Thursday, April 30, 2009

The other side of the camera - School morning

Forever In Blue Jeans

I'm participating in what I think is a really smart weekly challenge hosted by Carin at Forever in Blue Jeans. It seems like mamas spend an awful lot of time behind the camera. The idea of this challenge is for mamas to get on the other side of the camera in at least one photo a week.

When my boys grow up they'll inherit hundreds of thousands of photos taken from their childhood, but how many of those will show their mama? At least for this year I can answer 52!
I'm usually pretty good about getting my one pic a week by Wednesday. But this week I was a slacker. Thursday morning and no photo to post.

So, the boys and I headed to their school. They go to a co-op nursery school held at a local park. All the moms have to work one day a week...except for me. I have two kids attending so I work every Tuesday and Thursday.

Before anyone else showed up for school this morning (and thought I was crazy), I grabbed a self-portrait with the boys.

I love those little muffins!

If I contacted you about a 'green' award, congrats and thank you! The code can me found in this post.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I respect my mama...and you do too!

Thank you to everyone who participated in my Earth Week posts. I was truly moved that you came back over and over again to learn a few ways my family respects Mama Earth. And I loved hearing about the things your family is doing too.

And let me say that I was really moved, moved to tears even, that everyone 'got it.' I heard from many of my blog friends that are starting to use reusable bags, buying compost pails and bins, getting more diligent about recycling. I truly was blown away.

Here are some the things you challenged my family to do:
  • Get a rain barrel
  • Use newspapers to clean windows and mirrors
  • Buy gently used clothing for the kids
  • Use cloth napkins at mealtimes
  • Mulching and using natural methods to keep out garden pests
  • Use dryer balls
  • Reuse packaging (like resealable bags that food comes in)
  • Wash cars at water less car washes or places that recycle their water
  • Stop using toilet paper
Some of the above, my family already does. And some we are definitely not ready to try not using toilet paper! (Maybe after Logan is potty trained...)
But here is what my family is going to implement:
  • Using power strips to cut the energy that appliances use even when off
  • Make my own household cleaners
  • Use less paper towels
Thanks for all the great suggestions.
Now on to the giveaway...

A special "thank you" to ecostore USA and snackTAXI for generously donating their amazing Earth-friendly products to my 'get green' giveaway. It's companies like these that make going green so easy.

The winner of the 'get green starter kit' giveaway is:
Mimi at He & Me + 3

Mimi is a great blogger, friend and mom to three. Stop by her site to congratulate her and read a couple posts. You won't be sorry that you did...

Congrats Mimi!

I wish I had an amazing runner-up prize I could hand out to everyone else who participated in my green posts. The best I can do is to bestow a world-renowned and prestigious award upon those that contributed to making my Earth Week so amazing.
I'd like to present the following readers with the "I Respect My Mama" Award for showing some respect to Mother Earth.

Alicia at More Than Words
Amy Jo at The Little Moments...
Brandy at I'm Not Your Average Soccer Mom
Carrie at Martin Manor Happinings
Christina at Mrs. Mom - CEO and Rant-Rave-Roll
Denise at There is Always Room for One More
Donnetta at Life in the Fast Lane
Elaine at Lipstickdaily
Femin Susan at My Vision
Foxy at The Fox Den
Gianna at A Traveling Thought
Gigi at Afterthoughts
Ginny at Mom of 2 Dancers
Girl Child at Ahh Oooommmm
Heidi at The Johnson family tales
Jane Anne at Gravity of Motion
JD at Infinite Adventures at the Zoo
Jo at The A-Priori Mommy
Keri at Life of Logan
Laura at Hey What's for Dinner Mom?
Lindsay at The Musings of the Mrs.
Martha at A Sense of Humor is Essential
Mimi at He & Me + 3
Mimi at Screaming Mimi
Nikki at With my stilettos...
Orah at Mamma's Happy Hour
Pixeltrash at Pixeltrash Mania
Renee at Always a Southern Girl
Ryan Ashely Scott at Optimistic Cynicism
Shasta at Crackers and Chaos
Shosh at Day by Glorious Day
Tanya at Maya and Odessa
Tim at Fort Thompson
Veronica Lee at Of Mice and Ramen

It's very possible with the great number of responses I got on my Earth Week posts that I overlooked someone. If you left me a comment on my green posts or are actively doing something green in your life, feel free to grab the "I Respect My Mama" award.

Here is the code for the award:

Thank you for making Earth Week so amazing for me!

Note to self: Don't give awards to so many bloggers! I have to contact all of them tonight!
Also, for my next giveaway, don't make the entry process so complicated that I need to make a spreadsheet to determine the winner!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Times are tough...

In a recession, it's all about sharing! One small Icee for three boys...

For more Wordful Wednesday posts, visit 7 Clown Circus.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tag! I'm it!

Last week I was tagged by Shasta at Crackers and Chaos and someone else...I'm so, so sorry but I forgot who. Since it was Earth Week and I couldn't find a way to make all my tag answers 'green' I saved it for this week.

