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Lately, I’ve been consumed with guilt over the amount of waste I personally produce. Living in a coastal town, I’ve seen enough news stories about marine animals killed by waste and plastics that I’ve worried that I personally contributed to each animal’s death somehow.
I have never, however, considered myself an activist of any kind. So don’t worry about me making some grand eloquent argument here for going off the grid and living the ultimate “crunchy” sustainable lifestyle (although, kudos to you if this is something you can accomplish and thanks for generating enough power with your stationary bike to read this blog.)
Being a mom living a modern lifestyle, there are lots of times where I choose convenience over conservation. I realize that most of us moms are constantly trying to be better and more mindful of…well…just about everything. Sometimes when it comes to the narrative about our environment, conservation can seem so daunting and helpless that it’s easier to default to, “Well, if I can’t make the big important strides for this planet, why try at all?”
Instead, there are just some itty bitty steps that, I think, are a great starting point for being mindful of the waste we produce.
Recycle often, and recycle PROPERLY
This is probably the easiest place to start. Just pay attention to the things that are going to the trash. Can they be recycled instead? And are you recycling them properly? First check the guidelines for your city or whichever company picks up your recycling. Pay attention to labeling on packing material and plastic bags – it can often be taken back to the grocery store to be recycled. Packaging for paper towels and toilet paper is often labeled as “store drop-off”! Then make sure you’re not contaminating recyclables. I’m always taking stuff out of the recycling to wash it after my husband throws things in because if it’s not clean, its contaminated and won’t be recycled.
Reusable Grocery Bags
If you want to reduce waste, why not start with the bags that literally only get minutes of use before getting tossed. I use my reusable grocery bags whenever I can PLUS resuable mesh bags for produce.
Reusable Food Storage
Too often I’ve packed snacks or lunch for the kids using ziploc bags that would get thrown away. Or buying water bottles while we’re out. Now, instead, I try to take my favorite Take & Toss bowls and cups. I even found these cute reusable ziploc bags at TJ Maxx that fit in their lunch boxes. For baby food or yogurt, I love these WeeSprout refillable pouches.
Switch to Bar Soaps
I have lots of hair so the plastic bottles I accumulated from shampoo, conditioner, and soap was feeling overwhelming. There are probably lots of local options for hand-crafted soap bars if you look around your town. For my hair, it took me awhile to find a product I like. I ended up trying a sampler of Ethique bars and found options I love for my thick wavy hair.
Menstrual cups/Period Panties
It’s an unpleasant reality, but feminine products also accumulate a lot of monthly waste. After a year or so of being on the fence, I finally tried a menstrual cup and don’t plan to go back to tampons. There’s a learning curve for getting comfortable with it, but I’ve been very happy with my DivaCup even with my heavy flow. If you can’t get onboard with the cup, how about a period panties like Thinx?
We go to a fair share of birthday parties for kids. For my own kids, I usually request “no gifts” because 1) my kids don’t need anything and 2) the things they do receive often go untouched or are broken in no-time (the middle child is especially destructive). I imagine other parents go through the same thing, so when the opportunity comes up, I try to do gift cards for experiences or to our favorite local ice cream shop instead of toys.
This has been a long-term ambition of mine, especially because of the sheer volume of weekly waste disposable diapers produce. I thought about doing it with my first, but my husband was NOT on board with the idea. Then, after doing the vast majority of diapering for the first two kids, and gathering info from friends, I decided I was up to the task. I bought a cheap lot of cloth diapers from a friend and it didn’t take long to feel like I had a pretty good routine down for them. A friend sent me some info on Fluff Love University to help get me started. And then I checked out what Lucie’s List had to say about all the types of cloth diapers to choose from:
I put this one last because I’m just so lazy when it comes to composting, so I’m striving to be better about it. The kids help me create a whole lot of food waste, so I’m hoping to be better about taking the scraps we have to decompose in our very own compost pile. A friend recommends a compost pail on the counter to make it easy (and reduce odor).
How about you? What do you do to go green in your household? What would you like to start doing?
I’ve dedicated the past year to reading only books that I believed would inspire and motivate me to be the best version of myself. A few of these books pushed me to take a chance on my dreams and enroll in a Winemaking Certificate Program. Some of the other books have motivated me to run harder and faster and embrace my body as an aging athlete. I even set a goal to qualify for Boston this year! I have learned I have the potential for so much more from this past year’s reading list. If you are stuck at home and in need of motivation check out my list below!
