food. Simply needing hydration? He gets water. What do you all think about babies and juice? Do you have any juice suggestions for Gabe (beyond making our own)?

The second is an (old) article from Chow on Greening your Meat:

Nom. Nom. Nom. Seriously, you CAN nom burgers and be green! I am all about this notion. We buy our grassfed, free range beef from a local farm, and it has more flavor than I ever knew beef could have. This meat is packaged in less than what you find in the grocery store (as in, no Styrofoam). We also do eat less meat than we used to. We used to meld meals around the concept of meat. Now, we don't. One of our favorite meals is Pav Bhaji (it comes in a packet at Trader Joe's) with Brown Basmati Rice. No, it's not local, but it's a great break from meat. We have also been boycotting many fast food chains (not all) for quite some time now.

Anyway, homemade baby food and green meat is on my mind now. I guess it's my food for thought (Did I really just type that cheesy line?).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

No Impact Week Day 7: Giving Back

Sorry for the delay on this post! Labor Day weekend has been a very wonderful, busy one in our household. ANYWAY, let's reflect on No Impact Week Day 7.

Sierra Club No Impact Week Day 7 was focused on Giving Back, and there are a lot of ways to do this.

1. Donate money to nonprofit organizations and causes working for the environment.
2. Join environmental organizations.
3. Get out and physically volunteer.
4. Work for a nonprofit organization.

What do we do in our household?

Firstly, we are members of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. As backpackers, we just love our AT, and we love supporting what the ATC does to maintain the trail, protect the greenway, and educate others on the importance of the AT.

Secondly, we try to find ways to give back. We did not find anything specific to do this past Saturday, but I have volunteered to do a homemade baby food demonstration at our favorite farmers market on October 2nd! I cannot wait to spread the word and show some local parents just how easy it is to prepare local, homemade food for baby, from blueberries to peas to chicken. I am still brainstorming as to what I will be cooking up on October 2nd-- probably something in the realm of squash and apples I presume.

Here are some great resources for finding volunteer opportunities near you. Simply search with the keyword "environment" if you are specifically looking for nature-related opportunities.

http://www.volunteermatch.org
http://www.idealist.org

Here are just a few specific national organizations to consider.
(How cool is the idea of taking a volunteer vacation? I am really hoping to take one in the next few years.)

The Sierra Club
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy
The Audubon Society: TogetherGreen

Friday, September 3, 2010

No Impact Week Day 6: Water


You'd think the horror is in the packaging and the processing,
but these consumer goods also bump up your water footprint.


**If this is the first post you are reading on No Impact Week,
you might want to read this one to orient yourself.**


Water Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink.

NOT.

Water is being overused everywhere, and Day 6 of Sierra Club No Impact Week was all about becoming more aware of water usage.
Things We Already Do
-No purchasing of plastic water bottles. Nalgene rules in our house.
-Water is the primary drink in our home. No, really, we often do not purchase juice or wine or anything other than milk as a supplementary beverage.
-Try to take quick showers. I'm still working on getting done in under five minutes.
Water Damage
-While using cloth diapers does an amazing reduction of slow-composing waste in landfills, the wash of cloth diapers consumes water.

If you visit the Water Footprint Network, you'll read that the most water usage is not really from water-intensive household chores or drinks, though. Most water is consumed in production. In other words, what you buy directly impacts the environment not only in the obvious terms, but in water usage.

For instance, according to the WFN, the global average waterfootprint of...

1 Cup of Coffee = 140 litres water

1 kg (just over 2 lb.) beef = 15500 liters water
**Think about all that water the cow needs to drink (direct water usage) and all of the grains (indirect water usage) it eats while it develops over three years of more. What can help reduce your beef water imprint is eating free range, grass fed beef, which are not feasting on corn regularly or even at all.**

1 sheet of paper = 10 litres water
**You'll think twice before you waste that sheet and just toss it into recycling, won't you? I will.**

If you are interested in calculating your own waterfootprint, the WFN has a calculator on its website for you. I was slightly confused when asked to calculate how much of my family's income is spent on me, but if you know that number, you should be able to get a great estimate.


