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Some Good Green Reads for the Preschool Set

September 14th, 2008 by mindfulmomma

Back to school brings a barrage of reminders to read to your child or have them read for themselves everyday.  With the emphasis on EVERYDAY. 

Anyone else get a little sick of reading your child’s favorite books over and over and over again?  If you are looking for something new and are thinking that a little earth-loving and tree-hugging would be a welcome topic, then here are a few books to consider.  Check them out of the library or think about buying them as gifts - they are all hardcover - and two of them are printed on recycled paper.  And just to be up-front about it, I was sent review copies of these books - all by different publishers.  I have no vested interested in promoting them - but I truly did enjoy them all.

10 things book 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World by Melanie Walsh is a really sweet book that gently reminds kids about the little things they can do to help the earth…like turn off the water when they are brushing their teeth or use both sides of the paper when drawing a picture.  The illustrations are bold and bright and the pages have cut-out parts that kids can turn themselves.  My 3 year old picks it up and reads it himself all the time!  This one would make an especially nice gift….for a child or a classroom…and it is made from 100% recycled material.

William going green book William is Going Green by James Martin II is a story about an old garbage truck named William who is fired from his job for polluting and being too loud.  He eventually finds a new way of life…as a hybrid recycling truck…painted green of course!  He meets some new friends along the way and the story is set up to be the beginning of a series.  Lessons about being both kind to the earth and to others are woven throughout the story.  Watch out Bob the Builder - William just might boot you out of the spotlight someday!  This book works for both preschool and early readers - ages 3-8 years.  (printed on FSC certified mixed sources paper that is 25% recycled.) 

 

Templeton turtle book I had to laugh when I read the promotional material for Templeton Turtle Goes Exploring by Ron Pridmore (and beautifully illustrated by Michele-lee Phelan).  It claims that the average 8 year old can identify 25% more Pokemon characters than wildlife species.  Well, I have an 8 year old and I have to admit that we have a little Pokemon obsession going on here.  (and he doesn’t understand why I won’t buy him a game boy?!!) 

This book is meant to encourage your little ones to explore the outdoors and learn about nature.  It tells the tale of Templeton, a tiny little turtle who goes off to explore the great big pond all by himself for the first time.  He is surprised to find that not all of the animals are friendly to him and some of them are big and scary.  In the end he learns an age-old lesson - that all the animals by the pond, whether they have fur, flippers, wings, scales or shells, all help each other out in times of need.  It’s a sweet little adventure - but I think Liam was relieved when the Templeton was safe back with his mother!

Now it’s time to hit the library in search of more good, green books….any recommendations?

Raising Mindful Kids

August 15th, 2008 by mindfulmomma

Global_warming_panic Global Warming

“Things that people do that are bad for the earth.”
That’s my 8 year old’s definition.  Not too bad, considering that many 8 year olds wouldn’t even have a clue.  My husband and I love that our kids have picked up on our concern about the environment and that they are slowly building an earth-friendly vocabulary.

What can you do to build this awareness in your kids? You don’t need to send them to Global Warming 101 or anything - if you talk about it at home, they will pick it up slowly but surely.  What’s amazing to me is how easily they absorb information and how quickly they are asking questions that you can’t even answer without a little research.  Having kids has given me an education on global warming, without a doubt!

Not that they don’t come up with some wacky misconceptions every once in awhile.  Drew somehow got the idea that if we didn’t do something about global warming, it would lead to some kind of big explosion when the earth got too hot.  BOOM!!  Aaaah….the imagination of a grade-schooler!

There are lots of little things you can do to plant the seed about global warming in your kids:

  • Read books - Pick up a book like “The Down-To-Earth Guide to Global Warming” by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon or “A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids” by Julie Hall that teach kids about the effects of global warming in an accessible and entertaining way.
  • Talk about the news - Current news stories can be good fodder for teaching kids about climate change.  When the price of gas shot up, we started talking about why driving less is really a good thing.  When extreme weather events like hurricanes and earthquakes occur, we discuss why that might be happening more frequently.
  • Look for teaching moments -  Drew did a report about polar bears in school last year and I used that opportunity to tell him about what global warming is doing to the polar bears habitat.  Now he’s a big advocate for the polar bears!  When we drove past a wind turbine, we had a conversation about wind power vs. coal.  You get the gist…
  • Model eco-friendly actions - Turn off lights when you leave a room and ask your kids to do the same.  Ride your bike to the store instead of taking the car.  Shut down your computer when you are not working on it….(Drew is all over my case when I forget!)

Plus it can be highly entertaining to here what your kids have to say about the subject.  Just for kicks I asked my boys “What can people can do to stop global warming?”  My 8 year old said “Don’t use electric blankets.”  My 3 year old said “Pick up garbage”.  Not bad - I think they’re on the right track…

Organic Overkill?

