Archive | April, 2008

Return Bad Plastics to Zellers & London Drugs

Just heard about a great initiative from Zellers and London Drugs taking back plastic baby/kids merchandise containing BPA.  Thanks to Kirsten for the email!

In a move showing superior customer service, both Zellers and London Drugs are excepting returns of BPA riddled baby products in return for in-store gift cards.  Even if you didn’t purchase these products there, you can try taking them back.  This includes bottles, sippy cups, soothers, breast pumps, food containers, microwave sterilizers, and Nalgene bottles.  These products need to have the recycling code 7 or no recycling code to be returned.  What a great move by these two companies!  I would run, not walk, as I’m sure this move of generosity will be short-term, but it sure helps off-set the high cost of replacing all of these products.  Especially when London Drugs sells the brand Thermos which has stainless steel water bottles and stainless steel food jars.  See my previous article on Thermos stainless steel bottles for the low-down on this product.  The food jars are small and pricey, but would be perfect to store fruit or soup for school box lunches.

So go through your old plastics and make a list of BPA free products you need!  Read through some cheat sheets and educate yourself on what products should go back and which need to be purchased.  Here is a great cheat sheet if you need to brush up on your BPA knowledge.

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Improving Kids Nutrition via Organic & Local Food

I’m just going to say it, and I’m fully expecting to hear your gasps from my computer chair… I don’t think I’ve ever bought organic food and I know I’ve never looked to see if a food item is produced locally.   There, I’ve said it and I feel SO much better.  

When I decided to ‘green’ up my family, I was already on a mission to educate myself and improve my kids’ nutrition.   My sons are always asking me to cook with them and my response is “mommy isn’t cooking….I’m heating things up!”   I really only make Shepard’s Pie from scratch…. everything else is heated or broiled in/on the stove.   I know changes need to come.

I’ve recently been SO inspired after listening to an amazing speaker, a nutritionist named Jen, who specializes in children’s eating habits and nutrition.  I’ve already started begging her to contribute to this site, as her message needs to be heard.  She touched on key points during her presentation of small things you can do to improve the large nutritional picture for your family.  Topics like what ingredients to look for on the packaging of brown bread, the importance of Vitamin D for kids, the top worst foods we feed our children, and when it’s important to buy organic.   I was glued to the information she was presenting and I only wish I had attended her presentation 4 years ago.  I would have done many things differently in my house….  

To kick start healthier habits for my clan, I’m excited to learn that my local Farmers Market begins in early May.  Canadians can check out their Farmers Markets via this site and Americans, click here. I am so excited to start weekly planning of fresh, local, organic, food and will be prioritizing this activity to the top of our busy list.  Weekends are pretty jammed packed with activities, birthday parties, church, but I think the kids will enjoy selecting and learning about where their food comes from.  They are already big fans of farms, so it won’t be hard to start the dialogue of why it is so important to support local farmers and reduce the carbon footprint that importing all our food increases. Local food doesn’t have to travel far, so this reduces carbon dioxide emissions and packing materials

These are the foods that Jen recommended are bought organically.  While I’m at my Farmers Market, I’ll have this list and be on the lookout for some of these local, organic products.  Thanks for this Jen!

Apples
Grapes
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Raspberries
Strawberries
Bell peppers
Celery
Potatoes
Spinach
Cherries

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10 Ways To ‘Mommy Balance’

Let me begin this article by stating that I have very little balance in my life. It is something my husband and I are working towards now that the kids are getting older. Two weeks ago we went out for dinner alone for the first time in 3 years. Now you get a better picture regarding the ‘balance’ thing. Along with greening my life and providing a healthier lifestyle for my family, balance is another key ingredient I strive for. So with this article, I am preaching what I’ve not yet achieved….but I’m working to get there! With that off my chest…please read on….

We all know that the life of a mother is one of sacrifice. We sacrifice our time, our sleep, our energy, our health and at times our sanity. All this sacrifice is of course for a great cause…our children and family.  Having said that, there is no reason why we cannot provide everything that our children and families need while at the same time maintaining or even enhancing our own personal well being…physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Here are 10 tips to help you achieve a better balance in your life.

