Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Laudato Si and Thred Up

*Please note that there is an affiliation link.  You get 10 dollars to spend and I get 10 dollars too.

You're probably thinking "Laudato Si? The Pope's Encyclical about the Environment?  What does that have to do with Thred up?"  Let me explain.

The Pope's encyclical discusses over consumption.  Here's an exert from paragraph 22:
22. These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard.
 Thred up is an online consignment store for children and women.  It's basic idea is that rather than throwing away clothing that doesn't fit, we sell it to them and they sell it to others.  I don't know about you, but my size has changed over the years.  My children continue to grow.  I've given birth twice (Thred up has a maternity section).  While it be nice to wear our clothes out until they can be used as rags, the truth is people fluctuate in size, and sometimes perfectly good clothing sits at the back of a closet or gets discarded.  Following Pope Francis' encyclical we should be trying to find more sustainable ways to avoid the throw away culture.  This is one way.

Likewise if you know anything about the garment industry you know that 1)it's a huge environmental hazard to the water ways and 2) it often mistreats it's workers.

1) To produce a garment, you use a lot of water to dye the garment.  Usually those toxic dyes end up in the water ways where the factories are located.  This pollutes the drinking water in poor areas where often these garments are produced: China, India, and Bangladesh.

2) Walmart was caught in scandal when several garment workers in Bangladesh were burned to death.  It was discovered that Walmart had originally refused to use the factory because of it's conditions.  The company originally contracted with a different factory who then turned around and sub-contracted out the order to this factory.  The factory workers were working in harsh conditions without enough exits.  None of the workers were trained in fire safety including how to use a fire extinguisher.  It was terrible. 

Sweat shop conditions even happen in the United States.  California is a hub to the garment industry.  The "Christian" company, Forever 21, has produced garments in California but did not pay it's workers a fair wage.  Not once.  Not twice.  But at last count four times, the company has been called into court over paying pennies per hour for garment workers' labor.  Fortunately we live in a country where such workers have the right to form a union and to take the business into court to fight for wages.  However, because we live in a culture of over consumption, many people ignore the plight of these workers in favor of having cheaper clothing.

The easiest way to avoid all this is to avoid buying new clothing and reduce the number of clothing we have in our closets.  Why not go through your closet at least once year and remove things that no longer fit or you avoid wearing?  Why not go thrifting instead of buying retail to avoid bad business practices? 

I would love to support local businesses, but let's face it, sometimes we just don't have the time.  I don't particularly like having to shift through stacks of clothing that have been heavily sprayed down with fabreeze.  I don't like having to decide whether I think I can get an old stain out or not.  Thred up makes it easier.  They only take gently used clothing, some of which still has tags on it.  They tell you exactly what may be wrong with the garment (some minor fading, small stain, scuff mark, etc).  Most of the time, you can't tell the clothing was even used. You also get the luxury of a search engine rather than having to wade through stacks of clothing. 

You're probably thinking "But I like to try on clothing to make sure it fits."  Yep, I hear you.  Every business has it's own measurements/fits, it seems.  You can always return the clothing.  You can elect to have them give you credit or they'll refund your total minus 8.99 for shipping returns. I personally like to try things on in the comfort of my own home.  Even if I try on something in the dressing room, I find myself trying it on later at home just to confirm.  And unfortunately my local thrift stores all have a policy of crediting.  I like having the option of being able to get a refund.

The other benefit of Thredup is that they also carry maternity, plus size, and petite sizes.  It's not just for average size women.  I've even found items marked "tall."  They carry children's clothing, purses, and shoes too.  I just wish they carried a men's section.

So here's what I suggest.  Clean out your closet and send your unused garments to Thred up for credit or cash.  Or click on my linked Thred ups and get 10 dollars to try the service.  Shipping is free for orders 70 dollars and over or it's a flat shipping rate of 5.99.  That's really inexpensive.  The 10 dollars will go a long way.  According to the website there are over 50,000 listings for items 10 dollars and under. 

Let's stop this throwaway culture dead in its tracks and start using resources more wisely.

