Archive | July, 2010

Baby Beenos – Summer Deals & Back-To-School Magic

A personal delight with having twin girls has been finding outfits that keep them feeling and looking uniquely special. In my search I discovered Baby Beenos and wanted to share their newly emerging Fall fashion and wonderful fabric combinations used in their dress designs. The regular prices at this shop are affordable – cheaper than shopping at high-end children’s shops in a Mall (which would be imported from overseas). I’m so proud to support this North American, mama powered shop that is churning out adorable, wearable, quality, and locally made designs. Check out these adorable Fall fashions from Baby Beenos:

If the hint of apple on the above romper wasn’t enough to make us swoon – check out the fashion forward dark jeans for little girls with crochet florets.  These jeans will provide comfort and get great wear for back-to-school ‘must-haves’!

The aspect of the Baby Beenos clothing line that prompted me to comb through their site was the way Marni (founder of Baby Beenos) puts different fabrics together. The sash ties that perfectly compliment the blouse or dress is wonderful. I needed to experience some of this design magic with my girls so I ordered them two dresses in their favorite colors (one loves pink and the other blue) and these were the fabric combinations that arrived – aren’t they fab?

Nothing better than being able to support a mama operated and powered Canadian business. If you need something special for your little girl – skip the rat race at the Mall and enjoy the online shopping experience of purchasing beautiful clothing. Make sure you check out the great deals on summer dresses – beautiful clearance designs available for $21 – wow!

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More back-to-school articles will be coming here in the next few weeks. Stay tuned by joining my Fan page on Facebook.

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Geocaching – Eco Activity For Entire Family

Have you ever heard of geocaching? Most people have heard of it but haven’t tried it. My first exposure to geocaching was reading a course description on my city’s parks board months ago. From that moment I was hooked.  If you are looking for ways to keep children entertained wouldn’t the following description be enticing? “A worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure using technology.” Treasure hunting at any age ~ what’s not to like?

Unable to register my boys for the course – the wonderful geocaching duo behind Geocaching101 were introduced to me and spoiled myself and my boys to a personal introduction to Geocaching this afternoon. I wanted to share the experience immediately because it was so beneficial and rewarding. Literally, I’ve done nothing else but look up caches in my area since coming home from the outing. I can understand why there’s a warning on most geocaching sites about possible addictions. =)  I think I’ve caught the bug and it’s great this new activity will be relatively inexpensive and so healthy for my children and family. For anyone struggling with keeping older kids entertained and away from TV, computers, and video games this summer – learning how to geocache may just be your ticket to enjoying the next few months outdoors.

Before I start on my rant about boys and electronics I’ll remember I’ve already written about this. It’s a daily battle with all my kids to keep them focused on nature and activities rather than jumping onto the computer or firing up the Wii. With geocaching it’s two wonderful worlds colliding for children – electronic GPS system (or iphone app) and treasure hunting in nature. Really, what isn’t to like?  Only…in a child’s mind it gets better….they are hunting treasures. And this isn’t the point of geocaching and shouldn’t be an important part of your geocaching experience, but let’s just think like children for a moment ~ and once they are told they’ll be discovering treasure – they are very exited! Once you have loaded the coordinates into your GPS or iphone and located the cache – usually there is a log book so they can sign their name and swap trinkets. Yes, the trinkets are normally plastic because they need to be permeable to wet weather, but the children are simply thrilled by this aspect of geocaching. The thrill for many children and adults is the adrenaline rush of the ‘find’.  Getting close to the cache, resisting the need to check the clue, then searching around for that perfectly hidden cache is the true thrill of geocaching. And it’s so exciting to find the cache…but knowing there are treasures inside was exciting for my boys today and we even found a cache located at a park 2 blocks from our house after we got home…without the asssitance of a GPS. Just putting our postal code into the ‘hide and seek’ section of the www.geocaching.com site we found a cache very easily and will try this route because we don’t have a GPS system or iphone. My boys left hockey cards and even my girls were excited by the treasures.

If this information feels overwhelming, just post a comment to this article and we’ll help you out. I slightly begged Anthony and Gwen to further develop private geocaching tours because I’d love to take my boys and their buddies (and parents) on a geocaching expedition. If you ask around your friend base, hopefully you’ll be lucky enough to find someone that can show you the geocaching ropes. Once you discover the magic – it’s hard to go back to being a Muggle. Umm yes, the activity of geocaching even has reference to ‘Muggles’ which as we know from Harry Potter refers to people that are non-wizards or in this case, non-geocachers. In the log notes that are left after discovering a cache, nearby people that aren’t aware of geocaching, are referred to as Muggles and in our house right now, there isn’t a more cool topic that anything referencing Harry Potter and wizards.

