Garden Drawing

It was a casual Saturday afternoon while the baby slept and it rained depressingly cold outside. I was sick of the immobility of winter, the constant laziness, so I picked up a pad and pen and insisted, “What do you want to eat this summer?”

Pulling poor Dave from his own restful thoughts, he gave me a list. “Well, tomatoes. We don’t really eat cucumbers. Maybe peppers?” Before too long, I jotted down the items we’d be growing. On the top of the page, I drew two rectangles — the main event (raised garden beds) — and a few smaller circles — potted plants to be located at a later date. Maybe near our garage, maybe one our deck.

This is what we came up with…

Hard to look at a bit, I know. Sorry! The asterisks are for marigolds or oregano (funny, we don’t each much oregano)…or maybe thyme, which are all good for keeping pests at bay and adding nutrients for the other plants. Oh, and pretty. They’re pretty. The jalapenos are for eatin’ but also to keep pests (namely, the neighborhood kitties) away. The numbers of the other plants are up for debate, but they’re a good starting point. The bell peppers are so “plentiful” because I’m hoping to have a few kinds.

Oh, and I’m also thinking of putting up some sort of short fencing to keep things looking orderly (and, yes, keep pests at bay).  

Last year, we tried to grow all of our raised bed plants and herbs from seed with middling success. (We also had a couple of hand-me-down tomato plants that took over our front porch.) If I had the space/capability of starting my seeds indoor without risk of cat interference, I’d be all over it. But, a few years ago (we’re talking pre-Jasper), Winston took matters into his own hands…and we remain a “let’s just buy the plants” family. Maybe some day.

I think half the battle when gardening (whether your gardens are massive fields of food or a tiny container set-up) is admitting your boundaries. Don’t over-buy, but don’t underestimate how much you can grow in a small area. Bringing this sketch along will help me to remember approximately what will fit where. It’s all in the planning.

While sketching, I also brought up a chart similar to this one on my phone to determine what plants work well together. This way, I knew that carrots and tomatoes could be in the same bed without fighting each other off. I also took into consideration that the tomatoes like to take things over, and since they’re a high-growing plant I put them in the back so that the carrots will *hopefully* still get enough sun. I’m also going to try to be obsessive about caging them this year. Good stuff to think about.

So, as I write this, I’m anxious to get my hands dirty. In Upstate NY, it’s wise to wait until the end of May to plant anything (frost abound), and I’m jealous of folks I know who have already been out working. We’ve had some crazy arse weekends that have left us with minimal time and/or energy to get much done. I mean, dude, I haven’t even weeded yet. It’s jungle city over here.

I’ll keep you posted on our garden journeys (anyone ever hear that phrase before? Our local news station has a segment called “garden journeys” and I always wonder if that’s a “thing” or if they pulled it out of their you-know-whats), and do tell — what are you growing this year? Anything?  

Partying Simply

Last Wednesday, I revealed my plans for Hadley’s second birthday party (which will be in July). Can you tell I’m a tad excited about it??

While I was typing up that post, I thought about all the things that we do to try to keep the festivities eco-friendly. Mind you, in all things green, I think we’ve plateaued at a nice medium kelly green; not mint green (not at all eco-friendly) but not even bordering on dark moss (practically living in the woods). It’s a place we’re comfortable being. Our efforts are still there and have become a habitual part of our lives, but we don’t sweat it if we have to use a paper towel once in awhile. Y’know?

So, that said, I thought I’d share a few of the *simple* tricks and tools we use to keep a birthday shindig more about the monkey and less about the ozone.

Reuse, reuse, reuse. I don’t expect every guest not to use wrapping paper, but if I can, I recycle it. (I WILL love you forever if you bring a gift bag. That’s almost all I use anymore. Perfect for reusing!) Our decorations this year will also utilize the poufs I hung around last year (if they’ve survived), probably along with a handful more that I’ll make new. The sign for “Hadley’s Party” I made last year will be tapped into the front lawn again, too. So, any decorations you make or buy, consider whether they’ll have a future purpose, or can at least be recycled (hello, crepe paper!) when you’re done. I’m also going to hit up the thrift shops to see if they have any yellow or blue curtains or sheets to use as tablecloths (may or may not work, but we could use them in the future, too!) Heck, I even saved the party hats I bought last year. I’m turning into a grandmother from the Depression, I swear.

NO BALLOONS ALLOWED. Again, I don’t expect everyone to follow this rule, but as far as my decorating goes…nada. Hence the poufs. Those things are SO scary to me. I don’t want them near my kid (choking hazard) or in the landfill (SO VERY BAD for animals, you guys!!!). If someone gifts one (usually the Mylar kind in the shape of something), it’s fine, but I am a hawk about watching Hadley with it. Plus, I take it out ONLY when I can watch him, then put it in MY bedroom closet. Seriously. It’s Fort Knox up in here.

Use whatchya got. This goes hand-in-hand with reusing decorations. With the ducky theme this year, we’ve got a handful of rubber duckies (although I’ll probably have to get a handful more, admittedly) at home to use for decoration. I also have a mini red wagon (which Hadley, like, never fit in) that would be awesomesauce on a table with some hay or raffia in it. Oh, and I’ll peruse his toys to see if anything else goes with the theme.

