Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ramblings of a Semi-Crunchy Mama

Going green is a hot topic these days. Every where you look there are advertisements saying that a product is environmentally friendly, shirts and bumper stickers instructing you to "Save the Planet", tips on the newest and greatest way to be green. Having kids has made me a little more conscience of the movement as I want to do what is best for them. My dad teasingly accuses my husband and me of being "granola eating, tree hugging, tea drink, nature loving yuppies", at least I think that was what he called us. We laugh about it and, I suppose, all but the tree hugging/yuppie part is pretty true.

We love loose leaf tea (we've got at least 43 different kinds - can you say "fanatics???"), we eat granola, and we love to go hiking. We've even started buying meats that are grain-fed/hormone-free from a little meat market close to us - they have extremely tender meat that is very reasonably priced! I'm getting ready to start making my own soap and laundry detergent. Our children are vaccine-free, co-slept with us, were/are breastfed and eat mostly homemade baby food. I even cloth diapered for a while. According to some stuff that I've been reading that makes us "crunchy" parents.

I had to laugh at the name...just what exactly does "crunchy" mean? And if someone isn't crunchy does that make the soft, limp or soggy? What if you're somewhere in the middle?

Our "crunchiness" *giggles* is mostly about convenience and expenses. The two exceptions to that are vaccines and breastfeeding - those are all about the health and well-being of my children. Our granola is store bought. The loose leaf tea and grain fed/hormone-free meat just taste better and really aren't that much more expensive. I'm making my own laundry detergent because it is WAY cheaper and my own soaps as a hobby.

Cloth Diapering and I had a love/hate relationship. I LOVED how much money it saved us. The diapers held up well and were cute - and they helped keep my "skinny minnie's" skirts/pants up. She rarely had problems with diaper rashes and she almost never had leaks. I HATED the laundry part of it. I hate, hate, HATE  laundry (hence the mention of the multiple loads of laundry in yesterdays post). I had a terrible time getting the stains out of the diapers - I followed all the instructions but the Mountain Dew yellow baby poo stains just never seemed to come out. And living in not so sunny Washington state, where it is cloudy and/or rainy approximately 300 days of the year, meant I couldn't even let the sun and a little lemon juice bleach them out. So I gave up CDing out of laziness and frustration. Every now and then I'm tempted to go back to it (especially when I calculate how much we are spending on diapering two children in a month) - then I think about how much laundry I'd being doing and decide I'm not quite that desperate yet!

Then there is the "non-crunchy" side of our family. My children watch more TV than what I really should allow (but, hey, most of it is educational!). I do not go out of my way to buy organic anything. My daughter eats sausage, chicken nuggets (no, I did not watch video going around about it), and cheeseburgers from McDonalds. She even is allowed sips of our sodas and the last time she was sick she drank almost a whole can of sprite. We give our kids ibuprofen when they are teething and I *double gasp* don't always make sure to get the dye-free stuff. We don't use all-natural cleaners. We drive an SUV. And I routinely kill plants attempting to turn my brown thumb into a green one. I'm terrible about remembering to turn lights off, I occasionally forget to recycle, and I love to take very long, very hot showers.

Still, I get caught up in the "go green" movement - it's really big out here on the West Coast. And sometimes I feel like a bad parent because I'm not more "crunchy." What if my daughter gets intestinal cancer because I heated her hot dogs up in the microwave? Or my son winds up with health problems because these "bpa-free" plastic cups aren't as bpa free as they were touted to be? I hear some people say that they are "doing the best that they can" especially in this economy when it is SO ridiculously expensive to really go green. I know that I'm not necessarily doing the best that I can...but I don't particularly want to go overboard either.

My question is...where do you fall in the "crunchy" status? I'd love to hear comments and opinions on what you are doing to be more "green." Where you draw the line and why? and what are things that you have found to be eco and budget friendly?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mama Said There'd be Days Like This

The last two days have been a trial of my ever waining patience. My poor husband has had a cold for over a week now, my son has hit another of his many growth spurts and has caught the sniffles from my husband, and my daughter...well, she's just being her typical little (teething) self - lovable but demanding. Or is dramatic the word I'm looking for? All this combined means no rest for this tired Mommy.

I have a load of laundry in the wash, a load in the dryer, a load sitting in the chair waiting to be folded, a load on the stairs waiting to be put away (we won't mention how long that load has been sitting there) and about 3-4 loads waiting to be washed.

The dining room table and kitchen counter are piled up with various items that need to be sorted and put away. The kitchen sink has a stack of dishes that need to be washed and the strainer is full of dishes that need to be put up.

