Earth Day

Thursday, April 23, 2009

As I was folding a basket of clothes this evening and watching Oprah's Earth Day special she talked about the "garbage swirls in the ocean." We watched a program about this on the Discovery Channel a while back. I was reminded of one of my favorite talks by Julie Beck. This is just an excerpt...

Mothers Who Know Do Less
Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power.

As parents we want to give our children everything. But often giving them less is really giving them more. It is my position that the best thing we can do for the earth is to consume less in the first place.

If you don't want the toy that comes with a kids meal, don't order the kids meal, ask for no toy or better yet skip the fast food altogether! I tried to avoid plastic toys when Awsumb was little and soon realized that wasn't going to happen. But I consciously think about what we are buying to add to our own growing "sea of plastic" here in our own home. Now, if we could just get toy makers to stop boxing things with out all those extra twist ties and layers of plastic packaging!

Don't buy so many things in individually wrapped packages. Although individually packages snacks may seem easier, it only takes a minute to pour a few goldfish into a little cup for your child. Same with juice. I don't like to use individual juice boxes at home. Instead I buy a big bottle and even usually add water to it when I serve it!

We are lucky to live in an area with an extensive recycling system. We have three large trash cans. The 1st is for regular trash, the 2nd is for all recycling (bottles, paper, cans, glass etc.) and the 3rd is for yard waste (food scraps and things like pizza boxes). We pay more money depending on the size of the can we have for our regular trash. In my neighborhood most people pay for the smallest size trash can for their regular trash, which makes the recycling can bigger in comparison. I think it is a great challenge to try for more recycling that regular trash each week.

A couple months ago we tried to go for a whole month without going to Target (which , if you don't already know, is where you buy all the plastic and bring it home in plastic bags! LOL!) This was really only truly possible because I have a good supply of soap and other needs stocked. We really did try, but eventually we ended up going in the last week and I don't even remember what for.

Next time you are checking out, or better yet, filling up your cart, think about what you are consuming and if there is a better way! As I always say, we vote with our dollar!

I think about Julie Beck's talk often. Especially this paragraph. "Choosing carefully or not at all" can be applied to other areas as well, such as the activities a child participates in. Do you spend more time driving around with your kids than at home just hanging out? More about this later...

(Read more of this talk by following the link "Mothers Who Know" in the Parenting and Family Links along the side of this blog.)

Moving Mountains

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I can't stop thinking about mountains of laundry and people who live amongst them. For all you mountain dwellers or anyone who sometimes finds themselves on a little pathway leading towards the great peaks… Here are a few tips to help you MOVE MOUNTAINS! Of Laundry that is.

Set up a Laundry Routine. If you do not have a regular laundry day or it is not part of your daily routine, set this up NOW! I find it easier to wash a load every day as part of my routine. If I do this and keep it up, we never have dirty laundry because I am washing as soon as there is enough for a particular load. I have always been a bit obsessed with laundry. As soon as there is enough for a load I like to wash it right then! When we arrive home from a trip I usually have a load of laundry started before Kenneth is finished paying the taxi driver. These tips apply whether you do the laundry all in one day or as part of your regular daily routine.

Sort into loads. I prefer these four basic categories: Jeans & Darks (cold), Colored (cold) , Whites (hot with oxyclean), and Towels & Sheets (hot with bleach). Sometimes I subdivide them when I have reds, etc. I also subdivide whites, washing delicates separate and hanging them to dry. I use a laundry sorter with 3 sections for clothing items.

Our household routine is that ALL dirty laundry is immediately sorted. Anything with stains is set on top of the washer or over the side of the sorter as a signal that is needs pre-treatment (more about stains in a future blog). Because we live in a damp climate towels are placed in a separate basket in the bathrooms. I also keep a basket in the laundry room for odd things, wet items, or clothes that are extra filthy (from sports, etc.).

Wash as soon as you have a load. At the end of the day when everyone puts their PJ’s and tosses their clothes into the sorter, take note. If there is enough to make a load, start it right then. If your laundry room is near your back door like ours, put things directly into the machine and start it up when you walk in the door.