This is a two parter.

Keeping it Real
Here are the rules:
  • Take a picture of yourself right now
  • No primping or preening, just snap the picture
  • Load the picture on to your blog
  • Tag some people to play
Okay people...brace yourself!

This is what I look like after putting two little whirling dervishes cuties to bed. (I typically enjoy an entire bottle glass of champagne after they are finally blissfully asleep!)
What if I told you, that instead of primping and preening, I tried to make myself look worse than normal. What if that's a lie. I guess you'll never know...

The second part is much more fun and not at all scary like above:
8 is Enough!

8 Things I am Looking Forward To
1. Logan being potty trained sometime before he goes to college (hopefully)
2. Camping with my parents and Scott and the boys in June
3. Naptime, naptime, naptime
4. Traveling internationally with the boys
5. Bedtime, bedtime, bedtime
6. Traveling internationally without the boys
7. Being able to sleep in (which means later than 8)
8. Moving to a different (read: nicer) house on a different (read: less busy) street

8 Things I Did Yesterday
1. Whispered "I love you" to the boys
2. Made cards from Jack and Logan's artwork
3. Complained about how tired I am
4. Kissed a boo-boo
5. Snuck a cookie when the boys weren't looking
6. Blogged
7. Wiped a snotty nose (with my hand and wiped it on my jeans)
8. Drank a bottle glass of champagne

8 Things I Wish I Could Do
1. Cook like my mom
2. Manage money like my dad
3. Fly (like a superhero or a pilot, either would do)
4. Remember things like an elephant
5. Play a guitar like my husband
6. Learn languages easily
7. Spend more time learning about photography
8. Throw a tantrum in a store and have everyone give me exactly what I want

8 Shows I Watch
1. The Amazing Race
2. Oprah (yeah, I said it!)
3. The Motherhood (needs some work but is entertaining)
4. Lost (I'm so confused but I keep watching)
5. Fringe
6. Curious George (PBS) (Notice that the header was 'shows I watch'...not 'shows I like')
7. Toot & Puddle (Noggin) (Same note as #6)
8. Imagination Movers (Disney) (Same note as #6)

Looking for a fun easy post. Then, tag! You're it!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Silly boys!

Jack has become very susceptible to advertising. When he's watching Nickelodeon, I frequently get asked to pretty please purchase remote control helicopters and cars that will drive upside down.

But today, he threw me for a loop...

"Mama, can we get one of those?," he says gesturing to the TV.

"What? The automatic toothpaste dispenser?"

"Yeah! I really want one," Jack says wistfully.

I'm caught a bit off guard so I chuckle and say, "Um, well, honey, are you too lazy to squeeze your own toothpaste?"

"But it saves time!"

"If we were to get an automatic toothpaste dispenser, what would you do with all your extra free time?"

"Brush my teeth!"


Logan is all about invading my personal space. The best way I can to describe it is to say that if he could climb back in my womb, he would. He's not clingy per se. He's just really into me, I guess.

He doesn't want to just sleep in the same bed as me. He wants to share my pillow and (try to) wrap both of his short little arms around my neck while I sleep. This means we generally sleep nose to nose.

He doesn't just want to sit next to me. He wants to climb up me and perch on my head and shoulders like a little monkey while watching TV.

Logan says, "Mama, move the 'puter. I want to get on!"
I look at him quizzically as I push my laptop to the side, "Huh? Get on what?"
"Get on you!," he says with a grin.


My Silly Boys

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Scenic Sunday - Our honeymoon

I took this picture on our luna de miel (honeymoon) in 2005. Scott and I spent 2 1/2 weeks traveling all over Italy. On this day, we were in Tuscany in our trusty rented car that we named Romaldo.

We took what we thought was a short cut. Obviously, we were wrong.

We drove for an hour on this dirt track without seeing anyone...unsure if it was best to go back or continue forward. We didn't mind that we had no idea where we were. We were together and enjoying the beautiful Italian countryside.


I'm participating in Miti's Scenic Sunday. Be sure to stop by her blog to check out other beautiful scenery!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Green things to make you say "Hmmmm..."

Well, ladies and...I guess you're all mostly just ladies...this is my last green post this week. I've had a lot of fun recapping what my family does and hearing about what you do and plan to do. It was really moving for me to see mamas getting excited about the planet and what condition it will be in for our kids and grandkids.

Here are a last couple of tidbits...

In Ireland in 2002, a tax was instituted on plastic bag consumption. Consumption dropped by more than 90%! More than 12 countries tax or ban plastic bags.

In most cities, Starbucks' paper cups (2.3 billion annually!) are not recyclable (because they are coated with plastic so that they don't leak). However, more and more cities are able to recycle styrofoam cups.

Bowls, plates, cups and cutlery can be made from sugar cane, corn and/or potatoes. These products are biodegradable/compostable.

