Category Archives: eco-friendly

A reason to celebrate, not to hide

This morning, I met with some girlfriends and our children for our weekly bible study/ Mass readings. We meet to read and discuss the readings for the following Sunday, mainly because, as mothers of young children, sometimes we end up missing parts of the readings as they are proclaimed from the ambo as we are tending to our children.

After reading a reflection on the gospel, one of the discussion questions centered around how we can tend to those “orphans” around us. Somehow the conversation turned to the happy news that two in our group are expecting new babies! And the fun thing is this: each of these children will be child #6 for each of their respective families. (Technically one will be child #7, as one was lost early in the pregnancy.) Of course, we are all over-joyed because how could you not be happy about another baby?! But one of the moms mentioned that she was really hesitant to mention the news of the baby to “anyone else” and she hasn’t said anything on FaceBook or to extended family members because of the backlash she is sure to get from people. Backlash from “friends and family” basically telling her that she and her husband are irresponsible. Wow.

Let’s face it, large families are not looked on favorably in our culture. Our culture worships things and stuff as status symbols and looks at many children as relics of an antiquated agricultural society. According to mass media, children hold women back and interrupt their dreams. “Beyaz,” an oral contraceptive, has a commercial showing young women shopping in a chic boutique. In this boutique, one woman shops for her Masters Degree. Another for a trip to Paris. Another for the perfect man. Another for a new car. One young woman, comes across a stork holding a little bundle and she laughs, shakes her head, and walks away to continue shopping for her dreams. The message: babies take away your dreams. As a family, you should have at most two children. If you get the golden combination of one boy and one girl, then you are INSANE if you decide to have more. Take a look around next time you are out, our country is really built for families of four and no more.

For families who choose to have more than two kids, they are accused of somehow living off of the government (“I don’t want to support another one of your kids!”) or doing harm to the environment (“There aren’t enough resources for so many people.”) or just being plain stupid (“You do know what causes that?”) But these families make the active choice to have large families and they do so prayerfully and carefully.

While I am sure they exist, I believe that you would be hard-pressed to find a large family who kept having kids even though they couldn’t afford it (and do not mention “Octomom.” She is surely an outlier and in my non-medical opinion, probably in need of mental help.) I am going to make some mass generalizations here, but this is what I have experienced hanging out with my friends with large families: Large families decide that they are not going to take yearly vacations to the Bahamas or to Cancun or to Turks and Cacos. Instead, they are going to go camping. Large families decide not to get a new car every three years or when the mood strikes. Large families don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. Large families see debt as a burden and children as a blessing, not as the other way around. Large families ensure their children take an active role in paying for their education (and it’s usually not with student loans.) I can’t remember where I read it, but I believe that it might be a Jewish proverb. It said something along the lines of “every new baby born is another chance at world peace.” In a nation where approximately 3700 babies are aborted per day (legal and illegal procedures) every child is a reason to be celebrated and not one to hide about.

Usually, environmental concerns are cited for reasons for chasitzing large families. But I can’t help but wonder, do these same people criticize family members for driving large SUVs or living in 4000 sq. ft. homes? What about when their family members are jetting off to the Bahamas or Hilton Head, or when they are enjoying their steak at a restaurant? Let’s talk a bit about Carbon Footprints. A Carbon Footprint is:

