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A Better Way to Diaper Your Baby

Posted on Apr 11, 2014 by 1 Comment

I used disposables with my son because cloth diapering looked complicated and time consuming. If I had known about gDiapers, I would have seriously considered this option. The covers come in all sorts of fun designs and the whole system seems more eco-friendly than using regular disposable diapers.

Jason and Kim Graham-Nye invented gDiapers to provide an easy-to-use yet eco-friendly alternative to disposable diapers. They were shocked when they learned that traditional disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to biodegrade in a landfill and that disposable diapers are the third largest contributor of landfill waste.

To diaper your baby using gDiapers, pick a washable cotton pant, add an insert, and then close the Velcro tabs around your baby’s back. You can use washable cloth inserts or disposable inserts, depending upon your personal preference. If you use disposable inserts, wet only inserts can be composted to provide nutrients for your garden. Poopy diaper inserts can be flushed down your toilet, so there’s no stinky diaper pail to deal with.

GDiapers are certified Cradle to Cradle Silver. This designation means everything that goes into the company’s disposable inserts has been judged on 19 different human and environmental health criteria and found to be re-absorbed back into our eco-system in a neutral or beneficial way.

If you want to give gDiapers a try, now is the perfect time! On April 9, gDiapers released a new limited edition Great White Shark gPants and Clean Water tee online as well as at select retailers in the US, Canada, and the UK. This is part of their partnership with the environmental group 5 Gyres. With each item sold, 5 Gyres commits to undertaking a foot of beach clean up.

Photo credit: gDiapers

Is Fruit Juice Really a Healthy Beverage Choice?

Posted on Apr 9, 2014 by No Comments

Fruit juice may seem like a healthier alternative to soda, but did you know that even 100% juice blends are high in sugar content and can provide up to three times the sugar and calories as whole fruits?

It’s true that fruit juices do contain some vitamins and minerals, but overall you’re much better off just encouraging everyone in your family to just snack on whole fruit.

Here’s an interesting infographic from the Pritikin Longevity Center illustrating the differences in calories, nutrients, and sugar obtained from consuming whole fruits vs. fruit juice.

juice-illusion

Kids Health says that water and milk are the best beverage choices for children of all ages. But, even kids get sick of drinking the same thing all the time.

When my son was little, our pediatrician told us to water down his fruit juice so it was about half water and half juice. This kept the number of calories and the amount of sugar he was consuming in check while having the added benefit of keeping our grocery budget under control.

We did this until he started kindergarten and had his first taste of full flavored juice. Once he realized what we were doing, we had to just limit juice to a once in a while beverage.

Another option, if you’re looking for a better beverage choice for your child, is to try one of the many flavored water products on the market. These are appealing to most kids, although they also have a potential drawback. If your child drinks flavored water exclusively, you might find that he or she ends up trying to avoid plain water at all costs.

What types of beverages do your children drink?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Celebrate Earth Month with Bulk Foods

Posted on Apr 8, 2014 by 2 Comments

Have you ever stopped to think about how much product packaging your family throws out on a weekly basis? If you’re trying to be more eco-friendly, April is a great time to start buying bulk foods.

Bulk foods are the foods sold in clear plastic bins at your grocery store. You buy as little or as much as you need. You’re not paying for extra packaging, so you’re saving money and helping the environment at the same time.

lovebulkbuttonCommon items to purchase in bulk include:

  • Spices
  • Coffee
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Dried beans
  • Dried fruit
  • Trail mix

Bulk bin products are generally the same name brand items you see on store shelves. However, they are often fresher than packaged alternatives because the bulk bin supply is constantly being replenished.

Little changes make a big difference when it comes to buying bulk foods. For example, if all Americans purchased their coffee from bulk bins instead of buying traditional packaged products, we’d keep 5,000,000 pounds of packaging out of the country’s landfills each week.

Bulk buying also reduces food waste, since you aren’t committing to a particular package size. More food goes into landfills across the United States than any other single material in municipal waste. Food you toss in the trash decomposes more quickly than product packaging, but this is still money you’ve wasted.

If you want to start buying in bulk, go to www.bulkisgreen.org to take the Love Bulk pledge. To encourage people to try bulk foods during Earth Month and beyond, the Bulk Is Green council is planning a special giveaway.

When you take the pledge, you’re entered to win a prize pack filled with everything you need to create a pantry stocked with foods from the bulk bins. The prize pack includes glass storage containers as well as food samples from popular bulk bin brands.