This works great after sports. Just today Kenneth and Awsumb had baseball practice and they started their wash when they walked in the door (I had previously left a couple things for them to add to their load so it would be a full load). It was switched after dinner and is now ready to fold and put away and ready for the big game on Thursday. Stain removal is also easier when tended to right away.

Start first thing in the morning. After you have showered and dressed for the day gather a load of laundry from your bedroom. For me this is usually sheets or towels. I wash towels almost every day because we live in a damp climate. I like to wash sheets once a week minimum. You many choose to assign a day of the week to each set of bedroom sheets. On your way to the laundry room, gather enough for a full load from the other bedrooms and bathrooms in the house. If you have one laundry day, you can still do this on your off days so that the mountain doesn’t grow out of control. Even if you only follow this rule on your big laundry day, this habit will get you started first thing in the morning so you can actually move that mountain by the end of the day.

But if you are like me and want to do laundry every day this fits nicely into a daily routine. This first load can be forgotten about until lunch or afternoon. At which time it is switched to the dryer. A second load that was gathered later in the day can then be started.

Fold or hang and put away RIGHT THEN! I always plan to have things finish in the dryer when I am ready to deal with them right then. For me this is in the late evening. When you fold or hang laundry directly out of the dryer it will be easier to iron and will fold nicely. There is nothing I love more than clean, warm laundry. I prefer to do this late at night while enjoying a guilty pleasure by watching something recorded on TiVo. I think it is best to iron right away as well, but admit I don’t always do this these days. At least hang the clothes so they are ready to go when you get around to ironing. (more on ironing in a future blog).

By putting your laundry away ASAP this eliminates the second deadly sin of laundry – mountains of CLEAN laundry, which will inevitably have to be washed again as they become dirty laundry because they were left sitting out, were walked on, pushed onto the floor and/or even mixed up with dirty laundry. THE HORROR!

If you are having problems putting your clean laundry away, this may be because you do not have enough space to put it away. If this is the case, you may suffer as many Americans do from having too many clothes. Clean out your closets, packing up out of season clothes and giving away clothing that no longer fits. Be ruthless. If you didn't wear it this season you are not going to wear it next winter either! Everything left should have a home.

Whistle while you work. I believe it is more economical to do the family laundry all together. But everyone is expected to help out. Awsumb is old enough now that he can gather and carry loads of laundry around. He can also switch the laundry to the dryer and can fold and put it away. Although I prefer to do laundry late at night, I didn’t want him to think clothes miraculously appear clean and folded as if the laundry fairy came to visit while he slept. So, I often arrange to have a load ready earlier in the day or save some for him to fold in the morning. (This takes great restraint from me because I prefer to put the towels away RIGHT THEN!) He is responsible for folding and putting away all towels in his bathroom, guest bathroom and kitchen. If he sees me folding towels I hardly have to ask anymore because he knows to come help do his “responsibility.” (read more in a future blog about responsibilities and allowance) The other night, Awsumb caught me folding towels after he was supposed to be in bed and ran in to help. OK, he may have just been avoiding bedtime, but I like to believe he knew it was his responsibility.

Awsumb and I often sing funny songs while we do housework together. I am sure this started when he was a toddler and I was trying to make day to day tasks entertaining. But, I am so glad I did this because now he thinks of it as sometime special we are doing together. Sometimes we sing an activity song about working together… Other times we make up silly words. Here is one of our favorites to the tune of Winnie the Pooh, “Mother and son, Mother and son, having some fun, getting things done, doot, do- doot- do, do- doot doot doot do.” When we work side by side our children we teach them that our home is important enough to us that we should respect it and keep it clean. We make it a together experience, not a chore.

We were out most of the weekend and ended up with a few loads lined up and waiting. I was able to quickly catch up because I had not let it turn into Mt. Saint Hardy. It didn’t take a miracle, but the will to just get it done. What mountains have you moved today?


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why do boys pants have to come with so many pockets? And why do boys think they have to fill them all up? And they pick the oddest things to fill them up with!

