Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Are you Healthy?

I was talking to a mom from my daughter's preschool class. I told her a few weeks ago that I was a vegetarian and during this conversation she was asking me questions about my diet as well as my kids'. (That always seems to be the first question people ask when they find out I don't eat meat.) The next thing she asked was "Are you healthy?" I'm wasn't really sure how to answer that question. Am I healthy? I guess the short answer is yes. I don't have any chronic problems, aside from the occasional cold, I'm rarely sick, but am I REALLY healthy? The reason I don't eat meat and try to eat a whole food diet is to be healthier, but how can I tell if I'm truly making a difference in my health?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cloth Diapers--something I'm doing right!

I feel like my last two posts were a little whiny, so I'm going to write about something I think I'm doing RIGHT...cloth diapering. I didn't even THINK about doing cloth with my first, thought about it for 10 seconds with my second and decided it was something that was too hard but I am 100% on board with cloth diapering for #3. I am SO happy with my decision and I can't encourage people enough to give it a try. It was so much easier than I thought it would be and I feel so much better about protecting him from "who-knows-what" chemicals being up against his skin 24/7 for 2-3 years. (I am, of course, hoping for closer to 2 than 3!)

I've had a lot of people ask me what I do, which I totally understand because I was kind of lost when I started too. I went to The Breastfeeding Center in Massillon to get the diapers. Luckily, they gave me quite a bit of guidance. I started out with FuzziBunz and Bum Genius brands. I LOVED the Bum Genius and was so-so about the FuzziBunz at first, mostly because of the snaps on the FuzziBunz that seemed to take FOREVER to do. Now I just grab whichever. I had some prefolds that I had been using as burp cloths with the other two and I figured since I had them I would give them a try as well. I bought some Snappis, a Thirsties cover and a Bummis cover as well as some organic cotton Bummis prefolds. I really like this option as well now too. The main reason is that they don't need to be stuffed so folding the laundry after I wash is goes much smoother.

I know a lot of people say they plan to use cloth at home and disposables when out and about, but this never really worked for me. When I was out and about and he needed a diaper change, he was always in cloth (I have a small lined, zippered bag that I keep with me when I'm out) . This is the messy part so it always seemed kind of silly to slap a disposable on him just to change it when I got home. Plus, then I'd need a diaper pail and a diaper genie---it just seemed too complicated. Exclusively cloth has been easier for me.

I was pretty confused about the wipes situation when I started as well. I found all these fun wipe solution recipes online and I couldn't wait to try them all out. Fun essential oils, different kinds of carrier oils---and they caused a diaper rash. So out with those. Water has worked best for me. I bought a wipes warmer, which I will be honest and say I always thought was a frivolous purchase, but in this case, it's a must have. I just throw all the baby washcloths in and dump some water on them. They're warm on his little butt and they're fast. When I'm done, I just throw them in with the diapers to be washed. I also have California Baby's Diaper Area spray that I use occasionally. He LOVES it so sometimes I spray his hands just to keep him busy at diaper change times.

As far as washing goes, I bought a trash can, throw in a washable liner (I have two, one to wash and one to use) and toss the diapers in. The instructions say that the diapers should be washed every 2 days, and as luck would have it, the can I found hold just about that many diapers. When it's full, I pull out the liner and dump everything in the washer and throw the liner in on top. I use Allen's Naturally detergent and I've been very happy with it. I do a cold water wash, then a hot water wash and then a final cycle with on hot without any soap. I JUST got a HE washer today so I'll have to see if anything changes with the new washer.

OH, and the poop. This is the part that I think makes everyone not want to do cloth. Exclusively breastfed my little guy until he was 6 months old. Because he didn't have any solids, I didn't really need to spray the diapers off before I washed them. As he started eating solids, I used the Bum Genius Diaper Sprayer, which attaches to the toilet tank. It's been fantastic AND the older two have left it alone--which I have now probably just jinxed by putting it in writing!

I know it's better for the environment, and better for him, but the reason I chose to start with cloth was to save money. Being my third, there wasn't much for people to buy in the way of baby gifts. I received all my diapers as gifts. (I have about 20 all-in-ones and 10 prefolds with 3 diaper covers.) I went for 14 months without ever buying a pack of disposable diapers. The only reason I did then was my washer was broken.

So that's about it. Easy, right? Mothering Magazine had a FANTASTIC article on cloth diapering. It talks about all the different kinds of cloth diapers, and makes a very convincing argument about the benefits of cloth.

And I'm off to throw a load of diapers in my NEW washer now!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Small Steps

Yeah! We got our Reverse Osmosis water filter installed today! Thanks Dad! This is something that I've wanted for awhile and although I know it doesn't remove ALL toxins from the water it's better than what we were doing before---nothing.

I also went grocery shopping yet again today. I feel like this is the most stressful part of "greening" my house. I really didn't have a problem switching to vinegar and baking soda for cleaning products, removing all the bleach and other chemicals from under the sink and changing soaps (although I've recently backslid and am using not-so-green products to save money), but the at the grocery store...I'm a mess. I think my problem is that I know where I want to be, but getting there is my most challenging problem. I want to eat whole foods. Nothing processed, just REAL food. A la Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma really changed the way I look at food!). It's just that I'm up against a little resistance from the family. I stopped eating meat when I was pregnant with my third child and I'm SO happy I did. I really feel uncomfortable feeding meat to my family, knowing what may have been fed to that animal or injected into that animal or how it was prepared what kind of living conditions...anyway, I want to stay away from meat. This of course creates a huge problem in meal planning. I don't eat meat, #3 doesn't eat meat, #2 is fickle, but generally will not choose meat. #1 is old enough to understand what a "vegetarian" is and will go for awhile not eating meat, but the truth is, he likes meat. Especially those meats that are the worst for him; ham, pepperoni and hot dogs. My husband could be Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation. He is NOT on board with my push to remove meat from our diets. And there lies my grocery problem. Each week I plan two meals a night, one with a meat and one without. This of course is difficult to shop for as well as frustrating to prepare. I do my best to make meals that are kind of both--tacos, pasta, stir-frys, but it doesn't always work--especially when I find myself substituting "fake" meat for the real meat in a recipe. This is totally the opposite of what I want to do--eat REAL food. So, as part of my quest, I'm always on the lookout for healthy, vegetarian recipes. Suggestions?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Doing the Best I Can

I'm starting this blog with this hopes that there are others out there like me--working to do all the things we KNOW we SHOULD be doing to raise a greener family. I'm continually reading ways to protect my kids for environmental toxins, feed them the healthiest food and raise them with an awareness of nature. I'm doing the best I can, but I get discouraged. I'm hoping that keeping up with this blog will help to keep me motivated.

My current "Hippie Mom Project" (as my family calls it) is attempting to grow a family garden. Last year we did an organic CSA, which was a GREAT experience not only for me, but also for my kids. I would have loved to do it again, but it was just too expensive for us. So I'm trying to do it myself. Saying I do not have a green thumb is an understatement, but I've managed to keep my two house plants alive for over a year so we'll see how this goes!