Monday, April 25, 2011

A Green Mother's Day

The greenest, most natural Mother’s Day gifts are simply about being together. If you are a mother you have a deep appreciation for the most coveted gift - time together with family. If you have a mother, your best memories are of those with your mother. Our mothers are all different. Some of our mothers are biological, some are adoptive, and others came to us as a neighbor or Earth angel.

Our mothers, at the end of the day, have never asked for more than their kids’ happiness. Our mothers have always been thankful for the hand-painted crafts we gifted to them as children and the milestones we reached throughout our lives. Think about the smile and glow on your mother’s face as she saw you walk down the aisle toward your diploma or toward your husband - pride in her children is indeed the greatest gift of all.

The first gift of time together this Mother’s Day involves nothing more than laughter. My mother is the one person in the world that I laugh with more than anyone else. Even if your mother lives far away, as does mine, skype with her for free and spend all day laughing together if you have the time. Chat about anything and everything that brings you joy and smiles.

Another fabulously natural, and free gift, is the gift of food. Think about all of the meals your mother provided for you throughout your childhood years. It is estimated that by the time we reach the age of eighteen our mother has provided for us a total of twenty-thousand meals to ensure we grow healthy and strong. This total doesn’t even include snacks and treats such as fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. So, how difficult would it be for you to prepare a scrumptious meal for your mother? Even in the middle of your busy life, with kids and a job, it is possible and will be much appreciated. Invite your children to cook with you to create a uniquely tailored meal of all of your mother’s favorites. Imagine her surprise when you invite your mother over and she sees you and your children standing at a table of fresh-cut flowers and her favorite hot meal.

When was the last time you and your mother took a short or longer trip together? Does your mother love to walk or hike? Does she love to go birdwatching or to garden? Maybe your mother enjoys the ocean and the spa? Whatever her adventurous side loves, indulge her in that experience. A picnic and walk at a local park is not only fun but inexpensive. A trip to the spa may be costly so you can always create an at-home spa experience with candles, music and all-natural facial masks made from produce straight out of your refrigerator. No matter what she loves, it is the time together enjoying that experience that will make your trip with her memorable.

If your mother has physical or cognitive challenges, time together is even more important. Doing artwork together, writing a book together, or recording a duet of just the two of you singing her favorite song, will provide for you long-lasting treasures to cherish. If your mother is only able to sit with you, then simply sit with her. Enjoy that time, that precious time, where all that needs to be is gratitude for your mother.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Green Easter

Easter is by far one of the easiest natural holidays to have. Kids love their Easter egg hunts, and some of us adults do too! What child doesn’t love having a basket to collect those brightly colored eggs in? And, we can’t forget the chocolate and candy. This Easter do it all in green style and make that Easter bunny proud.

First up, are those eggs. Approximately three hundred million of our egg-laying feathered friends are stuck in very small cages and poorly fed in order to produce the amount of eggs Americans eat every year. Thankfully, more and more farms are beginning to institute a cage free and more humane environment for chickens. When buying your eggs, keep this in mind and look for eggs that are labeled with any of the following; certified organic, cage-free, certified humane, free range or free roaming. Those words describe a much happier place for our chickens.

Now, dying those cage-free eggs with toxic dye defeats the purpose of a green Easter, so try natural dyes. It is quite simple and fun for your children to see too. Simply boil your eggs with a tablespoon of white vinegar and the following for various colors:

red - red onion skins or pomegranate juice
purple - red cabbage
yellow - carrot tops
green - spinach

While you are doing this you can eat a nice salad with your family made of these natural dye ingredients, and chuck those leftovers into your compost pile - an entirely natural Easter egg dying experience!

One last suggestion for the eggs, are to not use the average of two dozen eggs on Easter at all. Instead, knit or felt your eggs if you are crafty and pass them down as a family keepsake and tradition. Check out a Child’s Dream Come True online for their felt craft ideas which are all-natural and non-toxic for kids. Or follow in President Obama’s footsteps and use eggs that are Forest-Certified Council hardwood.

Second, the plastic Easter basket, used, bruised and thrown away each year into a landfill is not the only option. If you already have a sturdy plastic basket, reuse it. Other options include knitting a basket which your kids will love because it is nice and soft. Or, opt for the nice wooden basket in your home that holds your magazines all year. There is no reason why that basket can’t have multiple uses. Another idea is to use items that are in your garage for other purposes, such as that beach bucket waiting to come out and play before the summer arrives.

Lastly, only buy Fair Trade Certified chocolate for your children this Easter. There are estimated close to three hundred thousand child laborers making chocolate in horrendous working conditions. In order for us to help to ensure these practices stop we can choose to buy Fair Trade Certified chocolate only. Our purchasing power is our voice to shut down such unfair labor practices. Your children have the power to help other children.

Check out the Natural Candy Store online as well for natural and vegan candy for those kids, big and small, who need to have that sweet tooth satisfied by the Easter bunny.