Invites. Okay, this is a tricky one. If your family’s a super hip one full of folks who are tech-savvy, good for you. No, really, that’s awesome! But my family has some, shall we say, old school folks (again, not a bad thing!) who don’t spend much time perusing the ol’ interwebs. Thus, I make invitations. How do I keep it relatively low waste? I invite fewer people. Tricky of me, huh? Honestly, less people also equals less waste; makes sense, huh? Oh, and believe me, we DO invite the folks who mean the most to us, so no one’s missing out here. We’re just not inviting everyone we ever met. We didn’t do it for our wedding, we’re not doing it for our son’s second birthday party. 😉

Cups and flatware and plates, oh my! Some folks might suggest to use reusable (or “real”) plates/silverware/glasses/etc. Believe me, it crossed my mind last year, but I also fall victim of the a) that’s gonna take awhile to clean and b) people are raising an eyebrow at me…AGAIN complexes. Instead, I only get the items that I know we’ll need (no bowls if there’s nothing soup-like or ice creamy), and I try my best to get the compostable stuff. Of course, last year I only found a couple of compostable kinds of flatware, so had to supplement with other plastic ones (grr), so this year will probably consist of using all that up. Again…don’t sweat the small stuff, just do your best. Just know that there are more eco-friendly options out there.

Simplify your theme. You could also avoid a theme altogether, but I’m a nut for a good theme. Goodness knows how long I can get away with one! So, this year’s ducky theme will lead into an awesome homemade Sesame Street theme next year (reusing the colorful decorations, duckies, and Hadley’s plush toys instead of buying a bunch of trademarked stuff). Simple is best.

Actually, simplify, in general. This isn’t one that we’ve succeeded with as far as friends and family purchasing gifts entails. As Hadman gets bigger, we’ll talk with him about what he really wants and other ways we could ask people to spend their money in honor of his birthday, but at this age I don’t want it to seem forced. So, we accept graciously (and sometimes have to return doubles or the things we simply haven’t the space for). However, Dave and I try to keep it minimal and put tons of thought into what he’s getting based on his interests and what concepts we’d like for him to learn.   



So, here were just a few easy ideas to hopefully help you consider the environment whilst partying it up. There are already a few great resources on the web (like this and this and this) to help you in this arena, so I’m clearly not reinventing the wheel here. Just wanted to let you know what I prioritize in my mind so I’m not ultimately overwhelmed by all the craziness that birthday planning could possibly turn into.
    

Minimalist Mama

Similar to my zero-waste and French child rearing posts of yore, I’ve found a new inspiring (or frustrating, depending on how you look at it) concept in the cause of living simpler – the minimalist mom. Spoiler alert: I’m pretty sure it’s not something we’re going to adhere to, but stick with me here.

I saw this article on the Today Show’s website which, in essence, talks about a British family who, after the mum lost her job and got slammed with the holiday marketing blitz, vowed to strike out against consumerism by not spending ANYTHING on their son (and now daughter — yes, having a newborn and buying NOTHING for her). This is, of course, aside from any medical costs and food (although she doesn’t buy into the “food marketed specifically to kids” thing). And, after a year, they’re deeming it a success, and even continuing the project (with a monthly “get out of jail free” card).

After checking out the mom’s blog, I get it. The fact that her “rules” on the site go as such —

1) Mama don’t preach. This isn’t about telling anyone else what to do. If you’ve read my blog before, even a couple of times, it should be pretty obvious that I DON’T KNOW. I have no answers. Just a few jumbled ideas and a wobbly will to try to do the best thing I can for the kids. Most of the time. When humanly possible. On good days.
2) Liberation not deprivation. If it turns out that any of us (Johnny, Frida, my husband, me) are less happy, more stressed, less healthy, or just generally flourishing less (wilting?) due to cutting out spending in any area, we’ll reintroduce that thing. This isn’t about being stoic, or even doing without. It’s about blundering messily but happily towards a way of life that makes us happy and content.
3) Honesty is the best policy. I will be honest. I’ll always tell you what’s going on. No sneaking purchases past this blog. Hand on heart.

— is refreshing and lovely. She doesn’t seem to be doing this to jump on the “a year doing *fill in the blank* to get tons of press” bandwagon. She genuinely knows how toxic it can be (figuratively) to have to deal with the constant onslaught of C-R-A-P as parents (and children). I mean, just look at this video:



Adorbs! Doesn’t that just say it all?

Ahh. Stuff. That recurring theme of ye olde blog. I mean, just think of the influx (dare I say FLOOD) of toys (this isn’t including outfits) we received for Hadman’s birthday. Cuh-razy! (We’ve got a buttload more since Christmas, mind you. Le sigh.)

We’re of the mindset that if folks would just give ONE toy (and maybe one outfit, if they get “the itch”) for these special occasions, it’ll make everyone a lot more comfortable (my mother’s officially “scared” to get him ANY toys, and it’s not because of me…simply put, it makes me super sad) and help Hadley to realize that it’s more about showering him with love and kindness and appreciation and to let him know he has true worth. No one is allowed to “buy” his love, as far as I’m concerned, and we’re going to have plenty of family conversations with him about it as time goes by. Y’know, when he starts to understand things better.

We also don’t buy into (ha! Get it?) the “toy of the season” mentality. There’s nothing he “has” to have. Not the latest Elmo thingamabobber. Not everything-Sesame-Street-because-he-likes-Sesame-Street. (Although the Easter Bunny has mentioned wanting to bring one SS-themed toy. Darn him.) Lord knows munchkin HAS more than enough already. If you took the sheer number of toys, he’s reached his life quota. Seriously, that many. And he’s not 2 yet.

