Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Toxic Pregnancies

Maybe I just read too much, but this article and this article really worries me. Does my bebe even have a fighting chance before it's even born? Maybe I should just stop reading this stuff all together, after all, they say that ignorance is bliss.

I do like the second article's tips of what we can do for living a healthier lifestyle. I think a lot of those items are doable. However, going green can cost money, especially if you're buying organic, toxic-free everything. There are plenty of green products on the market, but it's still a bigger cost than the non-green items.

I'm still researching how else I can go green, but I'm finding it pretty draining even trying to focus on things that are non-baby right now. My biggest obsession is finding the perfect cloth diaper, but I do have a desire to slowly green other parts of my life and our household, not just for the bebe, but for ourselves as well, while being mindful of the environment. And on a budget too.

I've managed to bookmark a bunch of sites, but there is so much information out there that it's hard to filter it out the real information from the noise. And if even if I am able to do so, trying to find what works best for our family takes time, research and experimentation.

Baby steps, Weed, baby steps.

Flushable Diapers?

If you haven't heard about flushable diapers, there is one on the market. I won't identify the brand, but the name will be in this article. As much as the makers of this brand tout this as the best of both worlds between disposables and cloth, and an "eco-friendly" option, there are a lot of things that people don't think about that are pointed out in the article. The article also points out that it's still cheaper to use real cloth diapers.

Again, there is a price for convenience. If it's not on your pocketbook, it's on the environment, or your health, or something else. I have lately been questioning if things that are advertised as being "green" or "organic" or "eco-friendly" really are. It's easy to take things at face value, especially since the green movement has really picked up over the last few years. However, people are lazy, or they are misinformed, or they are uneducated, and don't always realise the impact of their choices. And people will buy just about anything as long as they feel that the work is done for them.

To be fair, we all don't have enough time during the day. I for one am finding it more and more difficult to balance my work-life situation, how more difficult will it be to balance everything out when the bebe comes. But I suppose everyone dictates how they will run their own life and what they choose to spend their time on.

However, you must be somewhat informed and consumer savvy. For instance, I've seen "organic" mandarin oranges in our grocery stores. Not only was there no "certified organic" label on the box, but even better, these oranges were imported from China! Had we not taken the 2 minutes to even look at the label, we may have been duped into believing that they really were organic.

My point: do you homework people. This green movement is confusing enough as it is, but at least be educated in what you're buying. If you choose to buy the product even after weighing the pros and cons, that's your prerogative. As they always say, cavet emptor, let the buyer beware!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Early Retirement.

I've been reading some blogs lately in the hopes to learn tips and tricks on how to be a little more frugal with our own money, especially in light of the fact that my income will be chopped in half for a good part of my mat leave. However, lot of financial/money type blogs out there tend to be a little t0o technical for my tastes. While I commend the fact that people are taking the time to educating themselves and others about how the markets, the economy and investments really work, the time they put into researching the topic tends to boarders on a part-time job. They are passionate (or obsessive, whichever way you want to look at it) about their hobby the same way I am looking for the perfect cloth diaper.

So what I like particularly about this blog is that this guy writes in a matter-of-fact kind of way, in language that most people can follow (plus, it's Canadian, an added bonus for me as it makes it even more relevant). His goal in life is by the age of 45 (he's 31 now) is to retire. He's even recently written a series on an update of his road map to retiring by age 45. It's interesting to see the assumptions and decisions that he's made for his plan.

But whether right or wrong (after all no one can predict what the future will hold, either for the financial markets or what sort of tomfoolery the government will come up with next), he at least has a plan, which is more than most of us have. Keeping a pulse on how much your net worth is and actually coming up with a plan for the short, medium and long term is always good personal financial acumen for anyone, no matter how much or how little you make.

I find it interesting that he's figured to retire at 45 and to live off of the money for the next 30 years, he needed close to $1 million between himself and his wife, and he's already taken into account inflation. I feel that his numbers are conservative at best, but I also feel that it's a reality that most of us have to live with when we retire. I also feel a little more justified as I have had other people scoff at me when I mentioned such a large dollar amount is needed for retirement.

This is why Hubby and I are adamant about not touching our retirement savings for anything (except for a last, last resort, which I hope we will never get to), and that includes for the Home Buyer's Plan and for the Life Long Learning Plan (to pay for a house down payment and for post-secondary education respectively). Once you dip into the retirement savings, any tax-sheltered compounding gains you've earned is lost, and to reach that lofty $1 million goal takes that much longer. But to each their own, everyone's comfort level is different. This is simply our attitudes towards money.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Goodbye Baby!

No, not the alien in my belly kicking at my bladder. My electric bass. After about 10 years, I've decided to sell my bass? Why? Well, I wanted to pick up the bass and the piano again, but now that plan's pretty much gone out the window with an addition of another warm body in less than 8 weeks!

Since I had bought a fairly expensive electronic weighted keyboard and hauled it all the way back from Calgary last summer, I really should be at least banging on that. Plus, I still remember how to play the piano, the bass, not so much, so the piano won out. Finally, my poor bass was sitting at a friend's place for over a year, untouched, and unloved. I thought it was high time I gave it a better home.

After a lot of reflection, I figured it would be better if I gave my bass a new home, with someone who would use it more than I have the last few years. It was a hard, hard decision to give it up. I love playing the bass, but I had to be realistic: I have no time to pick it up again within the next few years, and no space to really store it. This house will be littered with baby paraphernalia soon enough.

