5/30/08

I Hate the Playground

When we bought our house just before we got married, the postage stamp-sized yard was actually a plus. It was just big enough that we could enjoy a bit of the outdoors without being bogged down with yard work every weekend. ( I got my fill of that growing up — thanks, Dad!) However, I have given birth to an outdoorsy type. Therein lies the problem.

Now that it’s nice out and gets dark later, Miles wants to be outside 24/7. The minute he wakes up he’s clamoring to go out: “Wanna go to da park, mama. Go to da playground.” I have decided that I hate the playground. Let me count the reasons:

1. It’s dirty. “Well, duh,” you might be saying. Listen, I’m not some neat-freak who irons her toddler’s play clothes and can’t stand for him to get dirty. But Miles takes it to a new level. He BATHES himself in the dirt, digging it under his fingernails and caking it on his cheeks. He gets wood chips in his hair and every crevice of his clothing. And don’t get me started on the sandbox, which I have on good authority serves as a gigantic litter box for every cat in the neighborhood. Grossed out yet?

2. It’s confusing. We live near a large community playground where there are tons of communal toys left there for anyone to play with. Which is great, except that then Miles doesn’t understand why he can’t hop on every tricycle or toy car he comes across in somebody’s yard.

3. It’s embarrassing. Every time we go to the playground, there’s always at least one super-enthusiastic parent. You know, the one who’s whizzing down the slide with her kid, whooping it up, yelling, “Wow, honey! Great job! Isn’t this FUN?!!” As opposed to me, who’s sitting on a bench looking at her watch.

Miles will home in on this über-parent and follow them around incessantly, even inserting himself between the parent and their child, desperate to get in on the fun, as if he’s some poor, attention-starved orphan. One time he was actually shouting, “Look at me! Look at me!” to this poor dad who was trying to have some quality time with his daughter. Miles, chill! Desperation is not an attractive quality. Honestly, you’d think we ignored him all day.

4. It’s stressful. Another problem with the playground is that you have to constantly break up kid scuffles. “No, sweetie, that’s his truck. You can play with that one.” (Cut to me prying the truck out of Miles’ ridiculously strong grip.) And if the other kid’s parent isn’t watching? Then you’re left in the awkward position of trying to discipline a stranger. “Um, you there — please don’t spit on the slide. We’d like to take a turn now, if that’s OK.” You never know how a situation like that’s going to play out. Will the kid flip out on you? Will his mom?

5. It’s so hard to say good-bye. Miles has never done well with transitions. That “we’re leaving in 5 minutes” spiel has zero effect. It always ends with me dragging him away kicking and screaming. Except for that one time he allowed himself to be bribed with a cereal bar.

So, there you have it — four reasons why I try to keep my son confined to our tiny yard. Leave it to me to take the fun out of a wholesome childhood pastime, right? Next week: Why I Hate the Circus and Disney World, Too.

LAUGH O’ THE WEEK: Yesterday we went to our friends’ swim club. We fed the kids lunch there, and I found myself uttering one of those only-a-mom phrases: “No, Miles, we don’t throw carrots in the pool!”

LINK O’ THE WEEK: Mom and actress Melissa Joan Hart (of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” fame) will be blogging about potty training her son. Yep, I’d read that.

5/27/08

Reading Round-Up

Over the long weekend, I had time to catch up on my reading. Except for the occasional novel here and there, I’m strictly a nonfiction gal. I love my magazines. That’s why I don’t mind sitting in a doctor’s waiting room or in line for the treadmill, as long as there’s a stack of current mags around. And lucky for me, all the June issues just arrived in my mailbox. Yippee! Here’s a rundown of mom-worthy news:

Parenting magazine has a fascinating story on who’s harder to raise, boys or girls, by Paula Spencer. (Who, by the way, is a super nice lady and a writer and mom after my own heart. Check out her book, “Momfidence! An Oreo Never Killed Anybody and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting.”) The consensus? About what you’d expect: boys are more challenging when they’re younger, but girls beat them by a mile when they get to be preteens.

You can’t blame boys, though. They’re hard-wired to take more risks and be more impulsive and aggressive, according to an article on boys’ brains in Baltimore’s Child. So that explains why girls will admire the pretty colors of a flower and boys just want to rip it to shreds.

Speaking of local publications, my very own beloved Baltimore magazine ran a piece on the local baby boom, calling babies “the new rats of Baltimore city.” They don’t call us Charm City for nothing! There was also a story on the growing number of Baltimore bloggers. Sadly, I wasn’t included in the list — YET. The top-trafficked blogs cover cooking and crime. And I thought we were losing our title as the murder capital of the U.S. (We were edged out by New Orleans last year.)