Stop the insanity! (Remember that? From the ’90s? Er…’80s, maybe? Susan Powter?)

The items that we get him tend to be creative or pretend toys that will hopefully stick around for years and years of use. Other toys that he has make him feel overwhelmed and bored SO. QUICKLY. Can you imagine? Having two huge containers of toys, literally overflowing, and feeling bored? I can imagine it. Because I see it. (Heck, when I look at all of his toys, I think, “Um, yeah. I’m going cross-eyed. Too much.”) It makes complete sense.

We want him to have an imagination…and to use it. To play WITH him using OUR imaginations; inside, outside, with pots and pans and bowls and spoons, with sheets and boxes and recycled egg cartons. What greater gift is there than that? My best childhood memories are of just these things.
And there’s also SO much to be said for “free play.” You know, going to a park or running around your backyard like a giggling fool or digging in the dirt or…well, you know.
So, let’s meander back to the topic at hand. Could we go a year without buying ANYTHING child-oriented?

It definitely got the ol’ brain juices flowing. I buy him Annie’s bunnies (but I eat them, too, and they’re not necessarily kid-centric…just cutesy), but I also buy the whole milk yogurt that’s perfectly portioned for toddlers (I swore I’d never do it, but saving 5-7 minutes in the morning? Psht.) I don’t buy a lot of clothes or toys for him (family hooks us up on this front, mostly), but we have failed at cloth diapering. (Sad to even admit that.) So, purchasing dipes ‘n wipes is a big one on the list.

Clearly, we couldn’t fully go without getting him ANYthing…plus, I’m too spineless/lazy/imperfect/flip-floppy to do one of those “for a year” challenge thingies. Hey, at least I’m honest. *wink, wink*

However, there’s a lot that I (or we, if you find it appealing) can learn from this experiment. I haven’t utilized Freecycle much…er…at all. Ever. And I should. Same goes for Craigslist. So much of what she says is true, though. There’s definitely a stigma that they have to be playing with the “right things” or wearing the “cutest” stuff. I find myself by nature anti-licensed character clothing. (I think it’s because I didn’t have much as a kid and realized I didn’t really like it; exceptions are the ONE Punky Brewster t-shirt and a TMNT shirt {Michelangelo FTW!} that I owned, and maybe a hand-me-down Betty Boop sleep shirt.) I also find myself turning away those gifts because I don’t want those obnoxious cartoon faces to inundate our own animated munchkin’s face, y’know?

That’s a tug-of-war right there. If it’s willingly given, do you just accept (I actually know for a fact that doing that tends to open Pandora’s box, causing us to receive even MORE stuff) graciously (which, believe me, we ARE truly grateful!) or do we pick and choose what we allow through our doors to better control what he (and we) are subjected to? Like…he’s never seen a full-length Disney movie. (He knows Mickey and the rest from short films and watching his playhouse at Grandma’s.) So…should he have shirts and pj’s with a million images of Lightning McQueen all over them? Then there’s the slipppery slope that we simply MUST own that movie (and a million others). Again, I only owned a handful of Disney flicks, and they were ones we already knew that (as a family) we loved watching over and over again. Not 50. Not 20. A handful.

And I turned out just fine. 😉

Obviously, my head’s still wrapping itself around this concept. I highly doubt we could do a full-blown challenge (even a month’s worth…? Maybe? Maybe not.) like this, but it definitely is good to help consider our needs vs. our wants vs. society’s perceived “you need to want”s.

Whatchya think?

Organic For Less

Happy Monday from a very snowy CNY! I’m back from a “mid-winter break” and ready to get back to normalcy. Now, if I could only find the energy to match my enthusiasm. Eh, on with the show…

Every couple of weeks or so, I find myself hitting up our local Aldi (a unique grocery store with mostly generic-ish brands where you rent your grocery cart, bring your own bags, and may only use cash, or debit or EBT cards) before making my usual Hannaford haul. It helps to lower my regular food bill, and I’m ecstatic to see their choices in organic products is generally increasing. Woo hoo!

Now, before I share my budget-trimming selections, I’d like to briefly state our current eating philosophy. I wish I could say that we eat only fruits and vegetables; minimal quantities of organic, grass fed, humanely treated meat and poultry (and eggs); whole grains; and raw, grass fed milk and cheese. Period. But, we don’t. A great majority of what we eat is organic OR grass fed OR GMO free OR 5-ingredients-or-less, but we still consume processed foods – frozen pizzas, part-skim cheese sticks, breads, snack crackers, granola bars, etc.  We try to eat minimal meat, but it’s still a part of most of our meals (most dinners, at least).

It is what it is. Our consciences are relatively at ease on the subject. About 90-95% of the food in our house is organic or at least GMO-free. That’s a heck of a lot further than we were a few short years ago. We don’t stress out over the occasional ordered-in pizza or diner breakfast or meal shared at a friend or family member’s house; they’re quite rare and we know the rest of the time we’re doing our best to put good things in our bodies. {And we’re still profoundly against fast food (I’m going to attempt to pack some appealing meals for our next vacation so we don’t fall victim).}

It’s an evolution that I’m not rushing. To force a thing means that it will be a stress rather than a pleasure to enforce in our own lives. So, for now, I let someone else make my bread. (Either an organic brand or a few-ingredient, locally made one.) And I sleep just fine. 😉

For some tips on grocery shopping for “whole foods”, check out this old post. I’ll have to do a farmers’ market one when things warm up. Yay!

