Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Busy Week

Crazy week...cross-posting again. Check out my post on the recent study about the correlation between a mother's diet at conception and her baby's gender.

Monday, April 21, 2008

National TV Turnoff Week and The Washington Post

Did you know that it's National TV Turnoff Week? Turn off the TV and check out my post about it on The Fox Factor.

Also, props to my friend and fellow mommy blogger Linda. She was invited to guest blog on The Washington Post parenting page today! The topic - bunching your babies (having kids close together).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy Earth Day 2.0

Since my early Earth Day post a few weeks ago, I have been making steady progress on my Earth Day resolutions, including:
  • purchased separate recycling containers for my clean aluminum, glass, paper, and plastic recyclables and put them in my pantry rather than the garage, so i recycle more frequently
  • stopped throwing #5 and 6 plastics in the bin after I realized my city doesn't accept them and I (sadly) can't find anywhere in the area that does
  • purchased reusable cloth grocery bags
  • switched to the new eco-friendly green clorox all purpose spray
  • purchased a composting bin, which my husband has drawn the line at and insisted i return since he refuses to have rotting food in our kitchen or our backyard
I'm still working on that switch to CFC lightbulbs, but I've also been on the lookout for other opportunities to be more environmentally responsible. Imagine my excitement today to see an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on green mothering! As a result (check out the article to see why), I'm seeing both Jet Dry and vinegar in a whole new light. At the end of the article, there's a list of 25 ways to be a green mom - I was pleased to see that I am currently doing 10 of them. Plus I now have a list of 15 more ideas to pursue, including seeing if I can hang on to the composting container and pawn some of my compost off on my gardening neighbors. Thanks, AJC and writer Patti Ghezzi!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Voices in My Head

My oldest son has always been a man of few words. I worked with him on his conversational skills all last school year and felt that I had made substantive progress by the end of the year when I got him to say, "I don't feel like talking to you right now, Mommy" in response to my questions about school, instead of ignoring me and staring out the car window.

By the time summer rolled around and he still had nothing to say to me (or anyone else for that matter), I took him for a complete speech and hearing evaluation just to make sure everything was OK. Ears checked out fine, but the two-hour speech evaluation was a nail-biter. Cade hung in there with the flashcards, but didn't seem to want to answer any questions, like when the speech therapist asked him where in his house he plays. When she asked him for the ten thousandth time where he plays (I'm actually not even sure what response she wanted here), he barked at her in an exasperated voice - "Right here, lady!". She immediately ended the session, gave him a clean bill of speech health, told us that his primary problem was that he didn't WANT to talk to us, and gave us a nifty worksheet on tips for stimulating speech with preschoolers.

Fast forward a year. His little brother, who was extremely early verbal and a nonstop talker, has started to rub off on him. Basically this means that between the two of them, they never shut up. Despite my profound hearing loss and the fact that I sometimes ditch my hearing aids for a good portion of the day, my ears are actually tired at the end of the day - is that possible?

Here's just a sampling of the things I listen to all day and the categories of comments under which they fall:

Great Ideas
Cade: Lookit Drew - Matchbox cars go faster if we put water on the floor!
Drew: Cade! Watch me jump from train table to coffee table!
Cade: The scooter goes down the hill faster if you do it backwards.
Drew: Let's do sidewalk chalk on the side of the van!

Drew (sobbing!): Cade take my cars!
Cade: They're MY cars! (even though he never card one whit about cars until Drew took an interest in them)

Cade (while playing Candyland): You can't be green! I'm green!

Drew: Don't color on my page. That's MY page!

Drew: Mommy! Cade tell on me!

Cade: But Mommy! I'm hungry! PLEASE let me have Cheez Nips for breakfast! I really, really want them!
Drew: But I want the Cars vitamins, not Flintstones!
Cade: Mommy! You know I don't wear shirts with buttons!

Attention Getting
Either Boy: Hey Mommy? (repeated a thousand times a day by each child and followed by either a question or a comment).

And my two favorite verbal development categories that have recently emerged:

Drew: Mommy! Don't say "Eat your freaking vegetables"! Freaking vegetables is a bad word!
Cade: Mommy! You're supposed to slow down at yellow lights - it means a red light is coming!
Cade: Mommy! There's a drought! You're not supposed to leave the water on while you brush your teeth!

Court Reporter
Cade: But Mommy! Earlier you said we could paint when we got home from the park!
Drew: Mommy! You said we could watch a show when we got up from nap.
Cade: But Mommy! You said we could have a snack if we ate lunch. I ate all the fruit!

But on the bright side, at least Cade is talking now and saving me money on speech therapy.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Rock Stars

My husband is currently in school working on his MBA, which has caused him to regress and act more like a 19 year old than the early-30-something he really is. School is supposedly really challenging, but all I know is that he is gone from our house for over 40 hours a week, yet he is only taking 12 hours and he is now proficient in the video game Rock Band, which he was not when he started school. So who knows.

After months of him begging me to agree to purchase the XBox 360 and assorted Rock Band gear, I finally caved last week. He rushed right out and bought it, lest I change my mind, and proceeded to spend that entire night and most of the three subsequent evenings playing the game. I warned him that with such an expensive and obviously boy-friendly setup, he should take pains to hide it from our two sons. Unfortunately, he never listens to me and ignored the advice and the boys discovered it and are now OBSESSED with it. They call it "Rock Star" and they can't play worth a crap (after all, they are only 4 and almost 3), but that doesn't stop them from bugging the heck out of their father while the try to learn. Which I, of course, love.