So last week, my friend finally returned my bass, my other friend, who is also an avid bassist, picked it up and brought it to its new home, and I made a few bucks out of the deal (not that I was needing the money). As sensible as my decision was, I can't feel that I've lost a good friend.

Finally, furniture in the baby room!

Believe it or not, we finally picked up furniture for the baby's room. Only it's not for the baby, not really. It's for me. When I'm nursing the baby at 3am. We picked it up today after looking around everywhere! You'll be surprised how expensive a new glider can be, this isn't priced too badly. The brand is also fairly reputable, and it's made in Canada, so I know it'll last a long time.

And to match the chair, a nursing pillow, but in blue with alphabet patterns. If anyone really knows me, I would never buy anything pink, even if I do end up with a girl. Pink is horrid, and I refuse to clad my child in such a vile colour.

And I don't think I've posted this yet, but we got this stroller a few weeks ago. The thing I love about it the most is that it's got the big bad-ass 16"wheels on the back. For about $100 more, you can get a 12" wheel version with aluminum spokes, but I like the 16" one better. It says, "I'm here, now get outta my way!". This thing is not any bigger than most other strollers on the market, and it's only a tiny bit longer, so I don't know why people think it's big. It maneuvers like a dream, and can do very tight turns one-handed, something that the cheaper and "smaller" strollers can't all do.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

8 more weeks!

I won't post too much today, as I had a pretty hellish week at work (more like month), which ended up me crying myself to sleep last night, and waking up in the middle of the night praying and reflecting on things. Nonetheless, I must keep moving forward. I was hoping to take a belly pic tonight, but I'm just not in the mood for it. Happy 32 weeks to me!

I just wanted to post this article about the importance of children's play more so that I don't lose the article than for anything else, although parents out there may find it interesting too.

Monday, February 09, 2009

SGS: Electricity Vampires

Yesterday, one of my friends and avid readers of this blog mentioned that he's going to learn how to be green from my posts. As this friend of mine is an avid computer geek, I think that this post will be interesting to him.

This article tells you some ways in which you may be using extra electricity and not even realize it. Did you know that such things as the clock on your microwave uses more electricity than you using to heat up food. These sort of Energy Vampires can represent a significant part of your electricity bill, up to 20% in the article posted.

For a while, we had a hot water thermos that was always plugged into the wall. It's a device that you plug in, you put water into it, and it boils and keeps the water hot indefinitely (as long as it's plugged in). Instant hot water when we needed it. We got it as a gift from one of Hubby's friends. Well, within a month or so of using it, I noticed that our Hydro bill shooting up significantly. We finally figured it was the thermos and have kept it unplugged ever since. In fact, we now use a stainless steel kettle on the stove to heat any water we need. It takes some time to get the water heated, but it's well worth it in my mind, and after a while, I don't notice the wait.

Some other things that we have done to lower the Energy Vampires around our house:
  • Our cell phone chargers are left unplugged unless we need to use them.
  • We have also identified a number of other adapters which we have unplugged or shut off. The adapters are essentially transformers, and actually suck a bit of electricity whenever it's plugged in and not charging anything.
  • We had three appliances in our kitchen, right next to each other, which told the time and heat food. We've since unplugged one of the them when not in use, after all, we don't need three clocks.
  • Except for our PVR, our entertainment centre (TV, DVD player, receiver, etc) gets switched off during the day when we're out of the house.
  • I actually unplug my work laptop adaptor when I'm not using it at home. No small feat for me as it requires a pregnant woman to crawl under her desk each time she wants to plug and unplug the adaptor.
I'm hoping in the future to arrange all the things that we keep plugged into walls and that are in a standby mode onto a power bar and to turn off the power bars when we are out of the house, or at least somehow get them off the grid when not in use. But baby steps is better than nothing at this point.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Some Green Stuff: Plastics

One of my original intentions before I got all knocked up was to green myself and my household as much as I could, lighten my "carbon footprint", and somehow be frugal while doing it. And to that end, create a separate green blog to document my thoughts, struggles, frustrations and triumphs. Well, that idea pretty much flew out the window because, frankly, I don't have the time and energy right now, or for the next few years to do so. So I've decided to stick these topics on this blog. I'm naming this series "Some Green Stuff".

Today's topic is plastics. I've been doing a fair bit of reading about plastics. Plastics are everywhere. Plastics are in places where you least expect them. And plastics can be toxic, to both you and the environment.

This article has a good summary of the most common types of plastics out there, what kind of harm it can do to the environment and to your body, and lists some alternatives that you can try out. I'm certain that there are nay-sayers out there who don't believe in this stuff, and that's fine, that's your opinion. However, the evidence is growing that plastics in general are not good.

I will admit that even within my own household, I haven't really taken a lot of steps to reducing my plastic consumption. What steps I have taken, I will blog about at a later date and time. I figured for myself, it will be baby steps, reduce plastic items slowly, one item at a time.

A couple of blogs that I read:

Fake Plastic Fish: I one thing I like about this blog is that the blogger shows all the plastic she encounters in her life. And it's surprising where some of the plastics she finds.

Life Less Plastic: Another person's quest to de-plasticise her life.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Girl's Life in IT

I actually work with someone named Doug. Only he's 60. And gay. And you don't want to piss him off. I'd managed to piss him off today. Sigh. He's also not very technically savvy, but more so than many end users that we support.