LIFESTYLE

Potty Training: a waste-reducing milestone

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This year we have saved 339 pounds of food scraps from entering landfills by composting with CompostNow,  changed our purchasing habits to avoid most plastic packaging and started recycling what plastic we do accumulate through TerraCycle. But with 20 billion disposable diapers dumped into landfills each year (EPA), accounting for more than 3.5 million tons of waste, we might have accomplished our most waste-free change yet… potty training our 2.5 year old! 

Potty training is no easy feat, so following someone’s sage advice is wise. When I potty trained our oldest, I devoured Brandi Bruck’s book, Potty Training in 3 Days and followed her method to a tee. I had my in laws take Joseph for the weekend so I could give my full attention to Wil. We packed up our diapers to say goodbye and didn’t watch television or any screens for three days. I made the perfect potty chart for him (see below) with presents purchased for every eight stickers on his chart, and we gave him a treat for every time he went pee pee or poo poo. It was very organized and worked perfectly. He was potty trained in 3 days. 

Wil with his potty training chart when he was 2.5 years old.

Wil with his potty training chart when he was 2.5 years old.

I’m embarrassed how low-grade this looks compared to Wil’s. Like I said, this was last minute!

I’m embarrassed how low-grade this looks compared to Wil’s. Like I said, this was last minute!

Poor middle-child Joseph did not get the same treatment. I decided day of to start the training while our nanny was on vacation. It was me, Joseph, Isabel, and Wil in the house in the middle of the hot North Carolina summer. We were probably going to be inside all day anyways, so I was determined to accomplish something useful. I used Bruck’s method in my own revised, realistic way, and with what I already had in the house. I ripped out a sheet of paper from “The Secret Life of Pets 2” coloring book to use as his potty chart (it also had stickers in it). I threw some underwear on him with a short shirt. You want a short shirt so you can easily see if they start peeing. We already had the Baby Bjorn seat insert and Baby Bjorn step stool, so I took him to the bathroom and showed him how to pull down his pants, sit, and go potty on the toilet. 

We modified Bucks’ rules of potty training and allowed him to watch TV (Mama was in survival mode)!

We modified Bucks’ rules of potty training and allowed him to watch TV (Mama was in survival mode)!

I told him Thomas on the underwear he was wearing did not want to get wet. I also said, “Let me know when you need to go pee pee or poo poo and then you can get a treat and sticker” about a hundred times the first day. Brucks recommends giving one treat for pee and two treats for poop and a sticker on the chart for every time the child successfully gets something in the toilet. He got really excited about getting so many treats and stickers so  he was regularly going in the toilet when he was thinking about it, but he also had many accidents ( especially poop accidents). Because I was alone with all three kids all day, I ended up letting him watch a lot of TV for my own survival (seen in pic). I think that slowed down his initial training because he would get distracted by the screen. The first days were MESSY, but finally by the fourth day he really started to get it and would go on his own without me asking. He was even successful on our first outing to a birthday party (seen below). Bucks recommends not going on any outings until at least 3 days into potty training.

First outing post potty training. A birthday party at a local farm.

First outing post potty training. A birthday party at a local farm.

It’s fun to see your child’s personality come out during the potty training process. Joseph is a very exuberant, determined, and independent little boy. He now refuses to have me help him in the bathroom and says, “NO, me!” and closes the door when I try to help. After he goes I can always hear him applaud himself with a “Yay!”. I am so proud of him and know that he feels proud of himself. Because I decided last minute to do the potty training, I wasn’t prepared with toys for every eight times he successfully went potty. I think this was fine because he remained excited enough about the stickers and treats. I had told him when he filled the coloring page full of stickers, then he would get a new toy. We chose a fire station by Green Toys that he LOVED, and knew he got because of his hard work!

Joseph and Isabel playing with his new fire station.

Joseph and Isabel playing with his new fire station.