So, anyhoo! I ended up spending a lot for an Aldi trip (less than $60), but couldn’t help myself. For once, I found so many new organic products, I felt like I was robbing the place. “Ohhhh, yessss!!” I shouted each time I spotted another. I’m sure folks thought I was crazy, but I know for a fact that crazier things DO happen…especially at this joint.

I’m showing my haul in categories – fruit ‘n veg (one organic pile – left, one non-organic – right) and processed stuff (bottom).

I still subscribe to a small extent to the “clean 15” list to cut back on cost (although it’s also a matter of supply/demand; if they supply an organic version, I’ll often buy it). So, at Aldi I purchased a pineapple ($2.49), mushrooms ($.99!), a trio of onions ($2.69; I’m a tad wary here; the last time I did this, I cut into them THE NEXT DAY to find they had soft/browning middles…happened recently at Hannaford, too, though), garlic ($.79!), green onions ($.79!), asparagus ($2.99…and already gone…I should’ve bought two), and a bag o’ potatoes ($2.99 for 5 lbs! But…on the dirty list, but it’s tough to find organic here :-P).

As for the organic produce, I FINALLY caught their fresh bananas (I think $.79/lb.), bag o’ apples ($4.49), spinach and spring mix ($1.99 each; if we don’t use the spinach by the time it starts to go, I can boil it quickly and flash freeze) and baby carrots ($.99; this is the price if you’re LUCKY for non-organic at Hannaford). Lots of “booyah!” and heel kicking in the aisles, I tell ya. Oh, and I grabbed two bags of frozen organic strawberries ($2.69 each) and one of blueberries ($2.99). If you want to count apple juice, I hunted down an organic container for $2.49 ($.50 – $1.00 less than usual).

Then we get into the more processed (yet organic) stuff. Diced tomatoes for $1.49, two boxes of $1.99 chicken soup, a box of $1.79 chicken broth, a box of $1.19 linguine, a $1.99 peppercorn ranch dressing, hormone- and antibiotic-free bacon (just like the kind we get at Hannaford, only $3.89…similar price, just want to check it out), $1.99 “toasted oats” (organic Cheerios, folks!), and TWO organic pizzas for $3.99 each (TWO DINNERS for $4.00 each! Yes, we’ll probably have salad, too, but c’mon…can’t buy a pizza from a local pizza place for that little, and they’re made with ORGANIC ingredients!!!).

Whew. So, yeah, minus a $2 bag that I purchased because I ended up finding way more than I had expected, it came to around $57.63. For comparison, I usually spend around $30 there. If only they’d start carrying WHOLE organic milk instead of 2% (don’t get me wrong — I was ECSTATIC to see that they even had milk).

On a final note, this is just an example of a random grocery trip. I’ve had some interest from folks to know what one of these trips looks like, how much we spend on stuff, and what selections we make. This is by no means a bragfest (although I was dancing in the aisles to see what deals I could find); it’s just putting myself out there to see if what I do might help any of you. 🙂

So, how about you? What are some ways that you find to eat healthier (no judgment zone: healthier doesn’t always mean organic; it’s just our personal philosophy) for cheaper?

Another Boobie Update

I’ve talked about it time and time and time and time again (probably more times than that, but those are my main rants). But I realized a few days ago that we’re nearing our end, so I’d better get my thoughts out (just in case anyone else is dealing with the ups and downs of breastfeeding and happen to be following my little journey).

When I say “nearing our end” on breastfeeding, that’s actually an unknown…as with most things in life. He’s just over 16 months old and still nurses (albeit for a shorter amount of time) early in the morning and just before bed. I pump once at work now — sometimes I add it to his cow’s milk to drink at the sitter’s, and other times I test to see if he’ll just eat the cow’s milk. Unfortunately, he’s become a sporadic milk drinker, so he doesn’t always drink it very well. Other times, he downs it like a champ.

But, when I do pump, I’m to the point of getting — get this — only about an ounce to 1 1/2 ounces. ONCE a day.

Wow.

I’m reminded of a year ago when I used to get over 28 ounces a day, plus feeding throughout the night. Consider this cow one hay bale short of being put out to pasture.
 
Then there are those random times in the middle of a Saturday where he comes to me and gestures to his chest — his little “sign” that he’s hungry — and we nurse for a minute or two. I don’t know if he’s REALLY hungry, or if he just wants some snuggle time (since he really doesn’t snuggle unless you get silly and tickle him; he loves to laugh), but I’ll take it. I’m sure I don’t “give” him as much as he may want since demand begets supply, but he doesn’t fuss, so it’s all good.

I’m sure I’ll do one final update when he finally kicks the habit, but for now, this is how life seems to be going. And, on a terribly personal side note, I think this up and down of breastfeeding is throwing my hormones (hence my “cycle”) totally out of whack. So not cool. 😛

And now you can go about your day knowing a tad too much about me. You’re welcome.

Why We Do What We Do

Monday, I posted a quick survey to see what my readers are thinking (and what they like/dislike/want to see more of on the blog). Here’s the link in case you haven’t had a chance to take it yet — and I promise you, I’m not selling your info or any weird thing like that, it just gives me a better idea of who you are and what you’re into!

Anyhoo, so far I’ve heard some wonderful feedback, especially when it comes to what people would like to see/hear more about. One that sticks out to me is hearing more about our change to a more organic lifestyle; the trials, tribulations, cost effectiveness, recipes, farmers market experiences (and what we bought!); also, DIY pieces with the “why” and ideas behind what we’re doing. And recipes. 🙂

(I’m pretty much paraphrasing the comment that I was happy to read!)

