WFMW: Organic Produce Tips

I didn’t pay much attention to the produce I bought before I was pregnant with my daughter. Now, I like for her to eat organic meats and produce whenever possible. That’s not always easy, though. When the cost difference between organic produce and conventional produce is large, I look to this guide.
It lists the foods that tend to retain higher levels of pesticides and chemicals, so I can choose where to spend extra for organic.

Here in Austin, we also have an organic produce delivery service that I subscribe to. I can order a local box of locally-grown and/or organic produce delivered to my door every other week. You can choose the products one by one, which we have done for the first few months we’ve been using the service, or you can go with chance and order the local box — chock full of locally grown produce, fresh and mostly organic. It is fun to see what is in season and in abundance and to figure out ways to incorporate some new veggies into our menus. Kale, for instance, was in our box this week. I sauteed some and added it to the top of a frozen pizza last night. Instead of feeling yucky for eating frozen pizza, I felt a little more healthy for adding such a healthy item.

For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

TV Turn Off Week

This week is National TV Turn-Off Week. Since I like to believe my daughter is TV-free for now, I decided to jump on the bandwagon for the week and keep the TV off in my life as well. Now, this is not a huge challenge for me, truly. The TV stays off throughout the day in my house. I sometimes watch a bit of Scrubs re-runs on TBS before I fall asleep. I almost always watch Lost on Wednesday nights, and I usually catch Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday and American Dad / Family Guy on Sunday nights — all after the tot is tucked quietly in. Typing that all out, now it seems like a lot, but compared to how I mindlessly watched TV constantly as a kid and how the TV was always on in the background, it really isn’t all that much. (And I know that I can watch this week’s Lost episode online once this whole TV turn-off thing is over.)

What I’m realizing, after just one day of being “TV free” is just how darn difficult it would be to be truly TV free. I’ve heard friends bemoan all of the screens that assault them everywhere they go, but I never really paid much attention. I didn’t make it three hours with no TV before I glanced up during my workout to read onscreen that Boris Yeltsin had died. TVs are in waiting rooms, restaurants, gyms (even the locker room at my gym!).

Caroline does tend to become mesmerized by the TVs on the rare occassions we are in a restaurant, and I know she watches The Wiggles at my switch-sitter’s house, so she is not truly TV-free herself. I am fine with that. Everything in moderation, right? I will allow her to watch carefully chosen DVDs this summer after she reaches the AAP’s recommended two years of age. My concerns are not that TV will lead to her having ADD or cause her to become more violent. I don’t want her to become a teenager before her time. I don’t want her to ask for every toy she sees advertised. I don’t want her to compare herself to the false ideals she sees on screen. I don’t want her to know more and care more about Dora the Exlorer than she does her real-life friends.

So, I’ll muddle through the week without laughing at Scrubs or finding out what really does happen to pregnant women on the island (until next week), but I’ll continue to keep commercial television away from my daughter. John and I chuckled proudly tonight as she played with a miniature Ernie from Sesame Street character that her Aunt Buffy put in her Easter basket. Caroline kept calling him “Man.” And that’s just the way I want it.

Myers Briggs Mommy-Style and Parenting Unconditionally

I read on mommylife about using your Myers-Briggs type to find you mothering style. I’m a INTJ (though my I and T are close to E and F, respecively). According to the article, I am

The individual-integrity mother (INTJ)
This mom is introspective, defining her own success from within, and is generally confident in her decisions. She’s unlikely to be persuaded by her kids’ saying “But all the other moms are doing it.” She’s competent in providing for her kids’ basic needs, but she’s likely more focused on building their confidence. She puts great importance on independent thinking and self-sufficiency. This mom works hard and takes life seriously; she lives for those moments when she can impart knowledge and offer her kids new perspectives on life.
Stay-sane tip: It’s essential for you to have a project to call your own. If you don’t have a job, try volunteering to meet your need for mental stimulation and adult conversation.