I will be writing more over the next few months on geocaching. I strongly urge any mom looking for an activity for children to register for free at the geocaching site: www.geocaching.com. First you create a free account, then you click on the ‘hide & seek a cache’ tab and submit your postal code.  You’ll be surprised how close a cache may be to your home. Check it out by downloading to a GPS or using the iphone application or just try finding it on your own using Google Maps or the directions located within the cache. Here are some pictures and highlights of the fun we experienced this afternoon!

Locating our first cache. We were so lucky it was an official, large cache box – it had awesome clues and coordinates and funny enough – it was hidden near a spot my boys have played next to for years!

Another cache we found was hidden in the bottom of a 10 foot high tree stump and covered with a piece of bark. This type of coverage is referred to as geocaching bark – I’ll never look at carefully placed bark again without assuming there are treasures beneath it.

When I first read about geocaching I really assumed it was for older children. But after spending the day with Anthony & Gwen Floyd and @seanfunk’s family – I know that like anything…really fun activies that are discovered with an entire family are the best. We had toddlers on our geocaching tour today and they were incredibly well-behaved and excited by this activity. Read more about geocaching with toddlers here. The below picture is of Anthony with his little guy in the backpack  – both were happy as could be!

Our 2nd to last cache found was a magnet stuck under a park bench. The two muggles that were sitting on the bench as over 10 people excitedly approached was pretty funny. They had no idea what we were doing – but Angelo was super excited to find a very small cache stuck underneath the bench.

I feel so lucky to be introduced to so many fun activities in a quest to keep my kids engaged in nature. Thank you to Gwen, Anthony, and @seanfunk - it was a great day and launching pad for discovering caches with my kids.

Related Posts:

Ultimate Eco Activity For Your Family

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Litterless Lunch ~ Back To School With PlanetBox

PlanetBox is this year’s solution for packing healthier and litterless lunches for the family. It’s wonderful that planning your child’s lunch to include food without packaging actually promotes creativity and healthier food selections. We’ve had a blast testing our PlanetBox and here are the results from a picky mama and kids that are equally hard to please having seen many eco-alternatives for lunch time alternatives over the years.

Do I love the PlanetBox? Yes and so do my children. We are all convinced there is some magic at work because all the PlanetBox compartments don’t require lids to contain the different food items. My biggest pet peeve with stainless steel containers is when they aren’t airtight and food leaks into my kids backpack or into other food causing it to becomes inedible (strawberry juice on a sandwich for example). My school aged children love strawberries and grapes so I put the PlanetBox to the test by putting strawberries, grapes, granola bar and a sandwich all inside – just quickly plunking them all in the compartments and closing the lid. They I shook the Planetbox, twisted it upside down to simulate the movement inside a backpack, then shook it some more. We were all tickled that the water from the grapes hadn’t touched the sandwich and the strawberry juice didn’t leak onto the bread or granola bar. Also, I put chocolate chips in the small center area to make sure they didn’t move around in the box because they are so small. Everything stayed put and there were no leaks! This test was my biggie with this product and I’m very happy with the results. Here are some photos.

PlanetBox food

PlanetBox and magnets

For anyone that packs a lunch to work or school and you haven’t invested in a re-usable lunch solution – now is the time. It naturally encourages healthier meals and you’ll feel great about eliminating plastic baggies, plastic wrap, and food that comes pre-packaged in more plastic! Another very smart detail of the PlanetBox is the magnets that are included to ‘decorate’ the outside. Will the magnets eventually get lost? Of course. But if you have a child that doesn’t appreciate being one of the few in their class to have a different looking lunch system with only the stainless steel outside – the fun designs and characters that come on the PlanetBox magnets help kids feel comfortable with their peers and their traditional lunch boxes. By the time the magnets disappear at the bottom of the backpack or locker – your child will no longer care their system is different. From my son’s reaction to how cool he they thought the PlanetBox magnets are – I know he would have loved this option when he first started bringing ‘adult looking’ stainless steel lunch systems to school years ago. It’s a brilliant and inexpensive addition to the PlanetBox with several fun designs that kids love. The magnets allow your child to show their personality and there’s a spot to write their name to personalize. Here is my the other set of magnets that my boys love – sports themed!