I also found this story in the Baltimore Examiner newspaper interesting: some local elementary schools are lobbying to switch recess from after lunch to before lunch, to reduce stomach aches. Seems the kids are scarfing down their food too fast so they can go out and play. (Sounds like an excuse from the cafeteria to explain mystery-meat-induced maladies, if you ask me.)

In Wondertime, I read an in-depth account of why kids are obsessed with potty talk. Even at the tender age of almost-2, Miles talks about poop all the time. He puts diapers on his Curious George doll, and he’ll throw his plastic fireman in the toilet, explaining it’s because the fireman needed to poop on the potty. Of course.

In Health magazine, I learned that Kristin Davis volunteers much of her time helping people with AIDS in Africa, and also that she’s a recovering alcoholic. Who knew? Apparently all those Cosmos she drank on “Sex and the City” were virgin. Now THAT’S irony.

But my favorite read of the week is Miles’ new book, a gift from his grandmother, just home from Spain. Bullfights are big there, and she brought him a T-shirt with a bull on it. In an effort to explain it, she gave him the classic “The Story of Ferdinand,” by Munro Leaf. (Leave it to my mom, the teacher, to make a lesson plan out of anything!) It’s a very sweet story about a young bull who’s different from the rest. Instead of butting horns and fighting all day, Ferdinand likes to sit under a tree “just quietly,” and smell the flowers. It’s a testament to individuality, and being true to one’s own unique nature. Or maybe I’ve just read it too many times.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: Download the Barenaked Ladies single “7 8 9” FREE from their new “Snacktime” CD.

5/23/08

“You Look Tired”

You know you’re not taking good care of yourself when people start to tell you to your face that you look like hell. OK, not in those exact words, but FYI people? “You look tired,” “You’ve looked better,” and “Are you feeling all right?” are NOT compliments. Even from friends. ESPECIALLY from friends who should know better than to stoke the fires of my raging insecurity.

I don’t need other people telling me I look like crap when I can confirm that fact every day in the mirror. Maybe I’m not a complete horror show, but there’s no denying the dark circles, the crow’s feet, the weird new spots and veins, not to mention the occasional super-attractive zit. (It’s awesome to be a 30-something woman, isn’t it?) Some of this I blame on age, but mostly I blame lack of sleep and stress.

Since I had a baby, I’ve noticed a change in my morning routine. I’ll be in the bathroom doing my makeup, which I only bother to put on because I have the kind of skin that’s practically transparent and my unenhanced eyelashes and brows are nearly invisible, so without some blush and mascara I look like an albino in a snowstorm.

So anyway, without realizing it, I have started backing up so far from the mirror that I run into the opposite wall behind me. And I’m nearsighted. What this means is, I have to be standing a good four feet away from the mirror and squinting before I think I look OK.

Moms are constantly being told to take care of ourselves. I thought I was doing OK, going to yoga semi-regularly and getting a pedicure now and then. But then I went away to a spa, where certified health professionals told me I was severely dehydrated and had so many knots in my back that my muscles resembled a macramé tea cozy.

First let me back up and explain how I found myself at a spa. My aunt in Kentucky had been bugging me to come visit her. C.’s work schedule was impossible to plan around, and I was loathe to travel alone with Miles. So at one point I said, “What I’d REALLY like to do is leave the boys at home and go away to a spa for the weekend.” So that’s what we did.

The thing is, I have Canyon Ranch taste, but a YMCA budget. So we ended up at this place in central Pennsylvania that’s sort of a Christian retreat center with a wellness facility. So the grounds and accommodations are pretty plain, but you can get massages and facials and stuff. Whatever. As I told my aunt, even staying at an airport hotel would feel like a vacation to me. (In fact, I have a friend who did just that when the pressures of parenthood got to be too much. You go, S!)

It was a great weekend. I got poked, prodded, and pampered, drank my weight in herbal tea, and got to sleep as much as I wanted. People gave me cushy robes and clean towels, and served me meals that I didn’t have to prepare or clean up after. It was HEAVEN, I tell you. Except for the food, which in true spa style contained not one drop of butter or oil or cheese. Good thing we’d smuggled in snacks.

And you know what? The trip was a wake-up call that I need to start taking much better care of myself. I make sure my son eats healthy meals every day, and gets enough exercise and sleep. Meanwhile, I stay up too late, I haven’t been to a doctor in 2 years, and I often call a grande vanilla latte lunch.

