Archive | October, 2012

Mommy Footprint Meets The Premier

Last week I had the privilege of sitting down for a round table discussion with the Premier of British Columbia. There was a great mix of blogger/mom type media with great thoughts on issues facing BC mothers. The issues of childcare, work, living expenses was discussed at great lengths and while I know these are important topics, I was bursting to deliver an important message to Christy Clark about my views on one basic need in my own life that is not being met – the issue of food labeling and GMOs.  When I started talking about my concerns my ears tuned out because I was so focused on remembering the key points I had practiced so Christy’s response cannot be taken word for word – but I’ve included the gist of her response under my speech. What did I think of the Premier? She definitely listens. Very well. She was super attentive to everyone speaking at the roundtable and was personable and relatable.  Since I didn’t tape record myself speaking off the cuff – I thought I’d show you the speech I had practiced so you get a glimpse of my passion heading into the room that morning. My key points were 1) GMO food and labeling in Canada 2) More coverage for Naturalpathic Care 3) Listening to Autistic parents and the issues these families face – I actually recommended the next round table discussion include parents of autistic children. There isn’t anyone that understands the effect of foods, proper holistic therapy and care, more than families with autistic children. Here are the words I had written and followed at the roundtable with Premier Christy Clark:

It might be hard to believe, but as a mom of 4 kids I find food to be my biggest challenge. I’m worried about North American food. I’m unhappy to learn that Canada is a large supplier of Genetically modified canola and grains. I’m stressed to learn that over 80% of a traditional grocery store is filled with genetically modified foods. My husband started grocery shopping after my twins were born and he feels like his hands are tied because I keep restricting what he can buy at traditional grocery stores.  All of the money I make goes to food. Every penny and through the process of understanding where my food comes from, meeting local farmers and asking questions I have changed my relationship with food. I feel grateful to find food sources I can trust that are / aren’t using GM grain to feed the cows, chickens, and pigs I eat. I trust the local farmers that are using organic farming standards to grow produce and I’ve learned to shop with what is in season, but I can’t continue to keep up this level of consumer awareness. The time, stress, and financial strain of trying to minimize genetically altered food is a struggle and moms need you help.

The West is always talking about how ‘green’ we are. Let’s show the rest of Canada that we want to follow California and the 20 other states that have labeling in front of their gov’t bodies and ask that our food be labeled. Then parents that want to avoid GM food can spend less time researching and more time preparing, canning, juicing, and cooking their food.  We live in a world were we’ve realized that convenience is our downfall . Having a seed that is resistance to the pesticides being sprayed in the fields to grow food from this seed is not healthy for the environment or our health. Over 95% of all soy manufactured is now genetically modified. How many more food sources do we want to contaminate? Think of the connections to disease spikes in the last 20 years (when GM food was first introduced). Cancer, infertility, digestive issues, diabetes, auto immune, allergies, asthma…the list goes on and we are parenting during a time like no other. We are raising children as scientists with a prayer that they won’t get cancer. Parents have had to do the work to protect our children against chemicals and we’re asking for your help with our food sources . . . this is just too big an area to tackle alone.

Canada is now behind China and Russia with food labeling. There are so many countries that have banned GM food – all we are asking for is labeling so that we can decide what our families eat. If companies choose to use GM ingredients – they need to stand behind their products and be proud to label them.

The topic of labelling GMOS lends into two other side issues because of so many gut issues – more and more families have to see naturopaths. Post on my facebook page also thought that more coverage for naturopathic care would be mentioned. Traditional medicine and doctors simply are not able to treat these issues because so many are food related.

And families with autistic children really need your help. I’m not sure if there is a voice in this room and although I don’t have an autistic child, they need a voice here. Currently kids under 6 years of age get $22k per year in BC for services and that drops to $6k a year after the age of 6.  If the reason the money drops b/c children enter the school system –shouldn’t children and parents help allocated the support were they see fit?  Traditional treatments for autistic children might not work for all and ABA Applied Behavior Analysis might not work for every autistic child and that is the scientifically proven method used in schools & therapies.

The Premier’s response to my concern over GM food?  She supports eating GM or conventional food but is also in favour of labeling it. She also said it’s a Federal issue not Provincial and gave me a contact James Moore who is local to me to chat with the issue of GMO labeling. I’ll continue to try and contact him regarding this issue that is clearly troubling for many families.

I appreciated the opportunity to join the discussion on concerns that affect BC moms and hope I can contribute again in the future. Thank you to the many people that posted comments or questions on my Fan Page before I attended the roundtable. I’m more used to writing about my passions, rather than speaking so preparing for the roundtable took time. I’ll keep you posted via the Mommy Footprint fan page on any developments on the topics I proposed to the Premier. Please follow us there if you’re not already.

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Greener Halloween Round-Up!

