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Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

‘Mom, can we heat the hot tub? My friends are coming over.‘ I said yes at once. And then, almost in the same breath, this whole monologue in my head. ‘Not exactly green. Big time indulgence. Didn’t I go through all those carbon calculators this morning? But then I want to please her, there is no way I am going to say no. I am tired of setting limits. Tonight, I want to be Nice Mommy. The hell with global warming. Plus a couple hours of hot tub are not going to make a difference.’ I can hear Green Guru’s admonitions, ‘You are being a hypocrite. You are all talk. You say you want to be green, but look at you, you can’t say no to her.’ I hear, I know, and there is no way I am not going to be sweet. I bask in the moment. The sound of four girls laughing, talking, in the hot tub.

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Green Guru asks me to take a look at our fridge. “Look! This is what I am talking about.” And starts pointing at all the containers, full of uneaten leftovers, mostly from dishes I made for Catherine, or bought for her. Meatball pasta from Il Fornaio takeout, butter noodles, roast chicken from Whole Foods deli, a Styrofoam box with a half eaten beef burrito. The roast chicken, I will probably use in our salad tonight. But the rest? Catherine does not like to eat leftovers, and we are not big on beef and starches. The stuff is going to sit in the fridge for a few more days. It is good food and should not go to waste. I can only keep the illusion for so long, however. Eventually, I will have to throw the stuff away. Green Guru made his point.

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Green Guru got on my case for something else. I have the habit of always buying more than we need. The peaches have been rotting in the fruit basket. His point was, why not buy less each time, especially since I am shopping at Whole Foods nearly every day? That makes sense. Still, I have a hard time agreeing with him. The fear of not having enough, of not doing my job as a mommy and main nurturer for the whole family, is greater than reason.

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Charlotte came back from her one week vacation in Mexico with her dad. I was so happy to see her. She suggested we go to Urban Outfitters to shop. That was perfect, I needed to go there anyway to buy Ahna’s birthday present. While at the mall, we also decided to swing by Anthropologie. I was so good, I did not buy anything for myself. The truth is, I am shopped out, and there was really nothing I wanted in either place. Had I been tempted, I would have probably given in. On our way back, I thought about how far Santana Row is from Palo Alto, and how much gas we used driving both ways. Could we have found the same things closer? Probably not. Were our purchases essential? Definitely not. If I was a true green girl, at a minimum, I would have suggested to Charlotte that we take the train to the Urban Outfitters store in San Francisco. Better even, I could have suggested other ways to spend time together, or other more environmentally sound places to shop like vintage stores. Same with Ahna, I could have asked her to think more creatively about things to get for her birthday. As a mother, I hate to spoil the fun with my green ideas. It is a territory I do not feel comfortable exploring yet. Shopping (at the mall) with, and for my children, is such a part of who I am as a mother.

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Living with Green Guru – Prad’s nickname, of late -, is not easy sometimes. This morning, I had the unpleasant surprise of my electric toothbrush running out of electricity, half way as I was trying to brush my teeth. Without telling me, Green Guru had decided to unplug it the night before. Little did he know, that it needed to be recharged. I was not pleased, and I let him know.

Yesterday, we had another squabble, after he informed me of his intention to unplug the dryer. His plan was to have us all quit using the dryer, cold turkey. It was met with plain outrage on my part. Yes, I do plan, some day to make the shift to a clothesline, but not yet. Give me some time, I need to psych myself up, for such a radical shift. There is also the issue of the kids, and of bringing them along in the decision. Ours are teenagers, still protesting from the recent blending of our two families, and going through some major angst of their own. I suggested to Green Guru, that maybe he could first install a clothesline in our backyard, and inspire us all through his example. In the mean time, the dryer will stay plugged in.

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On our way back from the farmers’ market, Charlotte wanted to show me the new shoe store, the one where she got her pair of red sandals last week. I had been meaning to visit anyway. Charlotte and I, both delighted in how good the prices were. “Look, these are only $35!” The Mystique ballerinas on the sales rack were very tempting. I tried them on. It turns out they did not fit. I could walk out, with my green conscience intact, kind of. My earlier musings about simplicity were still fresh, and I began to wonder about the real price for the Mystique shoes. I am pretty sure they were made in China. The way I see it, there should be two price tags: the usual tag based on costs of goods and merchant markup, and another one for carbon footprint. Maybe, it could be like the Energy Star system for appliances, but instead of stars, it would show footprints. Without a footprint tag, it is too easy to forget the real price of the Mystique ballerinas.

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Yesterday, I threw away a whole uncooked burger. The day before, it was a whole chicken. Prad and I have this ongoing battle about the amount of food I throw away everyday, usually enough to feed a whole other family. Prad thinks I should plan better and not buy, unless I am sure it will get eaten. When the kids were little, it was a lot easier, I knew we would all be there for dinner. Now that they are teenagers, I never know who to expect for dinner. Still, I insist on cooking enough for the six of us, each time. Lately, it has become clear that those family dinners have become the exception. Charlotte and Catherine both drive now, and they are out almost every evening. And Prad’s children have most of their meals at their mom’s house. It is time to downscale, and to resolve myself to twosome dinners. That one wasted burger was the equivalent or four kilograms of CO2. Eight burgers a day is the same as driving a Hummer for a whole year.

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Catherine asked me to meet her and her girlfriends at Anthropologie. I jumped at her suggestion. It had been a while since she and I had done something fun together. Of course, I could not resist trying things on. I found this really cute green dress, with tassels along the hem. Perfect price, $29.95. I looked at the label: Made in India. For that price, I had to have it. Somebody else would buy it, if I didn’t. On my way home driving back, I thought of my earlier meeting with Christian, and our discussion about doing business projects together, to make the world better and greener. I spoke convincingly of the importance of promoting local goods. That is one of my pet peeves, as a green entrepreneur wannabe. Next time I have a business meeting to present my idea, maybe I will wear the cute green dress Made in India?

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The baskets in the laundry room are overflowing with dirty clothes. The children are supposed to do their own. I want them to take responsibility. The amount of clothes they go through every day is getting to me, though. It is not unusual for my teenage daughters especially, to use two or three changes of clothes a day. Each time, instead of putting their still clean clothes, back on hangers, they drop them on the floor, and when the mess becomes too much, dump them into the laundry basket. As a green parent wannabe, I know I should intervene. My kind comments have gotten me nowhere, and I do have to pick my battles. This is not one of them.

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Charlotte asked me to spend the day with her in San Francisco. She wants to see the Vivienne Westwood exhibit at the De Young, and then go shopping to H&M, with lunch in between. How could I possibly refuse? a day with my dear daughter all to myself. Plus, H&M is one of my favorite stores anyway. Once in the store, I am seized with a frenetic urge I know all too well. Gone my resolutions to no longer consume, my determination to boycot slave labor. Nothing is left, except guilt, that keeps nagging at me whenever I grab yet another dress, another cute top, another deal too good to pass up. The whole experience is a mixed bag of excitement, and disappointment. I am disappointed with myself for not being stronger, for giving in, once again. The spectacle of my other fellow shoppers, all shopping like mad, just like me, transport me for a minute in a place I would rather ignore. The earth has become dark, and a huge landfill with mountains of discarded clothes, that leave no more room for us to be and breathe. Charlotte calls me, she has found a white dress she wants me to look at. I push the fleeting image of doom into the recesses of my thinking brain. Charlotte and I are on a mission and nothing will stop us.

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