Green Mom


Last week I had the thrill of having an article published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette for the first time.  The article was about consignment sales and ran as the lead story in the family section on Wednesday, September 29th.  I’m not going to re-post the whole article here, but it ran with a sidebar that listed all the upcoming Fall sales across the state.  I thought that might be useful, so I’m posting it.

For those of you who have not experienced a children’s consignment sale, it’s a great way to score some excellent clothing, toys, and gear at great prices.  It’s also a good place to make some money on all the stuff your kids are growing out of.  It’s also very eco friendly, as you’re helping to recycle tons of products instead of consuming more new things.

Popsicles
Oct 7: 9am – 8pm
Oct 8: 9am – 5pm
Oct 9: 9am – 1pm
Northeast Arkansas District Fairgrounds
2731 East Highland Dr, Jonesboro
http://www.popsicleskidssale.com/

Duck Duck Goose
Oct 7-10 8am – 5pm
612 JP Wright Loop Rd, Jacksonville
http://www.duckduckgoosesale.com

Central Arkansas Mothers of Multiples
Oct 8th: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Oct 9th: 7am – 3pm
Trinity Lutheran Church
3802 N Olive Street, North Little Rock
http://www.centralarkansasmoms.org/

Peek-a-Boo
Oct 14: 9am – 7pm
Oct 15&16: 9am – 5pm
2213 N. Reynolds Road, Bryant
http://www.peek-a-boo-consignment.com/

NWA Mothers of Multiples
Oct 15: 7am – 2pm
Oct 16: 7am-Noon
Trinity Fellowship Church Gymnasium
1100 East Rolling Hills Dr., Fayetteville
http://www.nwarkansasmultiplesclub.4t.com/ConsignmentSales.html

Duck Duck Goose
Oct 14-16 7am-6pm
Crossgate Church
3100 East Grand Ave, Hot Springs
http://www.duckduckgoosesale.com

Just Between Friends
October 24-25 9am-6pm
NWA Convention Center
Hwy 540 & Hwy 412, Springdale
http://springdale.jbfsale.com/

Duck Duck Goose
Nov 11-13 7am-6pm
Former Sonshine Academy at 803 Harkrider, Conway
http://www.duckduckgoosesale.com

Second Look Kids
Nov. 11&12:  8am – 7pm
Nov. 13: 7:30am – 3pm
Elm Springs United Methodist Church
Hwy 112, Elm Springs
http://www.2ndlookkids.com/Home_Page.html

If you know of any other upcoming consignment sales, please leave a comment and I will add it to the list.

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Our July One Small Change is probably the scariest one of the year: TV-free Tuesdays.  In the way of Meatless Mondays, this change is meant to decrease consumption of energy, but it also serves another, possibly more important, purpose.

Before I had kids, I had proposed to Craig that we get rid of our TV all together, or at least get rid of our cable service.  I had full intentions of not letting our children watch TV. Ever. Craig did not think ditching the tube was a good (or sane) idea, and so the tv remained.

TV Zombies

Now, two kids later, there is more tv watching going on in my house than I would have ever imagined, and it’s my fault.  With a two year old and a three year old underfoot, TV has become a tool.  My dad came to visit a few weeks ago.  “I don’t know how you get anything done during the day.  It seems like they both decide together when they’re going to misbehave or stop listening to you,” he said.  A couple hours later, both of the kids were parked in front of a DVD movie, motionless.  Dad had his camera out and was taking pictures of them.  “This,” I said, holding up the TV remote, “is how I get things done.”

The studies all show that TV is bad for kids, dropping IQ scores and upping body fat percentages.  I find comfort in the advice my Mom gave me when Carina was a toddler: “If you get to the end of the day, and you have things you need to get done, it’s ok to turn on the TV.”  The problem is that my kids are waking up with TV, twice a day.  It’s the first thing they ask for in the morning, and also after nap. Callen will even say, “Let me watch a show to make me feel better” if he is sad or hurt.

So, I’ve designated Tuesdays as our No TV days.  To be quite honest, I don’t know if I will be able to keep this one going.  I am cheating this month.  I didn’t just choose Tuesday because it sounds nice with “TV”.  We have a very busy schedule on Tuesdays this month, so if I make it through the hour and a half of at-home time in the morning with no TV, I’m pretty much safe. It will be a different story in August when all our extracurricular activities end and we’ll be left to entertain ourselves. Often the kids have no problems entertaining themselves, but when they are out of control or trashing the house, it is I who reaches for the remote.