Photo credit: Bulk Is Green

Encouraging Your Budding Writer

Posted on Apr 2, 2014 by No Comments

All children are naturally creative and helping them to put their stories down on paper is an excellent way to encourage the development of the literacy skills they’ll need throughout their formal education.

Reading Is Fundamental has several suggestions for how to encourage your children to write.

  • Let your child write about what interests him, even if it’s not something you’re personally interested in.
  • Don’t criticize spelling and handwriting mistakes, especially if your child is in the lower elementary grades.
  • Let older children use a keyboard if they prefer.
  • Encourage your child to draw pictures to illustrate his story.
  • Show off their work! Make handmade books to read to friends and family members.

For my nine year old son, I’ve discovered that the two things that make the biggest difference are letting him use a keyboard and giving him lots of public feedback about his work. He loves it when I post his stories on my Facebook feed so his aunts, uncles, and grandparents can all comment.

Here’s the intro one of his more recent creations:

Once upon a time, there was a king who ruled all of Dolkifar. One day, his top guard became a bandit leader. He assaulted the capital of Dolkifar, the old kingdom. Many soldiers died and finally the king and the bandit leader fought.

The king lunged and tried to stab him, but he was too late! The leader jumped and shot him. He killed the king’s wife too.

The princess escaped through a cave. She became a female knight and trained to take revenge!

Then, the time came. Her trainer told her, “You are ready to start your travels.”

He gave her a sword called the infinity! It is an ancient weapon that had been made by Father Time.

“This very sword can harm the enemy better the more evil he is,” the trainer said. “Now go. The journey awaits you.”

She left the town. A hero was then born!

Do your children like to write? If so, share their stories with us!

Photo credit: Reading Is Fundamental

Swapdom Offers a Budget-Friendly Way to Update Your Wardrobe

Posted on Apr 1, 2014 by No Comments

If you’ve recently gone up or down a size or are just prone to buyer’s remorse, Swapdom is  an excellent resource. This newly launched website lets you swap unwanted clothing and accessories for exactly what you want.

Swapdom uses a special algorithm to organize multi-person clothing swaps. This is how the site describes the process:

“In traditional swaps, A might want something C has, but C is not interested in A’s items; they want something B has, so no swap is made. Swapdom connects A to B to C (and to D, E, F, G … if needed) and loops it back to A, so that everyone gets what they want. All you have to do is tell us what you’d offer for your requested item and box up your item when we find a swap.”

There’s no charge to list an item on Swapdom. A small fee is built into the shipping cost when you trade items, but the fee is a percentage of shipping and never more than $2.

Swapdom only offers women’s clothing and accessory swaps at the moment, but the site has plans to eventually expand into the children’s clothing and home furnishing categories.

The selection of items is obviously going to change on a pretty regular basis, but I saw a nice variety of items when I was looking through the site. There were sizes ranging from XS to XXL, including both casual and business appropriate clothing.

I haven’t had a chance to personally try out Swapdom yet, but I think this is a wonderful idea. I haven’t had close friends who wore the same size of clothing since high school and there are quite a few things in my closet I don’t really wear anymore.

What do you think of Swapdom?

Photo credit: Swapdom

Celebrate Earth Week with a Donation to Second Chance Toys

Posted on Mar 28, 2014 by No Comments

With Earth Week fast approaching, you might find yourself in search of activities you can do to help your children learn about protecting the environment.

One suggestion that I personally love is having your kids clean their rooms to make a donation to Second Chance Toys. Donations help keep plastic out of our country’s landfills while helping to ensure that all children have access to age-appropriate playthings.

Second Chance Toys is planning pick-ups all around the country throughout April and will be holding a large toy drive in Times Square in May. The group’s mission is to clean and redistribute gently used plastic toys to children in need. Many of the toys go to children in homeless shelters.

Second Chance Toys was founded by Sasha Lipton, a high school student who wanted to find a productive use for all the plastic toys she saw being disposed of throughout her neighborhood. She began collecting the toys, cleaning them up, and donating them to churches and other groups who served needy children.

Sasha is now a college graduate and Second Chance Toys continues to grow. The group partners with the Kohl’s employee volunteer program as well as 1-800-Got-Junk. To date, more than 150,000 toys have been collected for children in need.

Plastic toys donated to Second Chance Toys must be clean and in working order with no small parts that could be a possible choking hazard. Battery-operated toys are OK as long as you include batteries with your donation. The organization cannot accept books or stuffed animals.