The average American generates 4.5 pounds of garbage daily. For a family of 4 that equals more than 6,500 pounds of trash in one year. Obviously, when you multiply that by the number of families in the US and calculate it over several years, the amount of garbage is staggering.

Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled (on average) 1,500 miles to reach your plate. That's a lot of gasoline at dinner!

Disposable diapers are the 3rd largest source of landfill waste. (This is one of my regrets...that I did not cloth diaper my boys.)

75% of the electricity used to power household appliances is still used when the electronics are turned off.

Composting is gaining enough popularity that our kids are learning about it on Curious George (PBS) and Toot & Puddle (Noggin).

40% of bottled water is tap water.

If everyone in America ate one meal a week made of completely locally and organically raised produce and meats, our country's oil consumption would drop by 1.1 million barrels a week.

Sun Chips uses solar energy to make some of their chips. Additionally, they hope to create a fully biodegradable/compostable bag by 2010.

In every ocean there is a floating garbage debris. The largest area is in the Pacific and it's surface size is equivalent to the size of Texas. In some places the trash is 90 feet deep. It's comprised primarily of plastic bags and bottles.

If you want to learn about what you can do to help the environment, feel free to read some of my other posts from this week:
And if you were impressed with my aluminum bottle collection and want to start your very own, here is a coupon for 20% off Sigg bottles.

To win my 'get green starter kit,' enter my giveaway here.

Now I'm stepping down from my soap box (and taking it straight to the recycling bin). ;)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Scooters, styrofoam and no-waste lunches...oh, my!

My post yesterday, Bags, farmers and worms, oh, my!, touched on reusable bags, farmer's markets and composting. I was so, so, so excited at the comments I got. (Heck, Girl Child's second comment brought tears to my eyes!)

So, today I'm continuing on with the more...difficult?, unusual?...things my family does to help our planet. Though they really aren't that difficult. And hopefully, in the near future they won't be considered unusual, but mainstream.

Scott rides a scooter to and from work everyday. Not only is it good for the planet but it's good for the wallet. (He gets over 65 miles per gallon!)

If I could figure out a way to safely strap my kids and me together (maybe Logan on my chest and Jack on my back), I could get a scooter too! (Wait, where would I keep the sippy cups...and snacks...and change of clothes...and toys?) Oh, well! If/when Honda makes a hybrid minivan, I'll be all over it!

Frequently, we ride the bus. We actually started because we have two young boys interested with any and every thing with wheels. We have buses that go down our street and as babies the big colorful city buses always peaked their interest. Even after a year of bus rides they still get excited when we tell them we taking one that day. It's good for the planet and saves us money on the exorbitant parking fees in our city.

This topic could have almost made my my list of "no brainers." Luckily recycling is becoming commonplace and it seems like everyone has the basics down...soda cans, newspapers, glass and plastic bottles.

But what about other things...yogurt containers, jars, cans from canned food, egg cartons, empty paper towel rolls, wrapping paper, pasta boxes, plastic bags. Even the bag our baby carrots came in is recyclable. And in the city I live in, styrofoam is recyclable.

In the past, when I was done with something and wanting to throw it away, it went in the trashcan automatically. Now, when I have "trash" I turn to the trashcan as my last choice. I'm always hoping it can be composted or recycled. It takes me no more than 15 seconds to rinse out a dirty container before tossing it in the blue bin.

Here a couple of things from my recycling bin (and boy, did Jack give me some odd looks as I pulled stuff out and set it up on the counter!):
Of course, the kitchen isn't the only place where recyclables can me found. I'm slowly getting better about recycling stuff that would normally end up in my bathroom's trashcan:
In my dream house, I'd have space built into each bathroom for a container for recyclables.

No-waste lunches and snacks
With two kids, I make more than 400 school lunches a year. What if for every one of those lunches there was a juice box, a plastic fork, a ziplock bag and a yogurt container or chip bag.

Then my family alone would be putting 400 juice boxes, 400 plastic utensils, 400 ziplock bags and 400 pieces of trash from a pre-packaged food into a landfill in one year. One two-kid family in one year = 16,000 pieces of trash just from school lunches! This doesn't even take into account when Scott or I would make lunches.

So instead, we have "no-waste" lunches. I have a collection of reusable lunch containers, utensils and sandwich wraps. We use them every weekday and pretty frequently on the weekends...we picnic a lot. Additionally, I have reusable snack bags that get used everyday. Here is my collection:
The cute little bags (actually two little and one bigger) in the back are from snackTAXI. They can be used for sandwiches or snacks and wipe clean easily (or can go in the dishwasher or laundry machine).

The red gingham things are wrap your sandwiches in them and they double as a placemat. Scott and I primarily use these.

The utensils are from the dollar bin at Target. (Where else, of course?)

The plastic boxes are like bento boxes with removable compartments. You can see them in action in this post. I love that you can rearrange the compartments to fit your needs. These are what the boys use daily. They are from a company called Lock & Lock.

