We made it!

The school year ends here on Friday which means I survived a whole year of lunches with our “less waste” system. We have these little storage containers we use to try to encourage us NOT to buy tons of prepackaged stuff, or use sandwich bags, so that we could maybe reduce our waste associated with lunches at least a little bit.


It wasn’t/isn’t perfect. We never found a water bottle/container that really – HONESTLY – didn’t leak. I have an idea of one that will work – they make them in “adult sized” and they work – but never found a “kid’s sized” one. I’m going to look again before next year. SO! We settled on small gatorade bottles which the kids were bringing home to throw in the recycle bin.

Other things we never did well with:

Granola bars
Cheeses sticks
Yogurt Squeezes

Sometimes we didn’t do granola bars, but we would often do something similar. The kids just LIKE that kind of thing and it’s hard to find it in bulk like I can their chips/crackers. I tried putting yogurt in small containers from big/bulk containers but they only do that in one flavor which the kids don’t like.

SO! The challenge for NEXT year will be to

1) Find a good granola ball recipe I can do on the weekends and give the kids in their lunches
2) Test out different blocks of cheese to see what the kids lick so I can just cut it up for their lunches
3) Continue to look into other flavors of yogurt in bulk
4) Try to find a kid’s size of the drink containers I think might actually be leak proof

Par of the problem is we’re not members at anything like Costco or Sams so our “bulk” options are limited. That’s something else I might do for next year. Go ahead and get a membership there. Or maybe talk to family about trying theirs out for awhile. It’s not close or convenient to me and the last time we tried it we bought stuff we wouldn’t normally buy – just to buy SOMETHING. So I think I’d probably rather test it out for awhile first.

Either way – I know for sure we spared at least 3 sandwich pages or packages per kid per lunch every day. They only got hot lunch about 20 days total between the two of them this year, so that’s a lot of waste we prevented with our lunches. I think back to years prior and am almost embarrassed by how much garbage we created every day. And truthfully – packing lunches didn’t take too much longer. If you really time yourself, it’s still only a few extra minutes every day and once I got a good system it didn’t seem to be a big deal. Also key was finding the right containers. I want to buy another set for next year and maybe even some more ice packs.

I’m proud of us! It probably didn’t make a big dent on our carbon footprint as a family, but it’s a step in the right direction at least! And if you count all of the steps we’ve made in the right direction over the last 7 years? Then there has DEFINITELY been a change in our footprint.

Less Waste Lunches

This photo was taken at the beginning of the year. The lunch boxes look MUCH more tattered now. That’s another thing. Our lunch boxes never make it more than a year. We keep them still because I use them for keeping stuff cold for after a run, but they are BEAT UP.

I’m Giggling About Farts, People. This is Serious Stuff.

Wes woke up with foot cramps again tonight so I used the excuse to finally get up for the day myself as I’m dealing with some weird nerve/pain issue in my head/neck.

(This is the part where I pretend I’ve been writing consistently for the last two weeks and opt NOT to make excuses as to why I haven’t been.)

Do you get those weird nerve pain things? Where there’s like some sort of weird throbbing surface pain on under the skin of your head? (I’m pointing to the spot right now as I’m proof-reading this. Because you can totally see me. I’ve lost my mind.) It’s not a headache, it’s too close to the surface for that, but it’s as irritating? I tend to associate it with stress. And this settling-back-into-school thing has been stressing me RIGHT THE HELL out. So, long story short? It’s my kid’s fault. As always. Damn kids.

SPEAKING OF KIDS! (I am typing with my head crooked to the side in an awkward angle to try to keep the throbbing to a minimum.)

We’re attacking lunches quite differently this year and I’m certain it will make you hate me because – until this year – I hated any parent who indicated they did something with lunch other than throw a bunch of highly-processed pre-packaged shit in a bag. Because that’s what I did for, well, the last 14 years? I waited to see what lunch box items were on BOGO at Publix each week and stocked up and spent 3 minutes packing lunches every morning by throwing several individually wrapped packages of carbs and preservatives into the lunch box. It worked for me. And if it works for you? PLEASE KEEP DOING IT! I am not judging you! I am, however, going to use the rest of this blog entry to brag about my own lunches because, if I’m putting 15 minutes into them instead of 3? I GET TO BRAG ABOUT THEM. THAT’S IN THE BRAGGING HANDBOOK.