car·bon foot·print

Adjective: The amount of carbon dioxide emitted due to the the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc
So, you would think that large families would be emitting HUGE amounts of carbon because they are… big families. According to, there are seven ways to reduce your carbon footprint and thereby making less of an impact on the earth. They are:
1. Become Vegan
2. Switch to green electricity
3. Get rid of your tumble dryer
4. Insulate your home properly
5. Park your car
6. Stop flying
7. Become an eco-activist
Hmm… no where on this list is, have fewer than 2 children. Another site has this conclusion as far as carbon footprints:
So, there are three things that will make a big difference to your carbon footprint. Yes, stop flying. By all means take up cycling, change your lightbulbs and wear a sweater. But first, cut down your meat eating, insulate your home, and just all round buy less stuff.
The other favored argument agains large families? “I don’t want to pay for all of those kids.” Well, if you pay taxes you are paying for someone’s children. Public schools are funded through taxes and therefore, we are paying for other people’s kids to get an education. Many of the large families I know either homeschool their kids or they are sending them to Catholic school, and the tuition is paid for out of their family’s income. Or they go to public school like a bunch of other kids that we are already paying for. I was trying to find some information on what the average family on government assistance looks like, and I couldn’t find anything conclusive, but I did find this little tidbit:

In recent years, the government has relaxed restrictions on eligibility for healthy adults without dependents. The maximum income to be eligible for food stamps for an able-bodied adult in New York is $14,088 a year. A record 38 million Americans are currently on food stamps, and though most of them are still the “traditional recipients” (elderly, single mothers), a large amount of young, educated adults now count as “working poor.” But they’re bringing their greenmarket standards to the welfare line.

One New York blogger told Salon “I’m sort of a foodie, and I’m not going to do the ‘living off ramen’ thing”—he then mentions a dinner of roasted rabbit with butter, tarragon and sweet potatoes that he made using his food stamp money.

Good-bye Ramen noodles, I guess. So, what’s my point? My point is that we need to stop being so judgmental. Have we really become so narcissistic that we truly believe that the world revolves around us and our comfort-level to the point where we are dictating how many children someone ought to have? Have we become so “me, me, me” that the very thought of someone taking more than their “fair share” is enough to leave a bitter taste in our mouths? (and how that fair share is measure, I have no clue.) My view is this: Celebrate those babies, each and everyone of them. Fertility is a gift that one usually doesn’t see the value of until it’s gone and children do not hang around forever. But, strangely enough, debt seems to hang around forever.

(P.S. I wanted to add. I went here and took a Carbon Footprint analysis for my family of four. I then changed my family size to eight, and increased the number of bedrooms by two but otherwise kept all other answers the same. Our household carbon footprint for a family of four was 40 tons of CO2 per year (National Average is 110 tons.) When I doubled the number of people in our household, the amount of CO2 increased to 60 tons per year (National Average of 210 tons per year.) So, yes, more people does mean more energy usage, but not as much as you’d think.)


Thanks to Laura J. for inspiring this post. No, she’s not one of the pregnant ones but she said “someone” should write about this. 🙂 And a heartfelt congratulations and prayers for healthy and happy pregnancies, ladies!!

Pax Christi!


Filed under Catholic, eco-friendly, family, wednesday

Lenten Meals: Nina’s Black Bean Patties

OK. I know it’s not Friday and technically I owe you two Lenten recipes because I didn’t post one last week but cut me some slack, hey?

This recipe was inspired by my friend, Nina. She made black bean patties for her family one night from a blogger recipe. Her family wasn’t too keen on them, so she brought them to my house to make sure that they tasted OK and that it was just her family and not the actually patties. We loved them. I kept asking her for the recipe and so one Friday, decided to Frankenstein up some black bean patties of my own, based on what she told me was in the ones she made. I did eventally ask Nina for the recipe which you can find here.

Nina’s Black Bean Patties


1 medium sweet potato, shredded

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 small onion, chopped

1 handful cilantro

1/4 cup walnuts

1 egg

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 T cumin

1 T coriander

2 t cinnamon

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1 t salt

1 t pepper

breadcrumbs (amount will vary, use enough for your patties to hold shape.)



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Add all ingredients, except breadcrumbs, to a food processor with blade attachment. Pulse until a uniform paste develops.

