To TV or not to TV?

Or better yet, does the baby get TV? Or do most people start that at toddlerhood?  Or wait until the recommended (by the AAP) 2 years?  In all reality, I totally know there’s no way to avoid it once the kids get into public school (Sillyboy has enjoyed several screenings of Happy Feet parts 1 and 2 during substitute teaching and awards time during his first year of kindergarten, all without me knowing until afterwards…), and then there’s all kinds of tv everywhere: waiting rooms, mall food courts, inside stores, at the gas stations, etc.  And what about the “educational” tv shows?

ImageI think even for 5 months old, I try to avoid Bambina watching tv.  Her brain is still developing at a rapid rate, her mind is a little sponge- and I’d rather her soak up some board book story reading time than even the Veggie Tales sing-a-longs.  But I get crazy looks when I explain this to the extended family.  Especially since we do limit Sillyboy’s “screen time” which includes his time watching tv, dvds, playing on the wii, gaming on his Vtech Innotab, etc.  (We’ve yet to invest in a Nintendo DS, yet…).  He realizes there’s such a thing as too much screen time, and even brings it up to his grandparents some.  But as we all advance with technology, how do we keep it real by keeping less screen time in our every day lives?  Interactive classroom teaching is everywhere- and Sillyboy sends emails on his own and downloads and reads his choice of kid-friendly titles on the Kindle Fire.  I can’t keep up!

I guess I should get with the times and realize we can’t escape it.  We just need to keep with the old adage “Too much of anything isn’t good for you”- and that includes screen time.  Let’s see how long I can hold out before Bambina figures out who Barney or Elmo are!

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Upcycled Banner for Kid’s Room

Sillyboy is getting smarter, older, bigger, (wiser?), and just growing up so fast.  He’s long made the jump from toddler bed to his personal twin size bed as well.   His taste in toys has jumped from Thomas the Tank Engine to Cars, and then to Star Wars and recently Lego Ninjagos.  So this all effects his decorative walls in his bedroom often.

We had a pile of picture book sleeves lying around- you know, the glossy full cover paper flaps that supposedly “protect” the book while advertising its pictures on the front.  I thought I could keep them for something or other (mod podge craft time!) since they were a futile attempt to keep the books beautiful forever, and besides, where’s the fun in that?

Using a few of these book sleeves, an empty wrapping paper tube, a yard of random yarn/ribbon, and a bunch of masking and packing tape, we created a banner to hang in his room.  Here’s the backside:

It isn’t very pretty from that view, but it is a project that is kid-friendly.  He selected the book sleeves, helped tape them together, and decided the layout.  It is something he can proudly point at, talk about, and display in his room because we’ve read these stories many times.  And now he’s reading them all by himself!  I don’t know how much longer he’ll enjoy our cheap/easy art adorning his walls, especially since his new found love of Harry Potter is only growing, but it’s a nice way to keeps his favorites in mind.

 

Every time I look at it, I want to read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree all over again!  (sorry for the crooked picture!- still using my phone as the no. 1 resource currently).  What do you do with your bookcover sleeves?  Anything creative?

Green Machine Gets Smoothie

Okay, bear with me on this “add one more green thing” food excursion, because it’s just not as easy as it sounds.  So what we’re doing, it just having that one green thing until we get tired of it and then we plan to replace it with something more awesome that’s green.  And by “we” I mean Sillyboy and I.  The husband is just a observer because he’s not sure how long our little pact will last.

Juices are all the rage- or at least they were last year.  And now- history repeats itself and the smoothie is back ya’ll!  (Yes, I say ya’ll on a random basis- don’t hate, hater!).

I was skimming through either the latest issue of Babytalk or Parenting magazines and found a small recipe section for easy smoothies.  I’m all about easy- and easy to me is 5 ingredients/steps or less (think Claire Robinson).  I attempted to find the online version of the page, but since they are melded together on one site, I haven’t found it yet to share the official copy with you.  But share I will, because I totally tore out half the page and promptly stuck on the fridge.  Out of the 3 fruity recipes listed, only one met my criteria because it was both green and vegan (i.e. no yogurt or milk).  And it was awesome-sauce.  Except Sillyboy is freaked out by the bits-o-green that float around.  Back to juicing kale instead?