1. Rise early. I know this sounds crazy, after all sleep is the first thing to go when you become a mother, but hear me out.  Rising an hour before the rest of your household will give you much needed alone time.  This time should be spent on you (not on cleaning the house). Read a good book, write in a journal, go for a walk, or simply sit with a good cup of coffee and think about your day.  Note: this strategy should only be attempted if your children are at the stage where they are consistently sleeping through the night.  If they aren’t then by all means sleep as long as you possibly can and every chance you can. The theory behind this tip is, “start your day off right and the rest of your day will follow”.

2. Exercise you body. Exercising will not only ensure that you stay healthier it will give you more energy and vitality so that you can keep up with the hectic pace of motherhood.  Spend at least thirty minutes a day on strenuous but enjoyable physical exercise. This could be done during the extra hour you gained by waking early or it can be done during the course of the day. You can even split it into two fifteen minute sessions.  Remember, you don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. There are a variety of exercises you can do in or around your home.

3. Exercise your mind. Human beings need to challenge themselves and grow on a regular basis or they will experience a sense of lacking.  Make a commitment to do at least one thing every day to expand your mind. The trick is to make it a challenge and keep it interesting. Learn to speak a foreign language, or play a musical instrument, take a pottery course or a creative writing course, or simply read inspiring books on subjects that interest you.

Continue Reading →

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Three Billy Goat’s Gruff – Favorite Things

My favorite book as a child was Three Billy Goats Gruff.  When Francesco was 2 years old, my mom brought over my copy from when I was little and I happily set about reading it.  My husband sitting nearby listening was horrified as he heard me happily read “rip you to bits, body, and bones”.  His comment was “that’s a little violent don’t you think?”  I laughed because I was so rigid as a first time parent, but I couldn’t resist those delicious words that had brought me so much joy to listen to.  The book took me back in time and although some of the words are surprising at first, all kids LOVE this story.  My boys laughed in delight as my voice became small and quiet for the 1st billy goat to cross the bridge – then loud and booming for the 3rd billy goat.  This book not only tells an amusing story, but helps kick start your child’s desire to role-play.  I can’t tell you how many parks where I’ve ‘trip trapped over the bridge’ as a billy boat gruff or pretended to be the troll.  It’s still works like magic even for my 6 year old!

This book is awesome and it’s on my list of favorite things for boys or girls.  Again, because of the fun way to read the story, this book can be introduced early to kids and they can grow into it.  I laugh when I remember Ray’s reaction and I’m glad I gave this book a chance because it’s become a staple in my children’s library.  I have an extra copy of this booked tucked away for when my first grandchild is born to pass on the love of this story.

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How Hard Is Your Water? Find Out And Save Money!

I read an interesting article at our local Ecology Centre that describes how you can save money if you know the category your city’s water falls into:   Soft, Medium, or Hard.   If your water is soft, you can use 1/2 the recommended amount of laundry detergent and still have your clothes clean.

Why?  The target water category that detergent is developed for is medium to hard water.  The water in our city (Vancouver’s Lower Mainland) is categorized as ‘very soft’.  A few Canadian cities marked as having moderate to hard water are Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax.   Regina is listed as having very hard water.   Because cleaning product manufacturers’ typically recommend amounts based on moderate hardness, we having ‘soft’ water can use much less detergents, starting at 1/2 the recommended amount and adjusting from there.  

The chemical that produces a ‘sudsy’ action in cleaners is called  surfactants.   All detergents, personal/home care cleaning products, even toothpaste contain surfactants…they can be found in anything that produces suds and they increase the level of cleaning power.    Laundry detergents contain the highest level of surfactants.   When the amount of laundry detergent is overused to wash clothes, excess surfactants  get released  after treatment.   This can have a negative impact on fish and other aquatic life.   While saving money for your family is a bonus with reducing your amount of detergent, think of this action as one more way to help our local ecosystem.

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