I watched from the kitchen as my daughter wound herself up into a big spin and then flung her arm and the toy barn she was wielding into her younger brother’s gut. He doubled over instantly and I knew the tears were close behind. As a reflex, I hollered, “Say sorry to your brother!” trying to smooth the situation over without having to completely stop making dinner. My daughter’s response left me speechless and at a loss for what to do next. She hollered back at me “It wasn’t an accident!” “I can’t say sorry ‘cus I did it on purpose!”
I hadn’t thought about apologies that way. I used to always apologize because I believe they make people feel better. I’m definitely torn in this situation because my whole thing this past year has been about self-improvement and learning to not be sorry for my actions. I blame Rachel Hollis for “Girl, Stop Apologizing” #sorrynotsorry. I’m not sure my daughter really got the same message Rach was sending, but her declaration of not being able to apologize because she did it on purpose was a concept I wasn’t prepared to hear. Don’t get me wrong, as a parent I was also a little terrified. My daughter just hauled-off and hit my son in the gut and deep down I want her to feel remorse for it and apologize.
After stewing on this for a while and conferring with my husband (a man who has never once apologized for anything and admitted that he had probably also said something similar to his mother when he was a child) I realized that maybe saying sorry is not a universal bandage for confrontation. They need to know that there are consequences for their actions and getting out of those consequences with a heartless “I’m sorry” is not the kind of mindset I want to instill in them.
So for now, I’m resisting the urge to force an “I’m sorry” every time there is an incident and instead try talking about how our actions affect other people and how that might make them feel. We are also coming up with other ways to express our emotions instead of lashing out at each other. I’m hoping I’m not raising tiny psychopaths, but you never really can be sure.
What is your stance on “I’m sorry” when it comes to your kids? Do you and your SO agree on responses and solutions? Leave a comment below on your thoughts and experiences.
When I used to speak romantically to my husband about the enthusiasm I have for our love; the fact that our love felt like fate, that we were meant to be, that we were soulmates, I used to get a disappointing response – he didn’t believe in “soulmates.”
This is to be expected from my husband. He is nothing if not a realist. His feet are firmly on the ground, so any flighty feelings of romanticism tend to allude him.
Our family has spent the last four weeks on the beautiful island of O’ahu. I wish I could tell you it was for a much needed vacation and family time (in a lot of ways it was), but in reality it was because we had to be medically evacuated to the hospital here. I could write several blog posts about the inadequacy of the current healthcare provided to military families stationed overseas, but I’d rather focus on the amazing treatment I finally received and the amazing ohana I found on the island.
As Claire mentioned in her last post, we are both leaders in a running club called Stroller Warriors and lucky for me there are 48 chapters all over the world, including 3 on O’ahu! Before even arriving I had several wonderful ladies reach out to me to see what they could do to help. Traveling 4,000 miles away from home for surgery with two toddlers felt a little bit less daunting knowing I had a group of like-minded, supportive military moms to lean on if needed.
I had several pre-op appointments the week before my surgery and after dragging our kids through a full day of appointments, my husband and I decided it would be easiest if he dropped me off and spent the day with the kids back at the hotel instead of waiting at the hospital the day of my surgery. However, to make things a little tricky, we only have Japanese cell phone numbers (which actually work in Hawaii thanks to Sprint) and even though the hospital assured us they could call our number they proved several times that week that none of their staff actually knew the right number to dial. So I reached out to one of the awesome ladies from Stroller Warriors, Arlene. I just wanted to get her number so the hospital could call her and she could message Josh to come get me when it was all over. In my head, the surgery was going to go easy peasy and I was going to walk out as easily as I walked in.
Well, I was completely blown away when Arlene not only offered her phone number, but also told me she’d come sit with me at the hospital. I’d like to remind you right now that Arlene and I have never met. She is absolutely amazing for doing this! She showed up right after I’d changed into the super flattering hospital gown and no-skid socks. We instantly became good friends and every time a doctor or nurse came to talk to me they were shocked to learn my non-medical attendant/new best bud was a stranger to me 10 minutes prior. I cannot thank Arlene enough for not only keeping me company before surgery, but also for spending the entire day waiting for me to get out of surgery, talking to the doctor and relaying detailed messages back to my husband all day long. She even gave me a ride back to the hotel so my husband didn’t have to load the kids up to come get me. She is a saint!