And the teeny tiny containers are from a local Japanese market. We use them for dipping sauces or raisins or sunflower seeds for the boys to sprinkle on their salads.

Now I will say that it cost a bit of money to get this collection. But in the long run it pays for itself. I use these things every day. That means that I'm not paying for tons of baggies and utensils. Additionally, I save money by buying a big bag of pretzels and putting some in the snack bags instead of paying a premium for little individual disposable bags of pretzels. Save the planet.

No-waste drinks
Ummm...I think my family might have a drinking problem. Or maybe I just have a bottle collecting problem. One is Scott's, two are mine and the rest...well, the rest belong to two thirsty little boys.
All of these bottles are aluminum and reusable, of course. They are used for water and occasionally juice. That means no plastic disposable water bottles and no juice boxes. Woohoo!

And again, they pay for themselves. Instead of paying for bottled water, I get mine for free out of the tap. (Don't like the taste? We had a Britta pitcher and now we have a Pur filter on the tap. Both taste great.) As for juice, I buy a big bottle and am able to water it down (for health and economic reasons) when I fill up the boy's little bottles. Way cheaper than juice boxes...and way better for the environment. (Did you know juice boxes are usually not recyable because they are coated with a plastic that can't be seperated from the paper?)

Well, that's all I've got.

Actually, that's not quite right. I've got one more thing.

I put together a 'get green starter kit' that I'm giving away.

Get green starter kit giveaway

If you haven't noticed, I'm passionate about the environment. Since becoming a mama, it has become more and more important to me.

In honor of Earth Week, I thought I'd offer a giveaway to help raise awareness of how easy it can be to go green. But I'm going to make you work for it. Though not just for kicks...because our planet is worth it. Because you and me and our kids are worth it.

The 'get green starter kit' giveaway includes:

Total approximate value: $50
(The snackTAXI bag size, color and pattern may vary. The one pictured above is my personal one as I have not yet received the one for the giveaway.)

A special 'thank you' to snackTAXI for donating a snack bag and ecostore USA for donating a $25 gift certificate. It's companies like these that make going 'green' so easy!

To enter, leave one comment on this post telling me two things:
  1. At least one change your family will make, starting now, to help the environment. You can pick one of the things I've mentioned in my Earth Week posts (listed below) or something all your own. It could be something could be something small. Just make it realistic. And promise that you'll really, actually do it.
  2. Second, challenge my family to do something green. Essentially, I'm looking for ideas that my family can add to our list of Earth-friendly tasks and I'd love to hear your suggestions.
This post will only give you one entry. There are opportunities for more chances (see below) but you will not be entered at all unless you leave this comment.

For extra entries, leave a separate comment for each additional chance:
  • Follow my blog (or current followers let me know you already do so)
  • Add my button to your blog
  • Write a post on your blog about my giveaway and in your comment here leave a link to your post

For an extra 10 entries, read the following three posts and leave a comment on each of the following posts (if you've already left a comment on each one, those count):

When all is said and done, you could have left me as many as 7 comments (4 on this post for 4 entries and 1 on each of the 3 posts above totaling 10 extra entries) which would equal 14 possible entries in the drawing.

If your email address is not visible in your profile, you'll need to supply it in your comments. Otherwise, if you are the lucky winner, I'll have no way to get in touch with you.

I'll stop accepting comments/entries as of Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 9:00 PM PST and draw a winner at random (using shortly thereafter. Giveaway is only open to US or Canadian residents.

Good luck!


The other side of the camera - At the rose garden

Forever In Blue Jeans

I'm participating in what I think is a really smart weekly challenge hosted by Carin at Forever in Blue Jeans. It seems like mamas spend an awful lot of time behind the camera. The idea of this challenge is for mamas to get on the other side of the camera in at least one photo a week.

When my boys grow up they'll inherit hundreds of thousands of photos taken from their childhood, but how many of those will show their mama? At least for this year I can answer 52!

The boys and I visited our local science museum over spring break with some school friends. We were not the only ones with that bright idea so the museum was packed. After a brief while we gave up and headed outside to a rose garden where the kids could run, run, run until their hearts content. Just a quick break for a photo op...
Logan was a little grumpy about having to stop playing for a picture...hence, the grouch face. And Jack looks sunburned but he just gets very, very rosy cheeks when he is exerting himself.

Today's Earth Week post, Scooters, styrofoam and no-waste lunches...oh, my! is posted in addition to my 'get green starter kit' giveaway.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bags, farmers and worms...oh, my!

So, my post the day before yesterday was my list of "no brainers." And I loved everyone's comments that these were things their family was already doing.

Today and tomorrow I'll get into some of the more...difficult?, unusual?...things my family does to help our planet. Though they really aren't that difficult. And hopefully, in the near future they won't be considered unusual, but mainstream.

Reusable bags
This one almost made it on the "no brainer list." It's really not that difficult and thankfully gaining a lot of popularity.