My favorite part about it is that the first thing they beg to do every morning, before our eyes are even open, is to play Rock Band. Which of, course, only their father knows how to do. So I roll over to catch a few more zzz's and let him deal with the consequences of this idiotic purchase.

I had to laugh the other night when I headed off to bed and my husband surprised me by joining me, instead of staying up later to read like he usually does. When I asked if he was tired, he said, "No. But I figure I need to get to bed now - my band will be in here for rehearsal at 7 am sharp". Now that's what I call poetic justice.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Happy Earth Day - Early!

Today, as we were driving past a residential construction site where they were cutting down trees to build houses, my newly minted 4 year old busted out with the following surprise comments:

Cade: Mommy, if they keep cutting down all the trees then they will cut them all down and we won’t have any more.

Me: That’s right, Cade, it’s very sad to cut down trees.

Cade: But it’s ok, mommy. The builders can just build some new ones and then we will have enough to make another woods.

Me (excitedly seizing a rare opportunity to make good on a “teachable moment”): Well, Cade, it’s not that easy. Builders can’t build trees – it takes a really long time and a lot of sunshine and rain to build trees. That’s why we have to take good care of the trees we have. And also, we can’t waste things like paper and cardboard because they are made from trees. That’s why we try to recycle.

Cade: Yes. We cannot wait a very long time for more trees. Mommy! I just found a piece of candy in my car seat! Can I eat it?

I was beyond excited about this brief, but poignant exchange about the environment. Mainly because after 31 years of really not caring much about the environment (No, I’m not a heartless ogre – I just work in social work so my main interest is people), I spent a good chunk of the summer in California last year and was bitten by the environmental bug. Impressed by how much they actually CARE about taking care of the environment out there, I really began to notice opportunities for me to make a small dent as well and have been making good progress over the past year. In addition, this month’s extensive Earth Day/Be Green media coverage in everything from my parenting mags to TIME and even the crappy Star and US weekly gossip rags has got me on high alert. After all, it may not feel like a big deal to do small things, but if everyone does something small, it can have a big impact.

So what have I done? Not much, but it’s a start and I have big plans.

  • Since last summer, I have made a renewed commitment to recycling and make sure the bins go out weekly instead of monthly (I used to let them sit around for two weeks after they were full and then trash recyclables just because the bin was full).
  • I took the time to look up my city’s guidelines about what they actually accept and recycle instead of just throwing things away because I wasn’t positive they could be recycled.
  • I took the time to gripe at my husband (yet AGAIN) for throwing wet paper and pizza-soiled cardboard in the recycling bin. These things are expressly forbidden by aforementioned guidelines. I think I have finally shamed him into listening to me…
  • I took FIVE YEARS (I kid you not) worth of plastic grocery bags that I have been saving and deposited them in my store’s recycling receptacle. In the process, learned that my store accepts egg cartons, which my city recycling program does not. Woohoo!
  • Took my old electronics to the city’s electronic recycling drive.
  • Purchased a programmable thermostat to keep our house at a reasonable setting. Husband (clearly not yet pro-environment) does get credit for this one.

What do I plan to do:

  • I have already identified a three part bin that I can put in my pantry that will allow me to sort paper, plastic and cans right here in my kitchen instead of trekking out to the dirty nasty bin in the garage every time. I plan to get it this weekend.
  • Commit to cloth grocery bags. I have been hesitant to do this thus far because it appears that the people that use cloth bags are only filling them with organic vegetables and only require 2 bags to carry their groceries. My heartily eating family blows through AT LEAST two loaves of bread, two gallons of milk, 15 boxes of cereal and heaven knows how many Goldfish crackers a week. Plus the laundry detergent required to clean them after they are covered head to toe in peanut butter and jelly. But if I have to embarrass myself buy bringing home 25 cloth bags a week of groceries, so be it. Better than wasting the plastic.
  • Convince husband to switch to CFC light bulbs. He actually requested that I present him with a cost-benefit analysis justifying the extra expense of the bulbs. I’ve seen it 1,000 times in magazines this month – just need to rip an article out and give it to him…
  • Identify a recycling place where I can take the things my city won’t accept. They only take plastics #1 and 2, yet almost everything I use comes in #5 containers! Heartbreaking to toss them, per the city’s recommendations. Need to find another option…(already tried to pawn them off on the preschool for crafts – didn’t work).
  • Finally commit to properly recycling batteries as well. I have been guiltily and surreptitiously throwing them in the trash (I know, I know). Must stop. NOW. Especially since my kids go through so many batteries that I regret not buying stock in Duracell.

What I would like to do but probably won’t:

  • Eat locally grown foods. I am lucky to get to the store once a week (which is why I have 25 bags of food every time I do go). No time to go multiple times or to multiple stores.
  • Start a compost. My husband has expressly forbidden rotting foods to take up residence in our kitchen. I think he is afraid I won’t “take care” of it properly, since I have killed countless houseplants and had to give my cat away once the children were born since I couldn’t manage it all.
  • Switch to cloth diapers. Too inconvenient and finally (after extensive research in numerous parenting magazines on this article) have convinced myself that the water and energy required to wash them outweigh negatives of dumping the disposables.
  • Wash all of my clothes in cold water. My kid is potty training and it just seems too filthy not to put things like soiled underwear and dirty sheets/towels in the hottest water I can to kill germs.
  • Walk to save gas. I messed this up by having too many children - I can't fit them all in the Radio Flyer wagon anymore. But hey - at least I bought a minivan instead of the gas-guzzling SUV I wanted! And maybe my next one can be a hybrid...