There's just one day left of No Impact Week!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

No Impact Week Day 5: Energy

**If this is the first post you are reading on No Impact Week,
you might want to read this one to orient yourself.**

It's Thursday night, and the only light in our condo right now is beaming from the screen of my laptop. And a few candles. Because today is Sierra Club No Impact Week Day 5, and we are focusing on energy.

When I woke up this morning, Gabriel and I went on a little tour of our condo and pulled the plug on lights and appliances. We don't really use much energy during daylight hours, but we never unplug things so it was nice to go and eliminate the ghost power today.

Did I still watch television today? Yes, I watched less than one hour of television while the baby -sort of- napped. My husband had class tonight, and I knew I was in for a long, long day so I gave in and tuned into Days of Our Lives just in time to see E.J. laying on his bed, (gasp), shot!

But I refrained from watching morning talk shows, and we did not put on the Phillies game tonight. Our goal is to keep the TV watching to one hour or less per day. (And did you know that smaller television sets consume less energy? Which is good for us, because we have a tiny television from when I was in high school. We just can't bring ourselves to spend money on a television.)

Other Issues with our Energy Usage

1. Temperature
I turned it off totally this morning, but as the temperature climbed to the high 90s, I needed to close the door and turn it on for a little while to cool the condo back down for Gabriel's sake. It follows-- while my husband and I are that extreme that we might eliminate the use of ac and heat unless absolutely imperative for our survival, we can't play like that with our little dude. But what we can do is simply turn off the ac whenever we can, open the window when there's a breeze, and be conservative about the temperature setting.

2. Cooking and Food
I cook. With a stove and stovetop. That is not going to change. I do enjoy eating salads and other typically chilled items cold, and I have every intention of using my freezer to keep my local produce good all year. The fridge is not going out the door. I'm totally open to suggestions on reducing energy use related to food, but I don't have any grandiose idea right now.

3. Laundry
I'm not totally against trying to do laundry by hand, but as a cloth diapering-Mommy, I am not planning to clean cloth diapers by hand. However, air drying the cloth diapers by hanging them up is a great option. What's hard for us is to switch to air drying in total because our condo association has a rule against clothes lines. I have been tempted to put one up on our patio all summer, but I haven't rocked the boat. Yet.

I know tonight's post is not nearly as extensive as last night's entry, but I will leave you with the promise that our family plans to have one night per week like this one (as in, candles only, and no television) as we move forward. And I think that's sweet.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No Impact Week Day 4: Food

**If this is the first post you are reading on No Impact Week,
you might want to read this one to orient yourself.**

Sierra Club No Impact Week's Day 4 is food-focused.

And if you regularly read A Mom Writing, you know I have been working on greening our food habits for awhile.
Are we great at it? Not yet.
Are we better than we used to be? Holy wow, yes.

The key to local eating ** local= food grown within 250 miles of your locale** is in knowing where you live. I grew up in the town we live in currently, but I didn't know the farms in the surrounding area. I didn't know the farmers market dates. I didn't know a lot of things, but when I looked, I found it.

And FINDING it has made it possible for us to have the following local products on a regular basis:

1. Fruit: peaches, apples, berries, plums, tomatoes, etc.
2. Veggies: string beans, swiss chard, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, corn, etc.
3. Meat (as in of the grass-fed, free range kind): beef, lamb, chicken
4. Dairy: butter, cheese (limited choices on the cheese)
5. Bread: fresh-baked "green" bakery bread, rolls, etc.
6. Wine: a full range (but cranberry wine from Valenzano winery is my favorite)
7. Other (as in of the cage free, organic kind): eggs, herbs, flowers

I think it is important for me to mention now that you will find animal protein in our diet. We are not vegetarian or vegan, and while I think those eating habits are fabulous, our family is comfortable eating meat. We are not comfortable eating protein sourced from feedlots. We are not comfortable eating primarily corn-fed beef. Our feelings are that if the meat comes from a farm where animals are treated correctly and respectfully, without use of hormones or heavy use of antibiotics, we are happy eating it. Pastured protein is delicious and nutritious in moderation. We are always trying to develop alternative meal ideas for dinner featuring protein from beans or quinoa, etc., though.