My aunt, a tough Southern gal who doesn’t mince words, smacked some sense into me. “It’s not going to kill that kid if you take him to the gym daycare instead of the playground a couple afternoons a week!” Maybe she’s got a point. “It’s hard, taking care of a toddler. You need to keep up your strength.” True dat. “You need to eat. He can sit there a little longer while you finish your meal. He doesn’t have to like it, but he’ll do it.” Really? I didn’t know it was an option not to spring up immediately when Sir Antsy-Pants announces that he’s done.

Even now, weeks later, my aunt calls at random times and asks, “Are you drinking enough water? Are you going to the gym?” It’s nice to have someone who cares about my well-being. And who lives in another state so she can’t tell me I look like hell.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Search under “affordable spas” in your area on Spafinder.com. The cross-reference them at Tripadvisor.com, for honest, up-to-date reviews.

5/19/08

Celebrity Bump Watch 2008

So I was catching up on my talk shows the other day, which I like to record and watch on nights when there’s nothing on TV but terrible reality shows, like “Dancing With the Biggest Losers in Rehab” or whatever. (I mean, “Farmer Wants a Wife”? Seriously?) Almost every single show featured a segment on pregnant celebrities. Among those currently sporting “baby bumps” are Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Nicole Kidman, Gwen Stefani, and Tori Spelling, in case you’re keeping track. (BTW, who knew there was an entire web site devoted to this topic? And photo galleries? And slideshows??)

I won’t lie: I like to keep up with procreating celebs, too. But I couldn’t help but notice how repetitive the coverage was. The questions were limited to: whether they were expecting a boy or a girl, cravings, and weight gain. Come on! It’s almost as if the talk show hosts learned everything they know about pregnancy from an episode of “The Simpsons.” If I were Jessica Alba, I would clock the next person who asked me how I felt about my “new figure” (a euphemism for blowing up from a size 0 to the size of an orca), or how I planned to lose the baby weight. In fact, I will SCREAM if I read one more interview that even mentions the phrase “baby weight” — usually with any female celebrity who’s had a baby in the last decade. Get over it, people! !

And then there’s my favorite: the media referring to celebrities as “heavily pregnant” and “ready to pop” — even if the woman in question is MONTHS from delivery. Good for Jennifer Garner, who I once saw respond to some nosy reporter who implied that she might give birth right there on the red carpet, “Bite your tongue! I’m only 7 mos. along!”

When Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, and Jessica Alba showed up at the Oscars, the media had a field day. The “bump watch” coverage was incessant. They even had “best-dressed bump” categories in the fashion round-ups. And the reporters couldn’t NOT ask the actresses about their pregnancies. “When are you due?” was usually the first question out of their mouths, even before, “Who are you wearing?” (Guess they’re not interested in designer muu-muus). Um, aren’t they there to receive prestigious awards for their work?

Of course, lots of people asked me when I was due during my pregnancy, too. It’s a fair question, I suppose. (But isn’t it embarrassing when you think they said, “What do you do?” and you launch into a big explanation of your job, and they just stand there with a blank look on their face? Or maybe it’s just me.)

So this is what I want to tell all of you non-celebrities who are pregnant, especially the first-timers (that’s you, L.V.C.!):

Do not go out and buy an extensive pregnancy wardrobe right off the bat. Borrow from friends and/or buy as you go. Otherwise you will end up squeezing yourself into a too-short top that you naively bought in your first trimester, a couple sizes bigger than your usual size, not having any clue just how huge your belly would become.

Do not obsess about how much weight you’re gaining. If you’re eating healthfully, you have very little control over it anyway. I laughed when a new-to-me doctor came into the exam room when I was about 8 mos. pregnant and said, not looking up from her chart, “You’ve gained 35 pounds already. You may want to keep an eye on that.” Sure. I’ll tell the baby to curb his Twinkie habit. I mean, it’s not as if I was sitting around stuffing my face with donuts (at least not every day). That’s just how much weight my body put on.

Unless you’re doing it purely for entertainment purposes, do not pay attention to pregnant celebrities. They will only make you feel bad about yourself. They can afford stylish, expensive maternity clothes and weekly spray-on tans. Dig up virtually any photo of Britney Spears’ pregnancies, or watch reruns of the first season of “Tori & Dean: Inn Love,” to see for yourself that even famous people can look not-so-fabulous when they’re expecting, just like the rest of us. If that doesn’t make you feel better, can I offer you a donut?