I’d have to say that is pretty darn accurate! I’ve been meaning to post on the topic of “building their confidence”, “creating independent thinking”, and building “self-sufficiency” lately, as more of a book recommendation. John and I viewed Alfie Kohn‘s Unconditional Parenting on dvd a couple of weeks ago. The goal of unconditional parenting is to accomplish those goals, but isn’t that really any parent’s goal? Kohn’s idea, though, is that you don’t build self-sufficiency or independent thinking or confidence through punishment and rewards, a la BF Skinner. I’m raising a person, not a rat to be trained. Rewards, like a “Good Job!” for your child simply doing what is expected of her, like putting her toys away, undermine motivation. (See article, Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job“) Punishments, like time-out (from positive reinforcement) remove a child from a situation that needs communication and love. Punishments and rewards are things we do *to* kids. Teaching kids to be responsible, functional members of society is something we do *with* them.

All of this meshes well with my experiences as a teacher and my graduate studies in gifted education. Gifted kids would see right through the “Good Job!” and perhaps even become unmotivated to excel for too much praise on mundane tasks.

The dvd is not a step-by-step guide, which no parenting book should be. Every situation is different; every family is different; every child is different. It does offer great ideas and a mentality to aspire to.

Earth Day Tips

“borrowed” from Earthy Birthy Mama

Earth Day Tips

* Bring cloth bags to the market. Did you know that the average American receives over 900 plastic bags per year while shopping?

* Use compact fluorescent bulbs and save about $60 per year.

* Charge your electronics (cellphone & iPods) and then take the charger out of the socket. Did you know that these and other electronics still use energy even after the charge is complete and plugged in!

* Purchase products that use a minimal amount of materials to package their product (and/or buy in bulk).

* Keep your appliances clean! Clean your refrigerator coils and heating vents – this will allow your applicance to operate more efficiently!

Make a Simple Change

* Buy local food products at your farmer’s market or join a CSA! (And look for my WFMW tip this coming Wednesday!)

* Use eco-friendly cleaning products.

* Take shorter showers and save on heating and water!

* Reduce the use of disposables.

* Plant a tree for yourself and for someone else!

* Stop junk mail!

* Use recycled paper and products.


Did You Know ……

* Recycling 1 aluminum beverage can save enough energy to run a 100watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours and a TV for 2 hours!

* Recycling 1 glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100watt bulb for 4 hours or a TV for 3 hours!

* Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 trees, 2 barrels of oil, 7000 gallons of water and 4100 kilowatt hours of electricity – enough energy to power the average American home for 5 months!

* If everyone in the US recycled 1/10th of their newsprint, we would save the estimated equivalent of about 25 million trees per year!

And check out these cool and disturbing pictures by photographer Chris Jordan in Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait.

WFMW: Reusable grocery bags

Since Earth Day is approaching this weekend, my Works for Me Wednesday tip is good for the environment and makes life easier! I use reusable grocery bags instead of choosing “paper or plastic” at the check-out. These bags are sturdy and open up fully, so they hold much more than the plastic bags do. They have nice long handles, so they are easier to carry. I am able to fit all of my groceries into five bags, and best of all, those five bags can be carried into the house in only two trips! No more trip after trip to unload the car. No more recycling the tons of plastic bags we accumulate or finding a place to keep them until I get a chance to recycle them.

I bought my bags at Ecobags, and I paid about $15 for all five bags. I see that now they come in more colors.

So that I don’t forget them when I leave for the grocery store, I keep them in my vehicle at all times, putting them back after I put the groceries away.

makes my life easier + good for our world = GREAT IDEA!

Alleluia, He is Risen!

Happy Easter! I realize I’m a few days late in my post, but we’ve got the whole Easter season ahead of us, and after all, it took quite a while for Christ’s early followers to get word of the Resurrection. Right? 🙂

This Easter, we went to Wichita Falls to spend the weekend with the Bindels. This being the first Easter without John’s Aunt Yibbit or my father-in-law, Tony, really made an impact on the celebration. We did celebrate, though, because thanks to Christ’s sacrifice, we know that Yibbit and Tony are with Him now.