3. Remove bowl from your food pro and transfer paste to another bowl if you’d like (remove the blade.)

4. Slowly add in breadcrumbs until the mixture comes together and can hold a shape.

5. Take a palmful of mixture and pat into a patty shape, about 1/2 inch thick. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. (mine made about 6 patties)

6. Bake at 350 deg until the tops look dried and a little cracked, about 15 minutes.

7. Top with Mango Salsa or Salsa Verde and serve with a  delicious side of your choice. (I served with a Quinoa Pilaf.)


Quinoa Pilaf


1/2 c chopped onion

2 carrots, chopped

1 c quinoa, rinsed

2 c veg broth

2/3 c walnuts

1/4 c parsley (or cilantro)

Heat oil in saucepan over med-high heat. Cook onion in oil for until translucent. Add carrot and cook 3 minutes. Add quinoa and veg broth, bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and fluffy. In a bowl toss together with walnuts and parsley (or cilantro.) Serve hot or at room temp.


Mango Salsa

1 mango, peeled and diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 jalepeno, seeded and diced

1 T lime juice

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Salt and pepper to taste


Add all ingredients to a bowl. Mix well. Cover and chill until use.

It is the season of Lent. I’ll be including the meat-free recipes for your enjoyment and don’t forget, if you have one to share, email it to caffeinatedcatholicmama (at) gmail (dot) com. Include your first name for the props!

Pax Christi!

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Filed under Catholic, dairy-free, eco-friendly, family, food, Friday, Lent, meatless

Non-Dairy Foodie Fridays: Minestrone Soup

We do love our soups in the CCM house!!

Easy Minestrone

4 med chopped tomatoes
2 med carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 med zucchini, halved and sliced
1 med yellow summer squash, halved and sliced
1.5 C shredded cabbage
1 can (16oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
6 cups chicken broth or veg broth
1.5 Tbs Italian Seasoning
1 t salt
0.5 t pepper

In a 5 QT crock pot, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

this makes a ton (about 10 servings) as well so you will have plenty left over if you have a small family, and it makes a great breakfast option on those chilly mornings. You get a chock full of vegetables in and my little girls love it!


If you have a recipe to share, please email it to:

along with your name and location (let me know if you’d rather that info not be published!)

Pax Christi!

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Filed under eco-friendly, food, Friday, frugal, weight loss

My Top Ten Reasons for Breastfeeding (WBW: Day 2)

There are so many reasons out there to breastfeed and it’s hard to try to compile them into a top ten, but here we go:

10. It’s free

9. I never worry about having a clean water source handy

8. The milk is always at the right temperature and is ready to eat

7. There are no additional dishes to do

6. I don’t have to get out of bed to conduct a night-time feeding

5. I can stop tantrums in an instant

4. Breastfeeding is a great pain reliever for little boo-boos.

3. It’s eco-friendly

2. There are no added chemicals to worry about

1. Did I mention it was FREE?

I am sure you have some personal points to add to this list! What are advantages have you found by breastfeeding? Do share!

As this is WBW, my posts this week will reflect this. In addition, use my blogroll visit other blogs that celebrate breastfeeding and the joy that comes from it. Make sure you check them out! Also, the 8th Edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is out. This edition has been revised since 2004 and it. is. awesome. Seriously.

Pax Christi!


Filed under breastfeeding, eco-friendly, feminism, funnies, mothering

World Breastfeeding Week: Day 1

Happy World Breastfeeding Week (WBW)! Every year, runs from August 1-7 and every year, my family finds itself in beautiful Door County Wisconsin for our annual vacation. We are blessed in that my In-laws live up here year-round and therefore, it’s a fairly cheap vacation. Long car ride, but surely worth it.

This year, our travels were a little bit easier in that The Bear was already up North with Grandma and Grandpa and leaving only three of us traveling the 10+ hours from St. Louis to the Door Peninsula. For those of you wondering how you make long car rides and frequent nursings work, without stretching your car ride by hours and hours, I present a step-by-step guide to breastfeeding in motion:

1. Sit next to your rear-facing little one. If you have motion sickness, like I do, make sure you have a proper emesis catching receptacle handy. I personally like Target bags.