PIC O’ THE WEEK: If you can’t go to Preakness… Here’s Miles watching the horse race on TV atop his own fine steed.

5/14/08

A Play Date Primer

This is what I learned when I became a parent: kids don’t just play together anymore. They have jam-packed social calendars like the rest of us. Unless you want your baby to be an outcast, you must plan regular “play dates” for him, preferably from birth on. (Sidebar: Have you seen that Tostitos commercial where 3 moms are sitting around eating chips & salsa and they say, “We should do play dates more often. The kids love them.” Cut to 3 infants in carseats, sound asleep. I love that.)

Yes, the term “play date” is cringe-worthy. It makes me picture a toddler in a low-cut shirt and gold chain sauntering up to a bar and saying, “Hey, baby, what’s your sign?” In fact, play dates ARE sort of like dating — double-dating, where you have to pick out your date’s clothes, drive, and carry most of the conversation.

As a new mom, I wasn’t sure how the whole play date thing worked. Did I wait for someone to ask me? Did I proposition a potential mom at the gym daycare? Should I have a card made up with my phone number on it? I flubbed the first couple attempts. I think a woman in my Mommy & me yoga class wanted to play date, but I just said, “Sure, that sounds good,” and never closed the deal. I didn’t want to appear too desperate. The class ended and I never saw her again.

I also went on a couple of play dates with moms who had kids much younger or older than mine. That didn’t work out so well. While I was picking leaves out of my baby’s mouth, the other mom was chasing her kid across the playground. Or, the other mom was peacefully cradling her sleeping infant while I kept excusing myself to protect her wedding china from my toddler’s grasp.

Having been on the play dating scene now for almost 2 years, I’ve got a few tips:

1. Start out easy. Instead of launching headfirst into play dates with strangers, get together with your friends who have kids. It’s much less stressful if you already know the other mom and can be yourself. Also, friends aren’t as inclined to get annoyed if your baby has a diaper blowout on their couch, or if you’re so tired from nursing that you doze off mid-conversation.

2. Play dates come in different types. There’s the standard, pre-arranged play date, usually at someone’s house. Then there’s the destination play date, which might involve meeting at the park or playground. There’s also the impromptu play date, my favorite. This is when you call someone and say, “Junior woke up early from his nap and it’s 4 hours till my husband gets home. Wanna come over?” There’s even the drive-by play date. That’s when your neighbor drives by and sees you in the yard and says, “Can Timmy come over and play for awhile?”

3. Set limits. An hour or two is a good amount of time for a play date. Unless you plan to serve a meal, don’t schedule it during lunch- or dinner-time. If you want the kids to stay in the backyard or playroom, say so, but don’t think they will abide by that. In fact, you should probably make your bed and clean the other bathroom just in case.

4. Don’t stress. It’s practically a given that your child will unleash a foul deposit in his diaper the minute you arrive at your new friends’ house. Or spill his juice all over the new carpet. Or that your normally easy-going offspring will attack like a mother bear in heat when the other kid makes a move for his favorite firetruck. Laugh it off. Then get the hell out of there and don’t go back. (Just kidding.)

Play dates can be a minefield for new moms. Just remember the goal is to find a couple of playmates for your child, and some adult interaction for you (though don’t expect to be able to have an uninterrupted conversation). Go ahead. Brush your hair and put on a nice top. Then get out there. You’ll be fine.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: For more tips, visit this site on “play date etiquette.”

5/8/08

The Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love

I once read a comment on a blog where a debate was raging about working versus stay-at-home moms. The commenter claimed that being a mom was not that hard. Tedious maybe, but not hard. This stuck with me for some reason. Perhaps because my own husband had just claimed that spending 3 straight days with our insanely active toddler was not as stressful as his desk job. Maybe I was just being a whiner, I thought. Maybe I’m exaggerating the physical and emotional toll of motherhood. I mean, is reading books and changing diapers and playing with blocks all day really that tough? I almost had myself convinced that the person who wrote that comment was right. AND THEN I WOKE UP.

Literally. About 7 times in one night, because Miles was coughing and miserable and I couldn’t do a thing for him except run the humidifier, rub his back, and listen to the phlegm rattle around in his tiny chest. And then, delirious and exhausted, I had to get up with the sun and function.

First I had to switch over the wet laundry from the washer — where it had been sitting forgotten for days — because Miles had no clean socks. Then I washed his bottles by hand (because the dishwasher was full of dirty dishes), made the oatmeal, cooled the oatmeal, fed the oatmeal to my son, and then spent 25 minutes cleaning the oatmeal off of everything in sight.

While I was doing this, Miles wandered into the family room and managed to topple off the toy box and collide with the edge of the brick fireplace. So then I had to fetch the Boo-Boo Bunny from the freezer, soothe my child, and duct-tape some foam to the fireplace, which I had been meaning to do since Miles started crawling. This reminded me that I needed to make his next appointment with the pediatrician, so I spent the next 15 minutes on the phone.

Writing his appointment on the calendar, I noticed that my mother’s birthday was in 2 days. So it’s off to the card shop we go, after loading child, stroller, sippy cup, and diaper bag into the car. Note: child weighs roughly the same as a bag of wet cement. But first we needed gas and, oh, right, I forgot to go to the bank and we’re out of stamps, too. By the third errand, Miles had lost patience and refused to get back into the car seat. When I FINALLY got him back in and decided to leave him in the car for 5 seconds while I returned an overdue library book, a stranger berated me for negligent parenting.

When we got home, I discovered the dog had chewed up a pair of sunglasses and thrown up on the floor. Miles immediately began splashing in the dog puke. Into the bath we go. After wrestling him and his 17 bath toys into and out of the tub, it was time for lunch. The mealtime sequence was repeated.

During Miles’ nap, I attempted to get some work done, but the phone kept ringing. Then the UPS guy rang the doorbell, which made the dog bark, which woke up the baby. Naptime was cut short. The afternoon passed ever so slowly in a fog of snacks, Play-Doh, crayons, time-outs for improper use of Play-Doh and crayons, and various other activities.

After Miles got soaked splashing in the dog’s water bowl, I decided to change him into his PJs early. The last clean pair. Less than half an hour later, he had a diaper blowout that rendered both him and the PJs filthy. I cleaned him up with some wipes (I couldn’t face another bath) and went to check the dryer for clean PJs. The dryer had stopped working and I was met with a wad of wet clothes. By this time, Miles was hungry for dinner, so the mealtime sequence is repeated AGAIN. Also, we were out of milk, and my husband was working late. Who the f*&%?! said this job wasn’t hard?!?!

And yet, even as I’m complaining and combining weeks’ worth of awfulness into one fictitious day to make a point, I realize things could be WAY harder. I could be sitting helplessly by my baby’s side in the NICU, for instance. Or taking him to specialist after specialist to figure out what’s wrong with him. Or even going it alone without any help or support at all.

I still don’t know what the heck that person was smoking when she wrote that being a mom is not hard. Maybe her kids are inert and silent. Maybe she sticks them in front of the TV all day while she does her nails. Maybe in her spare time she enjoys breaking rocks in the hot sun while chained to a bunch of prisoners. Whatever. All I know is, I’m no longer afraid to admit that being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And also, the best.

SHOUT OUT: To all you moms out there, new or not, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

5/6/08

Month 24: Full Price From Here On Out

Miles is going to be 2 in just over one month. TWO YEARS OLD!! If you ask him how old he is, he says, “I’m two June.” A lot of moms I know get choked up on their child’s first birthday, but Miles still seemed like a baby then. 1st birthdayBut this 2 business is hitting me hard. It’s like all of a sudden, he’s a full-fledged BOY, not a baby. It made me feel better somehow when I could conclude every anecdote with, “… and he’s not even 2 yet!” Now, he’s grown out of his footy pajamas, gets regular haircuts, and has to pay full fare on airplanes. It’s sad times, people.

Not that he’s choked up about it. On the contrary, he’s Mr. Independent lately, even more than usual. He wants to put on his shoes “by self!” and has opinions on what he will or won’t wear. Most times he trots off to the sitter’s with barely a backward glance. In fact, the only time he seems to want Mom is going down the slide at the playground. Thanks, buddy. I’ll be nursing my broken heart over in the corner while you go climb the jungle gym “by self.”

He’s exerting his independence in other ways, too. He insists on being the one to turn off the TV. If I get impatient with him resting his finger on the button for 5 minutes and turn it off myself, he cries until I turn it back on — just so HE can turn it off. He refuses to hold my hand, but likes to “pull Mama” down the street by her finger. (Hey, if that’s the only thing that keeps him from being flattened by a Mack truck, I’ll take it.) He sometimes refuses to eat until I swipe a bite of his food. THEN he gobbles it right up. Oh, the games we parents play…

I had thought we were out of the woods on the crib conundrum for the time being. After climbing out a couple of times, he seemed to lose interest or forget he could. Whew! We could put off the big-boy bed a while longer. Then today at naptime I hear, “Click, slam! Click, slam!” He had escaped from his crib and was opening and shutting his bedroom door. And instead of acting guilty, he put up a fight when I put him back in bed. What now? Do we gate his door? Get a baby-proof doorknob? Give up and get a toddler bed? Suggestions welcome.