That being said, I thought it’d be a good time for a review and check-in about our decisions, our lifestyle, and even a few words about why I have a blog.

Some of this might be explained by a walk down memory lane (or, as I call it, my Archives page), but for those of you who don’t have the time to waste reading my oh-so-wordy accounts of days gone by, I’ll give you a quicker spiel.

I never had a huge goal when I started writing here. I didn’t want to practice writing more. I didn’t want to follow one set path or topic, since life doesn’t generally follow set structure (and I wouldn’t have stuck with it if I’d boxed myself in, anyway; I guess I’m a free spirit and am not a fan of feeling tied down). 

I did think, however, that it would be nice to have a place to share my thoughts and try out some new things, and to be able to look back and say, “Oh, right, we got Beardslee that year! Oh, I forgot about that pumpkin place, what a fun day that was! Right, that was a yummy meal, I need to make that again.” Or, heck, to even be able to go back and remember our wedding a little easier. My memory sucks, by the way.

So, my very first post just so happened to be about something for which I felt uber-passionately in that moment (and still feel passionately about). It also just happened to coincide with Earth Day and related to Food, Inc. (a POWERFUL documentary about the state of the food that we eat…so powerful that we haven’t been able to bring ourselves to watch it since, we cried so hard and were so touched). I guess that laid a foundation for an environmentally-conscious blog!

Which I’m profoundly proud and happy about, please believe me! I love my teensy piece of the blogosphere. And I guess I would consider us to be conscientious greenies, in our own way. But we also live life and eat the occasional ordered-in pizza or doctor with traditional medicines (more-so myself than my hubs) and use traditional diapers (a mix; easier with the sitter). I try not to beat myself up that I’m not baking my own bread and making my own granola and soaking my oats (yes, that’s a thing) and raising my own chickens.

Plus, I have LOTS of interests outside of the green living realm. My favorite blogs to read have always been design/decor-based (namely DIY), and we’re huuuuuuuuge fans of old movies/radio shows and history. I love weird music and books; Dave loves his own weird music and comics. We’re all over the place!

I guess I’m saying that teaching our son (and future kiddies) about environmentally friendly practices, sustainable and healthy eating, and general awareness/kindness towards those around us (animals included) are some of our main priorities in life. If I’m able to build up to being a full-blown homesteader, great. But, odds are that we’re just going to keep working up to being as green as we can be, and be happy with what we can do.

After all, isn’t that really the meaning of life?

So, that being said, I hope to keep blogging about these things. When we get to a farmers market, I’ll remember that a few folks actually like to hear about what we purchased (and what we did with it! Recipes!). When we select a certain meat, I’ll try to remember to explain WHY grassfed is more sustainable and healthy than corn-fed (broken record or not). I’ll explain why we made the choice to eat one thing organic yet another item locally-grown but non-organic. Thanks for jogging my memory — just mentioning something once isn’t always the smartest thing, especially if folks haven’t been reading that long.

But, I hope not to come off sounding like this is what any of you should do. If it gets your wheels turning and considering where your food comes from and how it may give you better health in the long term, WONDERFUL!!!! If you’d just rather read those posts to see how we spent our weekend (and could give two hoots about whether the bacon was treated kindly), that’s great, too! I’m not here to preach. I’m just here to share my thoughts.

I’m proud to be a green blogger and writer, but there’s more (and going to be more) here than an enviro-blog. Since I’m into decor, DIY around the ol’ house and even some crafty stuff, I’ll be doing such. But I’d like to incorporate the Three R’s into as much of it as possible, whenever possible. And, of course, I’m first-and-foremost a mom, so any mommy thoughts will definitely find their way into posts. Again, there’s no right/wrong way to raise a child (unless you’re abusive…that’s unacceptable and I’ll smack you through the computer for that).

This might or might not have explained why the blog looks as it does, or it might just be yet another random-thoughts tangent. (Sorry!) Reading through some of my early, early posts might help describe the journey to where we are, currently, if that helps. And, as always, a HUGE thanks for reading! It makes it way more fun to write when I know folks are reading. Writing for crickets? Not as much fun.

Oh, and I do plan on sharing more of our shopping visits for all the world to see, if I can remember to take more pictures while wrangling a now-active toddler. 😉 Same goes for writing down recipes. I’m just so much of a “eh, throw a handful of this in…then another handful of that…” cook that I need to get better at…um…taking measurements and jotting things down.

Upgrades

We’ve had a couple little…okay, not so little upgrades happening at the ol’ homestead lately. Without further ado, here’s my old kitchen sink.


Fun, right? Just a cruddy old not-horrible-but-not-pretty sink. As a pre-baby/birthday present last year, my mom purchased and painted (and painted and painted and painted) the new base cabinet, so this year she and my stepdad insisted on getting a new sink to accompany it. Wasn’t that sweet?


Free strainer? Don’t mind if I do.

That last picture there (don’t worry; I strategically cropped) is the main reason we went with a nice, deep one versus the 6 incher we had before. #that’swhatshesaid Good, ol’-fashioned sink baths! Of course, he’s been getting bothersome during them lately, so I foresee a jump to big-boy-baths soon *tear wipe* but it’s just as good for shoving lots of dishes and pots and pans into. It’s all good.