An alternate to candy and chocolate altogether is to fill those Easter baskets with items your child will love. For example, fill the basket with art supplies, or with gardening tools. Kids Gardening online has a good variety of kid size gardening tools and this motivates your children to get outside and learn more about plants and flowers.

This Easter offer your children a holiday that teaches eco-friendly values, action, and tradition.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Top Three Earth Day Apps For Kids!

Earth Day is the perfect day of the year to plant some green awareness into our children’s sweet little sprouting brains. While nature is where we want our children to be, exploring, adventuring and playing, technology can actually help to get our kids outside. I wasn’t always a believer, but the more I started looking around and trying some different apps, the more I realized that these seemingly insignificant games on yet another plastic viewer offer a whole new way to teach our children. Apps are educational and help to provide a learning experience that is interactive as well as helpful to all types of learners.

This Earth Day, set your children on a path into nature with these great eco-friendly app games and books, all available on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch as well as in different languages.

First, Green Quest allows your child to adventure on and off screen as s/he sets off to engage in actual eco-friendly activities each day. Your child chooses a queen or king character, their clothing, hair and skin color, and the name of their character. Then, the story unfolds to reveal that your child has the power to save Earth in their own kingdom on screen and in real life. The activities for them to complete each day are simple and fun, such as turning off the light when leaving a room or eating one organic fruit. Each of these activities, when done, gets checked on screen and they get a reward in their game. The biggest reward is really the opportunity for your child to learn how to help the Earth in small, yet significant ways. These behaviors are so important to learn when young. My child was quite excited to complete these tasks and share them with friends too! Spreading the green seed!

Second, The Amazing Adventures of Eco Boy takes your child on a great adventure through a story where Eco Boy has the power to clear the land of trash. Children learn in a fun way about the three Rs, reduce, reuse and recycle. There is an option for this story to be read to your child or for your child to read it on his or her own which really allows the child the chance to learn in a way that works best for him or her. The illustrations and colors are engaging and will have most children laughing and intrigued. This fabulous app is also available as a book for those of us parents, and kids, who still want the feel of the pages between our fingers.

Third, ABC Wildlife, although not necessarily an app that gives children specific green tips, provides a very basic and engaging way to learn about animals. The pictures in this app are real and absolutely adorable. There is no way a child can’t fall in love with the picture of the duck or the video of the iguana with the sunglasses. The animals facts are interesting and easy to read as well.

This is a good start to help your children learn more about nature and how to help. It might also be a way for you to begin to become more comfortable with, or dare I say even enjoy, including apps in your child’s learning. Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eco Action!

With Earth Day coming up it is time to get serious, to get ready and to celebrate Earth Day not only one day out of the year but everyday. Earth Day is to help motivate us to make some changes, but truly we can do at least one simple eco-friendly act everyday.

Begin to practice this week by following these easy tips. By the time Earth Day is here, you will be in the habit of doing at least one of these, or all of these eco-acts. And, even better, they are all fun!

1. Never use styrofoam again! Bring glass tupperware to restaurants where you know you will be bringing home leftovers and put those leftovers in your own reusable containers instead of in those toxic/landfill/never biodegradable styrofoam containers. Keep some clean tupperware in a bag in your car so you always have one handy! Stock your car today with at least 3!

2. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth until you need to actually use the water. Take it one step further, like my Green Queen mother, and turn off the water in the shower until you actually need to use it -now that is being Green Queen!

3. Be sure all of your lightbulbs are CFLs. Change them all today and replace them with CFLs from now on.

4. Buy local and buy in bulk. Start practicing this today and soon enough most of the grocery items you purchase, if not all, will be more eco-friendly.

5. If you can't afford an electric car right now, buy an electric lawn mower. Or reduce your carbon emissions by walking or riding a bike for errands at least twice a week.

Yes, you can help Mother Earth with only these five eco-acts. If you are inspired to do more, please do!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mission Spring Cleaning!

Spring is here and it is time for some Spring Cleaning! Green your home inside and out with some fresh and healthy ideas! Your children can help to participate with these spring cleaning ideas too because they are all safe and natural!

This week, try the following:

First, open all of you windows as much as you can to air out your home. Let the sunshine in and the oxygen from the outdoors filter out any built up dust from the long cold winter.

Second, be sure you and your children take on the leave your shoes at the door challenge! Simple and prevents outside toxic elements stuck to the bottom of shoes from getting all over the carpet.

Third, clean countertops and most surfaces with a mix 1/2 cup of white vinegar with 1/4 cup baking soda and a 1/2 gallon of water. This is much more effective and healthier than any chemically-processed products from the store.

Fourth, find a cleaner in your town that uses carbon dioxide cleaning or Green Earth to clean clothes rather than dry cleaning. Dry cleaning has formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals in the process.

Fifth, place some broad leaf green plants around your house, such as Peace Lily, Spider Plant, English Ivy, or an Elephant Ear Philodendron to further promote filtering of the air in your home.

In no time, you and your family will be enjoying a much healthier and cleaner home!