7 Highly Pretentious Green Living Habits Everyone Should Adopt

Green Pretentious Habits

It’s Earth Day and what better way to celebrate green living than to give you 7 green living habits that not only make the Earth a better place, but make you feel morally, ethically, and environmentally superior to everyone around you?

Before you get your panties or boxer briefs in a twist, let me be clear. I am a highly pretentious green habit adopting chica so I know what I’m talking about.  Every time I bring my own bags to the grocery store, I feel like Gaea reincarnate.  Don’t lie…you do, too.

Let’s make everyone green with envy for your green living ways with my top 7 tips for living a more Earth friendly life.

7 Green Living Habits That Boost Your Ego

1. BYOB: Bring Your Own Bags

Remembering to bring your bags with you when you shop is probably the hardest part of this one.  All it takes is hard work and a house-elf like punishment when you forget them at home. To train myself to remember to bring my bags I once refused to have my groceries bagged as a personal punishment.  I promise you that once you unload groceries piecemeal from your car a few times, remembering BYOB is a snap.

Ego boost? You get to carry your groceries out in style and anything looks better than plastic bags!

2. Shop Local

Shopping local is a huge movement and one that is fairly easy to incorporate, especially when shopping for fruits and vegetables.  Farmer’s markets and local suppliers are all the rage, but what happens if you’re hanging at the grocery store? No problem! Each fruit or veg typically has a label that states its country and, sometimes state, of origin. The closer the origin, the more local.  Makes sense, right?

Ego boost? You get to tell all of your friends how you got the most AH-MAZING tomAHtoes (because that’s how you roll now) at the farm stand.

3. Shop Seasonal

Shopping seasonally used to just be “the way,” but thanks to our global marketplace, we can get all sorts of fruits and veg regardless of the growing season. Case in point? Oranges from South Africa.  The further produce travels, the more expensive it gets due to freight costs.

Ego boost? Listening to your kids tell someone that it’s not strawberry season yet and that they can’t wait until it is.

4. Plan Your Errand Route Carefully

I used to be so guilty of what my parents call “gallivanting the streets”. When gas prices went up a few years back, I had to put my gallivanting to the side and become much more aware of how much gas I was wasting traveling aimlessly around town. To save on gas and wear and tear on my car, I run all of my errands on one day and plot out my travel in one big loop to avoid back tracking (read: wasting gas running all over the place).

Ego boost? Having an “errands day”…it sounds so official.

5. Buy New-to-You

New-new is so not in. Thrifting, consigning, and virtual yard sales are where it’s at!  I can’t tell you how many awesome gently-used items are out there, from kids clothing to furniture to sports equipment (like Homeskillet’s thrice used Ab-rocker. I. Can’t. Even.).

Ego boost? Shabby chic is all the rage. You’re hippy and jiggy again (note-to-self…look up cooler words next time).

6. Pack Your Own Water Bottle

Ditch the plastic water bottle habit and start carrying your own. Besides, all you’re doing is buying packaged tap water.  And if you’re buying Fiji, let’s get real. You’re just buying a rectangular bottle that screams “Look at me, I’m so FANCY!”  Extra money saving bonus? If you pack your drink, you’re less likely to spend money on a latte when you’re out and about.

Ego boost? No more courtesy cups of water when you grab lunch out! You’ll look so sporty and Earth-friendly by carrying your own.

7. Use Cloth Diapers

I can’t tell you how much I wish I would’ve used cloth diapers for both of my girls. Cloth diapering La Rubia had to be one of the most awesome and memorable experiences for me as a parent. Not only did we save a bunch of cash, I felt like I was doing something revolutionary. And I converted Homeskillet into a cloth diapering evangelist. I think he’s converted more people than I have!

Ego-boost?  Everybody is going to want to know how it all works! You’ll be the resident expert!

Got something to add?  What makes you feel super-Earthy-Crunchy-Cool?

Parenting: 15 Things I Will Never Feel Guilty About

15 Things Parent Guilt

1. Setting clear boundaries.

Kids love boundaries.  They thirst for them. Routine makes life predictable, clear, and uncomplicated.  Oh, they also make me happy, too.

2. Non-negotiable bedtimes every night.

This goes along with boundaries.  Let’s be honest. Kids don’t have a self-regulating function.  Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on children.  It makes them into total nightmares. Why would you do that to yourself?

And let me be clear, early bedtime is also a selfishly smart thing to do to keep your marriage intact. I want kid-free time with my sexy husband every single night. By 8pm our booties are on the couch, coffee in hand, chillaxing to our favorite shows or having grown-up conversation.

3. Saying “no”.

There’s nothing wrong with saying “no”. It’s a part of life. And…

4. Saying “no” even when I can say “yes”.

Like when we go to the mall and there’s a carousel or if we’re at the Starbucks drive-thru and they’re begging for cake pops. Just because I can say yes, doesn’t mean I should make it a habit.  What do the Rolling Stones say?  You can’t always get what you want.  Boom.