2. Stretch your seat belt as far as it can go, all the while reminding your husband not to crash the car. I find you have to repeat that phrase over and over… kind of like a mantra. If you are a praying type, as I am, you usually start praying for safety at this point. A few “Hail Marys” and “Jesus, please don’t let my husband crash” are favorites of mine. If you can’t stretch your seat belt, you may have to unlatch the belt and increase the frequency of said prayers.

3. Channel your inner contortionist and latch baby on. If you are larger breasted, you will have the advantage of not having to lean so far over baby, if you are smaller breasted, you’ll get a great oblique workout. Remain in this position until the feeding is done or baby drifts off.

4. If you are traveling during the day and don’t have tinted windows, be sure to wave to the curious on-lookers and truckers. You might have just made their day.

5. Repeat as needed. And for me… that’s most of the trip. In fact, other than driving from St. Louis to Lexington, IL, I spent the duration of the trip acting as human pacifier #1.

I am sure you are thinking, wouldn’t having a bottle just be easier? Sure… but where would the truckers get their entertainment from?

As this is WBW, my posts this week will reflect this. In addition, use my blogroll visit other blogs that celebrate breastfeeding and the joy that comes from it. Make sure you check them out! Also, the 8th Edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is out. This edition has been revised since 2004 and it. is. awesome. Seriously.

Pax Christi!


Filed under breastfeeding, eco-friendly, feminism, funnies, mothering

Things I love Thursday:

If you haven’t discovered yet, now’s the time! Etsy is a place to buy and sell all things homemade, handmade and vintage. It’s a great way to support artists, work-at-home parents and people who just like to create things!

I find myself heading to Etsy when looking for gifts, rather than other commercial sites because I like the thought that I am getting something one of a kind.

In the photo below, you can see some of the things that I have found on Etsy in the last year or so:

1. An applique and embroidered birthday shirt for The Bear (she turns 3 this Sunday) from Leah at SewCreativeSTL

2. Reusable Sandwich Bags, Diaper Covers and Baby Hanks from Tiffanie at Diaper Koozie

3. Breastfeeding Bracelet from Shannon at Organic Mama’s

4. Hand-dyed wool brown scapular from Jessamyn at Home Spun Ireland

5. Black Chapel Veil from Rhonda at Lady in Blue Shop

6. “Stellaberry” Cloche from You-Know-Who at The Bear and Dragonfly Hats


Next time you are looking for a gift or something for yourself, head over to Etsy! I’m telling you, you will not be disappointed!

Pax Christi!

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Filed under Art, breastfeeding, Catholic, cloth diapers, eco-friendly, frugal, Thursday

What makes a feminist?

Boy, oh, boy… I am going to miss our paper subscription to the NYT ( but thank goodness I can still find it online!)

Going through this week’s Sunday Styles, there is an article about a French Author, Elisabeth Badinter, and her thesis that the current ‘green’ movement and the ensuing ‘Mommy Wars’ is really an underhanded way to erase the progress of feminism. Her basic thought is that by choosing breastfeeding, cloth diapering, forgoing the epidural, women are being steered back into the home and away from the workplace.

From the article:

In “Le Conflit: la femme et la mère” (“Conflict: The Woman and the Mother”), she contends that the politics of the last 40 years have produced three trends that have affected the concept of motherhood, and, consequently, women’s independence. First is what she sums up as “ecology” and the desire to return to simpler times; second, a behavioral science based on ethology, the study of animal behavior; and last, an “essentialist” feminism, which praises breast-feeding and the experience of natural childbirth, while disparaging drugs and artificial hormones, like epidurals and birth control pills.

All three trends, Ms. Badinter writes, “boast about bringing happiness and wisdom to women, mothers, family, society and all of humankind.” But they also create enormous guilt in a woman who can’t live up to a false ideal. “The specter of the bad mother imposes itself on her even more cruelly insofar as she has unconsciously internalized the ideal of the good mother,” she writes.

(emphasis mine)
If you are on the internet at all, you can recognize the bolded section as what’s more commonly called, the “Mommy Wars.” It seems as if we mommies will war about anything and everything: cloth v. disposable, breast v. bottle, homeschool v. school, circ v. intact and now feminist v. non-feminist? (To me that’s kind of a misnomer, all women at heart are feminists)

Stay with me here. Feminists fought and are still fighting for the rights of women TO MAKE CHOICES. That’s all. Feminists are not telling women, “OK you HAVE to go out and work and shatter the glass ceiling AND raise kids and have an immaculate home.” They are telling us, “You have the choice to do what is best for you and your family, if you choose to have one.” Kind of like how veterans fought and are fighting for our freedom from tyranny, femisists fight for our freedom of lack of choice. (And before you ask, The Caffeinated Catholic Mama is pro-choice: With those choices being life-based: Raise your baby or place your baby up for adoption please! But I digress.)

Personally, I see Ms. Badinter’s thesis as furthering the victimization of women. Instead of sticking to her feminist roots, she is blaming society on making life harder on women. Does cloth diapering take a bit more time and effort? Yup, but guess what? My husband knows how to run the washer as well as I can. Does eating homecooked foods take more time than running through the drive thru? Yup, but thank goodness for my Crock Pot and Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker. Does my husband wish I met him at the door with a dress and pearls on, with a Manhattan and newspaper in hand, ready to speak to him in soft tones while the children play quietly in another room? Probably, but we can all dare to dream. I chose natural birth because I am a control freak and we practice Natural Family Planning for a bunch of reasons, not limited to the fact that I haven’t had a period in 18 months! Yay, ecological breastfeeding! (Yay breastfeeding in general!) I guess what gets me is why we as women allow ourselves to be constantly made victims of this and that. There are times you have to stand up and say, “I chose this life and I have to take the good with the bad!” (Cue “The Facts of Life” theme…) And as an aside, a more equal division on labor helps a ton!

While cruising FaceBook yesterday, I saw how FuzziBuns (FB), a cloth diapering company, was coming under fire for sponsoring “The Feminist Breeder” (TFB) for BlogHer 2010. The comments that followed divided into two groups: women who didn’t 100% agree with TFB’s ideals and therefore were going to no longer buy FB and those who were wondering what the fuss was all about. The most often quoted bit of TFB’s blog that drew the most ire was about The Duggar family, how she doubts Michelle Duggar is raising little feminists:

Q: Where did that crazy name come from?

A: I hard time finding like-minded feminists once I became a mother, and I started to feel like feminism and motherhood may be mutually exclusive. I chose the moniker The Feminist Breeder to prove that even those of us who reproduce can still be concerned feminists.
Q: But wait – I thought feminism meant staying childfree?

A: Don’t be stupid. Where do you think the future feminists will come from if the feminists aren’t breeding them? Do you think Michelle Duggar is reproducing feminists for us? Come on.

If you follow TFB’s blog, you know that she uses humor and is very tongue-in-cheek about things (she also uses some “colorful” language, that I look past!) I can see how that comment might ruffle the feathers of some women, but it’s also TFB’s opinion and she’s entitled to it. I like the Duggar family but I have a hard time seeing Michelle and Jim Bob raising little feminists as well but you never know.

In our house, we make it clear that men and women can do any job they want (except for the Priesthood and, yes, I believe in that as well, but that’s for a later post) and we make it a point to show our daughters that. The Bear goes with Daddy to work and sees that men and women are at the office. Our pediatrician is a woman whereas our family doctor and my OB/GYN are men. We point out men and women doing the same jobs whenever we can.

But feminism is not just about work. It’s about a state of mind. Days when I am having a challenging time with the children are days that I constantly remind myself that this is the life that I chose and to be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing.