(Just like if I run more than 1 mile I get to brag about it on Facebook. BRAGGING HANDBOOK. Get it, people. You may be missing your chance to toot your own horn!)

(I can’t say “toot” without thinking of farting. So, now I’m sitting at my desk with my neck crooked giggling about farting at 2:15am. I am the picture of sanity, people.)


Low Waste Lunch System

I mentioned before that one of the positive side effects of my Great Vegan Experiment is that I’m feel much less guilt about the food I eat. I didn’t realize I carried a lot of that guilt around before, but I guess I did! And just thinking about packing the kids lunches had me feeling the same guilt rushing back. I decided to experiment a bit with healthier options and while I was doing that, I started looking into storage containers since healthy options aren’t usually pre-packaged. As I was doing this the first week or so of school, and talking to another Mom about it, I realized I was also eliminating a whole CRAP LOAD of trash that we used to create from our lunch boxes. So, that became my main mission. MINIMAL WASTE. Because, it turns out? If you force yourself to make a lunch with minimal waste? They just end up being a bit less processed.

This entire week – the only piece of trash that has come from the kid’s lunch boxes has been from the applesauce pouches. And I’m on the fence about even getting rid of those. I’m going to try to recreate the stuff with regular applesauce, but he loves the mixed flavors and while I’m okay putting stuff in reusable containers, I’m not okay with making applesauce from scratch. I DO HAVE STANDARDS, PEOPLE.

(But if I did make applesauce from scratch, I could brag about it. AMIRITE?)

Wesley does get “homemade” fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt because I put frozen blueberries under the vanilla yogurt I buy in the big containers. Nikki likes the vanilla yogurt by itself. We do Veggie Straws for the chips/cracker item as they’re better than chips or crackers. (They’re not “health food” but they’re also not “junk food” either – so we call it a win!) Nikki has decided she loves pistachios and they both have been getting fresh fruit of some sort. Some days Wes gets olives, most days he gets cottage cheese. They’re not vegan lunches, but they’re minimally process compared to the bags of crap they got last year. And Nikki considers it quite a spectacle that when the teacher says, “Throw your trash away!” she gets to stay put and gloats about how green she is.


Like I always say, I do a lot of shit as a Mother I’m not proud of. I’ve been yelling more these last three weeks since school started than I did all summer. I’m not handling the transition well in many ways but DAMMIT IF MY LUNCHES AREN’T AWESOME. So, I’m going to hold on to that strand of success and keep from falling into the downward spiral of, “OH MY GOD I AM THE TOTAL WORST IN THE WORLD” that I seem to trip onto some most days.

P.S. I’m starting a 27 1/2 day challenge (30 day challenges are so boring!) – I have to write a blog entry every day for the next 27 1/2 days. I’m doing this as an apology to my friend of 19 years (WTF? WE ARE SO OLD!) Betsy who very subtly guilted me yesterday about not blogging regularly. Sorry for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been hanging on by that one thread and it’s hard to type with one hand. To apologize, here’s a picture of E and I from this week. He popped into town for 45 minutes before heading off to see One Direction with his friends and this is the selfie we took. He applied the B&W filter before putting it on instagram and I like it way better than the original because it hides the halo of frizz I was wearing that day.


See you tomorrow! Blogging on a Saturday! It’s the new black!

It’s Not Easy Being Green

photoI really try to live “Green” in as many ways as possible. But – like with most things in my life – I only do what’s easy on many levels. I recycle, I conserve, I try to be wary of excess packaging, but lately I’ve totally thrown out my habit of using reusable grocery bags because – well – I forgot them once or twice and then just never remembered them again.

That’s the kind of lazy I am. It’s so easy to get back into the habit of doing the right thing, especially if it became a habit for awhile, but that one step of doing it the right way that one time seems like climbing a mountain.

I think this is how it used to be with exercise with me. When I would get out of the habit of it, then getting back in the habit by just doing it one time was close to impossible. Somehow, I’ve grown out of this. After several years of regular exercise, my “off days” are only as long as I choose them to be and starting back is never a big deal. Yet…those damn grocery bags…I can’t seem to remember to bring them even ONE TIME because I just think, eh…I just don’t feel like it.

