Monday, July 14, 2008

Confessions of a Suburban Mom

We're getting ready for a double birthday party this weekend followed by a well deserved vacation. Planning a party for two boys is a green challenge in itself, but add to that leaving the very next morning for a 4 day trip and you have insanity. So, I must confess. It ain't as green as it could, or should be.

I passed on the juice boxes, soda and gatorades for the party, my homemade lemonade will be a stand in replacement. Beer? Well that comes in glass and that will just have to do. The eco 'burban dad just won't have a party without the beer. And, another confession? Mom will happily make lemonade and vodka spritzers for the girls. I have a lot of kids, come to my party and you will gladly accept alcohol within 15 minutes of walking through the door. The serveware? Paper cups, paper plates. Not as bad as plastic, but I just can't allow mobs of middle school aged kids to run around with my good glasses. You'll see why in a moment.

The food? Pretty simple but not local. Organic hot dogs, buns and condiments. Not so organic grated cheese. Sorry, my kids and their friends love cheese and grating $10 wedges of organic cheese would set me back about $40 and it totally would not be appreciated. Most of it will end up on the patio, only to be snuffled up by the dogs. So, the big bag of grated from Costco will happily take it's place. Organic corn chips, natural cheese straws (a birthday MUST from one of the boys), organic popcorn with my local butter and a big, fat cake from Costco round out the menu.

Hey - I know, I know. Where have my standards gone? When you need to feed middle school boys and all their friends, check back with me please. They will eat cake, have cake fights, make disgusting colors out of mixed icing that will be squished under their fingernails and possibly out of their noses. I am SO not making homemade and organic for that bunch.

The entertainment? We live on a lake, so all parties here require a bathing suit and towel. In years past we have - everyone GASP - rented a bounce house of sorts. This year, we are passing on indulgences. The eco 'burban dad has gotten creative and rescued a giant roll of visquene from a job site which will become the world's longest slip and slide down our gi-normous hill - dumping kids right into the lake. Add a little dish soap and a sprinkler and it will be crazy middle school boy fun for free. (OK, so anyone want to argue my choice on PAPER cups here?? Didn't think so.)

OK, OK, water WASTE I know. I have made my peace with it, again, it's a small price to pay to keep middle school boys occupied, out of my house and hopefully will keep them from throwing mud, rocks, jumping off docks, chasing boaters and all sorts of shenanigans. How do I know they will do this? Let's just say it's happened before. More than once. I have pictures to prove it.

So, why the confessional? Well, I like to be honest and while a lot of what I do might be green, some stuff just isn't. I appreciated Arduous's post on her trip to Vegas, because she freely admitted that it wasn't perfect, but memories were made, fun was had and she doesn't regret a moment. Being green is great. Being sustainable is super. Being frugal is fantastic, but where is it going to get me if I am missing out on great fun and great memories with my kids? So, I am hoping for a little of the same with our party and our vacation and I'm not sweating the small stuff. That is, unless it rains. Then what will I do?


Green Bean said...

I loved Arduous post too - for the same reason I love this one. I used to beat myself up over every little green slip. But that is not the way to live. Yes, we need to make more conscious choices, cut back, live more lightly but there are circumstances - and boy oh boy does yours sound like a qualifier - where you have to accept something less than perfection.

And just so you know you are not alone, my son's last birthday party was at Pump It Up. Yup, electricity guzzling, obnoxiously non-green Pump It Up. I made the cake, we went green on goodie bags (I wasn't brave enough to give those up completely) and asked for no gifts. But you know what? Sometimes, you just have to let it go and have a good time.

Enjoy your sons' party and your vacation!

Joan said...

I understand and you thinking in the right direction. I have a 15 yr old boy & he isn't into being green or eating organic at all. If things are a little different or a little inconvenient he doesn't like it. I can only try & hope it's a phase. My 11 yr old daughter on the other hand inspires me to do better.
Have fun.

Wendy said...

I often have the same dilemma where my need to be sustainable butts heads with the reality of my unsustainable lifestyle. It's aggravating to realize that, as members of THIS society, sometimes we just have to do things the way they're done.

My worst offense at the moment is my daughters' dance lessons, which take us 12 miles (one way) away from home a couple of times per week. All that driving ... so NOT "green" :), but we've created a community at that particular school, and, now, we just have to keep going until we just can't anymore.

It's a balancing act, and sometimes we teeter precariously, arms pin-wheeling, and sometimes we just stride right along like we're not suspended 40 ft above the ground on an inch-thick piece of rope.

Joyce said...

This party sounds like a blast! Can I come?
Seriously, parties are by definition a time of excess. You made some great modifications. I think you hit it about right.

eco 'burban mom said...

GB - Your lifestyle is so sustainable that an occasional trip, treat or event is not a "green slip" it's just living life. I look to you for inspiration so, don't sweat the small stuff and have fun along the way. Oh, and Pump it Up? Been there. Done that. Sweaty, stinky, YULK! They had fun though!

Joan - Isn't that funny? Though at 15 his live SO revolves around him, right? I bet he's listening, it will sink in, he probably won't admit it until he's 25 though!

Wendy - I wouldn't consider dance lessons only 12 miles away "not green". Consider the exercise she is getting, the friendships she is making and learning about being a team. To me, that stuff is something parents need to teach their kids and if we have to drive to do it? So be it. I have 4 boys in a gazillion activites and I just try to make it as green as I can!

Joyce - sure you can come to my party! It will be a lot of fun for sure and I really, truly appreciate your kind words. "Hitting it about right" is what I was aiming for!!

Bobbi said...

It sounds like the party was a success. Congrats!

Green Resolutions said...

Ha! I'm an aspiring APLS, and I just wrote a confessional post, too! Funny how we feel the need to put our guilt into words.

I hope you enjoy your party! And thanks for the tips to make a party somewhat green but also convenient and comfortable. I'll come back to look for ideas closer to Labor Day :)

arduous said...

That party sounds SUPER fun. I want to come!! And frankly, it might not be the greenest party ever, but compared to most kids birthdays, it seems pretty green! :)

Kathryn B. said...

Hee hee, maybe what we need is a Carnival of Eco-Guilt. Seriously, though, thanks for keeping it real. We sometimes have to balance sustainability with pragmatism. Like you, I most often face that challenge when entertaining guests.

arduous said...

Oh my God, Carnival of Eco Guilt is HI-larious!!

MamaBird said...

So I am late in catching up on my blog reading but SIGN ME UP for the carnival of eco-guilt!! That was one of the fun things about meeting green bloggers at BlogHer - we realized we are all human. We all make compromises, and let's be real, there are complicated decisions to be made. Like Wendy said, it's all a balancing act. Sounds like a great party! I heart the ol' slip n slide. And shouldn't something special be used as a treat? ie wasting water not every day but once a year?

fearlesschef said...

I would like to commend you on noticing that your "greenness" wouldn't be appreciated by all. I have come to the realization that this simple, green life isn't always about what is in your shopping cart or what you put on the table. If you can be at peace with the decisions that you have made in light of others and somehow lower your stress levels over little things, then I think that you have accomplished the greenness. We live in a society that doesn't necessarily embrace the organic, so why freak out when someone smashes icing in another's face because you spent the afternoon making it? You're right, middle school boys will be as such. Enjoy those parties... and compost what you can! :D

I just had a party for my MIL and while I really didn't want to buy the cake from Walmart, my husband was right... no one cared that the veggies and sour cream and dips were organic. So, I cut myself some slack. And I didn't eat the icing.