When it comes to language, Miles is 2 going on 30. He often says, a propos nothing, “I’m a guy.” Alrighty, then! He has to label everything he sees: “Dere’s a truck. Oh, a bus! A baby. What’s dat baby doin’, mama?” He keeps a running commentary of the day’s events. I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t require constant validation. “Dere’s a doggie, mama. Dere’s a doggie. A DOGGIE, Mama!” This continues until I say, “YES!! I hear you. You’re right, it IS a doggie.”

Sometimes he makes mistakes, which I love. A fire hydrant is a fire “hundred.” Lemonade is “lem-lade.” And he still says “I carry you” when he wants to be carried. This morning in the kitchen he asked, “What me got, Mama?” “That’s a spatula,” I replied. “Umbrella!” he shouted, wielding the spatula. Close enough. It reminds me that he’s not all grown up JUST yet.

READ O’ THE MONTH: Coming out later this month is “The Belated Baby,” by fellow writer mama Kelly James Enger & Jill S. Browning. Says Kelly, “It’s for moms who have become parents ‘the hard way,’ whether through fertility treatments, adoption, or trying for years to have a child before they were successful.”

5/2/08

Kids Are Bad for the Environment

Boy, this whole “going green” movement couldn’t have come at a worse time. I’d love to help save the planet, but then I had a baby. Sorry, Mother Earth, but kids and eco-friendliness don’t go hand in hand.

I am the Lorax, I speak for the treesFirst, there’s the diaper issue. I admit I never seriously considered using cloth diapers, but these statistics I found gave me pause: “…roughly 5 million tons of untreated waste and 2 billion tons of urine, feces, plastic and paper are added to landfills annually. It takes around 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees a year to manufacture the disposable diapers for American babies alone.”

Damn. But then I’ve also heard the argument that the extra water used to wash cloth diapers is just as bad for the environment as disposable diapers. Anyway, for me it comes down to 1) cost, and 2) how well they work. I can buy Huggies in bulk at Costco. And my one friend who tried cloth diapers shelled out a couple hundred dollars only to find they leaked constantly.

So I’ve failed miserably at the first of the 3 R’s of environmentalism, “reduce.” How about “reuse” and “recycle?” Well, around the time my son was 1, the media hype about plastic bottles and BPAs reached a frenzied pitch. I considered trading our Avent bottles for glass ones for about half a second. Then I thought, in Miles’ hands, a glass bottle is as safe as a chainsaw. It would be shattered to bits in seconds. Some moms I know bought the BornFree (BPA free) bottles. I, however, abandoned the cause when I found out how much they cost, like so many of my good intentions. So now I use disposable plastic cancer-causing sippy cups.

I have tried to reduce waste by buying big bags of snacks or cereal and divvying them up into reusable containers instead of buying individually packed snacks. But you know what? Those individually packed snacks are damn handy when you’re in a rush. As are disposable plastic placemats, bibs, and any and all kinds of wipes. Heck, Miles can go through a stack of napkins and half a box of wipes after a messy meal. He kills a forest every time he eats a tuna sandwich at Panera. And when he brushes his teeth or washes his hands (really just an excuse to play in the sink), he uses more water than a small African village.

Let’s move on to recycling, shall we? We do a little better with that R. The piles of plastic and cardboard that every toy is packaged in these days go straight into the recycling bin. Ditto the stacks of baby catalogs we now get in the mail every day. And when I’m done with the cancerous sippy cups, I try to recycle those, too. A lot of Miles’ clothes come from consignment shops and we give them away when he’s outgrown them, so that counts as recycling, right?

Look, I’d love to drive a hybrid, buy eco-friendly diapers and organic cotton onesies like the celebrities, and grow all my own pesticide-free food in the backyard. (OK, I’m lying about that last one.) But it ain’t happening. Al Gore can take it up with me once my kid’s out of diapers.

FACT O’ THE WEEK: Women feel “green guilt” nearly twice as much as men. Guess that explains why my husband leaves the water running when he shaves.

PLEA O’ THE WEEK: Vote for my photo of Miles “walking” a St. Bernard so I can win $2500!

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