Do you have behavior like that? Something you know you should change that is actually so easy to change yet the idea of making that step seems more daunting than the step itself? I mean…JEEZUS LADY…you have 14 million reusable grocery bags…USE THEM ALREADY.

Making Time, Not Excuses.

To Frame

I haven’t talked a lot about starting the chain reaction of awesome in my life, lately. While I was thinking about that this morning I noticed: I have a lot of “selp-improvement” type categories listed here. I think that observation says a lot right there, don’t you think? Like, maybe there’s a part of me hoping if I give it a category on my blog it will stick? Anyway…chain reaction of awesome…I’ve not been doing much to nurture that journey lately. Not just here on this blog, but here in my actual life was well.

When you’re trying to grow as a person in any way, whether it’s starting meditation, or exercise, or just eating better – it’s very easy to get distracted. It’s very easy to avoid the actions that further these goals when you have – what feels like – more pressing and real needs surrounding you. The dishes in the sink, the laundry in the dryer, the poopy diaper on the kid in the next room. All of these immediate needs tend to trump any tasks associated with long-term goals. So, my long-term goals? Get washed down the drain with the dirty dishwater.

Add to the daily mundane BIG activities like; putting your house on the market, high school musicals, estates in probate, or sick family – and those long-term goals or dreams? Really start gathering dust. Studying for the GMAT so I can get my MBA? Impossible when trying to get my house POD Ready (FYI: PODs are just portable container units, like renting storage that gets dropped off and then picked up and moved.) so we can get it on the market by the end of May. Getting back my running body? On the back burner while we wrap up dad’s estates proceedings in Knoxville. Meditating? Improving Nutrition? Parenting adjustments? Can’t think about those while I’m sealing the grout in my kitchen.

Do you see what I have here? A lot of really valid and truthful excuses to put off all of the things I want to be doing. The thing is? If you really examine some of those entries from the ninety million Self Improvement categories I have on this blog? You’ll see that the long list of really valid and truthful excuses? NEVER ENDS.

There are always going to be little things that get in the way day to day: Cat puke to clean up, plants to be watered, cars to be vacuumed. There are always going to be big things that get in the way week to week: illness, home improvement, community needs. If my six years of blogging about making myself better has taught me anything? Is that there will never be time. Time to do what it is I want to do that seems frivolous compared to the immediate needs in my life and in the life of my family members.

So…yet again…I find myself at a crossroads. A moment in my life where maybe some clarity will produce some change. Maybe the realization that I could actually put things off forever at the rate I’m going – is just depressing enough for me to stop putting things off at all. That maybe I pull in chaos in my life to help me avoid these great improvements I need/want to make – so that I don’t have to face failure head on. Maybe I encourage the perpetual list of chores as a way to keep me from actually accomplishing any of my personal goals, so that I’ll never have to officially fail at them. And while this clarity can be very depressing, it’s also nice to know that these changes can be in my power. I don’t have to wait on the universe to give me the perfect conditions to finally encourage me to eat better, harness my creativity, meet my professional goals. Instead, I can say I’ll deal with what the universe needs me to do…AFTER I meditate, or exercise, or eat this bowl of fresh fruit. I can prioritize my personal needs before the needs of my family and of the universe.

Now, I’m not necessarily going to leave my kid sitting in his dirty diaper while I go run – but I can put off folding clothes until after I meditate. I can take the time to plan my daily menu and put off paying the bills until after grocery shopping. Because – and here’s the kicker – I’ve proven over a lifetime of getting things done, THEY WILL GET DONE. The dishes will get in the dishwasher, the laundry will get folded, the holes will get caulked and the lawn will get mowed. If all of the procrastinating of my own wants and needs has taught me anything, it’s this: Everyone Else’s Needs Will Be Met. Just maybe not on the same timeline that ignores my own personal needs.

So, for the nineteen millionth time, I’m refocusing. I am going to spend the week shifting my priorities and digging into all of those entries about who and what I want to be. I don’t want to keep writing about starting these journeys to self-improvement under different categories with different focuses. I want to recognize that: THERE WILL NEVER BE TIME UNLESS I MAKE IT. And I’m going to start making time.

Right after I hang those pictures on the wall and clean my toilet.

(P.S. I categorized this entry in all of my self-improvement categories to prove my point with the excessive categorizing of my self-improvement. Except for one: Operation Marathon. Because let’s be honest, I did that once. And while some may discover their love of real long-distance running with their first marathon? I WAS NOT ONE OF THEM.)

