Archives for June 2010

Taking Green Baby Steps

I’m sure I don’t need to start by ask­ing some­thing like, “have you noticed how every­thing seems to be green or going green these days?”  Green is no longer just a col­or.  It’s a move­ment, belief sys­tem, and set of actions.  It’s every­where.  It’s on prod­ucts at the store, com­mer­cials, books, and blogs.

It real­ly seems like a good idea.  Take bet­ter care of the earth.  Choose prod­ucts that are bet­ter for us.  Use few­er resources.  The thing that I’ve been notic­ing late­ly about going green is that there are a few “low hang­ing fruit” actions that my fam­i­ly can take, but after that I start to get con­fused and over­whelmed.  Bisphe­nol A, free rad­i­cals, hor­mone dis­rup­tors, nanopar­ti­cles, car­bon foot­print, methane, com­post­ing, sus­tain­able, loca­vore, and green wash­ing are all terms that come up often in my search for infor­ma­tion on green liv­ing.

We have made some changes which are a reflec­tion of our choice to become more con­scious of our impact on the envi­ron­ment, those around us, and even our own bod­ies.  We drink from water bot­tles instead of buy­ing bot­tled water.  We cloth dia­per.  We use cloth nap­kins.  We use some alter­na­tive clean­ing meth­ods.  We are start­ing to buy prod­ucts that are made by com­pa­nies with mis­sion state­ments (and prac­tices) that reflect our views.  Dur­ing the sum­mer grow­ing sea­son we attempt to buy as much local pro­duce as we can at our farmer’s mar­ket and by join­ing a CSA.  When we were home­own­ers we were com­post­ing.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly, for as many earth-friend­ly choic­es as we make, I am sure there are 10 that are not very earth friend­ly.

What I would like is a 1–2-3 guide.  First, do this.  Then, get rid of that.  Final­ly, once you’ve fol­lowed our easy to under­stand 81-step pro­gram, you are green!  Some­thing like that any­way.  I asked about this on twit­ter a lit­tle while ago, and I got a cou­ple rec­om­men­da­tions for sites and a book.  There are some days where I feel like we do pret­ty well.  Then, there are some days when I feel like we are the un-green­est fam­i­ly in our town.

Late­ly, some of the things that have been on my mind are:

  • Is it bet­ter to buy a green-washed prod­uct than a reg­u­lar main­stream prod­uct if a more envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly option isn’t avail­able?  Is that let­ting the green wash­ing com­pa­ny off the hook or is it pos­si­ble it’s slight­ly bet­ter than the “reg­u­lar” prod­uct?
  • If I buy a green prod­uct off a web­site because a bet­ter local option isn’t avail­able, how do I fac­tor in the resources and ener­gy nec­es­sary to get that prod­uct to me?
  • Is an organ­ic prod­uct from South Africa “bet­ter” (and how is bet­ter defined?) than buy­ing a non-organ­ic prod­uct from Chile or Mex­i­co?

My list goes on, but I think you get the idea.  I have been think­ing late­ly that it might just be best to pick one group of prod­ucts and one pri­or­i­ty and work on that.  For exam­ple, maybe I should focus on clean­ing prod­ucts and switch­ing our cur­rent prod­ucts to ones that are less harm­ful to us.  Anoth­er option would be to focus on what we eat and fig­ure out which foods and which com­pa­nies are both sus­tain­able and good choic­es for our fam­i­ly to con­sume.  I’m not sure though.  I sup­pose the idea is to con­tin­ue in the process what­ev­er deci­sion I make.  Choose some­thing to work on, learn about, etc. and keep on going.

School Decisions

Just before Kael turned 3, a friend asked me if I had con­sid­ered home­school­ing my kids.  At the time, my answer was, “I want my kids to be home­schooled, but I don’t want to do it.”  At that point, that meant essen­tial­ly no, I won’t be home­school­ing.  As time has passed, that state­ment became less flip­pant and more hon­est.  I real­ly did (and do) want my chil­dren to be home­schooled.  I just don’t want to do it, and as much as I don’t want to, I also feel unpre­pared to do it.

I’m not unpre­pared in the sense that I am unqual­i­fied.  I am sure that my edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­ence qual­i­fies me to home­school.  I have a degree in ele­men­tary and mid­dle lev­el edu­ca­tion with a mas­ters degree in spe­cial edu­ca­tion.  I have the cre­den­tials nec­es­sary.  I am legal­ly qual­i­fied to teach oth­er people’s chil­dren.  Some­how teach­ing my own seems like a much big­ger and more daunt­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty.

So, if I look at my state­ment a lit­tle clos­er, there’s real­ly two issues.  One, I want my chil­dren to be home­schooled.  Why?  I want some­one who knows them and cares specif­i­cal­ly about them to have a per­son­al stake in their edu­ca­tion.  I think that art and music are such impor­tant parts of an edu­ca­tion, and there are less and less of these each year.  Both of my boys, but Kael in par­tic­u­lar, need lots of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty.  Two recess­es for 10–15 min­utes and gym class twice a week are not enough for them.  I also want some­one who has time to answer all of the ques­tions they ask, and they ask a LOT.  No mat­ter how lov­ing and ded­i­cat­ed a teacher is, I’m not sure that with 18 oth­er kids there would be any way that any­one would have that kind of time in a day.  Last­ly, I want to encour­age my chil­dren to think in their own ways.  I don’t want them to do an art project that is the same as 18 oth­er projects.  If they want to do a math prob­lem and get the answer in a dif­fer­ent way than the “right way,” that’s okay with me.  If they want to wear pol­ish on their toe nails, that’s okay with me, too.

