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Archive for May, 2007

The belly in all its glory at 18 weeks.  The baby has started moving around intermittently, most often while I’m watching baseball games.  Apparently even the prenatal crowd is angsty over the Yankees.

I think we’re all ready for Low-Impact/Reduction stuff to start.  I think I’m not ready for the fetal echo.  I’m off to wander about and try to keep my mind off of things.

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So I’m getting a ride to LI on Friday (on Day One of 90% reduction/Low-Impact Week no less, I’ll be in a car, which never happens) and will public transit back.  My MIL will pick me up on her way out to LI, though, so really it’s not so bad.  I am still freaking out about the appointment proper, but am feeling far calmer now that I at least know I won’t end up wandering around Roslyn lost and in tears.

Aside from the transport glitch, preparations are underway for the Big Projects.  I got a laundry drying rack yesterday (and need a second) in order to eliminate some dryer loads and also some popsicle molds because C and I will both sit and eat 3 in a row without blinking.  I finally found a curtain rod that doesn’t sag for the bedroom and it really does relieve some of the blazing morning sun (will hopefully keep a/c off in bedroom for longer.)  Tomorrow I’ll pick up reusable shopping bags for my husband, water bottles for the 2 of us and the 2nd drying rack, and then the shopping is done.

The rest of the to-do prep list is less $$ intensive.  I want to dig into the dregs of the back of the freezer tomorrow because I’m sure there’s some ick back there.  I need to vacuum the fridge coils.  I want to make up weekly tracking sheets for the stuff that can be tracked that way (trash, mileage, recycling, the food split, and the Low Impact Week stuff.)  I have a bunch of batteries to be dropped off for recycling from the gradual switch-over to rechargables.

And then…I don’t know.  I feel like I should have grandiose plans to install things and unplug things and the like.  But I don’t.  I’m mostly planning on doing what we already do, only more so.  Paying more attention to what we buy and what we eat and what we throw away.  Being mindful, I guess, is the best way to put it.  I want us to all be more mindful of what we’re using and eating and watching and spending.  I don’t know if that’s enough, but it’s what we’re going to do.  And then after the first 3 months we can step back and see what’s working, what’s not, and what more we can do.  I guess in addition to weekly charts I should do some sort of monthly budget/actual report so that I can see where we need to trim more.  I should probably start tracking how often we use the oven/stove as well, even though we can’t track how much gas it’s using.  And water as well, at least based on averages.  Ugh.  I’ll have to see about those last two.

Yeah, so that’s it.  I’m off to play around with spreadsheets to keep my mind off of Friday.  And to figure out how I’m going to track things while we’re visiting family over the summer (like my mother who may not recycle but at least is game on shopping farmer’s markets and seafood markets while we’re visiting, and my MIL who is ok with the eco-savviness but seems to regard many of my reduction techniques with a soupcon of suspicion that I’m totally overboard on the whole thing.)  The biggest goal of the summer regarding travel, I think, will be avoiding individually packaged kid’s snacks.  And trying to figure out how to squirrel away and weigh my trash without anyone noticing.  Maybe I can get a free pass on the weigh-in for keeping my mom’s recycling out of the landfill?   Or at least for not beating her over the head with her recyclables?

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I do very few things that involve leaving my personal comfort zone (which is a little on the small side.) I don’t like new places or new people or new situations or, in fact, any sort of circumstance in which I might look like I don’t know what I’m doing.

Like banks. Switched around some accounts yesterday, and merely talking with a banker leaves me tongue-tied and misspeaking all the hell all over the place. Which is really uncomfortable when you’re trying to set up a new account.

Like making phone calls. I can call my mom and my grandparents comfortably. That’s it. Anyone else and I will either avoid calling altogether, or I practice what I’m going to say. I made my appointment for the anatomy ultrasound yesterday (making the call sucked but it’s in a place I’ve been before and C and Luce will go with me.)  And then I made my appointment for the fetal echocardiogram.

Like traveling routes with which I am unfamiliar. The fetal echo, which I had assumed could be done at the office around the corner, will be done in Roslyn. I’ve never been to Roslyn. I don’t have a car to drive to Roslyn. This means LIRR and then a bus. Buses make me nervous. I don’t like to ask the driver to let me know when I have to get off because that means dealing with not knowing where I am going. Coming back, I will most likely need to take a different bus to a different train but I’m not sure because I don’t know how long the appointment will take.  Oh, and it’s this Friday.