Updates Galore

First – let me do a follow-up on yesterday’s post. You all are wonderfully amazing, truly. I felt much better about the “negotiating” thing by the end of the day. Which made me feel much better in general because sometimes I’m just not confident enough in my parenting decisions to let them stand alone without validation. And I’m aware that is a whole other issue right there, I’m sure. Bedwetting: Last night I took NikkiZ to go potty before I went to bed. I just snuck in the room, picked her up, brought her out to the potty and sat her on it. AND SHE PEED! A LOT! I’m hoping between that (Why had I never thought of the Wake Her Up To Pee Again method?) and the fluid restrictions after dinner (we eat dinner around 5pm, she goes to bed after 7pm) we will put the kibosh on this pottying in bed thing. Bedsharing: We decided to use the Sleep On The Floor method. If she comes in? She has to sleep next to the bed on the floor. I have a pillow and blanket already out just in case. Maybe if she does that a few times (she didn’t try anything last night) it will lose the appeal. That’s all of the follow-up I have right now, thanks for your ideas!

How about a follow-up on the whole Stop and Think adjustment to my life? Eh. Regarding my parenting? I think it’s going well. Now, I am using the method several of you suggested to explain to NikkiZ what I’m doing. That I’m trying to relax and not freak out and that would be easier if she would avoid certain behaviors. Now…in every other part of my life? FAIL. I’m still doing a lot of impulse eating. Especially now that I have a freezer full of cookie dough from a fundraiser. SOMEONE COME GET THE COOKIE DOUGH OUT OF MY FREEZER.

RecyclingHere’s a long overdo follow-up to Greening the Zoots. Man…we are making solid improvements in this area and I’m totally proud of myself for that. Biggest step? I’m almost completely free of plastic bags at the grocery store. I’ve gotten an assortment of reusable bags that stay in front of AndyZ’s carseat all the time so I have to think about them every time I get him out of his seat. Target has started a great thing where they take 5 cents off your total for every reusable bag you use. I also bought a bag from Target for 1.27 that crams into a little pouch and stays in my purse. That bag gets used all the time, if I make an uplanned stop somewhere or if I forget my bags in the car.

We are also still recycling like madmen, I make trips to the recycling center twice a week to take in glass, paper and cardboard. I fill up two bins to be picked up curbisde every week. I’m sure we could do better, but not much. I have also been trying to switch all of my cleaners out in my home to Earth Friendly. This is a slow transition as I’ve not found suitable replacements for some things yet. Mainly I’m trying to be Phosphate Free with my selections when I can be. If you have any suggestions of good earth friendly cleaning products? I’d love to hear them.

Now…this week’s Kim is Kooking update. (Hee. Kooking. I’m a dork.)

DSC_0152 Last night I cooked ALL THREE ELEMENTS of dinner from a recipe. I cooked country style ribs in the crock pot and then I consulted the PDub arsenal for Butternut Squash Puree and Roasted Garlic New Potatoes. The entire meal was amazingly delicious in every way. I thought MrZ and LilZ were going to fist fight over the potatoes and that squash? YUMMY. That was a first for me: cooking an entire meal from recipes. The most I usually do is an entree and maybe one side, but most of the time I just make ONE thing from a recipe and everything else is from a box or a can. Last night was a very awesome milestone.

And the night before? I cooked Guiness Pork Chops with Apples. I kept the potatoes out because I was cooking scalloped potatoes as a side. So…after that dinner? What did my husband do? He Facebooked it:


My husband doesn’t do much online other than the periodic Facebook update. So – when my dinner made it into his status change? I felt like I had won the Culinary Lottery! Of course…when he heard I had cooked with Guiness? It wouldn’t have mattered how it tasted. All that mattered was: “Mmmmm….beer.” But LilZ liked it too, so I consider him to be a little less biased towards the ingredients. Either way: TWO SUCCESSFUL MEALS IN ONE WEEK. I am just going to go ahead and admit it: I AM AWESOME.

So…there you have it. I’m becoming a better cook, a better Mom, and a better steward of this planet and I can honestly say I owe most of it to this blog and to you. You all deserve a cookie. Now…can you give me your favorite cookie recipe so I can make you one?