Here’s the supply breakdown:

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Green Machine Smoothie

1 cup organic kale (washed and chopped- no stems please!)

1/2 green apple (peeled and chopped)

1/2 banana (peeled and chopped)

1/2 cup of orange juice

3 ice cubes

And there you have it- stick all the ingredients into a blender for about 30 seconds- the Green Machine.  I used our Magic Bullet for the one-drink occasion.  This is NOT to be confused with Naked Juice’s green machine that contains seaweed and some other many green ingredients.  It is delish/sweet/not tangy/fresh/frothy goodness.  And a bit textured.  Just a tad.  If you’re the kind of person who can handle pulp in your orange juice, you wind mind the kale crumbles in there.  But if you can’t handle it and pulp makes you gag (like the husband), maybe pouring it through a piece of cheesecloth will work better (like for Sillyboy’s anti-pulp drinking case).

ImageYou get your fruit and green servings in there at the start of the day- which is helpful in case you decide to pig out on onion rings later when the kids are in bed.  We love us some late night greasy (albeit not often) trips to Sonic.  Viola!  Green is good.  have you figured out any other ways to fit some healthy green food options into your family’s meals?

An Easy Way to Find Green at Breakfast

I challenged a 6 year old.  They love challenges, but I this was a tough one.  I challenged him to eat something green every day.  Unfortunately, green eggs and ham don’t count because A.) he’s already had that as part of a meal during a week long school author-study, B.) He doesn’t eat ham (or any beef/pork products), and C.) they didn’t grow “green” that way. The vegan version is so green, it kind of freaks me out anyways.  Ideally I would love to have him eat something green at every meal, but we’re working with baby steps here- and a pretty stubborn almost-first grade kid.  So we tried to think of foods he likes that are green: green beans, peas, kale, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, avocado, and kiwi.   Fruit for the win!  Lucky him- and lucky momma, he enjoys Greek yogurt (though the husband does not in the least), too.

Green things Sillyboy does not like: cabbage, honey dew, brussel sprouts (I think he gets that from me), and mustard greens (ditto).

Here’s our super-easy healthy breakfast – with a bit-o-green:

1. Organic granola- we can’t get enough of the Cascadian Farms versions (U.S. grown and certified organic).

2. Fage Total 0% (full-fat) Authentic Greek yogurt (it’s actually made in Athens, Greece).

3. Pack of Ripe & Easy kiwis

Spoon in as much Greek yogurt as you love, sprinkle some granola on top, and add sliced kiwis.  Sillyboy will eat two bowls of this with two kiwis each on a wakeful weekday.  There you go- some green for breakfast.  Does anyone have other green ideas for breakfast?  The green smoothie route was short lived already, so we defeated that fad.  Not that they aren’t great, we just need a more substantial breakfast in our house of heavy eaters.  What are some other kid-friendly and time easy ideas for breakfast?

Shopping with Coupons, green or not green?

It’s a guilty pleasure when I get to indulge in TLC’s shows like Toddlers & Tiaras and Extreme (extreme!) Couponing, but I can’t stop watching them.  You kind of learn things to do/not to do, and decide how much effort you would put towards things like that yourself. (i.e. not a lot for me, but I’m a people watcher at heart so that’s enough entertainment to keep me entertained).  They mention tips and tricks about coupons and talk about some online resources (Krazy Coupon Lady is #1 apparently) to get yourself started.

Some places take “preloaded” coupons so you can use a card and some places take clipped paper coupons. Green vs. not-green.  I figured I would try this, but at Walmart.  (yes, groan and groan- but who seriously has time to visit 3-4 supermarkets?!).  I made up a spreadsheet- and I Lurvvvveee to put anything on a spreadsheet- divided into four main categories: cold/frozen, aisles (boxed/canned/bagged), fruits/veggies, and HBA’s (health and beauty accessories) and then specifically searched for the coupons of products that we use.