The average person uses more than 300 plastic bags a year. Multiply that times the number of people in your family and that's a huge number of bags in a year. In my family of four, in the 18 years it would take my boys to head to college, my family would have consumed more than 21,500 plastic bags. Um, that is an obnoxious amount of plastic bags.

Seriously, how easy is it to use reusable shopping bags? I use them at the grocery, toy and drug stores. I use them at Target and the farmer's market. This is about 2/3rds of my collection. I won't spend more than $1 for one but so many stores are carrying them cheap now.
Reusable bags are becoming so mainstream that many stores offer some sort of incentive to use them. My (big chain) grocery store gives each customer 5 points of credit for each reusable bag used and my Trader Joe's enters those using reusable bags in a giveaway for free groceries. Some stores are even going as far as to charge customers for plastic bags.

A tip for mamas...
Another reason why I love using reusable bags is that it cuts down on tantruming kiddos at the store. Let's just say that I'm in Target (not hard to imagine!) and I find something, maybe a snack or a toy, that I want to get the kids but I don't want them to have, or even see, right now.

While my boys are distracted, I slip the item into one of my reusable bags siting in my cart. We go on our merry way up and down the aisles with my boys none the wiser (because they can't see through or into the bags).

When I get to checkout, I hand the whole bag to the cashier and ask them to scan the items while they remain in the bag. Usually, once they see what's in the bag and my two whirling dervish kids they understand what I'm trying to do.

The only downside is that Target's anti-theft employees can be found trailing me throughout the store. But hey, it's nice to have some grown-up company while I'm shopping.

Support your local farmer's market
I love shopping at farmer's markets. I wish I could go more often. Often foods and flowers are organic and grown using sustainable agriculture. Another bonus is that the food for sale didn't have to travel thousands of miles before it enters your kitchen.

Luckily my city offers several different markets. To find one near you, enter your zip code at Local Harvest and specify that you are looking for a farmer's market.

Hi! I'd like you to meet my little friend. This is Mr. Compost Pail. He sits in a place of honor on my kitchen counter, right between my kitchen sink and the trash can.

What goes in my compost pail?
Cantaloupe rinds, dry Cheerios that never got eaten, egg shells, bread crust cut from my sons' sandwiches, strawberry stems, carrot tops, tea bags, bell pepper ribs and seeds, leftover pasta with tomato sauce, cookies that expired (oh, wait...we never let that happen around here!)

I can hear you now. "That', Carey. Now you have all your yuckiest trash sitting in a bucket on your counter. What now?"

You've got two options.

You can go full out and buy or make a compost bin. This is kept in your yard and you fill it with the kitchen scraps and every so often mix it up. Did I mention the worms? Yes, there are worms in the compost bin (not the pail!). They eat your kitchen scraps and their poop is the compost. "Um, Carey. What do I want with worm poop?" You use it as fertilizer on your plants.

Because we live in a big city and don't have much room for a compost bin or much need for a lot of fertilizer, we empty our compost pail in our city's green can. Our city provides each house with three "trash" cans. Black for trash, blue for recycling and green for biodegradable waste. For most families, they only use the green can for yard clippings. We add the items from our compost pail to it as well. The city then turns it into compost.

Try this: Instead of automatically throwing all your kitchen scraps in the trash let them pile up for one meal (from the prep and cooking to the leftovers on the plate). Anything that is not meat or cheese can be put in the compost pail. You've got a pretty good-size pile right?

Now imagine this: That pile of scraps from EVERY meal, EVERY day!

I fill up the pail every couple of days, maybe 3-4 days. In a year, my family probably empties the pail 100 times. So imagine 100 pails filled with food all adds up. But I'm so happy to say that ours doesn't add up in a landfill.

A couple more points about composting:
  • No, there is no smell from my compost pail. It has two charcoal filters that prevent any funky smells from escaping. I've had the pail for almost a year and haven't even had to replace the filters yet.
  • Compost pails are not hard to come by. They are available on Amazon and at Bed Bath and Beyond for about $25.
  • I used to put the food directly into the pail. I'd empty it every couple of days and by that time it would get a bit grody at the bottom of the pail. I was much a much happier composter when I started using biodegradable bags to line the pail. Several companies make bags specifically to fit compost pails but they can be expensive. I buy biodegradable diaper bags at Target and they work great (Nature BabyCare diaper disposal bags; $3 for 50). I can empty the pail, bags and all directly into my city's green can or a compost bin because the bags are biodegradable.
  • The city I live in offers a free compost seminar every month and discounts on compost bins. Maybe your city has a similar program?
I was going to leave you with a picture of my yucky food scraps, but I'll spare you.

Any questions about any of the above, bring it on! There is a good chance I won't know the answer (again, I'm not an expert) but I'll happily try to find the answer.

Tomorrow's post is titled Scooters, styrofoam and no-waste lunches...oh, my! Intrigued?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Special delivery!

Ding dong!