Friday, June 19, 2015

7 Quick Takes: #PostMove

1) So my jogging has come to halt.  I ended up pulling a muscle under my rib cage.  Don't ask me how.  It was so painful that I was having trouble breathing deeply.  The nurse prac told me to lay off jogging for a week.  On the one hand I hurt only when I sneeze now.  On the other hand I feel like a giant pile of unmotivated flab.  :(

2) Medical stuff is piling up and expensive.  Even with help from insurance.  I bought Knee some glasses.  I took both the boys to the pediatrician.  I wasn't able to get HB help.  At his age it's through the school district and the school hasn't returned my call.  Monday I plan on just showing up.  I know it's summer and everywhere is already short staffed.  It was a good thing though that I took them in.  Apparently HBs ears were very infected.  Even after the Canadian doc told me they looked clear.  :/  Knee is also signed up for a speech eval.  So that's also good.  Maybe after some therapy his dad will stop asking me to interpret what he says.

3) Then I took them to the dentist which to get their teeth back in order costs a pretty penny.  The problem is my children 1) hate brushing their teeth and it's a fight often involving holding them down and 2) they have close contacts between their teeth.  All of HB's cavities are in the areas between teeth whereas Knee has a couple between teeth. 

4) Meanwhile Hubby is going on about money again.  I hate it when he does that.  It's why I made him take over bill paying and crap.  When I was doing it, we rarely discussed financial strain, but it bothered him that he was out of the loop.  Now that he's doing it well...He's been particularly stressed about the water bill.  He's every day gone and checked the meter and recorded how many gallons we've used in a day.  Sometimes I wish he wasn't a scientist. 

5) The irony though is that Hubby, in addition to getting fancy new computing equipment- which makes sense because of what his project is, has also gotten a stipend to buy.....clothing.  Yes, really.  I remarked "Are you working for Prada?" because why on earth does a science institution want to give their employees a clothing stipend?  He thinks it's because as scientists they are often going to conferences and conferring with colleagues outside the institution.  They want those representing them to look good.  That and as he said "they take care of their people."  Which means...

6) Hubby is working awfully long hours.  In addition to a very long work day, he's also coming home and after a couple of hours working at night.  Part of it is setting up software to run.  Part of it is that he's still finishing up his work from his last job.  He wants to publish something.  And part of it is that he's got to write a grant proposal so that he can get his own funding and keep his job.  Science at its finest.  Maybe I shouldn't mention that I could probably easily get a job substitute teaching, but that would mean that he'll have to pick up children from school when their sick and stuff.  Money versus the convenience of working long hours...hum.

7) And just because....I want to say I love having a dish washer again.  It.is.so.freaking.awesome.  I also got a new garbage disposal because when we moved in it was leaking.  Maintenance is supposed to come on Tuesday and make improvements.  So there's that too.  I love keeping house.  Speaking of which I need to give you a virtual tour at some point. 

This is a pic of the dishwasher in our condo.  Yes, I have a love affair with dishwashers.

Hope your week has gone well.

Thanks to This Ain't the Lyceum

Thursday, June 11, 2015

On Taking up Jogging

For a good part of my life, I was skinny.  Too skinny in fact.  In highschool I graduated at the same height I am today weighing at the feather weight of 100 lbs.  I wasn't a healthy weight and people actually picked at me for that.  For the record, I didn't have an eating disorder or had body issues.  In fact, I made it my mission to avoid teen fashion mags because I thought they taught unrealistic body types to young girls. When I went to college, the pounds started creeping up.  I was glad.  I was looking healthy and normal, going from a size 6 to a size 8.  My metabolism was finally slowly down.

That's how the weight slowly crept up and has been creeping up.  Age, marriage, having children are all contributing factors to this slow weight gain.  So has the loss of any form of exercise.  I used to be in marching band, but that stopped when I went to grad school.  I walked everywhere I went, but it isn't enough.

I went to confession a few months ago and confessed that I was not taking care of my body well.  I meant that in the sense that I should be more careful about my junk food intake and should be exercising.  I'm not sure if it's a mortal sin to not get off the couch, but not exercising can lead to a slothful and gluttonous lifestyle.  I found myself slowing down more and making more excuses to sit and read on the internet. 

It did not help that I was living in a cold climate.  The best times to get out are in the afternoons when I was alone with children.  I had no motivation.

Then we moved and it's actually pleasant in the early mornings.  I get up before the rest of the family does.  My exercise clothes are hung in the bathroom so I grab my watch, socks, and shoes and head out the door.  I started jogging about a week ago and I can already feel a tremendous energy boost.  Good bye, Slothful Excuses!