Visit the Second Chance Toys website to learn more about how you can share “recycled love” with those in need.

Photo credit: Second Chance Toys

5 Easy Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs with Your Kids

Posted on Mar 27, 2014 by No Comments

Decorating Easter eggs is one of my favorite parts of the holiday. We end up eating a lot of eggs in April, but it’s a cheap way to keep my son occupied for a few hours.

Here are 5 clever egg decorating techniques you can try with your kids:

  1. Thumbprint Eggs: If your kids are too little to fully participate in egg decorating, I love this idea! Use your child’s thumbprint to decorate a plain white egg with a cute barnyard animal or smiley face design.
  2. Watercolor Letters: My son and I did this when he was in kindergarten, so it should be an easy technique for most children. Make a cute display by spelling out your child’s name with a letter on each egg.
  3. Rubber Band Easter Eggs: Wrapping rubber bands around your eggs before dipping them in dye gives you a fun striped effect. Older kids can experiment with mixing colors by dipping the egg in a base color, wrapping a rubber band around it, and then dipping it in a second dye color.
  4. Temporary Tattoo Eggs: If your kids have a large collection of temporary tattoos, try seeing how the designs stick to your Easter eggs. I’ve found that this works best with smaller tattoos because bigger designs tend to get distorted when they’re wrapped around the egg.
  5. Sharpie Eggs: This is probably my son’s favorite way to decorate Easter eggs. We have a large collection of Sharpie markers and doodling designs on our eggs seems to be less messy than most other decorating methods.

What are your favorite egg decorating ideas?

Photo credit: Stock.chng

Making Affordable Easter Baskets

Posted on Mar 26, 2014 by No Comments

Easter is right around the corner! Are you ready?

While I love Easter baskets, I hate the expense. Here’s my plan for making cute yet affordable Easter baskets:

  1. Pick up unique wicker baskets at your local thrift store instead of spending $10 or more on a fancy container. Look for something that can be used for toy storage in your child’s room after the holiday or saved again to use the following year. If you’re passing out baskets to your child’s friends as well, consider making tiny paper baskets instead of buying containers. My About Origami tutorial has easy to follow directions.
  2. Recycle plastic eggs from year to year. You’ll be eco-friendly while saving money. I took my son to a community Easter egg hunt when he was a toddler. We’ve been using the eggs he found at that hunt for seven years now!
  3. Use shredded colored paper instead of purchased Easter grass to line your baskets. I suggest saving any green worksheets your kids bring home for this purpose.
  4. Wait to buy candy until you can combine a store sale and a manufacturer’s coupon. If you don’t already subscribe to the Sunday newspaper, look for printable candy coupons at Coupons.com.
  5. Pick up seasonal merchandise at your local dollar store. Bubbles, chalk, jump ropes, and kites are all cheap and easy to find at any decent sized dollar store.
  6. Add a few homemade items to your basket. Pinterest has plenty of recipes for homemade play dough and finger paints.
  7. If your basket looks sparse, fill it up with items your kiddo is going to need anyway. Bubble bath, a fun new toothbrush, pajamas, socks in a fun pattern, or a new lunchbox are just a few ideas to consider.

What’s going to be in your child’s Easter basket this year?

Photo credit: Stock.chng

Is Feminism Dead?

Posted on Mar 25, 2014 by 1 Comment

A recent Economist Poll found that 72% of American women do not consider themselves feminists. In fact, many of the women who were polled said they were more likely to view the word “feminist” as an insult than to see it as a compliment.

The survey found that Democratic women and women ages 18 to 29 were most likely to view themselves as feminists. Republican women and women over 65 were the least likely to view themselves as feminists.

I think many of us forget that feminism has made our lives better in countless ways. If there were no feminists, we’d see women being treated as property instead of human beings.

Instead of marrying for love, you’d marry for the life your husband could provide for you. If he turned out to be abusive, you’d be expected to put up with the mistreatment for the sake of your family. Feminists are the reason we have the right to vote. Without feminists, our daughters wouldn’t have access to the same educational opportunities as our sons.

However, it’s true that feminism still has a lot of work to do.

Equal pay for women in the workplace has been discussed for decades, yet women still make up the overwhelming majority of low wage workers. The United States has the worst maternity leave policies of any industrialized nation and many women who would love to breastfeed can’t do so because their employers make it impossible to pump. Reproductive rights for women, including access to contraceptives and abortion, continue to be debated on a daily basis.

How do feel about this survey? Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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