What are your thoughts? Is every woman a feminist at heart? Are we who choose the role of Stay Home mother hurting the vision of female independence? Tell me your thoughts!


Filed under breastfeeding, Catholic, cloth diapers, eco-friendly, feminism, history, life, mothering

Things I love Thursday: Diaper Koozie EXTENDED!!

Since I am now cloth diapering two children, I found that I was in need of some new diaper covers. I like to support Work At Home Mothers as much as possible so I headed over to Etsy to see what I could find. I found the cutest covers at Diaper Koozie.

Tiffanie at Diaper Koozie uses print fabrics backed with PUL to make a soft, flexible yet very functional diaper cover. With my latest purchase from her, I discovered that she is making her diaper covers multi-sized, which is great if you have multiple children in cloth or if you want to get the most bang for your buck.

In addition to the diaper covers, she also makes eco-friendly, reusable snack packs/ sandwich bags and “Baby Hanks”… think handkerchiefs for baby. The Baby Hanks are great because they are super cute, very soft, well made and you can use them as on the go wipes for sticky hands, faces or at home as diaper wipes, eliminating the need for boxes and boxes of disposable wipes. The snack packs and sandwich bags are lined with PUL and easily wipe clean on the inside. They close with a simple hook and loop closure so there are no worries of bunny crackers accidentally dumping out all over your bag. Get a few of these and you greatly decrease the number of sandwich bags your family goes through!

Tiffanie ships quickly and her work is supurb! I am glad to be a Diaper Koozie customer and I’d like you to have a chance to enjoy her products as well! Time for my FIRST giveaway!

For a chance to win a eco-friendly snack pack in a cute clocks print, please leave me a comment with your favorite healthy on-the-go snack and/or a cloth diaper washing secret AND what Diaper Koozie item you’d love to use. Be sure to head over to Diaper Koozie to check out all of her items and place an order if you are so inclined! I’m telling you, you won’t be disappointed! I will select a winner by random lottery on Friday June 18 and notify the winner by email.


Filed under cloth diapers, eco-friendly, Giveaway, mothering, Thursday

Things I love Thursday: Better Life

I didn’t want to get onto the whole “I love this product” bandwagon, but I just have to in this case. The husband and I made the decision to introduce chores to our almost three year old and since she loves playing in water, we thought that washing the kitchen floor would be a good match. In addition, The Dragonfly is beginning to creep along and the last thing that we want is for little crawling hands to be covered in chemicals. That meant I had to seek out a kid friendly, safe floor cleaner. Thank goodness I live in St. Louis, the home of “Better Life!”

About six months ago, I was at Costco and there was this demonstration for a new cleaning product. With having two little kids in the house, I am always cleaning something up, but as most little kids… there is no distinguishing “floor food” from “table food.” I chatted a bit with Tim (who I found out later was one of the innovators) and walked out of Costco with three new cleaners and a whole new point of view.

Better Life is the brainchild of two St. Louis dads, one a chemist, the other an idealist, who wanted to make household cleaners that were safe for families. Out of that meeting of the minds we get the Better Life line. Made of all natural ingredients (aside from a smidge (10 parts per million) of a synthetic preservative), you could essentially eat these cleaning products, if you were so inclined.

I use the all-purpose cleaner (What-ever!) on all of my household surfaces and I discovered today that it’s a great cloth diaper pre-treater. The floor cleaner (Simply Floored) is strong but gentle. It managed to get the dirt, grime and weird, sticky stuff off my floor with minimal effort. The floor cleaner is ready to go, no bucket needed, just squirt on the floor, clean and go. I use the liquid scrubber (Even the Kitchen Sink) on my kitchen sink and trash can every night after I’ve finished the dishes.

Not only are these products environmentally friendly and family safe but they are also a local company which is an important factor for me. So if you are so inclined, check them out… you can’t go wrong!

Better Life Cleaning Products

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Filed under cloth diapers, eco-friendly, life, Thursday