5. Leaving my children with a sitter.

Uh, date night much? And you know your kids have the best time with the sitter!  Pizza? Games? A teenager?  Way more fun than mom and dad!

6. Chores.

There’s a chore for every age group.  Mama ain’t yo’ maid. Plus, chores are a great life-skill teaching tool and lesson in team work.  The family that cleans together has a mom that doesn’t lose her shit (as often).

7. Not caring that everyone else can do something that my kids can’t.

Go ahead, jump off that bridge.

8. Keeping our house rules no matter where we are, where we go, or who we’re with. And getting family and friends on board as enforcers.

It takes a village to raise your children and there’s nothing more aggravating that having to un-do damage from well-meaning family and friends who are easily manipulated by your ridiculously cute offspring. “But they really wanted to have orange soda!”  “Oh, it’s only an iPad.” “They told us that they don’t go to bed early on Wednesdays.”  Yeah, right.  Get your village on board, and don’t be afraid to tell your kids that you’ve got eyes all over the place.

9. Requiring 100% compliance with manners.

“Thank yous”, “pleases”, “sirs”, “ma’ams”, “excuse-mes”, “may-Is”, and “your welcomes” are required at all times whether you’re talking to the Pope or you accidentally trip over the dog.

10. Enforcing the if-you’re-hungry-you’ll-eat rule.

I just went outside and looked on my roof.  Nope, we don’t live at Waffle House. And nope, I’m not a short order cook. I make it. You eat it.  Not gonna eat?  You’re not that hungry.  There’s always tomorrow.

11. Not getting my child their own personal phone/tablet/computer.

Have you seen what they do to their Barbies?  Forget it.  You wanna surf the net? You get to do it on Mom and Dad’s computer, in a common area, where I can keep an eye on you.

12. Making my children do 90% of  their school work and projects solo.

Even when it’s painful. I already went to school. I’m a project supervisor not a worker bee.

13. Telling my children when they’ve done a crappy job.

It happens.  Constructive, age appropriate criticism is important.  It’s my job to ensure that my child learns the value of doing her very best which leads me to…

14. Making my children redo substandard work.

I know what rushing to go outside and play looks like when it comes to penmanship and homework (and chores).  What did my parents always say?  “Lazy people work twice as hard. Do it right the first time.”

15. Being proud of my children.

I might sound like a hard-ass, but in this house we bring our A-game and then we celebrate the hell out of our successes.

What things would you add to this parenting guilt-free list? 

5 Must Know Disney Vacation Planning Tips for Military Families!

Disney 5 Tips Social Share

Thinking about planning a vacation for your military family to Disney World?  Chances are you’ve heard of Disney’s Armed Forces Salute, but did you know these 5 awesome Disney vacation planning tips just for military families?

1. When It Comes To Military Discounts for Disney Tickets…You Have Options

I think one of the most widely unknown awesome tip about Disney’s Armed Forces Salute is that you have choices when it comes to the type of tickets you buy.   I think it’s fair to say that the ticket that you probably think of when you hear military Disney tickets is the 4-Day Disney Park Hopper Ticket but you actually have three options.  Check it:

4-Day Disney Park Hopper Tickets ($165.50 at MacDill AFB ITT…each ITT office can have slightly different pricing)

This one is the most commonly known of the Armed Forces Salute Disney ticket options.  Basically you get four days of access to all four parks on any given day.  If you’re the type of person who likes to hit Magic Kingdom in the morning, Hollywood Studios in the afternoon, and Epcot at night, this option is definitely for you.

4 Days of Single Disney Park Admission PLUS 4 days of Water Parks ($165.50 at MacDill AFB ITT)

If you’re park monogamous like we are and you only plan on hitting one park per day, this is definitely the ticket option you want.  Not only do you get 4 days of park admission to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom (one park per day) you get 4 days of water park access to Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach (one park per day as well).

As a Florida military family, this is our Armed Forces Salute Ticket Option of choice!  You can spread out the use of this ticket over the course of a calendar year and get your Disney fix on your schedule!

4 Day Disney Park Hopper PLUS 4 days of Water Parks ($194.50 at MacDill AFB ITT)

If you want the whole shebang…Park Hopper Tickets AND Water Park access this ticket is for you.  The tickets cost a bit more than the other two ticket choices, but they are still deeply discounted when you compare them to standard and even Florida resident specials.

2. You Shouldn’t Forget About Shades of Green at Walt Disney World

Shades of Green is the official Armed Forces Recreation Center run resort on Walt Disney World property.  They offer exclusive room rates on a sliding scale based on a servicemember’s grade (active duty, reserve, or retired).  Not only are their rates competitive, they offer special packages for troops returning from deployment.