You have to watch your step in the living room lest you step on a puzzle piece. Or a book. Or a piece of plastic food. Or a Mega Block. OR...well, you get the picture.

Dora and Diego have been my best friends as they mostly keep my daughter entertained while I try to care for her unusually fussy and demanding brother. Seriously, he's doing GREAT if I can get him to go more than an hour without eating. And while he usually loves his swing, he won't stay in there for more than 20 minutes. The sound of crying rings in my ears as I try to get anything done. I've read "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" more times than my arachnophobic nerves care to count.

I got some not so great news that, though it has been a long time coming, I've been dreading...but, typical Army style, there's no specific date and "nothing is set in stone." ARGH!!!!

Poor Peanut, the dog, had to beg for food and water for 20 minutes before I finally managed to get it to him...and he's been staring longingly at the door as I haven't had the energy or time to let him out for his usual "long" morning potty break. Just short outings for the poor pooch.

In other words, the house is a wreck and I've done nothing but deal with fussy babies since 0230 hours Monday morning (that's 2:30 am for the civies). I feel like a stressed out mom, a bad pet owner, and a terrible wife.

These are the days that I would like to lock myself in the bathroom with a good book, a cup of tea, a LOUD radio and just soak in a warm, sudsy bath.

Alas, duty calls - or rather, cries. Very loudly. In chorus. *sigh*

That tiny little voice in my head - which sounds suspiciously like my mother - keeps telling me that it'll get better before the kids get married, and that I'm not dealing with anything new. Every mother goes through days like this! I just wish that her person would accompany that voice to help me out! (Hey, you're never too old to want your mama!!!)

But I refuse to end this post - or my day - on a bad note. Because for all the times that mama said there'd be days like this she also told me that they never last. It might not be tomorrow or even the day after that, though I can hope for it, but there's always a silver lining. So for now I'll just enjoy my babies smiles and kisses and try, very hard, to pretend that the music coming from my TV is Josh Groban instead of Diego...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Steak and Potatoes Meets Pasta and Salad: The Story in the Happily Ever After

They say that opposites attract. As a matter of fact, it is the very essence of love stories and fairytales. Boy meets girl. One is outgoing and happy go lucky; the other is shy and inverted. One is all grace and elegance; the other is clumsy and scatter brained. They fall in love...and when they finally realize that they just cannot possibly live without each other everyone "Awwws" and maybe even a tear or two is shed and they all live "happily ever after."  I always wondered why they never told about the story that happens within the happily ever after.

My husband and I are two such opposites living our happily ever after. And when I say "opposite" I mean "opposite!"

Jeremiah, the absolute love of my life, is a high energy, charismatic, out going, could-make-a-friend-out-of-a-brick-wall kind of guy. If he's still for more than 15 minutes he's either sleeping or he's sick. If you've ever seen Hoodwinked, cross the rather high energy squirrel with the mountain goat ("I was prepared!") and you've got my husband! He's very detail oriented, likes things clean, neat, and orderly and always has a game plan.

Then there's me. I could sit and read books, play on the computer, and watch movies all day and be perfectly happy. I am clumsy, forgetful, scatter-brained, very easily distracted, and a terrible procrastinator (read as - I'm excellent at finding excuses to put off what I don't want to do!). I have a tendency to live with my head in the clouds and just kind of fly by the seat of my pants.

He's a steak and potatoes kind of guy and I'm more of a pasta and salads kind of gal.

Now, when you're dating, these kinds of differences are cute and sweet. You laugh at the fact that you're boyfriend can run circles around you. You think it's funny the way your girlfriend is always losing things. When you're married those differences can get really old, really fast.

You find it annoying that your husband is secretly the Energizer Bunny on steroids...and having your wife lose the coupon that you handed her less than five minutes ago is irritating beyond words. Throw a couple of babies in there, some "postal" pregnancy hormones, a major lack of sleep, a high stress job, and two rather different parenting styles and it can be a recipe for disaster. You find yourself fighting about petty things, snapping at each other (and the kids) and taking everything the wrong way. Of course, this is all completely hypothetical and none of this has ever taken place in our home...*insert hysterical laughter*

You forget what was so important during that dating stage. Relationships are about communication and compromise. Learning how to use those opposites to each other's advantage. It's the husband taking the kids to McDonalds  in the morning so his wife can catch a little bit of extra sleep; the wife handling all the bills while her husband is at work so that he doesn't have to stress over that "one more thing" when he gets home. It's learning to work as a team. It isn't always easy...some days it's a lot of hard work - giving 100% of yourself - but it's worth it. It occasional means setting aside your wishes and desires for those of your spouse.

And sometimes it's about just fixing a little pasta to go along with that nice juicy steak.