I am positively dreading Friday. I can’t even think about it too much without starting to totally freak out. It’s almost too much–a new place with a new travel route and new people by myself to find out what the baby’s heart looks like. And the sad part is, I’ll be sitting around obsessing about this for the next 2 days. By the time I leave (probably an hour earlier than I need to) on Friday, I’ll be trying to talk myself down from panic. And this will last at least until I get back home, and that’s assuming that the echo doesn’t turn up anything bad.

Sometimes I just wish I could be a fucking grown up about this shit. It takes too much energy to be so intimidated by everything.

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Rhubarb?

Does anybody have any good recipes for rhubarb?  I’ve only ever had it plain and, well, not a fan.  We’re getting some this week from the CSA and I’m not sure if I want to use their compote recipe.

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Eat it, dammit

Back when I was in high school, I worked as a cashier in a large home improvement supah-center. One day one of the warehouse guys was at my friend’s register with his kid and a Happy Meal toy, the point of which was for the toy to gobble up some other aspect of the toy (it’s been 16 years since this happened and I killed a lot of brain cells in college so…) Anyway, the toy wasn’t functioning as promised, prompting Warehouse Guy to yell out in frustration, ‘Eat it, Dammit.’ This sums up my experience with Lucy’s diet.

Have you ever had a kid who is so horrible with trying new foods that you actually cheer when she takes a bite of a cookie? It’s a frosted cookie, mind. That does make a difference. Not an animal cracker (delicious) or a regular sugar cookie (tolerable.) It has gotten to the point in our household that we celebrate when our kid eats junk food. Don’t get me wrong, we celebrate when she tries a vegetable too. It just doesn’t make for as good a story.

Since getting back from Baltimore (a trip about which I have been horribly remiss in writing,) Lucy has tried a fair handful of foods–blackberries, arugula, peanut butter, orange, whole grain English Muffin, Maple Vanilla yogurt not coming in kid-size packaging–and has taken up with eating some others that were snubbed mere months ago (cukes, blueberries and fresh pears.) I am beside myself with glee. GLEE, I tells ya. Could it be, dare I say, that we are moving past the Fear of Food phase?

The CSA share starts this week, and I am doubly excited now that Lucy is willing to try new stuff. She and I made a deal back on the trip that she would pick one new food to try from the box each week, and it looks as though she’s willing to hold up her end of the bargain! I’ve been waiting for this moment since we moved from purees to finger foods and everything went straight to hell. She swears she’s going to try mashed potatoes this weekend so that’s going to be my acid test for how excited I can be over the new food trend. I mean, what kid doesn’t like mashed potatoes?

ETA:  it strikes me how much this sounds like she’s having a cookie for breakfast.  We’ve been up since 6 and have eaten a bowl of cereal and an apple as well as a chunk of English Muffin with peanut butter.  The only junk food we allow her for breakfast is Doritos, and only if we’re desperate for quiet time 😛

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So after much hemming and hawing and soul-searching and, well, mathing, I’ve decided to give this 90% Reduction thing a shot.  Fret not; this blog will not turn entirely into a logbook of my various projects, although of course I will be writing about them (remember my brain can only wrap itself around a few things at a time.)  I’m not sure how it will turn out.  I have some real concerns about our ability to reduce much more, as well as about my ability to take on this project mostly alone without freaking out at some point about doing it alone.  Anyway, here is an estimation of our current numbers along with additional concerns and comments (first link provides an explanation of the categories and how the math is done):

1.  Gasoline:  we use approximately 99.2 gallons for our entire household.  Thank you, no car.  Since this is well under the 50 gallons per person per year figure, no reduction is necessary.  I will be tracking our actual usage, however, so while I think I estimated high, I might just be surprised.

2.  Electricity:  we used 5601 kwh last year, 100% wind and water.  A 90% reduction, assuming a 4x allowance for wind and water, means that our target usage this year is 4400 kwh/yr.  This does not cover laundry, however, as our facilities are shared with the rest of the building.

3.  Gas and Heating Oil:  these are included in our maintenance and I have no way of tracking what we use.  Figuring that we use the oven maybe twice a month and the range 3x a week, I’m figuring our cooking expenses are pretty low.  This will likely go up once our farm share kicks in and we’re cooking more.  We do not control our heating aside from being able to adjust the valve inside the radiators and the building is kept very, very warm.  I don’t know how much our adjustments affect the actual amount of heating oil used, however.

