Monday, August 27, 2012

Stress, deadlines and personal avoidance

I don't know what's been quieter the last few weeks: my blog or my fitness routine.  Stymied by a major launch of a corporate website and resulting sleepless nights of worrying, I've come completely off-kilter.

My stress levels? Through the roof? My dietary habits? Not so great. And exercise? Lost to mornings of desperate attempts at catching up on sleep. This past week, as we got through major hurdles with our site, I came home over-caffeinated, over-stressed and under-nourished. Oh, we munched, just not on healthful choices. And I confess to more than one evening of carryout pizza or chicken nuggets.

Friday night, I made my kids a pack of mac and cheese and collapsed in the arm chair. I made it five minutes into a self-declared movie night.

Saturday, I was still worn out. We purposely stayed at home and I recharged, working slowly on household projects but not overexerting myself.

Yesterday, I was asleep by 9 and woke up 10 hours later. It was a beautiful thing.

Today, however, is a new day. I may have woken up late, but I did so with a renewed attitude. I added water to my meals, incorporated produce into my dinner and took the kids for a mile-long walk before bedtime.

Tomorrow, we have soccer practice, an excuse for one-on-one ball-kicking and conversations with my daughter while my son practices on the field. It may not be hard-core, it may not be the most intensive of workouts, but the important thing is I combine one thing I care most about with another thing I want to care more about: my family and my health.

Life will be stressful, and there's no guarantees, but you can only live so long in crisis mode.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too: A Review

My family could be using 400 pounds of plastic a year. A pound per day in our household alone.

It's a statistic that's shocking but not exactly surprising. When you factor in toys and my husband's creamer containers and toothpaste containers and everything else we use on a daily basis, you can see how quickly consumption adds up. Even if you consider yourself on the more environmentally friendlier side of the equation.

I recently read Beth Terry's Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too I've followed Beth's blog for years and was thrilled to get a chance to read her book that was just released.
Admittedly in one of my more lax phases as a parent and environmentalist (hampered by bad work schedules and led astray by back to school and store closure sales), I know I also have a responsibility to my children and to future generations. We've been having family conversations lately about reducing our consumption - from turning down the lights and water to whether we want to buy "things" or "do things" for Christmas. (I'm paving that path now.) But Beth's book gives me great discussion starters and family project ideas that even young gradeschoolers and preschoolers can tackle:

  • Tallying up your recyclable and non-recyclable items to see how much you add up in a week's time. It's a natural extension for our kids - who fight over who gets to take out the recycling - and has the added benefit of a quiet lesson about addition and charts.
  • Collecting all those plastic bottle lids from prescription bottles, milk jugs and soda bottles - those that I've tossed for years - and send them to Evansville's Caps N Cups. (This may actually end up being a Brownie scout service activity during our Wonders of Water badge journey this year!)
  • Choosing fresh, more waste-free ideas for school lunches. (I confess: Though we use reusable bags and containers for school lunches, I'm not perfect on this. My son's spacer and his troubles chewing means I've stocked up on fruit cups and other soft options until this brief phase is over. Then we'll be back to his much-missed apples!)
  • Cook a little - whether it's crackers, bread or even nut milk or yogurt. (It's healthier, and a great way to spend the afternoon with your children.) 
  • Make your own sugar scrub and other toiletries. I love the variety of recipes and tips in this section, and I'm anxious to try them out once my work project passes!

Wherever you are in the journey towards lighter living, whether you're a young child or have hours to devote to a cause, Beth's book has a new idea for you. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Doing your part during the drought

A good rain hasn’t hit our town since May, and farmers and families alike are feeling the pinch. Area businesses are having serious conversations about whether to use disposable items or continue washing reusable ones.

While it seems like water reduction is a futile thing in a family of four, but these days, every drop counts. And while our efforts seem small, they could make a difference in extending the availability of water in the coming days and weeks.

Some low-cost and low-effort ways to reduce your water use inside your home:

Reuse your water when you can. While it seems strange to save the water from steaming your broccoli or cooking pasta, cooling and reusing it can add nutrients back into your garden’s soil. Lately, given my garden fiasco, I’ve turned to pouring that water – as well as my husband’s leftover coffee – onto my compost pile to keep it moist.

Watch your leaks. Replace washers on dripping faucets and fix that annoying leak in the toilet.

Take shorter showers. I’ve been even plugging my bathtub and using that water for my kids’ baths. Or place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for watering plants.

Replace your showerhead with a low-flow version.

Turn off the faucet! Don't let the water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving.

Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.

Fill up that dishwasher or washing machine before you run it.

Compost your kitchen scraps instead of using your sink disposal.

What are you doing to reduce water usage at home?