I have a system - I always check my pocket when I take my pants OFF. After I married Kenneth, I trained him to do the same so I would not have to check pockets when I do the laundry. Soon after I because the mother of a little boy I realized this would no longer work.

Sometime during the toddler years little boys discover pockets and are determined to fill them up. Twigs, rocks, shells, grass, etc. And you can never throw it out because it's all "treasure." I had to designate a place in the garage for the rocks and sticks because they were simply NOT coming in my house!

Awsumb attends a Montessori school where most of the classroom is hands-on manipulative materials. Because of this the kids come home with beads, puzzle pieces, and other odd items. At the beginning of each year the teachers send the same note home begging parents to "please send any found items back to the classroom... even if the piece seems insignificant because it goes to something in the classroom... please just send it back."

On day when I went in to help in Awsumb's classroom at the beginning of this school year I found him walking around with a couple of other boys getting set up for a project. Awsumb was wearing cargo pants and the sides of his legs were bulging to capacity. I asked him what he was carrying around and he began to list, "Two pencils, a pencil sharpener, an eraser, a glue stick, an extra glue stick, a ruler, scissors (basically his entire pencil box) and a white cloth." I asked what the white cloth was for and I guess he could tell I was about to confiscate it so he became very defensive stating, "but we need it in case our hands get sticky from the glue!"

I began to become suspicious of where the white cloth came from. When I questioned Awsumb he called his friend over and had him lift up his sweat shirt to reveal the backside of the GAP letters that were sewn on. Apparently the backing was itchy, so they removed it and Awsumb thought it would just be the best cleaning cloth! LOL!

YUCK! So this cloth came from the INSIDE of some boys sweatshirt. I don't care who it is that is soooo cooties! I begged him to throw it away reassuring Awsumb that the classroom had a sink in case they needed to wash their hands.

What have you found in your little boys (or girls) pockets?

Missing: One Grey Sock! $$Cash Reward if found$$

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I have a confession. I am not a perfect parent.

You see, as many mothers do, I often measure my perfection as a parent by things that might not seem to matter to other people.

One of these is that I have NEVER lost a baby sock. Ever! Not one in 7 1/2 years of parenting. Not even one.

Years before I had a child I would often notice mothers standing around holding babies with only one sock. Or I would see a child in a stroller with one or more socks holding on for deal life. Probably because I live with OCD this always bothered me. I couldn't stop thinking about it... Where was the other sock, where had they left the other sock? (Where was Sunday?! - Harry and Sally Reference #1) Did they know they were missing a sock? Doesn't it bug the baby to have on only one sock, or for the sock to barely cover their toes?

So, when I became a mother this became a unit of measurement for me to prove I was a perfect parent. I vowed that I would never loose a baby sock.

I always felt like this made me a perfect mother. It shows how organized I am. It shows how much I care about and love my son, because I always stay on top of the laundry, fold it and put everything away right when it comes out of the dryer. :) LOL!

It shows that I don't have mountains of clean (or heaven forbid dirty!) laundry piled anywhere in my house. (side note- Sometimes on those messy house shows on TV they show people who live with MOUNTAINS of laundry piled everywhere. How do people who have mountains of laundry on their bed sleep at night anyway?)

Sure, once in a while a pair of socks is separated and one gets washed in one load and the second the load after. But by the end of the day all socks are paired and tucked neatly away ready to be worn the next day.

I once lost a sock a couple years ago. I didn't tell anyone for months! I just couldn't admit I was a failure. Luckily I found it folded up in a set of sheets! And once again, I went on with my head held high, knowing I was a perfect mother.

Well, today one of Awsumb's grey socks is missing. I can't find it anywhere! I could easily blame Kenneth. As a side effect of me not always being home nowadays I think he scrambles a bit as they are getting ready to go to baseball practice. And when they come home they still haven't figured out a good system to contain all their muddy clothes until I can wash them. Hopefully it will turn up in his baseball back pack or something so I can go on continuing to believe I am a perfect mother!

If you find it let me know! There may be a reward.

What things do you use to measure your parenting? What makes you a perfect parent?