Shades of Green is a great option for lodging during your Disney Vacation and it’s important to know that Shades has a fully functioning ITT office on property (ITT= Information, Tickets, and Travel…think military travel/ticket office. Learn more about why you shold be down with ITT!).  If you need additional tickets or want to explore other military discounts available in the central Florida area, make sure you check there first.

Definitely worth putting on your military family’s Disney vacation planning checklist!

3. Disney World Resorts Offer Military Discounts Too!

Believe it or not, because my husband is an officer, Shades of Green is not our most cost effective lodging choice.  As it turns out, in addition to offering deeply discounted Disney tickets to military servicemembers and their families, Disney World also offers discounts at Disney World Resort Hotels.  Check out their current resort hotel discounts for 2013-2014 in my blog post, Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Renewed for 2013-2014!

Because our vacation motto is play hard and save money on lodging, we often stay at Walt Disney World Value Resorts like the Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.  You can check out more details from our last visit by reading You Can’t Go Wrong At Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

4. Downtown Disney Has Its Own Military Discounts

Is Downtown Disney part of your military family’s Disney vacation plans?  Don’t forget to ask this simple question when you’re shopping, dining, and having fun: “Do you offer a military discount?”

Many vendors do offer military discounts…all you have to do is ask.

If you’re planning on seeing La Nouba, make sure you check ITT for discounted tickets for military servicemembers and their families.

5. If You Have Questions Check Out The Disney Parks Moms Panel!

If you ever have questions about your military family’s Disney Vacation I highly suggest you do some crowdsourcing via Disney’s super cool community of parent experts, Disney Parks Mom Panel.  I have to shout out to Amiyrah Martin of @4hatsandfrugal, Disney Moms Panel 2014 resident military mom expert! She and all of the other Disney Mom Park Panelists are standing by to answer all of your questions, big and small!

Mom, We’ll Be Okay, We Can Just Skype With Dad

Sometimes I find myself wondering if my kids actually miss people the way I miss people.  I mean really MISS people.  With Homeskillet’s one year solo adventure on the horizon, I have to say that I really expected at least La Grande to take the news of his departure a little bit harder than she did.  She didn’t even shed a tear or ask for additional information about why her Dad might have to leave.

Nada.

It kind of gave me the creeps.  Is she like Vicky the Robot?  Does she lack an emotion chip? Sure, sure, I get it.  It might just go fwoop right over her head or her kid-brain might not be able to process what Dad being gone an entire year could possibly look like, but come on.  I expected at least some resistance or emotional acknowledgement.

It never came.

So I asked, “Well, aren’t you going to miss Dad? I mean, he’s going to be gone a whole year!”

To which she replied, “Mom, we can always just Skype with him.”

Daddy and his girls

Can Skype really substitute for this?

Duh. I guess. I think?

Is Skype enough for kids nowadays?  Did I just say nowadays? Oh hell, I might as well start practicing my “get off my lawn” stance.

Well is it? I won’t lie, her nonchalant we’ll-always-have-Skype approach to a long term separation (by kid standards) kind of made me think about how much my kids actually miss people.  Miss family.  Miss their friends. Do they miss people with the same kind of aching in their heart…that longing to drink in the presence of someone you love?

Part of me thinks no.  It’s different now.

IMG_1753

La Grande’s 4th birthday, Skype style!

Both of my girls have never lived a life without Skype.  Never. They’ve cultivated and maintained wonderful relationships with their grandparents and aunts all through the medium of video teleconferencing.  Way to come through on at least one 21st century promise, Jetsons.  Now where the heck is my flying suitcase car and my Rosie the Robot Housekeeper, hmm?!?!

When I think about the fact that I’ve never lived closer than a 12 hour flight or drive to my parents’ house, it’s no wonder that my girls rely so heavily on Skype to be close with their Nana and Papa.  And when I think about how my parents and my daughters interact on Skype, no wonder it’s like they’ve never skipped a beat when we pull into their  driveway.

Thanks to Skype, my parents have had the opportunity to play flashcards, listen in on piano practice, and even listened to La Grande when she took her first foray into independent reading.  They’ve been Skyped in for birthdays and post-Trick-or-Treating candy sorting and even on Christmas morning.

Now that I think about it, it is kinda cool.  Really cool  It is different and maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Even though Skype isn’t the same thing as a hug or a kiss or a tickle as Daddy tucks you into bed, it is something and it is special.

I can get on board with that.

Maybe they don’t “miss” people in the same way we, or at least I, did way back when (damn, these oldie-fogie cliches are killing me), or maybe they do but have way better tools to make it not feel as bad.  I think that’s the beauty and danger of this terribly wonderful thing called social media. It gives us beautiful illusions of being intimately entwined in the lives of our framily (oh, Sprint, I’m taking it and running with it) even while geographically separated.

What do you think?  Is Skype and other social technology changing the way your kids relate with their family and friends?