PlanetBox litterless lunch

Another great aspect to the PlanetBox are the containers that can be purchased with the system if you’ve got kids that love yogurt, messy salads, or dips for veggies, etc. These additions can be stored within the lunchbox to keep all the pieces together – a great picture from the PlanetBox site below displays how it all fits together. My younger son would love yogurt in his lunch so I can use this system with the Big Dipper container – perfect for messy main dishes he loves – rather than a sandwich that he never eats. If you’ve purchased the carry bag with the PlanetBox there is also room in the outside pocket for the Big Dipper (and a reusable water bottle!!) and on the inside liner you can fit an icepack to keep these food items chilled throughout the day.

What I’m finding with my different ages and personalities of my four kids is that everyone needs a lunch system tailored to the food they’ll eat. For my easy to predict older son that takes fruit, veggies and a sandwich every day and enjoys every bite – I would order only the PlanetBox basic for $34.95 and be completely happy. He loved both the planet and sports themed magnets and thinks his PlanetBox is great! My younger son that likes variety with his food and would prefer salad or yogurt to a sandwich – I would need the PlanetBox Plus with the Big and Small Dipper containers for $49.95. The complete PlanetBox set includes a carry case and it’s super quality and answers the problem of parents wanting to keep their child’s lunch on ice so food doesn’t spoil in a hot backpack – so this system at $59.95 would be ideal. I like the different price points and options available from the PlanetBox and am excited to review such a well thought out product for this year’s back to school.

I’ll be writing my back-to-school series starting in July this summer because it’s helpful to order supplies early rather than waiting until September for information. For parents wanting a complete system for lunches this year, PlanetBox would be a great investment. This lunchbox has mom approval and is also kid tested and approved!

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Good Guide & SOS Pad Eco-Alternative

All parents are on the search for safe household and toy products that surround children. While researching this article, I came across the site Good Guide. It’s rating system similar to EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Skin Deep database which is parent-friendly and easy to understand. I started browsing the Good Guide and while looking up SOS Pads and their ingredients, I drifted and found it to have the best information I’ve seen to date for toys. This site is a definite one to bookmark because it has so many of the commonly used, purchased, etc. products in our homes.

Before finding the Good Guide’s rating for SOS pads, the only information I could find was from the Clorox MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) where they list their product not hazardous because it’s not a carcinogen.  Well that is a big relief because so many people I know use them.  While I was out shopping today, I read some advertising on the packaging of SOS pads and although they’re not a carcinogen, I think the statement “materials used on the pad are biodegradable” might be going a tich far. Different than the EWG’s rating system, the higher the rating with the Good Guide, the better the product and it ranks based on three categories: Health, Environment, and Society. I like the fact I can have 3rd party advice when researching products that I’ll be using in my home or giving my children. It’s very difficult for parents to read an ingredient list and understand if those listed are toxic or not. I am appreciative when a site can translate chemicals or materials into easier terms so I can decide if it’s a smart purchase. Using the SOS pad ingredients as my example, I’m able to judge that the ingredient (Sodium Nitrite) rating 4.0 in the Heath category as a possible kidney toxicant, as not being a product I want in my home. I’m also never a fan of fragrance (phthalates) and dye added into products that I’m using on my dishes and going into waterways.

Why am I suddenly so interested in SOS pads and eco-alternatives for them? A customer recently helped me remember a great use for my eco-alternative to traditional scrubbers that I use daily to clean pots and pans – stainless steel spirinetts. Here was the scenario – you know those irritating company labels on a new product that are so hard to remove you think the glue was applied with dynamite? A little bit of olive oil on a spirinette and the label comes off easy.  My last spirinetts lasted a year and the only reason they recently began to disintegrate was hubby used them to clean the BBQ. So with the summer months finally here I recommend grabbing an extra for cleaning the BBQ so it can have it’s own dedicated set. These kitchen helpers are excellent quality, made with stainless steel and simply a better product and money saver to traditional scrubbing pads. I also treat myself to the spirisponge on occasion, but the shelf life isn’t as long because of the sponge layer on the inside of the scrubbers.

Typical Mommy Footprint – I started to write about a great eco-alternative to the traditional SOS pad, but got a little off-course. I hope your find the Good Guide to be helpful too.

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