Oh, and yes, we have a dishwasher. Two, actually. They’re called Meg and Dave. 😉


They also gave us some cash to go towards our new washer/dryer. I think that was mostly to calm Mom’s worrying mind (okay, and mine, too); the dryer took FOREVER to dry and got extremely hot, and the washer was starting to leave black (grease?) marks on clothes. Oh, and it also had gotten into the nasty habit of…y’know…STOPPING. Mid-cycle. Full of dirty, soapy water and our awesome, awesome clothes. (Our clothes aren’t awesome. I just felt like they were when I saw them sitting in the untouchable washer. And, okay, Hadley’s clothes are pretty darn awesome on their own.)

We originally wanted to include all appliances with our house when we leave one day (they were all hand-me-downs; we were very lucky), but since we’re not seeing that in our future anytime soon, we had to take the plunge…so to speak.

I don’t have a “before” shot of the washer and dryer that went to live with all the other well-used washers and dryers in the sky. They were both Hotpoint…which makes me wonder how they’d lasted as long as they had, anyway. Hotpoint?! I dunno. Maybe the brand’s okay, but it makes me think of a toaster or cooking implement; not a device for cleaning and drying highly-flammable stuff like clothes. Can’t wrap my head around it.

So, anyhoo, this is what we ended up selecting.

Chicka bow wow. I love ’em. While I’m sure a fancier kind would cut it down to just a one-trip thing, I now only need to take two glorious trips to the basement (our horrible, ugly basement; we’ve got problems down there, y’all, and I’m not even Southern) to do Hadman’s diapers. The washer has an extra rinse cycle that lets me work on other stuff sit on my butt a little longer. They also cut everything in half, time-wise, and get the job done wonderfully. #hoorayforwrinklecare I also had lived without an obnoxious buzzer reminding me that there’s work to be done and pants to be folded. In all seriousness, I appreciate the reminder.

They’re GE. #JackDonaghyFTW! They’re relatively energy efficient (we got a gas dryer, which my stepdad — master of all things handy — hooked up for us; and the washer is Energy Star rated) and, no, they’re not front-loading. I have enough fears when we one day move that my INTO EVERYTHING son will find a way to shove a younger sibling (or dare I say a cat?!) into the washer. Plus, I’ve heard and read a lot about the smells and stuff, and nobody got time for that. Maybe one day I’ll grow up and find an awesome deal on a fancy schmancy front-loader that smells like french lavender all day, everyday, but for the time being this suits our needs.

Oh, and we also purchased from a local store (Robinson Brothers in Mohawk; how shocked was I that they had a website, albeit a tad outdated); the price was comparable to Lowe’s, plus there was free set-up and removal, plus they service your appliances for years to come. It was the only stipulation my mom had throwing money into the pot, and I’m totally cool with it. Buy local! (And is it weird that it’s still eerie to drive and park and spend time so closely to where the shootings happened? Okay, I said it. That is all.)

So, what do you think? Are you pro-front loader? Or do you go against the flow of traffic and reside in the top-loader camp?

Booby Business

I’ve been a mommy for over a year now, which means that we’ve officially been a breastfeeding family for as much time, too. Over that time, I’ve written here and there about our breastfeeding experiences, but now that we’ve reached the one-year point (which was my mental goal all along) and are still chugging forward slowly but surely, I thought I’d give a little update.


When last we met our heroine, Hadley was tapering off his feeding amounts and she was taking it tough. (Okay, third-person mode off.) Since summer vacation got out, I (obviously) haven’t been pumping and have taken to an “on demand” sort of schedule — in other words, he hasn’t needed to eat as much throughout the day.

We’re on a schedule, but it revolves around his meals (real food – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes snack) and nap times. He always breastfeeds in the morning (around 5am) and before bed (around 8:30pm), plus a couple during the day (often before or after the nap), with a bottle or two of 1/4 apple juice (and 3/4 water). So, I’d say that breastfeeding is becoming irregular, but still “a thing.”

As I’ve said before, this makes me happy (to be continuing on as long as he needs it, and for the bonding, loving-my-little-boy time), yet torn (I. Miss. Wine. And a handful of other selfish things, like leaving the party or having to sequester ourselves from folks). Hearing folks (well…just my mom, who’s been incredibly supportive considering she didn’t breastfeed, herself) encourage me to move on to cow’s milk since I’ve “gone long enough” whips me back to trying to enjoy those 5am feedings again.

In fact, I was reminded by the bitter side of this bittersweet milestone (weaning) today when I finally offered him his first bit of cow’s milk. As with absolutely everything else that goes into his mouth, he liked it quite a bit. (He was confused, I could tell – continually taking the bottle from his mouth to look over while smacking his lips – but at least he’s been on a bottle while at his grandmother’s during the school year, so that part was fine. And, no, we haven’t been able to transition to a sippy cup yet. One battle at a time, I suppose.) His stool was a little more, um, shall we say “active”, and I’m not going to make it an everyday occurrence quite yet, but knowing that it’s on the horizon puts a lump of sadness into my throat.

He’s not walking on his own yet. He’s still got his fine, golden baby locks. He only has two adorable teeth. He still needs me more than anyone, and doesn’t care who knows that he’s my biggest fan. He only communicates in guttural sounds and the occasional “oof” (which started off meaning “dog” but now means “cat”, “zebra”, “my favorite commercial, let’s dance” and a hundred other things). He still eats “with me” (as I say it)…but not for much longer.

The milk in a bottle is the first stepping stone towards growing up. When I finally resolve to accept that which I cannot change, I’m pretty certain that I’ll handle it better than, say, his father. But, in the meantime, I’m taking it awfully hard. The only way to get through is to cherish the mundane everyday occurrences and the experiences that we can share joyfully.