WHERE did I find the information to get all of that food locally?
An online directory of farms, CSAs, farmers markets, and events. Search by your zip code and see what is near you. I would have never known an alpaca farm is within 20 miles of my home if I hadn't searched. And if you look on here before your go on vacation, you can still eat farm fresh food on vacation (Yes, we did this. The picture below is from Ludlow, Vermont's Farmers Market)


0 0 0

Let's get real here. I'm not a green saint-- we do sometimes get take out (it's usually pizza from our favorite place), and we do eat some processed food. The point of this week was to avoid it as much as possible so obviously we have not and do not plan on eating anything other than home-cooked meals. But we still bought some packaged, processed food. Here is a list of the non-local things we bought:

cereal
organic milk
whole wheat pretzels
a giant bag of organic pears
a giant bag of organic sweet potatoes
sandwich-style wheat bread
luna bars
clif bars
organic yogurtturkey bacon
mozzarella cheese
chocolate chips
organic pasta
organic fair trade coffee
organic half & half

**We gave up bananas and avocados for the week. We were inspired to switch from plain old coffee to fair trade organic for now. We are not ready to eliminate coffee from our diet, and if you saw No Impact Man, it seems that was the hardest thing for Colin Beavan's wife Michelle to give up, too. We don't drink coffee on a regular basis, and we will savor our moments with it.**

The No Impact Manual highly suggests swapping the processed for the local, and I am sitting here staring at this list trying to figure out what I would do differently. From the ingredients we purchased this weekend, here are some samples of the meals we are and will eat this week (Gabe has bits and pieces of these meals, but he also eats many of the foods I have already made, frozen, and written about here). I have bolded eight ingredients for us to research finding and purchasing locally.

Breakfasts
Yogurt and Pear
Luna Bar
Cereal with Milk
Eggs with Cinnamon Toast
Local: eggs, butter
Not: ha, everything else.

Lunch One
Baked Potato with Tomatoes, Butter, Salt
Local: tomatoes, butter
Not: potato, salt

Lunch Two
Sweet Potato
and Pretzels with Peanut Butter
Local: Nothing

Dinner One
Free Range Pork Chops with Cinnamon Apples and String Beans
Local: pork, apples, string beans
Not: olive oil, cinnamon

Dinner Two
Pepper Cheese Omelets or Swiss Chard Omelets (with or without Turkey Bacon), Plums, and Bakery Bread
Local: eggs, pepper, swiss chard, plums, bakery bread
Not: cheese, turkey bacon, salt, pepper

Dinner Three
Pastured Roasted Chicken with String Beans and Potatoes
Local: chicken, string beans, butter, rosemary
Not: potatoes, salt, pepper, paprika, lemon, olive oil

Dinner Four
Chili Con Carne
Local: ground beef, tomatoes, corn, carrots, green pepper, red pepper
Not: pinto beans, red kidney beans, salt, pepper, chili powder, hot sauce, cumin, olive oil

Dessert
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Local: butter, eggsNot: flour, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder

Are you seeing a trend? I'm seeing a lot of spices and baking ingredients as main offenders. Other issues? Those foods which are not in season or native to our area, such as lemons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pears.



A Tip on Eating Local All Year Long
Make and freeze local ingredients while they are in season. I made my first batch ever of tomato sauce this week to freeze, and I will be doing one big batch this weekend as tomato season comes to a close. Other great foods to freeze are green beans, peas, and corn.



Stay tuned for tomorrow when we pull the plug .
The power is going out (on everything possible).

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No Impact Week Day 3: Transportation

**If this is the first post you are reading on No Impact Week,
you might want to read this one to orient yourself.
**

Sierra Club No Impact Week Day 3 is about Transportation.

Annnnnnnnnd here's where our family gets a bright, big...

FAIL.

Why?

