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Final Book Giveaway, And Mommy Litmus Test

I did my final drawing over the weekend
for a free copy of the href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FHealthy-Child-World-Creating-Cleaner%2Fdp%2F0525950478%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1209357069%26sr%3D1-1&tag=1mother2anoth-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325"
target="_blank">Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating A Cleaner,
Greener, Safer World
courtesy of the Healthy Child
organization, and the winner is:

Kari Valliere! Kari, you should be getting your free copy of the
book in a couple weeks – congratulations! I’m still
loving the copy I bought myself a few weeks back.

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback still from Earth Week, and I
have to confess the research I did has made me more conscious of
the choices I make. We went to the zoo over the weekend, and the
drinks they sell come in plastic cups that have an explanation on
the side: the cups are made from sustainable corn, and are
completely compostable. While this was exciting, I couldn’t
help but notice that there was nowhere to put these compostable
cups but in the trash can, wrapped up in a plastic bag! I find
myself looking down the chain of events a little further than I
used to.

Last week my friend Nik told me I’m
totally turning her green, and she’s trying to decide if
she’s going to make her own cleansers or buy
“green” ones instead; she’s pondering which one
is better. And I told her that I’ve got a list of questions I
run down (I call it the Mommy Litmus Test) when I’m
confronted with these kinds of situations. Because the truth is,
we’re often put in a spot where we feel like Bad Mommy if we
don’t weave our own angel’s crib sheets, or make all of
Junior’s baby food. We can’t all be Martha Stewart
Mommy, and while some of us don’t want to be at all and some
of us adore being Uber Mom, the rest of us are stuck in the middle:
wanting to do the right thing for our kid, confused as to what that
is, and feeling like we never have enough time or money to be Good
Mom. Plus, this pressure just isn’t fun.

So here are my questions – my Mommy Litmus Test – that
I ask myself every time I read of a new craft or project in a
magazine (manufacture your own craft glue!) or overhear a Super Mom
talking about something she does to make her baby’s world a
bit better (searching for organic, sustainable cotton to make into
reusable wipes).

Is it healthier for my kid? If I’m going to go through
the effort of making baby food, there better be some benefits other
than bragging rights involved.

Is it better for the environment? This one may sway me;
I’ll put in a bit more time, money, or effort if it means
being a good steward of the environment.

Is it cheaper? Unfortunately, this doesn’t always go
hand in hand with being “green”, but it does on the
homemade front. When I made furniture polish out of vinegar and
mineral oil a couple weeks ago, it cost me absolutely nothing since
I had the ingredients, whereas I’d have had to spend time and
money running to the store for some.

Is it worth the commitment of my time? Sure, I could make my
own pretzels, but do I really want to? Last week we made lemonade
one afternoon and it cost me four bucks in lemons and sugar. Now,
Paul Newman makes a pretty darn good lemonade that’s
earth-friendly whose profits go to charity for half that cost and a
fraction of the time, but I made it anyway because I answered
“yes” to the final question:

Is it fun for me? I’ve had several people ask for my
cheese animal crackers recipe I mentioned a few weeks ago, and
I’ll post it I promise. I bring it up because though the
ingredients might cost the same, I can buy a box of Annie’s
Organic cheddar bunnies in way less time than it takes to make a
batch. So if my kids and I didn’t enjoy cooking, that’s
what I’d do. There’s no shame in paying other people to
make crackers for you if you haven’t got the time or the
inclination, and you do have the cash.

So that’s the list I run through (often in under 30 seconds)
when I’m deciding how to approach something. Just last week I
needed silver polish, and remembered I’d read that toothpaste
can be used. So I got out an old toothbrush and a small tube of
nasty-flavored toothpaste the dentist had given me and went to
work. The verdict? It worked amazingly well, and very quickly! And
my serving bowl was minty fresh! Less airborne chemicals than a
traditional cleaner, cheaper, faster, and ok, not fun for me, but
that’s not the toothpaste’s fault. The point is, if
I’d read a long involved recipe for silver polish on the
internet I’d probably have spent the time hunting for an
organic store-bought one instead. See how the questions work?

Anyhow, that’s my test list, and it keeps me sane –
keeps me from feeling guilty when I don’t do something, and
from getting frustrated when something I choose to do takes longer
or costs more than I thought it would, since I can remind myself
that I chose to do it for a reason. I love to bake and I’m
cheap, so we make breakfast bars. I’m not so good with
scissors and glue and don’t have the patience to keep Maddie
from gluing her hands together, so we buy notecards instead of
making our own.

You’ll get so the list is almost instantaneous, and you
won’t think twice about it. If your priority is saving money,
make your own cleaner out of baking soda and vinegar. If your
priority is saving the environment and the only way you’ll do
it is by springing for the citrus-scented Seventh Generation
cleaner, go for it.

So get out there and do something that’s cheap, good for the
environment, and fun.

Or, you could just walk to the store and buy something instead, and
take a nap with the time you save. That’s fun too.


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