Since Easter is just as important of a holiday as Christmas, we do it BIG! We started with 8 a.m. Mass and then headed home (we were staying at Buffy’s) so Caroline could investigate her Easter baskets from us and her Aunt Buffy. Then we headed to Grandma’s to set up for lunch. The family began trickling in around 11, and by 1:00 we had a houseful of about 50 family members. We feasted on turkey and dressing and green bean casserole, brisket and potato salad, green bean casserole, fried chicken, butter beans, and tons of desserts. Then it was showtime! THE EGG HUNT! Now, until I married into the Bindel family, I thought egg hunts were something you grew out of somewhere in your early double digit years. No way! Of course, we let the toddlers and young kids hunt their eggs first. Caroline collected several eggs, including a few prize eggs and got a great bubble set and tshirt as prizes. But the adult hunt, that’s where the fun is! This is not a joke. There were 30 prize eggs hidden amongst the 100+ hidden eggs. And with 30 adults searching, it is serious business. I found the prize egg numbered 30, which admittedly was an easy find. See, we get our prizes in order, so prize egg one gets first choice. Prize egg 30 gets last choice. I hunted and stopped when the easy eggs had all been found and the Hiders started giving hints. I played with Caroline and her cousins, blowing bubbles for them. Then I heard we were down to one egg — Prize Egg No. 1! The most difficult to find. The hint had something to do with dog food and the porch. I watched several people dig through the dog food. This bothered Caroline because as they rummaged through the dog food bowl, they knocked out pieces of dog food. Caroline, of course, had to pick those up and put them back into the bowl. When she had finished, I decided to investigate a bit further. I picked up the dog bowl — nothing underneath. But before I placed it back down, I peeked underneath. There it was, taped to the inside bottom of the dog’s bowl — Prize Egg No. 1! Yay for me!

After things simmered down, Caroline explored her basket from Grandma and played a while. Of course, the mommy and the daddy checked out their baskets, too. 🙂

We left with lots of goodies and full hearts from a day with family, a day remembering absent family members, a day praising our Lord for His ultimate sacrifice.

Thursday Matzo

I ended up skipping the Charsoseth and just giving Caroline (and her buddy Ty) Matzo crackers for a snack this afternoon. I explained that these crackers symbolize the Jews having to make their Exodus from Egypt, they had no time to wait for bread to rise, so they made and took with them Matzo. Also, Messianic Jews have told me that the holes in Matzo crackers symbolize Jesus’s pierced side. The snack was not a hit with either tot. Regardless, we will repeat this activity each year, adding other Passover Seder dishes. John and I were very fortunate to participate in an instructional Passover Seder, led by a Messianic Jew who attended our church, a few years ago. It was so interesting. I encourage all Christians to learn more about the custom and participate in one if they have the chance.

Wednesday Praying Pretzels

I was a bit nervous before I began today’s activity — baking pretzels. I didn’t realize I’d have to dip them in a soda water bath before baking them, and that just seemed complicated. Actually, it was fun making them, so this will be a repeater. It will be fun to see how Caroline’s role changes each year. This year, she just watched and played with a bit of dough and flour. We talked about how sometimes we fold our hands in prayer and how the pretzels look like that. I told her that Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane the week before his crucification to pray. Lately, when we say her bedtime prayers, we have started kneeling at the side of the bed and folding our hands in prayer. Caroline follows right along. It’s so cute!

As for the pretzels themselves, the cook was way too heavy handed with the salt. And that comment is coming from the queen of salt-aholics! If it’s too salty for me, it is just too salty. I’ll have to dust some of the salt off before I eat anymore.

Tuesday — Coloring Crosses

Not all of my Holy Week activity reflectons will be spritual. Today’s, in fact, is not. Coloring construction paper crosses will not be an activity I repeat (at least not with a not-quite-two-year-old.) I cut the crosses out last night and had them ready to go for our frequent coloring breaks throughout the day. First one out, Caroline colored so enthusiastically, she ripped one of the arms from the cross. The others, well, they are just scribbled on. I’m not sure what I was expecting. I’ll modify this activity for next year.