Archive | May, 2008

Father’s Day Green Gift Ideas

Wow – time to start planning that perfect gift that will show daddies all over the world they are loved and appreciated. hmmmm it’s not so easy is it? I have become quite practical when it comes to gifts for Ray, but based on the fact that most dads are tough to buy for, here are some green :mrgreen: (and one not-so-green) ideas that will appeal to the dad on your gift list.

5. Cell Phone Hands Free Ear Piece:
After watching the Larry King show this week featuring a story on serious health problems caused by excessive cell phone use, I decided this item would be on the dad’s gift idea list. It actually bumped my original pick for a Kodak EasyShare SV811 8-inch Digital Picture Frame out of the running for 5th spot.  It’s not a picture or handmade present, but it’s still sentimental because it shows you care about dad’s health. This hands free cell phone ear piece might protect his health in multiple ways as it keeps cell phone radiation away from the brain and keeps hands free if you need them to operate a vehicle. I don’t think Hallmark makes a card for it, but you could work those reasons into giving that special guy this gift. :smile: Here is a sample of what this device looks like: Cardo Systems Scala 600 Bluetooth Headset, Black


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Where The Wild Things Are – Favorite Book For Boys

All I have to see is the cover of this book and my eyes start to mist because I can feel the imprints of my boys on my lap reading “Where the Wild Things Are“.  It’s a classic and is one of my favorite books for boys.  This would be a perfect gift for a 1 year old boy and they can grow into the story.  My 4 year old still gets new things out of reading this book.  Now he notices different features of the ‘wild things’ and excitedly echos the catch phrases…  “The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes…”

It’s a magical book between a mommy and her son as the underlying meaning (for me anyway) is it doesn’t matter where a boy goes in the world, they know they are special because of who loves them at home.  Max gives up being king of the wild things to return where someone loves him best of all (and that person is his mommy).

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Dryer Sheets & Fabric Softner – A Household Toxin

I’ve written about changes I’ve made around the house after Isabella experienced her first eczema outbreak.  Two household items that needed immediate action were my laundry detergent and dryer sheets.  These are the top recommendations when talking to a doctor about what can trigger an atopic eczema outbreak.  It was initially hard for me to part with my Bounce dryer sheets because of years enjoying that smell, but after researching just how harmful dryer sheets are, I’m happy to have eliminated them from my house.  Not only are they a skin irritant…they are actually toxic!  Parents need to think of these sheets as rubbing chemicals on their family’s clothes.  

I never stopped to think what, other than the scent from the Bounce sheets, was being left as residue on our clothes.  I shudder to think Continue Reading →

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Facebook Security…Should Parents Worry?

I really enjoy my Facebook time and I know it’s an application for young people…but I think the talented 23 year old that created Facebook, did it just for me!  It really helps preserve sanity for a stay home mom to feel connected to the outside world when the walls start closing in. :grin:

It’s been so cool to hook up with people I went to Elementary and High School with.  I went to great schools, met awesome people, but for whatever reason, didn’t stay in touch with many school mates.  Re-connecting with so many on Facebook has been lovely as I have nothing but great memories of those days.  Extra special with Francesco starting Kindergarten this year, as I longed for him to have the same Elementary school experience that I had. It’s been neat to walk down memory lane and remember special times.

In my life before children I had a technical background with some experience in email and Internet security.  In the back of my mind I always have a nagging concern with sticking pictures of my children on Facebook and having conversations about daily activities with my family either via the wall or status updates.  So for my own peace of mind I started testing with a friend, just to see how secure my profile was.  As it turned out, my security wasn’t locked down enough to ease my mind.  Not to sound paranoid, but I’m often shocked at the fact I have access to pictures of other people’s photos and I’m not their friend!  That means there are parents posting pictures of their children on Facebook and their security is wide open.  If this is the case, anyone with access can save a picture from your Facebook album to their hard drive.  I’m not trying to scare anyone, as I think Facebook security is ruled firstly by common sense and basic precautions, but there are some settings that need to be adjusted after first creating your account.  Isn’t it interesting that these new-age parenting questions didn’t even exist a few years ago?  Here a few tips to get you started…I will continue to post Facebook security tips in future articles, but here are the basics.

1 Remove your birthday.
In the age of identity theft, it’s just not necessary to advertise your birth date.  When you first create your Facebook account, you need to submit your birth date, but there is an option to change it from being viewed on your profile.  To remove go into: Profile, Edit (option next to Profile), under your birthday, select the drop down arrow to display “Don’t show my birthday in my profile.” Select the “Save Changes” button. 

While in your profile, under the Contact field, do I need to say more about listing your phone number, home address, etc.?  Probably best to only leave your email address and/or cell number.

2. Profile settings.  To change these controls, you need to access your Profile setting again, but through the ‘Privacy’ option, rather than following directions from point 1.  If you access your Profile though this menu option, you get a new set of important security options.  To keep things simple, I would recommend changing every option under this category to ‘Only My Friends’.  Why?  By default, Facebook allows all of your networks and friends to view your profile.  If you view the size of many networks, hundreds of thousands of people could have access to your personal information.
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Children Learning Through Play

I am lucky.  Every week I am exposed to a magical place where my son attends preschool.  I wish every child and parent could have the experience of attending this school.  Spending time there makes my kids more well-rounded and mature in their social skills…and inspires me to be a better parent.  This type of preschool is strictly play based, no real structure, and requires parent participation.  Actually, two of Francesco’s preschool teachers from last year were honoured this week as recipients of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education.  Goes to show that it’s not only the grateful parents of the school that have taken notice of the difference these teachers have made.

Many parents both work full-time these days and that might be the reason that parent participation preschools are on the decline.  Also, I think parents buy into the competition we feel because child x is already reading or writing at the age of 3 and how can my child compete in Kindergarten if he/she isn’t at a preschool that teaches academically?  I would encourage all parents, working or stay-home, to interview parent participation/play based schools when selecting where to send their child to preschool.  Your participation hours don’t have to be completed in the classroom, just in case you’re a working parent that might be turned off this type of school.  The rewards for your entire family is amazing as your children watch you helping at the school and it makes them proud.  They love to show off their favorite corners and activities and you gain the memories of watching your child interact and engage socially with new teachers and kids.  You watch their skills of learning to play, share, and communicate improve which are vitally important life skills.  

I walk through the door of the preschool and feel happy.  My kids disperse to find water tables to get soaking wet, indoor tree stumps to hammer real nails with real hammers and safety goggles, a corner where paint, glue and scissors can always be found.  You will not find flash cards or ‘work books’ practising numbers and letters. Instead you will find pretend cookies with numbers that get counted out over a cup of pretend tea, you will find a teacher letting kids mix up pancakes or bread from scratch and learning by measuring.  Of course, lots of puzzles and books can be found, but it’s not just anywhere that kids learn about lifecycles and witness tadpoles turning into frogs and cocoons hatching into butterflies.  It is magical and I am sad to know these types of preschools and this style of teaching is so hard to find.
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