I guess now is a good time to fill you in on why I had surgery and how I am doing. I was medically evacuated to Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii to see an ENT specialist and have a cholesteatoma surgically removed from behind my middle ear area. For reference, the cholesteatoma was found on a CT scan taken 10 months earlier. This is how long it took me to get proper medical care all because I am stationed overseas. Fast forward to my surgery, the amazing Dr. Chen was able to skillfully remove the non cancerous cholesteatoma, but unfortunately had to do an ossicular chain reconstruction, removing one of my three middle ear bones because the mass had caused deterioration from not being removed sooner. (See brief explanation below on how ears hear, thanks to Netflix’s Ask the Storybots Season 2, Episode 4, I am basically an Otolaryngologist as well.) I will have to have another surgery in 9 months to complete the reconstruction once I have recovered and we confirm the cholesteatoma is gone for good. So for now I have even more profound hearing loss than I had before surgery (-60 decibels, almost deafness) in my left hear, but have been reassured my hearing will be as good as new after my next surgery. When you see me, please talk loudly and forgive me if I miss what you are saying, I promise I am not ignoring you…or am I?
The three parts of the ear all help you hear. The outer ear funnels sound to the ear drum. This makes the eardrum vibrate. The three tiny bones in the middle ear (the malleus, incus, and stapes) pass the vibrations to the inner ear. There, the vibrations become electrical signals. These signals travel along the auditory (hearing) nerve to the brain.
Having your ear sliced open and your temporal bone drilled into is a little bit harder to recover from than I thought…I actually thought I’d be operated on through my ear canal and back to normal hearing and activities within a few days….because that is what I was originally told. Luckily I was given a “sick note” or extended stay in Hawaii for an extra 3 weeks. My family let me rest as much as two toddlers could, but in all seriousness we were itching to get out and explore so I popped the recommended dosage of Tylenol and we crammed as much as we could into our recovery/vacation.
I could not ask for a more beautiful place to be on sick leave. The weather was absolutely fantastic, it did not disappoint. We basically drove all over the island, went to a handful of beaches, did all the kid friendly activities, hiked several different trails and ate ALL THE FOOD. And I’m talking ALL of the food. I actually think I’ve gained 10 pounds from all of the American food I’ve stuffed into my body. I don’t even feel a little bit bad about it because it was so delicious and I won’t have any for a long time.
Coincidentally, one of my cousins was working in Hawaii while we were here and we were able to have lunch several times and catch up with him and his wife. They got to meet my son for the first time, something only a few of my family members have had the opportunity to do considering he was born in Japan.
This trip was the best “family” vacation I have ever been on in terms of getting to spend quality time with family: blood family and ohana. In Hawaii an ohana, meaning family, is special. The people within it are bound together by genuine compassion, culture, support, loyalty, and love for each other. The experiences I had here were exactly that. I already told you about one of my new found sole sisters, Arlene, from my Stroller Warriors ohana, but I was also able to meet a few other amazing SW ladies as we spectated one weekend at the HURT100.
The feeling of ohana didn’t stop there. I also met another social media friend and fellow contributor for Military Moms Blog, Rachel. We connected over dinner and chatted through a beautiful sunset.
Once I was cleared to resume exercise I joined up with the local Saturday wear blue run group. There I met some loyal wear blue runners and enjoyed a meaningful run with them. (Embarrassingly I did not pack a single blue item, but I showed up anyways)
To become a part of someone’s ohana is a great honor and I am beyond honored to be a part of these groups. This military life can be rough sometimes, especially when you undergo something like a medical evacuation to the other side of the world, but the people you meet along the way who become a part of your family or ohana make this life worth doing. I’m feeling very lucky to have been in Hawaii and am already dreading the long flight back to Japan.
Stay tuned for my next post about traveling with two toddlers, one of which screams the entire time, and the wonderful things we did in O’ahu.
Here we are at the end of another year and once again, Mallory and I are lamenting our failure to keep up with blogging. womp womp. Instead of promising to do better next year (because let’s face it, we might actually just suck at this), I just want to talk a little bit about the thing that’s been distracting us both from making more regular internet rants: Stroller Warriors.