June 27th, 2008 by mindfulmomma

I’m such a sucker! Under the allure of the organic label, I let Drew convince me to buy Organic Rainbow Rings at Whole Foods - Froot Loops in disguise!!  Just this once I said, as a special treat…but somehow it seemed OK because they were organic after all.

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After I came to my senses, I took to the internet to find out if organic froot loops are really any healthier than their mass-marketed counterparts. While munching away straight from the box, I found that my (I mean Drew’s) Rainbow Rings did indeed score better than Froot Loops on a number of measures. They had 40% less sugar, 1/2 gram less fat (and NO hydogenated oils), 1 gram more protein and 50% of the RDA for folic acid (vs. 25%). Whew!!!

But honestly, do we really need organic froot loops? Or pop tarts? Or oreos? It’s all junk food really. I have to admit I have a hard time passing up on all the temptations out there - especially at Whole Foods. You could eat a days worth of calories just snacking your way through the store.

What do you think? Is it organic overkill or a healthy alternative?

The Power of Power Food

June 3rd, 2008 by mindfulmomma

fruit and veggies.jpg

The attraction to junk food comes on fast and furious, from the first tiny tastes of sugar-sweetened yogurt to the first bite of a greasy french fry at a road-trip dinner spot. For most of us, banning all sugar and salty snacks is not a reasonable solution, so we need to find a way to teach our kids about healthy eating habits. Enter the concepts of Power food and Lazy food. I have to credit our friend Sandy for teaching us this powerful idea that she used with her first child who was a very picky eater. In a nutshell, here’s what it’s all about:

Power Food helps your body grow big and strong. It gives you the strength to run around, ride bikes and play games with your friends.

Lazy Food does nothing to help your body. It tastes really great but if that’s all you eat, your body will get lazy and you won’t have the energy to do all the fun things you want to do.

For some reason this really hit home with my son Drew and to this day we use those terms regularly. Now, I can’t claim that it reduced his interest in Lazy food (he has a major sweet tooth) but he does understand why he needs to eat his veggies and why he can’t have treats all the time. It’s not rocket science - just a simple way to explain to kids why their bodies need good food.

Saving Stained Shirts from the Garbage Heap

April 29th, 2008 by mindfulmomma

You know when a favorite shirt gets a stain that won’t come out and you just want to scream ’cause it was so cute and you can’t believe that yet another shirt is ruined and you swear that you’ll never buy another light colored shirt again….

Rocket_shirt_2

Yup, it happened again.  This time it was a light blue T-shirt of Drew’s that looked so nice with his blue eyes that I couldn’t bring myself to toss it.  So I rescued it - with a rocket applique made from ripped jeans, an old sweater and fabric from a vintage apron.

The magic bullet for making appliques is Heat n Bond iron-on adhesive.  Iron it onto your applique, then peel off the paper backing and iron it onto the shirt.  It’s that easy!  I sew around the edges too because I like the look of the stitching, but it’s not necessary.

My only regret with this project was that the edges of the jean material did fray a bit.  If I did it again, I would turn the material under.  Or pick a material that does not fray.  Now that I’ve got the applique bug I’ve got a big pile of old clothes and fabrics ready for action.  It’s a fun, creative and EASY way to salvage stained clothes and keep them out of the garbage heap!

Homemade Cleaning Products - A Baby Step

February 13th, 2008 by mindfulmomma

I’ve been wanting to start making some of my own household cleaning products for some time now. It looks so easy, it’s better for the environment, saves money, a no brainer, huh?

Thing is, a person like me is always thinking way too big - as in ‘I need to buy every possible ingredient, read every source of information and experiment like crazy before I write a post about this topic.’ Aaaah, but I caught myself - and this time I’m taking baby steps.

No, I don’t have the borax or the soap flakes or the washing soda yet. But I do have ingredients that I already have in my house: baking soda, vinegar and some essential oils.

I whipped up a simple sink scrub that made my stainless steel kitchen sink shine and left the whole kitchen smelling fresh. Oh, and the ‘volcano’ action you get when you mix the baking soda and vinegar is a fun little science experiment for the kiddos - so get them in on the action!

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup white vinegar

3-5 drops of essential oil (those with antibacterial properties include lavender, lemon, lime, orange, sandalwood, cypress, chamomile, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass and others)

auracacia.jpgI used an essential oil blend from Aura Cacia. I love their Essential Solutions blends because I don’t have to buy a bunch of individual oils. They create the blends for various effects: Creative Juice is energizing, Pep Talk is refreshing, Chill Pill is soothing and Mellow Mix (the one that I use) is calming with lavender, lemon, sandalwood, roman chamomile, petitgrain and neroli oils. It smells SO good!

I also made a garbage pail freshener using the same essential oil blend. Just fill a spray bottle with water, add 8-12 drops of essential oil and viola - you’re armed and ready to overcome the stench of a stinky pail - without filling the air with toxic chemicals.

Watch out, I just might try some more! I’ll keep you posted as I work my way through the book The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier. It’s got some great tips and over 100 recipes for anyone inclined to DIY.