Archive | December, 2012

Close Your Eyes – What Do You See?

Welcome to 2013! It’s been a year of evolution for me personally and I know you are taking a journey with me. The Maya Angelou quote “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better” is the quote that sums up this year perfectly for me. 5 years ago I would have scoffed about food being the answer to my journey with parenting. You see, I grew up with a really healthy lifestyle – my mom ensured we ate everything needed, plus more! I don’t ever remember take-out and we ate what we were given without complaint. When I first wrapped my mind around the chemical exposure my children were surrounded with, I only thought plastics, pesticides, cleaning supplies, toys, etc. But after learning more (and perhaps the industry is cleaning up their act too) my focus is in the kitchen. Not a place I feel comfortable or look like I belong, but when I close my eyes, I see a mom that knows how to make apple pie, has a crock pot or soup ready throughout the day, and always has muffins or home cooked baked goods on hand. That is not happening in my house. And I’ve spent 2012 re-developing my relationship with food – kinda like setting the stage for 2013 as I now understand the importance of organics and supporting a local food system.

In 2013 I have a focus board in my mind when I close my eyes and it includes a mom that gets up before the kids to make breakfast, that doesn’t scream at the little things in life, has taken the time to expand dinner options, has already removed GMO convenience options, but needs to replace those foods with home-made versions. What do you see when you close your eyes? Sometimes you need to sit in peace, close your eyes, and envision how you need life to be. If you see trees, chickens, cows grass feeding, trying out juicing/dehydration, leaning towards living low-plastic, finding time to appreciate and love our wildlife – we are going to ROCK 2013 together. Get ready, get set, GO – it’s a monster year of opening our eyes and seeing the world we’ve envisioned come to life. Come and join the conversation for more organic parenting options at the Mommy Footprint fan page. Peace and kindness for 2013. xo ~Suzanne

 

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Teachers Gifts for Christmas

Every year I put a lot of thought into teacher’s gifts. Why? How else do you thank a person that takes care of your children for the majority of the year? All teachers have strengths and impact our children in more ways than just teaching them abcs. Here are the gifts that are going out my door this week for the special teachers in my children’s lives. Not pictured are gift cards that we’ve already done thoughtful gifts for over the last few years. My favourite thing is to get a number of parents together and collect for a group gift. Even if everyone contributes $10 – you quickly get past the $100 mark and can get them something substantial. This means there is much less waste with little knick knack gifts that they don’t really need. Baking from the kitchen and homemade cards are also special.

Practical:

I think green minded people love practical gifts and most teachers are environmentally focused in their own lives which I love!  If you want to incorporate the symbolic apple in your gift to a favorite teacher – pickup this apple parer, slicer, and corer from Lee Valley Tools. It has a suction base and both kids & adults love using this machine.

Here is how the machine works.

Talk about making apple sauce a snap! You take an apple, place in on the prongs of the machine, turn the handle and are left with apple rings that can be baked, eaten right away, or made into apple sauce/pie filling/desserts, etc. All teachers would love this gift!  And include a jar of apple sauce with the machine with a custom mason jar lid insert for a special touch! The options with a gift like this are practical and endless. