Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks = Happy!

I recently heard that happier people tend to be those who are more grateful.  I know I'd like to be one of those people.  Why does it take a special day for me to step back and acknowledge all that I am thankful for?  Why don't I acknowledge how blessed I am all day, every day?

Oddly enough, we also find these moments during times of tragedy.  Recently, my Uncle Steve died.  Out of his death, I felt more connected to those I love than I had in while.  Why did it take that event to get me to that place?  In some of my most painful moments, I have been more grateful for the support of my friends and family than any other time.

Well, today I am going to seize the opportunity and give thanks.  After all, it IS the focus of the day.  I truly have more blessings than I deserve.  Our life this past year has been turned upside down over and over again.  Despite some hardships, we are stronger as a family unit than ever before.  I have found more balance and peace.  I'd like to think that I've become a bit wiser too! :o)

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours,


Jen Starks, Owner 574.275.1235

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Myth Buster: ANOTHER Load of Laundry?

It's true that once you have a baby (or two or three children), there's always laundry to do.  The idea that you'd be adding more to that pile, just seems off putting.  I get it!

The good news is that you can launder cloth diapers with less time and effort than all the rest of your laundry.  If you are able to afford a 3 day supply (and I recommend working toward that!), you are only doing a load 2 times a week.  The amount of time you are actually spending doing that laundry is probably 10 minutes a week.  Even better, you don't have to worry about ironing, folding, or even putting the cloth diapers away.  It can be as easy as throwing the clean diapers in a laundry basket from the dryer and pulling from that basket when it's time to do a change. (On those REALLY lazy days, I have been known to leave the diapers in the dryer and pull clean ones from there!)

If you use diapers like GroVia's all-in-ones, Tots Bots Easy Fit Diaper, bumGenius All-in-Ones, or Tots Bots Tini Fit Diaper, you don't even need to stuff or assemble the diaper.  That's it!

For those veteran's currently using cloth diapers, how has the extra loads been for you?



Jen Starks, Owner 574.275.1235

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Myth Buster: Cloth Diapers Cause More Leaks!


This is a common concern I hear when I meet with families first considering a cloth diaper investment.  And certainly having leaking issues is an extra hassle no one wants to deal with.  I'm pleased to share a few insights in avoiding leaks in cloth diapers. In fact, I often here about less "blow outs" that many disposable diapers cause (especially the up the back leaks!).

1. Proper Size & Fit- You want to make sure your baby is in the correct size.  Don't try and purchase a larger size to save money.  The diaper should fit snug around the legs and waist.  Gaping in the legs is a big culprit of leaking issues, especially with newborns and boys in particular.

2. Wearing Diaper Correctly- It is always a good idea to make sure that you read the directions on your diaper label and/or visually see how to properly put on the cloth diaper.  If you haven't stuffed a pocket diaper correctly, haven't tucked in that prefold inside the cover, you'll have leaks.

3.  Changing Often Enough- Cloth diapers are much more absorbent than they have ever been.  That being said, they still need to be changed about every 1.5 hours to 2 hours.  Technically, that's how often you should be changing your baby in disposables but the companies make it absorbent enough to go much longer (read: health hazard!).  Now, night time is a different story in cloth diapers.  We use a pocket diaper stuffed more than usual to make it all night long.  Since there is a nice fleece liner used to keep your baby dry, we are able to make it all night in one diaper.  Everyone is comfortable and dry!



Jen Starks, Owner 574.275.1235

Monday, November 7, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Raise Your Sustainable Family

This list was put together just off the top of my head and could go on and on.  However, if you're looking for some ways to live a bit more sustainable, here's a good start. I'd love your additions in the comment section!

Top 10 Sustainable Living Ideas for your Family

  1. Start with your baby.  It’s easy to bring in a lot of excess “stuff” when baby comes.  Looks for ways to reduce (avoid a lot of unnecessary baby gear), look to reuse as much as possible (cloth diapers, used clothing)), and find creative ways to “upcycle” what you already have around the house that you might just recycle.  For instance, baby wipes containers can be used for storage of many items around the house.

  1. Skip plastic and work toward getting it out of your house.  Even with BPA regulations, we don’t know the harmful impact of BPA alternatives are right now. Glass, stainless steel, silicone, wood materials are a worthwhile investment.