Now, what to pick for a Halloween costume before he can really say “No! I wanna be Superman!!” (or, God forbid, Spongebob or some other crap)…

Birthday Bash Brainstorming

Mmm, alliteration. Truly a girl’s best friend. And after re-reading this post, parentheses.

So, the monkey’s big birthday (you know, the BIG birthday…the FIRST birthday) is coming up July 13th. Sure, it’s still May, but I live in this little place called reality, where once a child is born, time starts playing horrific tricks on us. He’s practically shaving.

Okay, not shaving, but he’s insanely mobile (mere moments from walking, I swear) and even says a few words. Wait, “oof oof” is totally a word, right? It is when it’s associated with dogs (and, for the time being, cats…they’re the same thing, all the cool kids say). And the time seriously feels like it passed in the blink of an eye. The blink of an exhaustedly blood-shot, tear-filled eye.

To stave off any further waterworks, I’m focusing my emotional energies into creating an awesomesauce birthday party. I’m using Pinterest, oh evil mistress of perfection-flaunting in the face of mere mortals, to glean some ideas that might be fun to try. But, you know, since I live in reality (and am the mother of an active 10 1/2 month old who demands attention; would he prefer to have free reign and complete independence? Sure thing. Do I want to have a child with numerous concussions and cats with mental scars for life? Hellz no.), I’m fully aware that most of these aren’t attainable.

We can dream, can’t we? If I hit 40%, that’ll be doing something.

Oh, and I also live within a reality which involves people who would think me a tad overboard for implementing all this stuff. So, I have to reign it in, too, simply as not to have any heads exploding come July 13th. Not a pretty way to celebrate a fun day. Horrible replacement to fireworks.

As with most things we do, I’d like to keep it green. Recently, I stumbled upon a website that is essentially nothing but a depressing sob-fest (for softies such as myself) displaying hundreds of pictures of animals who have been injured or killed by balloons after being allowed to float away or even just after being thrown away properly. Damn, Hadman loves balloons. That’s okay, social responsibility comes first — and he won’t even know what he missed. Tissue pom-poms or Chinese lanterns, it is, son! 


What’s a birthday party without hats? A regular ol’ barbecue, that’s what. So, for those who want to wear one (sign me up, please!), we have a couple of options…

(These are wooden, but you get the idea. I guess they make birthday crowns from newspaper in England. Not only eco-friendly, but classic! Hadley’s not a hat guy, so this is only an “if Mommy wants to get all Martha Stewart and sleep very little” option.)

source
I’ve already purchased some hats (to reuse over time), but dude. Just dude.
That whole site is chock full o’ birthday sweetness.

Like these!!!!! I’m on the hunt for some sans serif cookie cutters. Baking in inevitably 90° weather with an almost-toddler? I’m an idiot. But, if I find an “H” I can use it every year! Y’know. In the sweltering heat. *smacks forehead* Oh, and of COURSE I’m searching for natural (ie fruits and veggies) alternatives to food coloring. Blueberry’s a must, simply because Hads loves ’em.

Or I could always make (or buy?) cake pops. I’ve never had them but I hear they’re the rage. Or, at least that’s what the kiddies are shouting into my Miracle Ear. Could also buy cupcakes (maybe the ones we used for our wedding!!!) and make a smash cake myself for the monkey. Ha. More baking.

Speaking of smash cakes, here’s a lower sugar, all-natural option I’m considering.
Plus, bananas and blueberries = very happy almost-toddler. I did not just type that word. *sigh*


STILL from the aforementioned party (man, that Beckham’s got swagger), I love just the simple container for napkins, utensils, etc (I was searching Target today for eco-friendly of all of the above; think I’ll have to hit up Peter’s Cornucopia; love that place) and a chalkboard for the menu. Of course, this is the one area that I’ll be considered crazy if I just say “Let’s just do a cheese/cracker (I guess we don’t do “bread”) and veggie tray, some cookies and cupcakes, and maybe some cute sandwiches on baguettes.” Inevitably, there will be mounds of salads — green (specifically for my husband, who eats nothing with mayonnaise), potato, pasta — possibly several types of grilled meats, perhaps a pizza will show up…food’s one thing we do, and do to excess. No point, really.

See, in my mind, which is always grasping for the aesthetically-pleasing, slightly quirky and quasi-hip method, I’d want the money (hell, if no one else wants to pitch in, I’ll do it!) on organic soda (it exists! And in purdy bottles, too!) and a craft beer chilling in a galvanized tub with some homemade lemonade in mason jars, and a display that looks something like this (sans tomato soup and pie)…

Darn you, Beckham.

I am also considering, food-wise, something along the lines of this…

Not that font or description, but the thought behind it. Our kid’s got a pretty refined pallet (read: will eat anything, particularly off floor). Avocados. Extra-sharp cheese. Pasta. A plethora of fruit-and-veg blends including kale or beets. Oh, and pizza…and generally anything that adults eat that we literally need to fight him off to consume. It turns into a scene from Oliver!, I kid you not. “Please, sir…!!!” So, I’m thinking pizza, homemade guac with chips for dippin’ (maybe salsa, too), fruit salad (bananas, kiwi, blueberries, cantaloupe), veggie sticks (the ones in the organic chip aisle; he can’t handle the raw stuff quite yet), and cheese ‘n crackers (or a cheese dip of some sort).