Oh, yes, and then there’s that energy savings thing I mentioned, too.  Because when our TV is on, our Satellite box is on too, along with the amplifier, and speakers, and sometimes the DVD player too, and maybe even the v-smile video game.  So, skipping one day of TV a week probably won’t save enough electricity to be noticeable on our bill, but that’s why it’s called One SMALL Change, right?  Only this one doesn’t feel so small.

So, the end of the month has come (and gone), and Craig hasn’t figured out what our One Small Change was.  Here’s a clue:

Yes, indeed.  I turned the refrigerator and freezer one notch warmer.  Nothing perished or thawed prematurely. . . even though Callen has figured out how to climb up into our fridge (the freezer is on the bottom) and get what he and Carina need while she holds the door open for him.

BUT!  That is not all, folks.  No, that is not all.

I ALSO turned the temperature on the water heater one notch colder.  I am especially impressed that hubs did not notice this. Even if you can’t bear to turn your water heater down, don’t forget to set it on the “VACATION” setting when you head out on that summer road trip – if you’re gone for a week, it will save you at least the cost of half a tank of gas.

I love small changes like these because not only do they save resources, they save MONEY!

I don’t do a lot of product reviews on this blog, because, well, I don’t like that many products.  I did once consider doing ONLY negative product reviews, but decided even that would get old after a while.  Anyhow, here are some things that I have been impressed with as of late:

Book: The Green Parent by Jenn Savedge – I have given a couple presentations on “going green” this year, and in the process of doing research, I’ve decided that this is my favorite greening guide book.  Not to say that I’ve read all of them, but this one is great. It’s straight-forward, easy to understand, broken up into easily digested sections, and most of the information in it is relevant even if you aren’t a parent.  Added perk: I picked up the copy I read at the library. ; )

Music: Blink by Plumb – I happened upon Plumb via a post from another mom in a forum.  I immediately fell in love with her voice, which for me falls between Sarah McLaughlin and Enya on the “ethereal” chart. Plumb’s Blink album is completely inspired by motherhood.  It’s full of songs I could have written if I was a talented songwriter and that I would sing if I didn’t score a negative 8 on the ethereal chart.  Plumb is a contemporary Christian singer, which is not a genre I usually listen to, but I think this CD will be my new standard “new mommy” gift.  You can sample Blink on Amazon.

Home: Biokleen Spray & Wipe All-Purpose Cleaner – I have vowed to start making my own cleaners, but I’ll be keeping this one.  I love Biokleen’s All-Purpose Cleaner because it really is all-purpose and it is also a green cleaner.  It has gotten marker out of the rug, mystery stains off of the chairs, lifted milk and potty smell off of carpet and fabrics, taken red sharpie off the refrigerator, and tackled many other cleaning challenges that you probably don’t even want to know about.  And when Callen grabs it and squirts it at his sister for shniggles, I don’t have to worry.

Beauty: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer makeup – I don’t like to spend a lot of time getting ready to face the world.  Even if I didn’t have two kids.  So this makeup from Neutrogena, which is a 3 in 1 product, is great.  It contains retinol, SPF 20, and a tinted moisturizer.   It’s not thick like a sunscreen, but provides nice coverage.  The only problem I have with it is that it scores a 5 (moderate hazard) on EWG’s Cosmetic Safety Database.  If I can find a similar product with fewer chemicals in it, I’ll be madly in love.

Web: GoodReads.com – My friend Nicole turned me on to this, and I am hooked.  I love to read, but I don’t have time to keep track of what’s on the bestseller list, and I don’t have the mental capacity to remember the names of the books that people recommend to me.  That’s where GoodReads.com comes in – it’s like Facebook for people who read. In addition to creating your own virtual bookshelf sorted by to-read, currently reading, and read (with a 5 star rating system), you can also link up with your friends and see what they have on their shelves as well.  If you have a smartphone, it would be a great resource to pull up at the library or bookstore!

Leave a comment and let me know: What is floating your boat right now?

Cutting yourself on the lid is no longer the scariest thing about canned goods.

Yesterday, my friend Nicole sent me an email asking if I knew that most aluminum cans used to store food have linings that contain BPA, a chemical that’s been linked with cancer and other health problems.  I responded that I did know, and then started to feel guilty that I knew and didn’t tell her. On the one hand, the studies on BPA are somewhat controversial – some say BPA isn’t harmful at all – but still, I’m the mom who immediately bought BPA-free bottles and shelled out the big bucks for metal sippy cups when the BPA frenzy first broke.  So, EVERYONE, please know that the majority of the aluminum cans in your pantry contain BPA that could be leaching into your food.  Do what you will with the information, but if you decide to throw out all your canned goods, please donate it to a food bank,  (Is possibly BPA tainted food better than no food?  I think yes.) or at least recycle the cans.  If you want more information on BPA in aluminum cans, you can start here.