4.  Garbage:  19.9 lbs for the household this past week (a pretty average trash week) which comes out to .85 lbs per person, per day.  Our goal for the household will be 9.45 lbs/wk but I have no idea how we’ll do it.  Lucy is back in Pull-ups at night (I’m not washing sheets every day) and the cat litter just weighs a freaking ton.  This is one of the big worry categories, especially once the new baby comes and we’re doing diapers (we’re not doing cloth–I’d have to have a diaper service to keep up and that’s both money, chemicals, and energy to transport/heat water/dry and I subscribe to the Union of Concerned Scientists view on the diaper debate.  We’ll use Seventh Generation again, dumping bowel movements in the toilet.)

5.  Water:  Also unknown.  I was going to test out our usage with a bucket, but honestly that’s going too far for me.  I take showers with Lucy, we have low-flow faucets and shower heads, and I water our plants exclusively with greywater and unfinished drinking water/coffee.  Not to mention, I can’t find a bucket in my neighborhood, but that’s neither here nor there.  The fact is, water-related reduction would mostly affect C, and I’m not going to have a big fight over it.  At least not yet.

6.  Consumer Goods:  I’m not saint when it comes to shopping, and so while I didn’t dig through receipts or anything, I’ll estimate our spending at about $7500/year.  Yeah.  I’m really not proud of that.  However, as far as goals go…I’m setting one for myself, and it isn’t at 90% Reduction.  My personal goal is $1875 for next year.  That is a 50% reduction, which I’m comfortable with for a start.  This should take into account that with a new baby coming, we’re going to need to buy some stuff.  We have a ton left over from Lucy, but babies just need things.  I am also figuring that, being pregnant, I will probably need more clothes (bras and panties at the very least, trust me) and while I’m planning on thrifting for anything not intimate apparel, I can’t guarantee I’ll find maternity.  I figure, at the very least tracking my spending will cause me to really think about what I am buying.  Does this sound like a total cop-out?  I’m not going to ask C to limit his spending since he really doesn’t spend like I do and also he has textbooks to pay for each semester.  Another reason why 1000k per year for the household is a no-go–C’s texts alone are over that figure.

7.  Food:

1.  local and organic–31%

2.  bulk dry–less than 1%

3.  wet goods–69%
Ain’t pretty, is it?  I’m not surprised; this is why the CSA this year.   I have no idea how much we can reduce here.  I’m hoping we can get to 90%, but I really have no idea.  The CSA will certainly help.  As far as bulk goods goes, we can’t exactly find a lot of those in the neighborhood, and our teeny kitchen means we’re severely limited on storage space.  Add to that one very picky four year old.  It’s not impossible, but it does mean that we’ll have to get Lucy eating more vegetables and less frozen meats/meat substitutes.

Anyway, I’ll be posting progress every month.  We’re still doing the Low-Impact Week as well, so bear with me while I bury myself under a ton of numbers.  Hey, I have to do something while I’m waiting for the baby to come 😛

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but I’ve barely written anything in ages.  Truth is, being pregnant, hanging out with a 4 y/o, obsessing about whether the worms are thriving and how much trash we’re throwing out, trying to wean Lucy and myself off of television and trying to put together one big shopping trip day so as not to waste a trip into Manhattan, I’m even starting to think in lists.   Doesn’t make for pretty writing.  And, honestly, it’s only interesting to me. I’m happiest nowadays hanging out somewhere between researching, spreadsheets and cleaning, anything that lets me think about something specific or allows my mind to wander.

Thordora tagged me last week(?) for a things I love about myself deal and I’m afraid if I don’t just throw some stuff down I’ll sit around thinking about how I don’t love anything about myself so without further ado…

1.  I love to argue, but if I don’t know enough about a subject to do so well, I won’t embarrass myself by trying to fake it.   I also like to know both sides of any argument so that I’m fully prepared to rebut.

2.  I can spell and punctuate like a motherfucker.  Actually, I’m really good with any sort of nudgy detail work

3.  Animals love me.  I take that as a mark of remarkable character.

4.  Have you seen how cute my nose is?  I love my freaking nose.

5.  I  kick ass at researching stuff.  See nudgy detail work.

6.   I can tell when music sucks, but I’m not afraid to still like it.

7.  When my kid asks me a question, I’m not afraid to tell her I don’t know the answer or to show her how to look it up.

8.  I never learned how to ride a bike.  Don’t ask me why I love that about myself, but I do.

9.  I can be really fucking funny when I’m in the right mood.

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