Oh, crap...I just opened the backdoor. The alarm panel is beeping, imploring me to come turn it off. The boys are asleep in the car and need to be moved to their beds for naptime. But there is someone at the front door. Which is weird because there is never anyone at our front door...

It's a package! Woohoo! A box of goodies from ecostore USA. Hmmm...I'm torn between ripping open the box or doing the responsible thing and getting sleeping Jack and Logan out of the car. (You'll have to guess what I did first...I'll never tell!)

Inside are three great products; Dishwash Liquid, Vanilla Shampoo and Baby Sleepytime Bath. And as it just so happens that I have some dirty dishes, dirty hair and dirty kids so I'm excited to get started using the products right away.

Exhibit A: Clean dishes thanks to ecostore's Diswash Liquid
Upon looking at the label of the Dishwash Liquid I realize that I can pronounce every single ingredient. No crazy chemical names. How often does that happen?

Exhibit B: Clean hair thanks to ecostore's Vanilla Shampoo
Yes, that really is a picture of the back of my head at the beach today. Soft, shiny, sweet-smelling hair...

Exhibit C: Clean (and sleepy!) kids thanks to ecostore's Baby Sleepytime Bath
This product uses aromatherapy, specifically oil of lavender, to relax the kiddos. Heck, it's so fragrant that Scott, sitting in the bathroom overseeing the boys' bath, got sleepy.

And of course, everything about the products (including the packaging and the shipping materials) is environmentally friendly. Would you expect anything less from a store called ecostore?

Since we are all about recycle-reduce-reuse at my house we found a way to reuse the box...or is this recycling since Logan's using it for a car? I always get a bit confused between the two...

I loved all three products and can't wait until I get to use them again tomorrow. If there are three things I can count on, it's dirty dishes, dirty hair and dirty kids.

And here are some other reasons why I love these products:
  • They smell great
  • No nasty chemicals
  • Safe for your body and the planet
  • They smell great (oh, wait, did I already mention that?)
  • No animal testing
  • Free shipping on all orders $25 and up
  • Made in New Zealand, a place that I've been lucky enough to travel to and really want to go back with the boys
Besides ecostore products being available online, they are also in Meijer stores in the Midwest for those of you lucky enough to live near one. The NZ founder, Malcolm Rands, is also giving eco-talks in Meijer stores this month. (Click here for locations and dates.)

And last, but certainly not least, ecostore was generous enough to provide me with a $25 gift certificate that I'm including in a "get green starter kit" giveaway later this week.

Alright...I'm off to tuck in my sweet-smelling, clean, sleepy boys.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Respect your mother...

Mother Earth, that is.

I was mildly interested in environmentalism before I had kids. But being a mama changes so much. Now I'm passionate about our environment.

I want to learn more about sustainable agriculture, my carbon footprint, protecting wildlife and pollution issues. I want to buy more organic (foods, fabrics, etc.) and more natural products. I want to visit a landfill to see the damage first-hand. I want to visit a recycling center to see the recovery begin to take place.

But it's not for's for my kids and their future kids.

When I started making a list of some of the things my family does to help the planet, I noticed that some items were more progressive and maybe considered alternative outside of a "green" community (or state like California). I'll get to those in a post later this week.

But also on the list were what I would consider "no brainers," things that hopefully are more commonplace. The best part about the "no brainers" is that in doing something good for the planet, often I am also doing something healthier for my family and saving money.

The "no brainers"
  • use energy-saver light bulbs
  • choose an environmentally-friendly product over one that is not
  • turn off TVs (my husband needs a bit of help with this one) and lights when not in the room
  • clean the lint trap of your dryer
  • set heater/air-conditioner on a timer
  • machine wash your clothes in cold water
  • turn off faucets when not in use
  • collect rain water to water plants
  • buy organic as often as possible
  • choose a product with as little packaging as possible
  • donate items to thrift stores
  • turn unusable old clothes into rags
  • reuse tissue paper and ribbon from gifts
  • turn my kids' abundant artwork into greeting cards
Over the next several days I'll throw out some other ideas that you might be interested in implementing with your family. And I'd love to hear what you do that isn't on my lists.

From the books I read to the household cleaners I buy, I'm thinking about the environment. I am by no means an expert. And I could be doing more. But little by little, day by day, I learn new things and take better care of our planet and my family.

Now, go show your mother some respect!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Random notes from my first giveaway...

Lessons I have learned from my first giveaway:
Apparently, I am not the only one with an addiction to Target. I heard from many of you about your struggles. Just know that you are not alone. And there is help for us. I am planning on starting a 26 step program (12 steps is not enough!) to help us kick this dangerous habit.

A note to all of my new followers:
I realize that I bribed you. And I'm a feeling a bit of regret over that. I can't make you stay against your will. If you want to go, I won't try to stop you. But let me say, I am a loyal commenter. Show me a little comment love and I'll happily reciprocate. Over and over again...