As if that weren’t enough, today I found out that an environmental group in California has found that several brands of juice and packaged fruit contain illegal amounts of lead.  These brands range from small local juice companies to national giants and include both organic and non-organic products.  All the products tested are marketed towards children. You can see the list of products tested here and get more information on the now formal case here.

So, another couple reasons to support local foods.  And avoid buying canned goods, or anything in a plastic bottle.  And start searching yard sales for a juicer. And figure out a way to grow your own apples.  And make one of your kids major in chemistry so you can understand all this stuff.

Nicole put it best in her email response to me: “Ugh!  Is there anything I can buy that won’t harm my child??”

It seems that everything we do has an impact on the environment, and Blogging is not to be excluded. It makes sense when you think about it: a blogger needs a computer to publish from and a server to publish to, and both of these electronics eat up energy.  Consider this, from the website for 1 Blog, 1 Tree:

“According to a study by Alexander Wissner-Gross, PhD, physicist at Harvard University and environmental activist, an average website causes about 8 ounces of carbon dioxide for each visit. Assuming an average blog gets 15,000 visits a month, it has yearly carbon dioxide emissions of 8 pounds. This can mainly be tracked back to the immense energy usage from (mainframe) computers, servers, and their cooling systems.”

There are some ways to bring your blogging into the carbon-neutral zone.  First, you could plant a tree.  One tree per blog (as long as you have 15,000 hits or less per month) will cover it.  If you have more hits than that (impressive!) then more trees will be needed.

If you’re not much into dirt work, you can have a tree planted for you for free over at the 1 Blog, 1 Tree site.  I first heard about this program on the Krafty Kitten blog, and after some checking around, I’m fairly certain the program is legit.  I signed up for it, which means I get to display this pretty button on my site.

Another option is to check with your blog host.  Many hosting companies are offering green hosting options that at least make the server part of your blog carbon-neutral.  My MOMcation website is hosted through Just Host’s green program, which uses servers that run off of alternative energy.  You can check out a list of other green hosting options here.

As the realm of blogging continues to evolve, we’re seeing more emphasis on transparency, disclosure, and other ethical issues.  It only makes sense that our responsibility to respect our Earth should be addressed as well.

So, what’s your gpm?  GPM?  Gallons Per Minute!  How many gallons per minute does your shower head spit out?  If you don’t know, you might want to find out.  It’s likely that it’s 2.5 gallons per minute or more.  That’s what our shower heads were rated at, so our One Small Change for May is to replace our shower heads with low-flow versions, which use only 1.5 gpm.  I have been wanting to do this since we moved in, but I really started focusing on it during the months of February and March, when Craig was gone every week for work, and our water usage dropped substantially (according to our meter readings on our water bill).  Hubby loves his 10 minute morning showers.

So, some simple math here.  If Craig takes a 10 minute shower every day, and our new shower heads save us 1 gallon per minute, that’s 10 gallons a day, or 3,650 gallons per year.  I probably take a 10 minute shower every other day, so that’s another 1,825 gallons saved.  So total, we’re looking at saving approximately 5,475 gallons of water per year.  Based on our water bill, we pay approximately $0.72 per gallon (including the sewer fee, which is based off of how much water you use), so switching our shower heads will save us $39.15 per year. We paid $14 and $20 for our two new low-flow shower heads, so our total cost is $34. This first year, we’ll come out $5 ahead in our pockets, not to mention the value of conservation itself, and of teaching these concepts to our children.  It should be noted here that we are on the low end of the spectrum of water usage, averaging 400 cubic feet of water per month.  According to Central Arkansas Water, the average family of four uses 800 cubic feet of water per month!  So, the average family would stand to save a lot more money by installing low flow shower heads than we will.

Many people say that low flow shower heads do not provide the same quality of water pressure as regular shower heads.  So, here are a couple videos so you can see for yourself:

Above is our old 2.5gpm shower head.

Above is Craig’s new 1.5 gpm shower head.

As you can see, the spray style is completely different on these two shower heads, and when I first saw the videos, I was a little concerned that Craig would not like the new style of spray.  He said that he actually prefers it, as it provides MORE water pressure than the old shower head.

Another statement that I hear about low flow shower heads is that people are concerned about the installation process.  So, here’s a video of Craig installing the new shower head, one handed while holding the camera in the other hand, in less than a minute and fifteen seconds.

Low flow shower heads come in many different styles, ranging from the basic model that Craig installed which you can likely purchase at your local home improvement store, to higher priced heads with massage settings, “rainstorm” spray, and whatever else you might require.  I have a somewhat fancier low flow shower head on order from Amazon, so we’ll post video of it as soon as it gets here.

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