Plastic Free July {observation}

10.26.2016

I want to participate in Plastic Free July and make it a wholly plastic free month sometime. They encourage disuse of single use plastics - most of which I avoid anyway (shopping bags, straws, plastic water bottles, coffee cups/lids) - for the month. But I'd like to go all the way.

Eventually.

But as of right now my plastic usage, mostly in the form of food packaging, would be too overwhelming to try to just stop cold turkey. My tired mama brain might implode.

Maybe next year. But, for now, it's one bite at a time. So, when Slow Your Home (awesome podcast!) suggested participating in it, I took one week in July to observe the plastic use in my life and then the next week I kept track of every plastic thing I threw away - trying to keep it as authentic as possible. In doing this, I hoped to find a few things I could cut out while I worked on a longer term solution for the more overwhelming things ... like all the food packaging!

Zero waste is a highly respected lifestyle in my book, but there have to be small steps to get there. (Besides plastic, the next biggest thing we throw in the garbage is food scraps - which kills me, especially since I've researched composting! I just need to find the right system for our small place and pull the trigger. More on that to come.)

My week of observation found that we trashed:

16 plastic food wrappers
12 plastic container lids (not recyclable in our area)
1 styrofoam meat tray and plastic wrap
7 dental flossers
9 disposable diapers
8 misc items (mailer plastic, gift wrappers, etc.)

Yes, I kept track. Yes, I know I'm a nerd. :-)

It may not seem like a ton (even with the diapers, it probably would only fill a small bag) but it's a lot considering that it is possible to find and purchase meat and produce without plastic. It just takes some doing.

The one single use thing I'd like to do away with is the dental flossers. I hate using the regular stuff that you wrap around your fingers and end up in a spitty, gross mess - the flossers are way more motivating. BUT is there something I could use that doesn't require throwing out plastic? (Plastic that, btw, that once made will never disappear from the earth.) Bea Johnson from Zero Waste Home suggests using a gum stimulator. Ever seen the rubber thing on the end of a toothbrush? I never really knew what they were for, but I'm considering getting one, watching a YouTube tutorial, and seeing if by my next dental appointment it helps or hurts my teeth! Whatcha think?

Also, I'll be rid of the disposable diapers (nighttime use) once my son decides that sleeping through the night is a desirable thing to do, but until then I'm allowing myself that convenience for nighttime sanity. You win some, you lose some.

What do you think? Is reducing plastic consumption even something you think about? Would you ever experiment with a plastic free July?

(Next year! Next year!)

Shunky Monkey 1st Birthday Party!

8.01.2016

Our little guy turned one last Saturday and we had a small family birthday party for him - "monkey" style.

It included paper decorations - paper monstera leaves, kraft paper vines, handmade party hats - thrifted monkeys (washed, of course) and banana desserts. A couple of cards/gifts, some songs and laughter, and our boy was ready for his afternoon nap. :-)














Birthday hat template, monkey face, monstera leaf silhouette, monkeys: thrifted, vine inspiration: this pin

Preemie Update: Look who's a year!

7.29.2016

He's quintupled (I know, right?) his birth weight at 3lbs, 8oz.

He's grown an entire foot.

He's almost done with his hardcore reflux med.







He is fat and happy.

He loves to talk and make noise and squeal and cries very well, thankyouverymuch. (Preemies don't cry - it takes too much energy).

He has 8 teeth.

He crawls, pulls up, cruises and climbs stairs.

He gets into and tries to eat everything he shouldn't - cords, electronics, phones, paper, etc.

He also eats almost everything he should! He loves sweet potatoes, bananas, broccoli, chicken, greek yogurt, blueberry pancakes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and almost anything else he can get his hands on.


Our sweet boy has come so far - we are so thankful! (If you need to catch up on our NICU story, start here.)

Side table Makeover!

7.28.2016

A little table was sitting by the dumpster one day. It looks incredibly similar to the nightstand in our daughter's room that I found for $5 at the thrift store. (Dad, you still get the credit for painting it!) Small, but sturdy. And solid wood.

This one had a really sad, weird, spray on finish that was obviously a DIY fail.



Ew. So I thought the best (read: easiest and fastest) thing to do was take a little stripper to the drip spots, call it good and paint over everything.

Well, I used the stripper outside, and I quickly found that wasn't the best idea. For some reason the stripping solution immediately dried in the sun and was then worthless. What was supposed to be a quick fix turned into several hours of applying more stripper (this time in the basement), realizing it wasn't taking all of the finish off and proceeding to strip AND sand the entire rotten piece down.

It got pretty ugly.


But after a couple of painful moments, she was ready to paint! It took several weeks for me to find the time and energy to paint, burnish and wax (my son is quite the handful these days) but I finally finished it last week.

And here is the after!








