Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Kids and I Are Going Green – and Hubby, too!

April 22, Earth Day, was the day I decided to get serious (again) about recycling, and exposing my kids to another conscientious way of living.

Prior to recycling, one “green” change that has been in place in my home is our growing number of spiral light bulbs. That change was in jeopardy of getting started on the day that I balanced myself on a step ladder placed in the tub to replace the ceiling light bulb, only to discover that the length of the spiral light bulb was too long to fit the cavity of the light fixture. “Okay” I thought, “So much for that.”

But, I did not give up. I was determined to find a lamp that needed the five dollar light bulb that the packaging said would last five years. I found the lamp, replaced the bulb, and clicked on the lamp. “Is this as bright as my old light?” I was still a skeptic.

Still, I bought more of the unique looking bulbs, determined to do something "green." I also realized that the price is less when you buy in larger quantities. (duh)

Another thing we’re doing is turning off lights and televisions when no one is in the room. The kids are beginning to get it, and even my husband, but we have to keep working on him.

For example: The kids and I are out and my husband comes home before us. As I drive onto my street and our house comes into view, the kids say, “Daddy’s home!” How do we know? The house is lit up like a Christmas tree. It’s aglow, almost in flames. He’s so sweet - he turns on the front porch lights, the pole lamp, the side light over the garage door, and the light at the garage pedestrian door. All, so that his precious family will be able to "see" when we approach the house.

And that’s just the outside. If it’s a day when he is feeling energetic and has gone around the house looking for projects, we know everywhere he’s been without asking him. Why? Because the light is on in every room he’s been in.

I digress - back to recycling.

On Earth Day, we decided to start small (didn’t want to overwhelm anyone), with just the plastic. I used my surplus of brown grocery bags to begin the collection. Four bags later, we still had not taken them to the recycling center. I gave up, and threw it in with the Monday trash pickup. We started again, adding paper and cardboard. This time, fortunately, a little angel gave me some help. I was out with a friend who needed to drive to the recycling center. Voila! It turned out to be on the same road as my girls’ piano studio. Now it is part of our routine to stop on the way back home from piano lessons.

While there, we all grab something and throw it in the huge receptacles. The first time we did it, I had to pick up my two youngest daughters to help them, but now they’ve figured out how to put some muscle into it. They’re pros. We laugh when we drop stuff and have to pick up flying paper. They complain if it’s cold, but I know they are proud of their contribution to the future of our Earth.

We are still nowhere near the best at recycling. Most of the trash upstairs still goes into the bin for the Monday trash pick up, but I notice that it is not overflowing anymore and we seldom have large cardboard boxes sitting beside it on the street. Check back with us to see how we’re doing!

If you want more literature on being "green," go to My organic gardening friend, Judy (find her in my blog followers), passed this helpful info on to me.

What percentage of your garbage gets recycled?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reacquaint Yourself with the Bathtub

When was the last time you filled your bathtub with warm water, added your favorite soap, crystals, or oil, and sat in it for more than five minutes? Has taking a bath become a luxury?

Once upon a time when I was single, my bathtub was used every Saturday morning. I enjoyed the quietness, the stillness; the slight steam from the heat of the water. I reveled in the non-hurried weekend morning. It was a time to unwind; to put my brain on pause – if only for twenty minutes.

After sitting ten minutes or so, I’d begin to shave and scrape and do whatever else I could do to camouflage the signs of aging. The last step was the actual bath, and then I’d step out feeling calm and very refreshed.

Why did I stop this ritual? Oh…that’s right…I had children.

In the thirteen years that I’ve been a mother, there’s been a few times when more than a year has passed without using the tub! As I think about the reasons why, I come up with: reason number one, “I don’t have time,” reason number two, “It’s easier to take a shower.” More reasons: I like to shower in the morning, so why take a bath at night. I need to wash my hair. I don’t want to clean the tub.

About a month ago, I had a calling from the bathtub, and I gave into it. My husband and children were busy watching Friday night television, or maybe they were playing the Wii; it didn’t matter. It was my chance to drift off into a little personal serenity.

It is still an effort for me to take a tub bath, but I’ve had a couple more, and plan to continue this new rediscovery.

When was the last time you used your tub?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sick Child

As I am awakened by my daughter at 5:30 a.m., my first agonizing thought is, "I may be beyond the diapers and spills, but I am not beyond the sick child." Ten year old Kelly is ill. She's standing beside my bed looking down on me, waiting for me to fulfill her request for a drink of soda. I can't do it. I can not get up and take that long walk down the stairs, turn on the lights, pour a drink, bring it back up, and then expect to recoup my last half hour of sleep. Instead, I say to Kelly, "Get in."

Her warm, feverish body lies between my husband's and mine for the next half hour. I do not get back to sleep. Instead, my thoughts turn to how this episode is going to change my routine for the day.

I get up at six; my day has begun. The first mommy duty is the taking of the temperature...104.1. Is that correct? "That seems awfully high," I say to Kelly, then immediately go into defense mode with the juice and Motrin. (I know...a lot of you don't give fever reducers, takes away the misery.) She plants herself on the family room sofa wrapped in blankets, while I hurry to get her two sisters up, fed, groomed, and out the door to catch that marvelous creation called the yellow bus.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, my fourth child, nine month old Layla the dog, stands fidgeting at the door. She needs to relieve herself and her human siblings are not dressed, so I have the duty of putting on a coat over my PJs and slipping into my rain boots to head out into the below freezing temperature. I am definitely awake now.

My day consists of the usual household chores that one does when one is stuck in the house, i.e. laundry, dish washing, and bill paying. Add to that, the occasional nursing duties of more temperature taking, giving medicine, pleading with the child to take one more sip or one more spoonful, hugs, and pampering.

Day two...she's still home. No surprise. I decide to take the trip to see the doctor. (Nowadays, it's the thing to do. How did I survive childhood?) Kelly gets the flu test via a swab in her nostril and the strep test via a swab on her throat. "Ugh," she growls. Both come back from the lab negative. "It's a virus," says the doctor. "It'll have to run its course."

I have now given into the fact that I will be in the house indefinitely (during the day and evening while my husband's at work). So...I ignore the sink of dishes and the messy counter tops, search for a soft snack for Kelly, and then pull out the m&m World jigsaw puzzle. Kelly and I clear the kitchen table and begin the attack.

It's afternoon and the sun is shining brightly into the large window adjacent to the table. Kelly asks me, "Mommy, when I'm not here, what do you do all day?" I give her a one minute synopsis which seems to satisfy her. She smiles and says, "I'm sitting here in the sun, with my puzzle, my Jello, my dog, and my mommy - this is the life."

What is your day like when you have a sick child?