The sec­ond part of my state­ment on home­school­ing is that I don’t want to be the one to do it.  What?  I know it sounds a lit­tle bit ridicu­lous.  I also know that part of the ben­e­fits of home­school­ing come from the par­ent know­ing the child so well.  I guess part of it is that I also know myself.  I am not near­ly as patient as I would like to be, nor am I as patient as I would like a teacher of my chil­dren to be.  I also tend to pro­cras­ti­nate some things that I don’t want to do.  I real­ly wish I had a dig in and get it done atti­tude, but too often it’s a last minute, last ditch, not my great­est work effort that I put forth.  Also, I wor­ry about time.  I cur­rent­ly have a 4 1/2 year old, an almost 3 year old, and a baby on the way in Octo­ber.  Some days I bare­ly get every­one dressed and fed.  That is cer­tain­ly not enough pro­duc­tiv­i­ty for a home­school­ing fam­i­ly.

For­tu­nate­ly, Kael has a fall birth­day.  This gives me anoth­er year before I need to make a deci­sion that I am going to act on.  At this point, I plan to do lots of read­ing, research­ing, think­ing, and blog­ging.  I’m hop­ing for a deci­sion which I feel com­mit­ted to and can stand behind com­plete­ly by the time it’s school time for him.

Being Done

Being Done

It’s been a week, and there has been a BIG change.  But, on the oth­er hand, it doesn’t feel like much has changed at all.  My pre­vi­ous blog was pri­mar­i­ly a breast­feed­ing blog.  For the past four and a half years, I have eat­en, breathed, and dreamed breast­feed­ing.  I know that sounds weird, but I think it’s true.  From work­ing through my own strug­gles to breast­feed my sons to mod­er­at­ing a breast­feed­ing sup­port board, I can’t even count the hours I have spent think­ing about, read­ing about, and breast­feed­ing my own kids.  And, now, I’m done.  They’re done.  For the first time, since Novem­ber 2005, I am not nurs­ing any­one.

One of the first things my friends have said when I told them is, “How do you feel about that?”  In my head and my heart, I am so hap­py for both boys.  Kael nursed until just a few days before he was 4 1/2.  Asa nursed until about 6 weeks before his 3rd birth­day.  Kael start­ed off as a 4 week pre-term baby who strug­gled to latch.  He was a sleepy baby.  He had jaun­dice.  Then, some­how as he grew, day by day, we both became more com­fort­able and more con­fi­dent in our rela­tion­ship.  We both began to depend on on breast­feed­ing as a major part of our lives.  When I got preg­nant with Asa, Kael was almost 12 months old.  He per­se­vered and nursed through my preg­nan­cy with Asa.  He nursed like an infant when Asa was born.  Asa was a high needs baby when he was born.  He had reflux and a dairy sen­si­tiv­i­ty.  He was also very anx­ious around peo­ple oth­er than my hus­band and myself.  He spent a lot of time being held and in the Ergo.  At the time, it was hard.  Very hard and very drain­ing.



Both boys weaned on their own, and they both chose the day to be done.  We had talked ahead of time about when they were ready to be done the cel­e­bra­tion we would have, and it would be a very impor­tant day.  Kael chose his day at the end of April.  Nev­er did I imag­ine that Asa would choose his only 4 weeks lat­er!  When Kael was born, I had a goal of breast­feed­ing him for six weeks.  As you can see, it went a lot fur­ther than that.  By the time Kael was 3 months old, I knew that I want­ed him to be able to nurse for as long as he want­ed.  I am so hap­py to say that he did.

So, on the one hand, while I am so hap­py to have breast­fed them until they were ready to be done, and I am proud of them for know­ing when they no longer want­ed to con­tin­ue hav­ing “Mom­my Milk,” I am also sad know­ing that this is a chap­ter that is fin­ished.  They will nev­er be my lit­tle babies again.  Also, for the first time in 4 1/2 years, I am not a breast­feed­ing mom.  There was a time when I was preg­nant with Asa that I thought Kael was wean­ing.  We’d had a busy day, and he didn’t nurse at all, not once, dur­ing the day.  I felt real­ly sad about it.  I felt like I had let him down by get­ting preg­nant with Asa and affect­ing my milk sup­ply.  It was also around that time that I first read the essay Wean­ing Ella from Brain, Child Mag­a­zine.  It is a touch­ing essay of a mother’s deci­sion to stop nurs­ing her daugh­ter.  When I read that essay, I felt noth­ing but sad­ness.  I felt sad for myself, for Kael, and for the moth­er and daugh­ter in the essay.

Even though I thought I was done nurs­ing Kael at that point, he appar­ent­ly didn’t real­ize that.  🙂  He picked up his nurs­ing again before Asa was born and nursed like crazy after his brother’s birth.  When I think back to that time, I know there is a great dif­fer­ence between how I was feel­ing then and how I feel now.  Even though I am sad for the rela­tion­ship to be over now, I don’t feel any sense of regret or guilt.  I feel like he was ready, and I was ready (sad, but ready).  I know that both of my boys are ready for their inde­pen­dence.  I know that they are ready to move away from me in their own ways.  I know this, but darn it, there’s just some­thing I’m not ready for in all that!



So, while there are times when I am sad, and I’m not even real­ly sure I can put my fin­ger on the rea­son for the sad­ness, I am also excit­ed.  I’m excit­ed that we have Baby #3 on the way in Octo­ber.  I’m excit­ed that Kael and Asa are grow­ing and chang­ing every day.  Even though one rela­tion­ship has come to an end, I know that I still have so much to learn about them and from them as they grow.

Asa and Kael at Lowe’s Kids Day

Kael and Asa at the Pump­kin Patch