Having a spooky, fun Halloween doesn’t always have to include plastic and chemicals. With my own awareness being focused on reducing genetically modified food with my family – you need to look no further than traditional Halloween candy. The GMO giants that support and manufacture modified food are the leaders of many chocolate, chip, and convenience brands: PepsiCo Inc.and Nestle are two that come to mind. So an area that takes a little more $$ to make sustainable this Halloween is candy. Purchasing organic lollie pops in bulk seem to be the more budget friendly option – but there are many options for a more happy ingredient list this October. Looking for the GMO-free or USDA Organic stamp on candy is the easiest way to know it’s high quality.

Image Belongs to Green Planet Parties:

 

One of my all time favorite Halloween crafts has to be stamping bagasse plates with a rubber stamp and beet juice. It’s an eco-friendly way to make a highly compostable plate keep all of it’s sustainability when you decorate it. There are no toxic dyes leaching onto food or into the soil with this fun decorating tip and the kids loved it!  Read the complete article here or be inspired by the below image of the plates we stamped:

 

Decorating pumpkins is always a fun way to dress up your house for Halloween! We always opted out of carving to paint ghost pumpkins . The kids loved it, the pumpkins lasted longer, and we didn’t have to worry about 4 children wielding knives at the same time. =0  But this year the kids all wanted to carve pumpkins so we let our older children have full artistic expression and they loved carving traditional pumpkin expressions. I got some inspiration from Pinterest for my younger kids and look at the Cookie Monster design my 6 year old made!  We’ve had left over house paint in the garage and it was perfect for painting the exterior of the pumpkin (daughter painted herself) and the carving and paper eyes were great for a younger child with some mama help! To read the full article on painting ghost pumpkins click here.

 

For party activities I always say the more disgusting and imaginative – the better. Kids like to tap into your imagination and it’s also a good time to empty out your fridge. Think outside the box and make some specimen jars. The more gory, gooey and artificially coloured the better – these make great decorations or party crafts for guests to take home in mason jars. Full article here.

With Halloween costumes I encourage kids to either go 2nd hand or create their own. If you think about reducing single waste items – costumes are really wasteful. Most are made from plastic or polyester so getting into the concept of re-using is really important. When you ask adults or older children their favorite costumes growing up, they will never tell you the costume that is generic and commercial. . . they will tell you about the most creative costume they wore. Fun ideas with a cardboard box or picking a character and making the costume. With having picked up witches costumes at a 2nd hand store last year, my daughters are excited to dress-up – I need to figure out a home-made green face paint or try using vegetable based craft paints I already have. One of my sons also requires stubble for a lumberjack costume but I think a few coffee grounds will do the trick. They get to have a dress rehearsal of getting dressed this weekend when we attend The Great Big Boo musical. We are excited that Halloween will be celebrated a few nights this year!

 

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Beeswax & Leaves – Preserving Fall Memories

If you ask me what my favorite smell is – I will say beeswax. So thinking of a Fall craft that includes melted beeswax really appealed to me. I’ve also been trying to find a way to preserve pieces of nature we collect on our various outings. Fall is especially magical because of the leaves, pinecones, acorns, etc. that are everywhere you look! When there are beautiful pieces of nature constantly around us – there is rarely time I’m tempted to purchase keepsake items after visiting a new farm, pumpkin patch, etc. A rock or leaf is more of a precious memory holder than new toy or gadget.  Here are the steps to preserving nature with the memory written on the back with beeswax. Have a little swoon at the trail (below picture) we collected the 10K leaf from and then we’ll start with the ‘how to’.

I love leaves. I’m one of those people that stops and swoons while walking and during this Fall season the abundance of beautiful colors, shapes, and types of leaves is stunning – especially here on the West Coast. I recently started telling the kids to collect a special leaf on our Fall outings. I’ve seen crafts for making leaf mobiles or wreaths by dipping the leaves in melted beeswax and I thought putting a spin on it with marking memories with the leaves would be special. We’ve managed three really special events recently and for each we collected leaves: 1) a visit to our local pumpkin patch with friends 2) a trip to Aldor Acres farm that has baby bunnies, kittens, piglets and many more farm animals and fun activities 3) walk-a-thon at our school. The walk-a-thon is actually quite special because my 8 year old son signed himself up to run the 10k with the older kids. I had to volunteer to run too because we weren’t sure if he could make the entire 10k being his first time. Like many amazing memories that I have from life – my son Angelo and I completed the 10k together and it was a big milestone for him, really showing that he can do anything he puts his mind to. As we entered the 9th k of the run, it started to get tough and I told Angelo to collect a leaf from the trail. (above picture) He did and that is why you see a leaf in the last picture marked 10k. A special way to preserve that memory and a keepsake for him that won’t crumple when the leaf dries.

How to preserve leaves in beeswax

It’s recommend to use a crock pot or double boiler to melt your block of beeswax. Being that I’m a renegade ‘crafter’ of sorts, I did this a little differently. I collected an aluminum can from the recycling and placed it in boiling water in a pot on the stove. I then purchased 2 thick, large beeswax candles from my local organics store. I also had little bits of beeswax from leftover birthday candles that I also melted down. I removed the wick from all of the candles by cutting them in pieces and placed all of the hard beeswax into the can. It would be much easier if you have a local source to purchase a block or brick of beeswax!

