What Are Your Biggest Green Challenges Right Now?

Is the baby registry list making you dizzy?  Are you wondering how best to launder dirty cloth diapers?  Do you need baby food recipes? Have you had more than three hours of sleep in the last two days?   Are you trying to squeeze more organic produce into your grocery budget?   Does pumping breast milk at work seem totally overwhelming?

We’ve been there!  But now that our kids are older, we have to be reminded of just what would be helpful to our readers.  What are your latest victories and what are your biggest challenges? I’ve shared my weight loss dilemma this week, but there are bound to be issues of far greater consequence. (Like the critical goal of getting enough food and rest in those first few months!)  Please give us ideas for upcoming posts this summer and we’ll personally do our best to address your needs.

Babyfit and Sparkpeople: Free Weight Loss Websites for Moms

My weight loss efforts over the last postpartum year have felt largely experimental. When I’m sure I should be shedding pounds, my weight either stays the same or edges up slightly.  How could this be happening?  And how can I lose the weight without weird diet plans or gym memberships?

Luckily, I discovered Sparkpeople and Babyfit and began to unravel where I could be more effective in my eating and exercise.   Both of these sites are free online communities with tremendous support for people wanting to make a healthy lifestyle shift.  (Babyfit is specifically for pregnant and nursing mothers and Sparkpeople is for anyone wanting to lose weight.)  There are recipes, online chat rooms, videos, exercise plans and more.

In Sparkpeople, I use the “My Nutrition” option to record what I eat everyday and see my overall calorie, fat and protein intake.  Is this a bit of a pain?  It can be since it does take time to record every snack and meal.  But I am astounded to see the calorie count of foods I thought were healthy and to actually get a sense of what small changes I can make that will have a big impact on my weight loss.  You can also enter your exercise and the program will subtract those calories from your total.  Honestly, it’s tricky to search for the foods and exercises from the list and it can make me feel tied down to do it every day, but it has really affected my choices.

With Sparkpeople you can skip those gym fees, artificial weight loss foods, and make your way towards healthier living on a daily basis.  And if you’re still battling those last few pounds, you’re not alone!  Please share your weight loss stories (victorious or otherwise) with the rest of us!

Three Tips for Dropping the Baby Weight While Saving the Planet

For the last year, my body has doggedly clung to ten pounds of baby weight.  I could blame it on nursing, but more likely it was caused by the stress induced eating habits and lack of exercise.  Now that it’s summer and I’m officially a SAHM, I have the time to make some major shifts toward a healthier lifestyle. This week’s posts are dedicated to the pursuit of green, budget weight loss!

  1. Eat whole foods.

Isn’t this totally obvious?   Maybe, but I seem to have to relearn this tip when life becomes hectic.  Food processing requires energy, packaging, and preservatives—adding a huge carbon load and calorie count to our meals and making our grocery bills far more expensive.  If we stick to foods fresh from our gardens, farmer’s markets or the produce aisle, we can slim down our bodies and our budgets.

2.Don’t wait until you’re hungry.

I keep crisp celery soaked in cold water on hand and load up with carrots or nuts when I know I’m going to be out of the house.  My body is designed to avoid starvation and if I wait until I have no reserves left, I can’t make great decisions about what to eat.  (Also, my parenting skills tend to suffer…)  Furthermore, packing food for myself also leads me to remember to have snacks with me at all times for my children.  We can then victoriously cruise past fast food joints without being lured in by desperate hunger.

3. Plan your indulgences.

In my green pursuits, my thrifty lifestyle or my weight loss, when I decide to strictly limit anything, there is an inner backlash.  Instead I plan some rewards into my grocery list so that I won’t feel tempted to scarf down a half bag of chocolate chips at 11pm.  Also I find that spending money on fresh fruit or fantastic yogurt tends to feel like a treat when I pull it out of the fridge.

In the one week that I’ve been working on eating better and moving more, I’ve lost one pound!  To be honest, I’ve lost a few pounds during the course of this year but they’ve crept back every time.  I’ll keep you posted on my fledgling progress!

Cloth Diaper Options

During my first pregnancy, I didn’t know the difference between a pocket diaper and a prefold, but after much exhaustive research, I finally decided on the ultimate cloth diapering system for our family.   Unfortunately, I didn’t have the diaper diagrams and descriptions in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide to refer to because we simply hadn’t written it yet!

Four years and another child later, I have been given a huge assortment of absorbent and adorable diapers.  My daughter Jovi often sports cow print happy heinys, homemade hemp diaper liners, prefolds with various covers, and even colorful fuzzibunz pocket diapers.

What have I realized after gathering up this diverse collection of cloth diapers?  You don’t really have to choose just one type!  Of course paying full price for all this loot could be prohibitively expensive, but if you’re open to buying gently used cloth diapers, you can try an assortment and know that you don’t have to rule out any one kind.

What is your cloth diaper philosophy?  Are you strictly loyal to one brand or style, or have you too build up a variety of diapers?  Have you been lucky enough to inherit hand-me-downs?

Becoming a Stay-At-Home Mom

For the last four years I have clumsily struggled as a working mom. But here’s the secret: all along my heart’s desire has been to be at home folding cloth diapers and whipping up homemade delights.  In fact, my yearning to get home with my baby is what started me on the journey towards being a published author and a blogger.