Because we live in a suburb of Philadelphia. I work in our town, and our babysitter is five minutes from my work, but my Mom watches Gabe once per week two exits away from us off of the New Jersey Turnpike. Yes, once per week, I drive approximately 40 minutes to my Mom's to drop off Gabe and then head back to my office, turn back around and go back to my Mom's, and then drive back home. It sickens me. But it saves us so much money for my Mom to watch the baby for free, too (yes, even with gas and toll costs included). And student loans don't disappear if you smile at them.

It really is disturbing, though, that despite the days I spend home during the week (I RELISH my baby time!), I still have done so much damage on mileage that I really am not helping the environment on those days I crawl around the house.

And then there's my husband who has to get into the city. We're twenty minutes from the train, which he will drive to, but once he takes the aforementioned train, he still has to switch to an entirely different subway line once he gets into the city to reach his office. So he often has to choose between a car, train, subway commute or a car commute. What do you think wins more often? Yes, you guessed it-- the car.

Transportation is a hard reduction when you live in the suburbs, but there still are things you can do to minimize the damage. And here are some serious actions I do and will continue to take more seriously:

1. If I don't have to go out or drive, I do not go out or drive. There is a lot to do right here in our condo.

2. If I have an errand to run, I try to do it on the way home from work or I do multiple stops at nearby places in one trip.

3. When driving on the highway, I try to stay as close to the speed limit as possible because cars generally achieve best gas efficiency in the 50-65 mile per hour range.

4. We keep our car's tires full. This also helps with gas mileage.

5. If possible, we carpool with family or friends to events or parties.

We also have some goals for the future.

1. When our lease is up, we plan to move to a place with a quicker, closer commute for my husband-- as in, a place where he could walk to a train-- or move to the city where walking and subways abound.

2. If and when we make the move above, we would hope to go back to one car. At this time, having one car would result in utter mayhem, and it would actually make us drive more total miles than we do now.


And that's all I have for now on this topic. I know this post is not very empowering, but it is honest. Hopefully that counts for something.

Monday, August 30, 2010

No Impact Week Day 2: Trash


Once I opened this wrapper, I spent less than ten minutes with it before it was trash.


**If this is the first post you are reading on No Impact Week,
you might want to read this one to orient yourself.
**


Day 2 of Sierra Club No Impact Week is all about the trash. Collecting it. Looking through it. Reducing it.

Seriously.

Yesterday we were supposed to keep a trash bag of our waste, and today we were supposed to rummage through it. Well, we did things a little differently. We collected and rummaged today's trash because I knew today would be more trashy. As in, we are better at behaving ourselves when we are not working, and I wanted us to look as guilty as we can be.
So what was in our trash today? Let's have a look.

Here's mine and Gabe's, mine from work, his from my Mom's:

There's other stupid stuff in this photo, but my trash is:
-The napkin: It was someone's birthday at work, and I ate a slice of the apple bread on the napkin (instead of a plastic plate).
-Plastic cup: I forgot my Nalgene bottle so I drank from that cup during my entire shift. I almost never purchase bottled water.)
-Luna bar wrapper: My breakfast.

Gabe's trash was:
-The brown bag (for a slice of toast)
-The apple sauce container: I confess I do have prepackaged organic apple sauce in our fridge for Gabe's lunch on the days I work-- he still gets homemade fruits at lunch & dinner. He had other food that was in reusable containers.
-Disposable Wipes (not pictured) were used while he was at my Mom's.

Here's my husband's, from his work:

My husband works in higher education, and on the first few days of classes, his office provides him lunch-- that's the plastic bottle and sandwich container seen.
You can see a Clif Bar (breakfast) wrapper peeking from behind the plastic container.

And here's our "home" trash:

coffee grinds, pear rind, egg shells, a dried up sliver of cheese


Do we see a theme here, or what? It's almost ALL food packaging!! (Thanks to cloth wipes, cloth diapers, reusable cloth kitchen towels, reusable travel coffee mugs, etc.)
Which maybe is good in the midst of being bad because we can so, so easily reduce this trash output. How?Use only resuable food containers, bringing a reusable napkin with me INSTEAD of using the paper at work, remembering my Nalgene, and my husband bringing his lunch (I have a hard time telling my husband not to eat the free lunch pre-ordered for him; it seems more wasteful not to eat the food and throw it in the trash).