If you know either of us, you’ve probably heard us talk about this running club ad nauseam. BUT, for the handful of random internet viewers who might end up here one day I’ll explain: Stroller Warriors is a running club designed for military spouses and their families. There are chapters all over the world, which is why Mallory and I still have this club in common even on opposite sides of the globe.
Mallory and I joined our first Stroller Warriors club together in San Diego. I would classify Mallory as an ultra runner so she was a shoe-in, but for me running was just kinda okay and I’m still not sure how much I actually “like” it. For me, it was something that kept me active where I could also bring my kid. Getting to regularly talk to other adults and bring our kids to playdates was a great added bonus too. It didn’t take long for Stroller Warriors to become my community, my tribe.
Alas, along came the time to move again and even though I was 7-months pregnant in a new place, without Mallory and without the same group of running friends I had grown accustom to, I knew I just needed to join up with my new closest SW chapter and just keep showing up. Mallory did the same thing while she was in Iwakuni. I happened to be around enough that I was asked to help lead some workouts, and eventually, since the timing was right, I was able to step up with a couple of other fantastic ladies to help lead the Parris Island chapter. Wouldn’t you know it, that same thing happened to Mallory and the Iwakuni chapter!
So here we are now, both with a bit more responsibility on our hands to take care of our running communities — the reason you’ve heard a little less from us on the blogosphere. I’m happy with how far we’ve come with this club; it’s so so important to me. You see, even though I barely liked running to begin with, it gave me a newfound ownership over my body. I think it’s something a lot of moms can relate to. At this point I’ve spent about a year and a half lending my body to grow children, and then I spent additional 2+ years operating as a never-ending milk factory. Sometimes I feel like I’ve merely been a vessel for the survival of my offspring.
The Netflix show, GLOW, can actually help me communicate what it means to find an activity like running after having kids. I watched all of the episodes on Netflix and one of the most relatable parts to me is when Debbie Eagan talks about why she would be sad to leave Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling:
“…It’s like I’m back…in my body…and it doesn’t belong to Randy…or Mark. And I…I don’t know, I’m, like, using it for me, and…I feel like a goddamn superhero.”
Yes. A goddamn superhero. A warrior, if you will. Thanks to running, I actually strive to see my body’s performance improve and not for anyone but myself.
One of my main goals since moving to Japan is to get back into ultra running. The landscape is beautiful here and I have a lot of time to train. Let me take that back. I have a lot of time to train on the roads while pushing my double stroller. Having two small children makes it difficult to duck off into the woods every morning for a trail run. Nonetheless, I have spent the last six months preparing for my first Japanese trail ultra marathon. I ran a lot of miles to prepare for this day and felt confident I would do well. A DNF (Did Not Finish) was definitely not in my plans.
Did you just get invited to a Kentucky Derby Party, but have no clue what to wear? A big hat is a must or a bow tie if you are a fella. Don’t have a big hat? No problem! Here is a quick tutorial on how to make a fabulously simple KY derby hat to don at your party.
What’s the big deal with these hats anyways?
Originally women wore big, extravagant hats to declare their social status. Today women (and even men) carry out the tradition of Derby hats by making their own unique hat and adding their own twist. A lot of people view the elaborate hats as good luck charms.
Here is a simple DIY for making a fabulous Derby Hat:
Step 1: find a straw hat
Step 2: find your hot glue gun
Step 3: find a bunch of stuff to glue on hat. (For example: roses, other flowers, plastic horses, tissue paper pom-poms, etc)
Step 4: glue items to hat
Step 5: look fabulous wearing your new hat
I found this hat and paper flowers at Daiso which is like a dollar store here in Japan.
I opened the flowers and poked the wires through the straw hat to attach, then reinforced with hot glue.
Check me out! Now I’m ready for Derby!
Follow us on Instagram for more easy and fabulous Derby Party ideas!
There’s a lot of snark and eye-rolling that can be found describing the mom who does everything oh-so Pinterest perfectly. As much as I love snark, I am not here to partake…this time. Oh no, I love the Pinterest moms! And that’s not just because I occasionally try my hand at a project or two.
Pinterest Moms make the world a better place. They put the time and effort into crafting and creating an experience for their kids’ birthdays and holidays. They’re making gorgeous, delicious cakes, themed DIY decor, over-the-top Easter Baskets. And that’s okay. It does not mean I have to meet them at every embellishment.