So was it our massive profits that finally earned me the freedom to take a one year leave of absence from teaching?  Hardly. (Although we do expect our book to become wildly famous and translated into sixty four languages one of these days.)  A robust savings account combined with my husband’s new job allows me to finally take a break from thirteen straight years of teaching adolescents.

Maybe I crave the opportunity to stay at home simply because it wasn’t an option all this time.  I’m a highly extraverted person and a bit worried about how I’ll fare without structure or schedules, but so far it’s just sheer joy.   If I still had a newborn it would have been harder, but since my oldest is nearly four and my one year old is now sleeping through the night, it’s glorious to be at home with them.  (Note, although their ages are just about right, the photo is not of us!)

Am I torn about leaving my job?  Nope.  Because although I adore working with middle schoolers, I love this grand and humbling task of parenting even more.  I know that I’m still in the honeymoon stage as a stay-at-home mom and that sometimes the tantrums and endless dishes will nearly defeat me, but for now I’m grateful that our lifestyle of voluntary simplicity has provided us with the opportunity to take this leap.  If you are aching to work less and spend more time at home, read The Eco-nomical Baby Guide for tips on how to save thousands in the first year alone.  It worked for us!

Summer Harvest Aspirations

It hasn’t been a banner year for organic food at my house.  Overwhelmed by rutabaga and kale, I quit our CSA while I was eight months pregnant.  My son needed interaction, my feet needed rest, and the idea of peeling and sautéing veggies after a full day of teaching made me want to weep with exhaustion.  With the birth of our second child, the sleep loss continued and seemed to wipe out all my dreams of canning hundreds of pounds of peaches and growing all my own produce.

Finally, we’re back on track!  This summer I plan on picking heaps of local produce and freezing and canning up a storm.  Our garden is already in and I have dreams of adding a raised bed if I can find a way to get more cedar planks home in our small cars.  Since I’m hoping to cut way back on work next year, I hope to also do a fall garden and extend our growing season as long as possible.

We even join a CSA again too.  It was a wonderful way to get our whole family eating better and to support local farmers.  What are your summer dreams for beautiful, healthful food?

Creative Car-free Transportation With Kids

Before becoming a mother, I rode chicken-laiden, multicolored buses in Latin America, Tuk-Tuk’s in Thailand, and rented bicycles in Denmark.

Breaking my arm, being pregnant and having a tiny baby put us through a three-year period of being car dependent. (Our car-free trip to San Francisco was the one exception.)  This summer, now that our baby has reached one year of age, we’re finally back to car-free creativity.

With our second child, we’ve come to appreciate our bike trailer even more!  It works beautifully for hauling both kids across town behind a bike and easily converts to a double stroller.  It’s also our most rain-proof baby toting device because of the clear plastic cover.  As you can see, it’s a bit cozy with both kids but as long as they have snacks, everyone stays happy!

We have a bike helmet for my son but haven’t yet found one that works for our one year old.  As a result, we just stick to side-streets and bike extremely carefully.  My husband transports my son to preschool every day in the bike trailer and they both thoroughly enjoy the ride.

Another fabulous development in our summer is my husband’s bus pass, acquired through his new job.  Now we can simply pay my fare and our whole family can travel the town by bus to our favorite destinations.  This is an utter thrill for my son and doesn’t require us to snap in car seats or fill up our tank!

Car free travel with kids can be an adventure, but if I was willing to sit atop a bus with the goats, why shouldn’t I be willing to embrace the challenge?   In our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we feature a story from the authors of Car Free With Kids, a blog written by a family that lives completely car free.  We are inspired by them each time we read a new post!

What are your creative ways for moving your children this summer?  Do you move on foot or have great public transportation to depend on?

Pocket Diaper Leakage Problems

For their adorable design, their convenience, and those clever snaps, I love my pocket diapers.  For leaks, I don’t.  It may be that my baby is too small for her large sized pocket diapers, but even when we double stuff them with liners, they seem to have major leakage issues.  The only way we can stop the leaks is to treat them like a diaper cover and line them with a prefold diaper.  I loved them with my older son but he wore then when he was a bit bigger, which may explain our leakage problem.  Does anyone else have these issues?  Are you partial to your pocket diapers or do you prefer prefolds?

Do You Use Rain Barrels?

Here in Oregon we have been sopping wet for weeks.  With a hot summer ahead and an organic garden to water, I’ve been considering purchasing rain barrels.   This week calls for lots of rain, but I’m not sure that they’re easy to use and store. Is it possible to hook the hose up to the barrel and water your beds or do you have to individually fill watering cans?  There’s a local installer that will deliver the barrels and build a stand for them for around $70 each, but I’d love to find a less expensive option.  Any ideas? Please inspire me to take the plunge!

What Are YOUR Green Confessions?

We’ve confessed to several “eco-sins” over the years here on the Green Baby Guide. But now we want to know: What are your failings? Still use toxic cleaners? Can’t bear to compost? Go through a roll of paper towels a day? Stuff your garbage cans with recyclables? Confess here!