Yes, we have leftover plastic shopping bags in our home collected from the past year. I do not throw them out if we come home with one unless we resuse them. Normally, we have our reusable (and cute) grocery bags with us for food shopping. I need to make an effort to remember them anywhere we shop.

On top of this, we can choose to eat foods with less packaging. Fruits and veggies are obvious choices, but so are foods which come in less. Buying in bulk is always a recommendation because you get more stuff in less packaging. Bulk is hard for smaller families, though, because with less people, there's less consumption and all that.

As for staples which come in packages, such as milk, eggs, berries (they get crushed!), etc., I am going to look into glass bottles, returning the egg container to the farm (we bought our eggs at a local organic farm), and figuring out our own way to get things home.

What was really inspiring about No Impact Man was how very little trash they put out over the course of their No Impact year simply due to composting. If I think about it, if we eliminate our food packaging trash or at least get it down to a minimum, we would primarily have food remnants (rinds, peels, shells), and those are all great in a compost bin. In other words, despite the fact we are in a condo/ unsure of where we could put a compost bin, I am now seriously inspired and investigating the start of our own compost bin.

I also really like the suggestion to keep a special trash bag with you throughout the week (no matter where you go) so that you are truly aware of you trash output. It is amazing how conscious you become of your trash and the packaging on anything once you are really critically looking to reduce your trash. I mean, wow, WHY are things so covered in plastic and cardboard? Really, WHY? I am going to make a true effort to purchase less when it comes to food. What I mean is, I will not only be looking for whole foods, less processed, local, organic, and fair trade. I will also be looking for less stuff on my food. I'll keep you updated.

For the rest of the week, there's no chancing trash.
We HAVE to reduce.

And here's a start:
Rubbermaid containers for bringing lunch,
Using regular old flatware to and from work,
Bringing a napkin wherever we go,
And keeping our beverages in resusable containers only.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

No Impact Week Day 1: Consumption

If you are just jumping into Sierra Club No Impact Week posts, please read this one to understand what we are doing.

Today we were supposed to look at our consumption as a family. As in, what do we buy and what do we really need to buy?

For starters, the manual suggests making a list. Well, for us, the only things we really consume, on a weekly and even maybe monthly basis, are food, wipes, cleaning supplies, and disposable diapers (for 8 hours with the babysitter per week). I am serious, too-- we very rarely buy clothes, as in maybe a few things once or less per year if needed to look professional at work. And Christmas (but we are not bonkers in the spending department there either). Our minimal consumption of general consumer goods could be partly due to the fact that we do not have the budget for "things" (hi, student loans), but I think it is simply because we are the type to go hiking or read a favorite book or listen to our favorite music, which are all things we do not need to purchase.

For those of you who do have the spending power, some suggestions for lessening your carbon footprint are using hand-me-downs (We have been so lucky to have been given a lot of hand-me-downs for Gabe, but many community organizations or churches hold clothing and/or toy swaps. Try and find one, bring your old things, and trade for what you need!)

As far as our cleaning products, we still have ample amounts of the eco-friendly cleaners we do use so I will not be making them this week. However, I **will** be making them as an experiment when we do run out, and I will post an addendum to this post at that time.

Another helpful tool from the No Impact Week Manual on finding where to shop for less impactful items? The Green Guide.

---

But let's come back to today and our family...

This week all we needed was our food and baby wipes. We'll be dealing with food on Wednesday so let's focus on the wipes and whether we really needed to purchase them.

Now, when we switched to cloth diapers when Gabriel was 2.5 months old, it did not take long for me to jump into using cloth wipes. I made batches every few days, and we washed them with the rest of his diapers. Up until Gabriel started solids back in May, things were smooth sailing because Gabe's poop was water soluble, and we literally could just throw everything into the diaper pail without a care in the world. We still had disposable wipes in the diaper bag for when Gabriel was with the babysitter, but that was it.