I'm use the "Couch to 5K" program.  I didn't buy the app; I just looked for online printables to get an idea how I should ramp things up the next week.  My goal is to train for the suggested 9 weeks like I'm training to jog a 5K.  I know Tucson has stuff like that around but that's not why I'm doing this.  Then after that I want to add weights and I've heard that Youtube has some great exercise videos online. 

I want to shed some of the extra pounds (about 20 of them) I've acquired or at the very least shed the extra dress sizes since I know that muscle weighs more.  I recently bought some clothing from Thredup and discovered that I'm squeezing into a 12.  Whatever happened to size 10?! 

It's also nice that Hubby is encouraging this.  The other morning it rained so I didn't jog and Hubby was like "you should go anyway."  And every morning he says "go ahead and jog" and talks about I'll be loosing weight and fitting back into my clothes better.  He's had no problem fielding children if they wake up early. 

Hopefully I'll be a lighter and happier me around Christmas!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Moving Tips

Hello again.  Not too long ago I posted a packing tips post and said I would post a moving tips post.  Moving is a little different than simply packing.  It also gets more complicated if you are moving distances instead of within city.  So here's my tips.

1) Get all your medical stuff squared away- Plan on getting a dental check-up?  It's far easier to do so before you move rather than after.  Because think about it, you have to find a new dentist and you'll have to get a recommendation and/or square it with your insurance company.  Whereas if you use the dentist you already know, less foot work. 

2) Acquire some 2 way radios aka walkie talkies- Some states have strict laws concerning cell phone usage while driving.  If you plan on caravaning, you'll need some way to communicate with the driver of the other vehicle for things like "I need to stop for gas, bathroom, a snack,etc." 2-way-radios and CBs don't fall under the same rules as cell phones and to my knowledge there are no laws prohibiting their use.

3) To make a reservation or not to make a reservation- That's really up to you.  Some people like to pre-plan their trip by making hotel reservations at stopping locations.  This is helpful if you have a strict time-table or are concerned about a convention in the area taking away hotel availability.  However if you are like me, I'd rather play it by ear.  People get sick.  People get over-tired.  Canceling reservations while on the road is annoying.  I like the idea of having flexibility.

4) Make an itemized list of what your moving- This is important whether you are driving the van or someone else is.  If your stuff is stolen or damaged in an accident, you can hand over said list to your insurer.  You also will need a list of household goods for immigration purposes.  We didn't need our list at the border because we weren't immigrating and we were with our goods, but if we had hired a moving company, they would have needed the list.  Canada also wanted a list when we immigrated.

5) Make a list of everything you need to do both before you arrive and after- There's so much to remember when setting up a house.  You'll want the basics like electricity and water set up before you move in.  But you'll also need a new driver's license and new plates if you move states afterwards.  Look up the laws regarding things like new plates because you may need to get them within 30 days.  You may want to get an up-to-date id first thing because some places like credit unions or libraries will require proof of residency.  This is more paramount if you are an immigrant because some businesses will not accept foreign forms of identification.

6) Try and relax- Even the best laid plans can go eschew.  You should just expect that and try to give yourself room for mistakes or unforeseen situations.  They happen to everyone. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Car Seats- So Confusing!

When I moved to Canada I learned that if you reside in Canada you need to use Canadian approved car seats.

I didn't understand this because many of the car seats are exactly the same darn thing including the name.  There are seats that meet both but they are few and far between.  I own an Evenflo Maestro and only certain models meet Canadian requirements.  The rest are only regulated for US use.  I waited to buy the car seat until we were back in the states.

We recently acquired a Buick Rendevous.  I read the manual.  I installed the Britax seats.  But then I bought a Maestro for HB because he's getting rather tall, but he weighs so little I wasn't comfortable with him using just a booster yet.  The Maestro manual says of installing in harness mode using the seat belt, "If your vehicle was built prior to model year 1996, and has either a lap belt or lap/shoulder belt that is equipped with an emergency locking retractor (ELR) you MUST use a Locking Clip."  emphasis is theirs.  That should say "or" not "and" because cars prior to 1996 weren't required to have any locking mechanism.  Cars built after 1996 have three locking mechanisms: ALS (automatic locking system), ELR, and switcher.  To try to self-diagnose which your car has, see this site.