Two down… now only one to go (maybe in a year or so!).

our Potty training essentials


I am no expert, but please comment if you have any questions about potty training!

x,

Amy


Saying goodbye to our dog

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I planned on writing a post about something else this week, but I can’t think about anything other than losing our beloved dog, Max. He died somewhat suddenly last Thursday from complications stemming from congestive heart failure.  Max was my first baby. I got him when I was just 22 years old, in that vulnerable time after graduating from college. It was 2008 and I had just moved from Richmond to Austin to look for a job in public relations when firms were more keen to lay people off. My personal life also seemed a mess as David and I were trying to figure out if we were just college sweethearts or real-life partners (thankfully we ended up being the latter). So I was jobless, on a break from my relationship, and in a new city trying to figure out where my life was headed, when along came Max, my sweet little Cavalier King Charles. He gave me so much comfort and companionship, it was everything I needed at the time.

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After a year and two internships in Austin, Max and I moved to Houston. David was attending medical school and I took a job teaching pre-k and enrolled in a Masters of Education program. David proposed soon after we moved and I couldn’t have been more excited to spend the rest of my life with him.

I had to have Max in one of my bridal portrait shots. It is actually the only one of them I have framed in our house.

I had to have Max in one of my bridal portrait shots. It is actually the only one of them I have framed in our house.

Max and I, along with David and his cat, Mr. Kitty, all moved in together soon after our engagement. Max loved everyone and every animal he met and he and Mr. Kitty got along famously. They would run around and chase each other while David and I were out during the day and would even snuggle with each other regularly.

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After David finished his medical school training, he applied to orthopedic residencies across the country and eventually chose the program at University of Texas at Houston. Knowing we would be in Houston for the next five years and would likely start a family, we bought a house in West University in Houston. Max was there, of course!

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Max was there for every milestone in our lives. From my first jobs out of college, to our wedding, first house, and the birth of all of our three children. Max provided me with stability as my life had its ups and downs during my twenties and early thirties. He was a dependable companion as I grew into adulthood. We’ve really grown up since he came into my life, and he certainly played a role in shaping our family!

Max in front of our first house in Houston (left) and with David in the backyard (above).

Max in front of our first house in Houston (left) and with David in the backyard (above).

Max with Wil (left), Joseph (center) and Isabel (right). The kids would sometimes pull on Max but he would never show a hint of aggression. He always wanted to be near them.

Max with Wil (left), Joseph (center) and Isabel (right). The kids would sometimes pull on Max but he would never show a hint of aggression. He always wanted to be near them.

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Max assumed the role of family dog effortlessly as kids 1, 2, and then 3 came into the picture. It was so touching to watch Wil, Joseph, and Isabel grow attachments to him, give him kisses and hugs when they were being sweet, and Wil often calling him “His best friend”. The hardest part about him passing was the timing. Timing is never good for loss but Wil was in Houston with his grandparents when it happened, so we had to tell him when he got back and he felt like he didn’t get to say goodbye. It is hard to know the right way to tell a four and a half year old that their dog died. Wil is very curious and fact oriented so I responded with the honest truth when he asked very detailed questions about how he died. Joseph and Isabel were able to say their goodbyes in whatever way a two and a half and one year old can. Joseph gave him a hug at the animal hospital and said, “Bye bye Max”.

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I will probably harbor some guilt for a bit around Max’s passing. In his last years, he slowly went from being the center of my world to someone else I needed to take care of on top of three young children, so the guilt of not giving him enough attention feels hard to reconcile. Each day gets better though and I know I’ll soon remember Max with all the good memories we had with him. He really was the best dog and he will forever be missed.

x,

Amy

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Reducing plastic through Sustainable Fashion choices

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Fashion and clothing have always been a big interest in my life. My first real work experience was an internship DURING college doing Public relations for a luxury fashion house in NYC for brands like Alberta Ferretti and Moschino. I LOVE TO PLAN outfits for big events weeks, sometimes months, before the occasion, it is just something I really enjoy. Clothes are obviously a functional part of our lives, but they also serve as outlets to express ourselves and provide self-confidence. When it comes to making sustainable choices for our clothing, WE DON’T need to abandon fashion but instead start considering better options when it comes to how we purchase. FASHION IS AN AREA WHERE WE CAN MAKE A HUGE IMPACT, AND STILL LOOK AND FEEL GOOD DOING IT. Read more about THE HOW AND why...