Once the peanut butter poop arrived, so did our return to disposable wipes. At first, we just had a small batch of disposable wipes by the changing table for peanut butter poop only. And then it just became part of our regular rhythm again.

Let me take this moment to say that I had already been planning and meaning to address the disposable wipe issue in our house, but now is a good time to really put them to rest, unless absolutely needed. Why? For one, the peanut butter poop phase really is over at this point. It would be really easy to scuffle into the bathroom and shake off the wipe while I am taking care of emptying his dirty diapers. Secondly, we do not have a diaper genie or anything like that anymore, so it will keep dirty wipes out of our trashcan (And we already know trash is going to be scrutinized tomorrow as part of No Impact Week, so I guess this is a great day to kick wipes out of the picture!).

So let it be known, when considering our weekly consumption, we have kicked disposable wipes to the curb, though we still did purchase them today for the diaper bag to the babysitter.

If you are interested in using cloth wipes, please check out the recipe I posted here on how to make them. I will say that we moved from stacking them in the old wipes container and started just having a pile in a bin with a spray bottle full of the wipe elixir. I am fairly sure that this week I will be keeping a small container of the elixir by the changing table with wipes to dip them in as needed.

Signing off from Day 1 of No Impact Week! Getting eager for tomorrow's focus on TRASH...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

No Impact Week Eve


'Twas the night before No Impact Week and all through the house...

I could come up with some little rhyme about it being No Impact Week Eve, but instead, let me just fill you in on what we are about to do.

As I mentioned in this post, August 29, 2010, marks Sierra Club No Impact Week, "a one week carbon cleanse" inspired by Colin Beavan's No Impact Man.

After signing up here (You can still sign up and do this with us!), I was sent a link to the week's Manual, an inspiring directive and resource guide to reducing any family's waste (and that is not just waste in the form of packaging).

The week maps out different topics to examine on each day. Here is the basic outline of what you will be reading over the next seven days on A Mom Writing. The topics and quotes are straight from the No Impact Experiment Manual (They are not my ideas!).

Sunday: CONSUMPTION
"Living a fuller and happier life by buying less stuff."
In other words, we will be examining what our family really needs and where our family gets these items.

Monday: TRASH
"Discover how wasting less improves your life."
We will be getting an eye-opener on our everyday trash heap, and from there, we will take action on limiting our family's consumption on packaging and disposable products.

Tuesday: TRANSPORTATION
"Burn calories, not fossil fuels."
This one I already know will be a challenge-- I'm not sure how we can examine public transportation as a viable option while living in the 'burbs of Philly. Just thinking about Tuesday is making me yearn to move back to NYC.

Wednesday: FOOD
"Healthy eating can also lessen your footprint."
Well, we already have tackled this one in the past, and this week, I have already planned locavore (as in eating local and in season) meals. We've got a lot of room for improvement, though. I can't wait for Wednesday's post.

Thursday: ENERGY
"Replace kilowatts with ingenuity-- explore no-energy alternatives to accomplish your daily tasks."
As a cloth diaper-lovin' Mama, I am scared of Thursday (I mean, really, am I really going to not use the washer for Gabriel's diapers?). I've been inspired by some less frightening ideas, too.

Friday: WATER
"Soak up the personal benefits of using less water."
A precious resource, water is definitely something worth conserving. We already only drink tap water in our home, but I'm looking forward to more drastic improvements.

Saturday: GIVING BACK
"Pay it forward. Feel the benefits of service."
Love the earth? A big step in eco-friendly living is giving this world a hug in many forms, such as volunteering. I'll be looking at some options for our family, and I will list some resources for you to find opportunities, too.


So, there's the Table of Contents to our little week ahead. I haven't heard of any A Mom Writing readers doing this challenge, and if someone is, please speak up! Comment or just tweet me @amomwriting. I'd love to hear what you are doing with your family.

Cheers! Let the week begin . . .