My other car has ALS.  I flipped through the Buick's manual and got the implicit feeling that it was not ALS, but I could not determine the mechanism myself.  After being on hold for half an hour, I learned from the car manufacturer that the Buick is an ELR.  These things should be put in car manuals. 

This doesn't affect the Britax seats because they have built in lock offs.  Some car seats do.  But not the Maestro.  So I have two options: to use the latch, which I'm not sure what the weight rating for the Buick is or get a locking clip.  Not all latch is rated for the heavy weight of a child and a seat.  Seat belts are actually safer because they are designed to withstand more force.  I would use the latch along with the seat belt when we use booster mode, but I want to use harness mode and you can only choose one.  Therefore I called Evenflo.  They are sending me a locking clip for free.

The moral of the story: know your car and your car seats.  Know how your car seats lock (or don't).  And if you plan on riding in someone else's car, ask them to find about their car seat belts or the latch weight limits prior to installation. You may find that you can't use your car seat in their/your car or that you need some sort of modification.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I'm Back Online!

We made it to Tucson!  It took us an entire week to travel down there.  Then we got into the house.  And that was when all the fun started.  Moving countries is hard even if it's your own and you've got lots of help.

Border patrol was super easy even with the weird hiccup over having not imported/imported the car.  They didn't want to see the back of the moving truck, and that was what amazed me.  I could have hidden anything/anyone in there!

Then it was drive, drive, drive!  We stopped for one day at my in-laws and acquired a Soccer Mom vehicle.  Basically my husband's grandfather passed away last year and nobody wanted it, so we took it.  But we didn't want to take it across the border so my in-laws have held onto it.

Then more driving....

We stayed the night at a friend's and the next morning we arrived.

The persons packing the truck were Iraqi Christians and the persons unloading it were deaf.  So I had to whip out my miniscule amount of sign language knowledge.  And appreciate that I can return to my home country without fear.

I've been to the dmv three times.  We managed to acquire cell phones but then ran into head aches with the internet.  I've been steadily unpacking and trying to arrange rooms.  I'll have to show you what things look like when it's in better shape.

HB was terribly sick, but now he's pretty much over it.  Then Knee got a cough.  Hubby is on anti-biotics.  And my mother in law went to the doctor because apparently her allergies were really out of wack.  Her throat was swollen, she had a terrible cough, and her nose kept bleeding.  I feel so bad for her.  And I...well I'm usually the one who is sick, but I'm the only one who is perfectly fine.  Go figure.

Well that's it in a nut shell.  Much less painless this go around.  But hey it wouldn't be moving if someone didn't get sick.

Friday, May 22, 2015

7 Quick Takes: #OneMoreDay

Photo by: Smallman12q; Oregon Transportation Department

1) We got the place.  We signed a lease on Wednesday and so we've been busy setting up utilities.  So excited!

2) HB is under the weather.  I took him to the doctor on Wednesday who said that his age they don't do anything for him.  The doc said that his eyes looked clear (he's rubbed them so raw though) and his ear is a little pink but not red enough to warrant anything.  I'm not thrilled.  HB's not been feeling well and I can't give him any over-the-counter remedies besides Advil.  Nor will the doc hear his mother's concerns over pink eye out.  :/

3) Meanwhile Knee's pretty much been watching Lego whatever while I pack.  He's not sick so I knock on wood that the rest of the family is able to resist whatever nasty bug HB has.  Otherwise you'll be hearing me complain about how every time we move someone is sick.

4) Today is HB's last day of school and Hubby's last day of work.  Tomorrow the movers show up and help us put our stuff in a Uhaul.  We're not crazy and think it'd be much faster this time to have a few hired hands come out and put the stuff in the truck.

5) Sunday morning we set out and hope for a smooth operation getting across the border.  The average time (according to the paper work) is 45 minutes.  Theoretically it will be easier going back because 1) we won't have been driving for days on end but rather only 2 hours and 2) we're US citizens so there's not the head ache of visas and whatnot.  We just have to show our passports and fill out forms to bring back all our stuff into the US.  I've saved and gathered every shred of paperwork including the car title so that we can just hand it over the agents.  "See look, these garbage cans came from the US."

6) If you find that you're moving, you may want to check out my packing tips.  I plan on also writing a moving tips list as some point, but I think finishing things up around here might be higher priority.  

7)  Well I can't think of anything and the youngster has declared "Lego Star Wars" so....

Thanks to This Ain't the Lyceum