Your leaves do not have to be perfectly flat unless you want them to. Flatten them in a book for a couple of days if you want a flat look. I wanted a natural look and was fine with my leaves already curling – it looks really cool actually! Have your leaves already labed by a Jiffy pen with the memory you want to preserve. e.g. date and location (Pumpkin Patch Oct /12), etc.


I watched the beeswax and once it melted I started dipping leaves. I placed the leaves on cardboard from recycling to dry or you can use wax/parchment paper. Try not to use too much beeswax when coating your leaves or it might pool and will harden quickly on the leaves. You want a thin but thorough coating and you can just hold the leaf stem and dip. I wouldn’t let kids do this part. It’s really not necessary and could result in a burn. Here is my aluminum can in a boiling pot setup:

The scent in my house was heavenly from the beeswax! The leaves look gorgeous and I can’t think of a more magical Fall activity. We will make more leaves and thread yard through the stems to create a fall wreath or mobile of memories by the end of October. Every Fall outing have kids pickup leaves and write their memories on the back while the leave are still fresh. Preserve the memory through their eyes and you’ve got a magical keepsake to remember and save.

Post Shared on Frugally Sustainable

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The Great Big Boo (Vancouver Show)

I’m very excited to be writing about The Great Big Boo!  This theatrical musical show is a great way to celebrate Halloween with fun characters including Vinnie The Vampire, Frankie The Lounge Singer (Frankenstein), Wolfgang the Werewolf, Cranium The Mad Scientist, Wendella The Witch, and Priscilla The Princess . We attended the show a few years ago and will be going in a few weeks to revisit these fun characters. My sons can still remember Wolfgang the Werewolf (the rockstar) running up on stage throwing popcorn everywhere – they’ve been very excited telling their younger sisters about the show. Kids love the singing and dancing and getting to wear their costumes before Halloween is actually here!  The show is designed with the 2-12 year old crowd in mind and they try to keep things light with characters like Vinnie the Vampire who’s afraid of the dark or Frankie who dreams of becoming a lounge singer!  If you are unsure for young children – show your kids the video below as they are usually a good judge of what they find scary. Show and character bios can be read via The Great Big Boo website.

The atmosphere is fun, energetic, and filled with excitement while you follow the children Justin, Zoe and their zany character friends from Boo Alley as they sing and dance their way through a maze of wacky adventures to save Halloween! Check out this clip of the show and order tickets via www.ticketleader.ca.

There are 5 shows to select from over 2 days at the PNE forum October 20th and 21st. Tickets are $19.50 or inquire about group rates (birthday party or organize a large group) via info@TheGreatBigBoo.com .

Dates and Times:    Saturday, October 20th at 11:00am, 2:00pm and 5:00pm

Sunday, October 21st at 2:00pm and 5:00pm

Get into the Halloween spirit early this year and start a new tradition with your family. This show is only available for Vancouver families.

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Greener Halloween Decor

Thinking of Halloween decorating makes you instantly think of plastic – I know that was the situation here until a few years ago we acquired an amazingly sustainable outdoor lawn decoration that is larger than any of the front yard blowup decorations I’ve seen. Decorating for a holiday and connecting to memories is a special thing. I first fell in love with our local pumpkin patch when my first child was born – just seeing the sea of pumpkins and adorable wooden characters that are sprinkled around the patch made me feel like magic lived there. We’ve been every year with all the kids and after a couple of years I finally asked the owner for the name of the carpenter that made the big wooden pumpkins, characters, etc. She gave me Randy’s phone number and the rest is history.

Created with a huge sheet of wood, with hinges so it folds to be put away, I love my huge pumpkin that was made for my front lawn. It’s like I got to take a piece of the pumpkin patch home with me and seeing the decoration every day just makes me happy. It’s also a much more sustainable decoration in my mind because at the end of it’s life I will chop it up and compost the wood. The pumpkin also served as a bean bag toss game at our annual Halloween parties but the fact it was made by a local artist is the best part for me. I’m sharing this because you can easily call your favorite farm or pumpkin patch this time of year and ask the same questions I did.

I saw another very earth friendly decorating option on Pinterest and if I had a truck to transport this bale of hay – this would be on my lawn too!  I think it’s hilarious and think of the fun your kids would have sticking the shoes into the hay bale. This is a great decoration for high impact outdoor decorating and can be composted or donated to a farm after Halloween is over. You can also setup a Halloween game with the bale of hay by hiding candy inside and have the kids dive in to look for it!  Bales of hay sitting in farmers fields make me incredibly happy too – this decoration will eventually find it’s way to my home. I love how easy it is to dispose of it after the holiday has ended!

Photo credit: Global News

If you are adding to your seasonal decorations this year, try to use parts of nature that will eventually leave the earth: leaves, pumpkins, hay, wood, pine cones, etc. I’ve got some incredible crafts lines up that are made using nature. It just feels better to use something like leaves or baby pine cones to craft with rather than glitter and plastic! Teach your children the legacy of selecting a product or decoration. We’ll have some indoor decor tips coming up next!

Related Articles:

Spooooky Disposable Tableware!

Halloween – How Will You Green?

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