I started this website with the hope to inspire others to reduce their plastic intake, and I want to begin addressing the number one contributor to ocean micro-plastic pollution: our clothing. Polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers, all of which are forms of plastic, are about 60 percent of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide (IUCN). Synthetic plastic fibers are cheap, extremely versatile, and in most of the clothes we buy. Each year, more than a half-million metric tons of microfibers—the equivalent of 50 billion plastic water bottles—enter the ocean from washing these synthetic textiles (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).

Another aspect of the problem that exacerbates the amount of micro-plastics going into the ocean from clothing is the rate at which we are buying clothes. Compared to 2000, we are buying 60% more clothing per year (McKinsey & Company). A lot of times we are wearing these items only seven or eight times before discarding them. This “fast fashion” style of making clothes typically requires using a lot of water and chemicals and emitting significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Not only that but clothing-factory workers are often underpaid and exposed to unsafe workplace conditions. A lot of these clothes are also mostly made of cheap, synthetic-plastic fibers contributing to the rapid ocean-plastic pollution.

More than 22 million metric tons of microfibers are estimated to enter the ocean between 2015 and 2050 (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). While it might seem hopeless, one thing is certain, we can demand changes of the industry by using our dollars to vote for change by considering other options when purchasing clothes.

Reselling Clothes

Nearly three-fifths of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made. Ensuring our clothes have a second life by giving them away to someone we know will use them, or by selling them online will make an impact (and make some money!). I have started using Poshmark, Facebook groups, and local children’s consignment shops to sell or purchase clothing for my kids since they grow out of them so quickly…hand-me-downs are great too (definitely not above my little girl wearing some blue shortalls sometimes!).

Pictured here with my husband, David at a luncheon in 2014. This dress was my great-grandmother’s and is one of my all-time favorite pieces.

Pictured here with my husband, David at a luncheon in 2014. This dress was my great-grandmother’s and is one of my all-time favorite pieces.

Shop Vintage & Consignment Stores

Vintage clothes are beautiful and unique. Find a great vintage store in town or online and shop there before buying new. Some of my favorite dresses have been vintages ones that I’ve either found myself or had passed down to me from my mother (see below), grandmother and even great-grandmother (see right). Since all trends are based upon styles from the past, we can really get any fashion we need from a great vintage or consignment boutique.

 
Bathroom selfie circa 2014! My mom wore this Oscar de la Renta dress to her rehearsal dinner and its now another one of my favorite dresses.

Bathroom selfie circa 2014! My mom wore this Oscar de la Renta dress to her rehearsal dinner and its now another one of my favorite dresses.

Buy less, buy quality

If we shop mostly high-quality clothes, we are more inclined to take great care of them and keep them for our kids and grandkids. I try to consider that now when I’m shopping and ask myself, “ Is this piece worth passing down to my daughter?” and if the answer is no, then I stop myself from the purchase! I’ve loved this dress of my mother’s and am so thankful she invested in some amazing pieces to pass down to me. I used to buy a good amount of new clothes each season, but now I try and save and just buy one really quality piece. It’s also very therapeutic to just HAVE LESS.

I wore this dress from Beaulah London to a wedding in May. Beulah strives to have a positive impact on society by providing an alternative, sustainable livelihood to victims of human trafficking and educating people of their plight. Their clothes are mostly made of high-quality, natural materials.

I wore this dress from Beaulah London to a wedding in May. Beulah strives to have a positive impact on society by providing an alternative, sustainable livelihood to victims of human trafficking and educating people of their plight. Their clothes are mostly made of high-quality, natural materials.

Shop Sustainable Brands

There are many great brands out there that put sustainability and fair labor practices at the forefront of their businesses. I have found a lot of new brands recently that I shop instead of the go-to fast fashion brands when I want something casual (or even fancy). Some sustainable brands focus on reusing recycled materials while others prioritize natural, non-synthetic materials. Many also support important causes.

I am excited to start highlighting sustainable, eco-conscious, and mission-inspired brands as well as vintage and consignment boutique finds on Sustain Local. There isn’t just one way to make a difference and refiguring how you shop is an easy, and fun way to vote for positive change.

x,

Amy


Other Ways to prevent Micro-Plastic Pollution

  • wash cold

  • use liquid instead of powder detergent

  • air dry if possible

  • use this washing bag to reduce fiber shedding.