Although, now that I think of it, I do realize that you left me a comment (or four) when you entered my giveaway and I might not have returned the favor yet. I was a little lot surprised at the number of entries I husband had asked me if I thought I'd get as many as 50! I got more than 4 times that amount.

Anyway, I'm loyal to those who are loyal to me. So if you feel like sticking around, I'm happy to have you and I'll be sure to swing by your place.

Now on to the giveaway:

They say (and who is "they" anyway?) it is better to give than receive, right? Well, then why did I have the urge to run right out to Target with this gift card and continue to feed my addiction. I started out many times only to turn the car around and hang my head as I slunk back into the house to put the gift card away. It's an addiction, people! But the first step is acknowledging it. Only 25 more steps to go!

I've had so much fun with this giveaway. But the time has come to announce the winner with a little help from Here is who's on the receiving end of a $50 gift card to Target:


Congrats to The Musings of the Mrs.!

Swing by Lindsay's site and don't let your jealousy get in the way of congratulating her.

This week is Earth Week and I've got another giveaway planned. It won't be as easy as this last one but it's for a good cause...our planet. I'm going to make you work for it because our planet and the little people who live on it (like my kiddos) deserve it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The wisdom of Kermit....

It's not that easy being green;
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.

When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold...

or something much more colorful like that.

It's not easy being green.

It seems you blend in with so many other ord'nary things.
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're

not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water

or stars in the sky.

But green's the color of Spring.

And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain,

or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be

It could make you wonder why,
but why wonder why?
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful!
And I think it's what I want to be.

Earth Day is next Wednesday and in it's honor I'll be doing several eco-posts next week. It's not always easy being "green" but it's not that difficult either. My family does a few small things that I hope add up and make a difference. It's important for my boys and their would-be kids and their would-be kids.

I'll also be doing another giveaway...but this time I'll make you work for it. Because our planet is worth it, because our kids are worth it...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The other side of the camera - Easter

Forever In Blue Jeans

I'm participating in what I think is a really smart weekly challenge hosted by Carin at Forever in Blue Jeans. It seems like mamas spend an awful lot of time behind the camera. The idea of this challenge is for mamas to get on the other side of the camera in at least one photo a week.

When my boys grow up they'll inherit hundreds of thousands of photos taken from their childhood, but how many of those will show their mama? At least for this year I can answer 52!

So, I'm not a big fan of posed photos but it's what we've got this week. This photo was taken on Easter at my in-laws house. The boys were running around on the front lawn like wild banshees and wouldn't stand still for a pic. The best we could do was to throw them on our backs and smile.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Tip for Tuesday

My boys are so different in many ways. One difference is obvious when we see a movie. Though Jack is 15 months older than Logan there have been several movies that have scared the bejeesus out of him but did not phase his younger brother. Monsters vs. Aliens was one of those movies. (See my pseudo-review here.) Jack covered his eyes several times before finally asking to leave partway through the movie.

Kids in Mind is a website I've used for a couple of years, which makes it even more embarrassing that I didn't consult it before taking the boys to see Monsters vs. Aliens last week.

They have three categories that they rate: Sex & Nudity, Violence & Gore and Profanity. But in my opinion, even more valuable than their ratings are the extremely detailed descriptions they write about the movie for each of these three categories.

The descriptions offer no judgment...just the facts so that parents can make their own judgments based on their family's values and their kids' sensitivities. Because it' all relative.

The Sex & Nudity descriptions for kids' movies crack me up. For example, this was written about Nim's Island:
On a beach, several female dancers are in bikini tops and long grass skirts, male dancers are in knee-length shorts and are bare-chested.

Further, they go on to mention that a women wears a two-piece bathing suit. This would be handy to know for those families that still wear old-fashioned bathing outfits to their private watering hole because they are not comfortable with bare midriffs. Those families should definitely avoid the risque Nim's Island. (See, this is me judging...not Kids in Mind.)

More telling for me are the Violence & Gore descriptions. We are a toy-weapon-free house so if I had actually read the description for Monsters vs. Aliens the term "open-fire" would have tipped me off that we might have a problem. Then there is this:
The image of an alien is projected into the sky and tells many people standing on the ground below that "We are here to destroy you," and "Take over your planet," and it threatens death and slavery.

I know my kids. And I would have known that Jack would be scared if I had actually bothered to look this movie up.

Sorry, Jack! Sweet dreams?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Who's who?

Which little monkey:
  • When he didn't get his way, said "Mama, you made me sad but I love you anyways because you're sooooo cute."
  • Refuses to let anyone eat a hard-boiled egg once he's dyed or colored on it.
  • Uses the word "cross" as in "Logan, you've made me sooooooo cross!"

Which little love bug:
  • Said sternly "Look at my eyes when I talk to you!," something he's heard his mama say one or two or a million times.
  • Used a stool to get a cantaloupe off the kitchen counter. When he was found wandering the house with it and his mama inquired what he was doing, he replied that he was going to play basketball with it.
  • Shouted "Duck your head, Mama!" When asked why, he said, "Because of the flying bananas!"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Step right up and enter here!