  1. Eat in season and try to rely on your farmer’s markets for your produce.  Less miles traveled, the food is fresher, it supports your local economy.

  1. Try and eat as much organic as possible.  Memorize the “Dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables and make that a starting point.

  1. Look for ways to reduce your water consumption: turning off water while brushing teeth and washing face, hang dry clothes, don’t shower everyday, purchase water savers in toilets and shower heads that turn off.

  1. Compost your food scraps.  It will be your fertilizer for your garden.  It reduces waste in your trash.

  1. Grow an organic garden.  It will save you money, it is great exercise, it helps you appreciate where your food comes from, and skip the pesticides.

  1. Weatherize your home.  Keep drafts out of your home by sealing your windows and underneath your doors.  Insulate your heater coils. You’ll save money, you’ll be more comfortable, and you won’t be wasting money.

  1. Invest in energy efficient household items.  Sometimes cities will offer rebate, look for good sales.

  1. Purchase in bulk as much as possible but pay attention to how the bulk items are packaged.  A lot of bulk items that make items in “portioned sizes” use a lot of excess packaging.  All this extra packaging is unnecessary.

BONUS: Avoid purchasing any single use item as a rule of thumb.  It’s usually more expensive and all that packaging will be trash for a long time for one use.  


Jen Starks, Owner 574.275.1235

Friday, November 4, 2011

Too Clean to Be Green

Germs.  They are everywhere and we have become a culture that tries to sterilize everything.  As a parent, I can understand it.  There's not much worse than seeing your child suffering when you can't do much about it.  It's especially concerning with newborns because they are so vulnerable and most over the counter medication isn't safe for them.

I believe part of this cultural need stems from all the fear that has been driving us here in the US.  I often hear people justifying a bigger car because they are afraid of being hurt.  We run out to the stores to buy what "everyone else" has partly out of fear of not fitting in.  Don't get me started on how this plagues us as parents.  My daughter an outcast?  That feels scary.  We buy those shopping cart covers because who knows what's on them?

So, we fear getting sick and maybe covertly this reflects a fear of mortality.  The pharmaceutical companies feed into this and market their products to us, so we will buy their products.  Anti-bacterial gels/wipes/sprays anyone?  At my daughter's music class, it's practically not an option to pass on using that gel the teacher brings to each child.

Most often, all it takes to clean up around our house is some good 'ol fashioned vinegar and baking soda (occasionally hydrogen peroxide).  But people bring out the BIG GUNS...just in case, right?  Bleach (chlorine) is put into practically all of our store bought cleaners.  It is, however, unnecessary to use in most household settings. Shed the toxic bleach and make your own cleaner- it's super easy, less expensive, and MUCH better on Mother Earth (kinda like cloth diapers!).

Getting back to the issue of germs.  There seems to be a spectrum of people who range from believing germs are bad and need to be zapped immediately all the way to those who embrace germs believing they can actually help us.

I have to admit that I'm probably somewhere in the middle of the road but lean toward embracing germs.  I especially lean when it comes to my two children (4 & under).  Some of you are probably judging me believing that I'm being negligent or not protecting my children.  But studies are also showing that if we allow our children to build up their immunity at a young age, their immune system is stronger and they have lower rates of allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune diseases in adulthood.

I still believe it's important to have good hand-washing routines.  We don't need the "anti-bacterial"soap.  Instead, some of LuSa Organics soap would be perfect! And I do believe we should be cautious about infectious diseases but let go of that fear and find some balance.

I even give our kids a supplemental bacteria daily.  Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in the large intestine.  By maintaining a healthy balance of these good bacteria, our body can protect itself better from the harmful bacteria.

Buying organic foods can also prevent some of the food-borne illnesses that have been causing massive amounts of recalled food.  Even today, I learned that cantaloupe is being recalled for having listeria on it and causing deaths. This is something to be concerned about and well worth spending a few more on the organic selection.

So what about you? Where do you fall on the spectrum?  What cleaners do you use at home?  Do you use those shopping cart covers to protect your child in the grocery store?

Here's another article on the topic, if you're interested in reading more about it.



Jen Starks, Owner 574.275.1235