It's lightly distressed although I was attempting to not distress at all. In the burnishing (sanding) process, more of the paint came off than I wanted to because of all the edges to sand, so I just went with it because I was planning to sell the piece anyway. I used a furniture wax to seal it, painted the stained drawer bottom, and drilled a hole for the pretty new knob. Voila!

It sold tonight and now I have money to buy more paint to move on to my next furniture project: my handmade hope chest.

summer simplicity

5.31.2016

The first of our meager crop. A little tart, and some are less than beautiful. But all picked by these little, sweet hands in daily excitement of these hidden red jewels.



Love the simplicity of summer through our little girl's eyes.

Golden Birthday (party)

3.28.2016


Our girl turned FIVE last fall and I'm finally able to share a few details from her sweet and special birthday party - her first party with friends! It was her golden birthday (five on the 5th) so we celebrated with all things gold and sparkly. We kept it pretty simple. Friends were invited to wear something gold or sparkly to paint pumpkins, take pictures, have faces and fingernails painted and, of course, eat cake. Strawberry and buttercream with gold sprinkles, of course! Each girl took home a helium balloon with several gold gumballs as a weight and a handmade golden/pearl tiara.

I originally wanted all things champagne gold (prettiest gold, in my opinion) but it was quite difficult to find and I was limited in my ability to find them both because of new baby at home and budget. So I compromised and there were several shades of gold - and no one cared. It was beautiful! And fun.










* tutorial for super fun, easy and super cheap photo backdrop found here.
* I made a glitter paper (glitter cardstock from local hobby store) Happy Birthday banner inspired by Miss Mustard Seed's Merry and Bright banners
* my attempt at tulle covered balloons failed, so we used the tulle on the chairs instead.
* Parties don't have to be expensive to be fun and special! I did this party really cheaply, except for the cake. Normally I would've made it myself, but I needed to give myself a break - like I mentioned before, new baby home - and didn't want the stress of baking/decorating a cake so we paid a friend with a small cake business to do it. That was the most expensive part! And completely worth it, it was so pretty! And tasty too. (Support small business!)

NICU life, what you can do to help a NICU family.

3.25.2016

Know someone with a child in the NICU? Here's a few ideas on how to help.

Buy them gas cards, restaurant giftcards, or a little cash to get food at the cafeteria or snacks they can store. (Snacks would've been the last option for us as there was no food allowed in the rooms).

Cook them a meal and go out of your way to deliver it hot and ready-to-eat on their schedule. By the time parents might get home at night, there is no time to prepare or even cook a freezer meal, but they will most likely be hungry!

Babysit the other sibling(s). ALL DAY.

Offer house cleaning services.

Run errands for them.

Offer to do their laundry.

Buy them extra cell phone minutes, depending on their plan. 

Find out if they want visitors and visit them (but only if you are completely healthy). See the baby if they invite you but not as a spectacle sport. Then visit again.

Ask how they are really doing and be prepared to listen. Every day, sometimes moment to moment is different - they might've just gotten some disappointing news, they might be processing some new information, they might need to cry, or vent, or even talk about something other than NICU life! It all depends on the day. Or the hour.

Please:
Don't bring flowers.
Don't look at them sideways if you just washed your hands for 3 minutes and they want you to use hand sanitizer.
Don't remind them to take care of themselves. Most likely they've already been told this (several times) but it's an impossible thing to choose between yourself and your child at this point. Let them do what they need to do.
Don't be offended if they need something you can't offer - don't push, but let them know how to get ahold of you and what you are willing to do.

And after they come home? Offer to clean their house or do their laundry or bring them a meal! It's just like bringing any new baby home from the hospital - it's just as or more overwhelming. Feel like a lot? It is. It's a long road - walk with them down it.



Are you a NICU nurse? Here are a few do's and don'ts from a NICU mama:

Always ask if they want to be involved in baby care as soon as possible. Most likely they will jump at the chance. Ask every. single. time you can. Every diaper change. EVERY ONE.

Don't do anything unnecessary without the parents' consent (read: medically unnecessary, obviously). Parents have already had to grieve so much. Please don't snatch away the small firsts they can have. Unless you discuss otherwise, let them do the first bottle, dress their babe in the first "real" clothing, etc. This is unimaginably important no matter how normal, every day it may feel to you.

Ask if they have questions. Answer questions as thoroughly as you can. Don't give them more anxiety but don't sugar coat your answers either. If you don't have an answer, don't make an educated guess. Get the NP or ask the neonatologist. If they ask the same thing again, explain it again. It's an overwhelming amount of information on very little sleep and high emotion. Soon enough they will be the expert on their child.

Respect the parents' wishes. Follow them as closely as possible. If you aren't sure and need to know, call them.

Treat them like real people; don't talk down to them.

Night nurses, make sure they know they can contact you at any time! Encourage them to do so.

Help them advocate for themselves and their child. Be honest but be on their team.


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Did I miss anything? Feel free to share your experience in the comments!