In honor of my 101st post I'm doing a giveaway!

I spent some time trying to think of the perfect thing to give away. Something that figuratively said "Life in the Carpool Lane" but was useful, wanted, needed.

Somedays I considered giving the boys away (but that's probably not legal) and they don't really qualify as useful.

Then, I combed through my past 100 posts and thought I could offer products that I mentioned. Maybe:
a set of orange ice cube trays
a Dan Zanes CD
The Goonies
a book from my spring reading list
a Matchbox car
V8 V*Fusion

Instead I decided to give something away that people would really use and want.
A gift certificate!

A gift certificate to Target!

That way you could buy some of the above things if you actually wanted them.

I thought $50 would do the trick!
{Cute kid not included.}
{Logan was also to be in the pic but was uncooperative and refused to wear anything on his lower half!}

I can hear you thinking, "But Carey, the economy is bad. Times are tough. How can you justify spending $50 on a gift certificate for a lucky reader?"

See, that's actually the easy part. I looked around my house and found $50 worth of merchandise that I could return to Target. Yes, I have a spending problem (but only at Target). I really had that much merchandise stashed away with tags attached and receipts saved that I had purchased in the last 90 days. (Kind of ridiculous when you think about it... So, I'm trying to not think about it.) The really sad part is that quite a few items came from the dollar bins. I should have apologized to the poor people behind me in the return line.

So I returned it all and bought you, one lucky reader, a $50 gift card.

If you've actually read this far then you must really want it.
So here are the rules:

To enter, leave one general comment on this post. (Feel free to tell me how wonderful you think I am.)

For extra entries, leave a separate comment for each additional chance:
  • Follow my blog (or current followers let me know you already do so)
  • Add my button to your blog
  • Write a post on your blog about my giveaway and in your comment here leave a link to your post
When all is said and done, you could have left me as many as 4 comments meaning you have as many as 4 entries in the drawing.

If your email address is not visible in your profile, you'll need to supply it in your comments. Otherwise, if you are the lucky winner, I'll have no way to get in touch with you.

I'll stop accepting comments/entries as of Friday, April 17, 2009 at midnight PST and draw a winner at random (using shortly thereafter. Giveaway is only open to US or Canadian residents. Giveaway is not open to my husband, Scott. (Don't even think about it, honey!)

Good luck!

No more entries are being accepted. The winner will be announced shortly.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

100 Things About Me - Installment #10

Finally, my last 100 Things About Me Post! It was hard but fun trying to think up so many, often quirky, things all about me. I heard a lot of "me too"s in the comments from these posts. I enjoyed getting to know you a bit better and hope you enjoyed learning about me.

Here is the 10th and final installment (#91-100):

91. My husband and I were best friends...

92. And then roommates...

93. Before we were ever a couple.

94. I have to have something sweet to eat in the evening.

95. I have chewed on cinnamon bark straight from a tree in Zanzibar.

96. In a previous life, I used to go the movies a lot.

97. I was born in California...

98. And though I grew up living in various places...

99. I always considered myself a California girl.

100. I can't believe that I stuck with blogging long enough to make it to my 100th post.

If you are interesting in reading more:
Installment #1
Installment #2
Installment #3
Installment #4
Follow-up to questions from #3 and #4
Installment #5
Installment #6
Installment #7
Installment #8
Installment #9

Make sure to drop by tomorrow...As a reward for suffering through reading 100 things about me, I'm doing my first ever giveaway and it's a doozy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The other side of the camera - Spring Break Movie

Forever In Blue Jeans

I'm participating in what I think is a really smart weekly challenge hosted by Carin at Forever in Blue Jeans. It seems like mamas spend an awful lot of time behind the camera. The idea of this challenge is for mamas to get on the other side of the camera in at least one photo a week.

When my boys grow up they'll inherit hundreds of thousands of photos taken from their childhood, but how many of those will show their mama? At least for this year I can answer 52!
Today we told the boys that we had a secret mission after their nap. Scott planned on leaving work a bit early so the family could go see a Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D. This pic was taken right after they realized we were at the movie theater.

I'd like to tell you about the movie but I didn't actually see much of it. I divided my attention between putting the enormous glasses back on Logan and consoling Jack through the scary parts.

I later realized that Logan kept taking the glasses off because he couldn't see through them. The lenses were grease-smeared from his little buttery fingers trying to keep them from falling off. Additionally, I left the movie early with Jack. He thinks he'll like this movie when he's older...maybe 5 but for sure when he's 6. But as a 4-year old, he did definitely not like it!

Here is what I can tell you if you are planning on seeing it in 3D. You might want to:
1.) swing by the bank first to get a small loan as they charge $3 more per ticket and
2.) bring duct tape so you can fasten the ridiculously large 3D glasses to your child's head. Apparently the geniuses who thought of using 3D technology for a kids' movie were not smart enough to think to have kid-size glasses made. Duh!