By the way, we’re not doing a theme this year. We considered it for one mad minute, but then realized “Um, he’s one. That’s a theme right there.” (If we wanted to get all dramatic, we could do the “Not yet a man, no longer an infant…” theme. Mustaches abound! Or giraffes. God, the giraffes.) We’re just going with the colors of his nursery, for the most part — y’know, turquoise, orange, green. Good times.

(Maybe one day we’ll do the Mo Willems theme…or the Fred Astaire theme…or whatever the heck else he’s interested in. But, we’ll strive to keep them home-grown events without the rigmarole of inviting an entire freaking grade of kids. We’re not here to show off, just have fun. And Mommy totally has fun with aesthetically-arranged sodas, mkay?)

Speaking of which, one thing that our parties tend to lack is organized fun. It’s a tad tough to do this (same goes for favors) since we don’t really have a plethora of kids coming. There’s Hadley, his cousin Lizzie (who will be 2 months shy of 2 years old *more sobbing*), and MAAAAAYBE one more friend of the family who’s not school-aged yet. Tada. The rest are teenagers *yet more sobbing, I changed their dipes* and a buttload of grown-ups. So, rather than force people to violently whack something whilst wearing a blindfold (never got that), I’m thinkin’ we’ll do a variation of this…

Halleluia, it wasn’t at Beckham’s party! (No hard feelings, kid. You seem pretty darn cool. Future play date! My child is far less crazy than am I.) Anyhoo, I was thinking more of a card that folks could fill out — one would write something loose like this while the other might have fill-in blanks (what he wants to be, what color his hair will be, what his favorite animal/instrument/food/hobbies/sport, etc.) and folks can do either one. I also considered a photo booth type thingie (just hanging a backdrop and leaving directions and props for photos), but I’m not sure anyone will do it. Party poopers.

Oh, and as far as entertainment goes, it sounds like the hubs hopes to make a video of the kid’s first year. Talk about emotions, gah!

Another “oh, and” — this whole thing is kindly taking place at my mother’s house since she has a perfectly-sized backyard for stretching out, playing, and so forth. I mentioned inviting non-family members (it reaches about 16 or 17 just with close family) and I think I heard smoke come out of her ears through the phone. She nervously mentioned not knowing what to do with folks if it rains, but I brushed it off. (Sure, neither of our houses is big enough to handle that many people. I get the concern, I do.) But, it ain’t no thang. We’ll make it work. I know folks with “pop-ups” and we could always run and grab an extra tarpy tenty thingie or two. I’m on it, Mom!! If you read this. In which case, HI!!!


One last thing (check me out on Pinterest if you really want to subject yourself to more) is probably what I should’ve showed you first: a possible invite.

Okay, forget the “possible” part. I already “borrowed” this idea, downloaded some fonts, and stayed up until almost midnight last night hashing out a similar design (orange rather than red, close-but-no-cigar on the fonts, and a cool black and white tree trunk background). Sorry, Magnus, your time’s up — HADMAN’s in town, and he’s a-takin’ over.

So…think I’m nuts to put so much thought and effort into a one-year-old’s party, or do you get where I’m coming from? Aside from my aesthetic-loving self, it’s about celebrating the life-altering first year of the specialest little guy ever. That’s all. 😉

Green Child Magazine

So, hey! I’m pretty darn excited to share with you the latest edition of Green Child Magazine. As a relatively new mom who’s trying to keep life eco-friendly, I love this resource — heck, I read it when I was pregnant (it has lots of great tips for mamas-to-be, as well). Back when I started looking to contribute my writing to different magazines and such, I saw this one and thought…well, I wouldn’t even let myself truly think the words, but it was more of a feeling of “I wish I could be cool enough to write for them.” (I mean, they’ve interviewed Mayim Bialek and Kelly Martin!!!!!!!)

Well, guess what. I’m officially cool. (In my mind. ;-)) Check out the piece on pages 25-26.

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I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!

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This is how it all went…


A little while back, I started writing for Kaia, another online magazine that I L-O-V-E (which also happens to be for people who want to learn tips on living greener, among other awesome topics). Well, long story short, Kaia and GCM have become sister publications. I was asked if I would mind doing some product reviews for GCM since I’ve got a little one to use as a guinea pig test subject …for helping me with the trials. Green products for the baby + free + writing = one happy mama.

Let me just say that the fact that this first piece is about animals makes me ecstatic. Dave and I are such huge animal lovers, it’s only appropriate that my first piece with GCM would be animal-friendly. I happened to see a list of topics for the upcoming magazine and mentioned to Amity that I’d be happy to write any of the topics (but that an animal piece would be awesome ‘cuz I’m weird like that). Apparently, the piece had just fallen through so it would be a big help if I could write it. Whuh?! Write a fun piece AND help out? Sign me up!

So, that’s the story of my writing for some awesome online magazines. It’s fun to flex the ol’ brain muscle (wait…the brain is a muscle, right? Just one?), research and write about things that interest me, and to share them with the world through some very positive, socially-responsible publications. Win-win, all around!

By the by, I also love the tips for attempting to maintain harmony among siblings (I’ll need this some day!), suggestions for instilling a love for the outdoors and tons more. And, can I just say — I’m craving an arugula salad with strawberries SO BADLY right now. (Any salad with strawberries is aces in my book.)

Oh, and if you know of anyone who might like to advertise with this publication, feel free to email us at media@greenchildmagazine.com. It’s a great place to be!