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Usually, most people peruse the coupons and make your list from there.  But we end up with so/so brands of stuff we may or may not completely use and less waste – even from a big box store- is better for sure.  And my family has super sensitive skin and stomachs, so generic off-brands are just about a no-no 99% of the time.  I have to say the spreadsheet worked out well for me- and I highlighted the items I had coupons for in red.  I had 16 coupons that saved me about $14.  I think next time I’ll try it at Hyvee, since that’s where I go for our organic veggies and meat counter requests after the local farmer’s market.  Do you go extreme?  Or what’s your easy- breezy way to still get the best deals?

Small Salve Step

A friend of mine (who isn’t tired of my lengthy “green” fact-fests) asked what type of baby or small-steps she could take without freaking out and reading every label.  Over-analyzing our lives is already work itself, no need to complicate things, I agree.  While I was finishing up my morning routine, I found just the thing.  Replacing this petrolatum product with this green salve.

 

First difference: the size of the product.  How long do people hold onto a jar of Vaseline anyhow? I couldn’t find an expiration date on mine, which could be good or bad depending on your opinion of the twinkie effect.  You literally use a dab of the salve, without adding a thick layer of greasiness.  The smaller size makes it just the thing to toss in a purse or pocket- even for a quick trail hike.

 

Next: actual effectiveness.  The reviews are hands down 5 out of 5 stars attesting to the Burt’s Bees Res-Q Ointment.  You can use this for anything you would normally use petroleum jelly for- and more even, like bruises and poison ivy.  The natural oils are absorbed by your skin to help heal.  We have a strict “no blood, no band-aid” rule in our house.  It’s easy to think a band-aid can fix everything, but if a paper cut or a small knick is bothering Sillyboy- he can just dab this on himself.

 

And, of course: it’s green.  Green all around.  The salve comes in a small metal green tin.  The salve itself is dark green color. And the ingredients inside are green- the first two ingredients are sweet almond oil and olive oil.  The ingredients on Vaseline= petrolatum is the active ingredient, and… nothing else is listed.

 

All in all, just try this small salve step.  If you can’t remember how old your petroleum jelly is, toss it anyways.  After my experience with spraying ethanol around the house, that is one less product I need to slather on.  What other baby steps can you take to turn one thing in your life into something green?

Product Purge

I keep reading and hearing the same advice: Start small. Don’t overdo it, because you will drive yourself crazy and give up.  When clearing out closets, drawers, and old bins of whoknowswhat- I’ve decided it’s better in waves.  That way I can get used to the idea – or completely forget about- the things I’ve banished to the garage to be donated and never seen again.  Things don’t come back from the garage!  Taking another cue from Healthy Child Healthy World, I’ve decided to go through all cleaning products and purge away.

I pulled everything out from under the kitchen sink, on shelves in the garage, and both bathrooms.  Then I’d toss it in a box if it a.) wasn’t used in the last month b.) was starting to separate or leak (note the rusted aerosol can below) or was c.) toxic. I ended up with this box of un-needed products:

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There is some wood varnish from early ’11 in there, some shoe polish from ’06, etc.   One product I was unsure about putting in the box was a spray bottle of room re-freshener.  You know, the type that kills the smelly particles and leaves the room fresh, while being pet and baby-safe.  Those claims are labeled on the front of the bottle along with scented “clean.”  Then I read the back of the label- “contains % of ethanol.”  Huh.  I’ve been spraying odor-killing, clean-scented ethanol on my couches, curtains, and pet beds?!  Insanity.

I’ve now got two bio-friendly cleaning products under my kitchen sink and am surprised (delighted!) how well they clean up baby-kid-dog-cat-mom messes easily.  No scary residue to worry about: Scotch-Brite botanical wipes, and Honest multi-surface cleaner.

ImageTake a look at what/how you clean your home- especially if you have kids and/or pets.  What do you use the most?  Can you replace it with a more green friendly product?  What can you do without?  Start small.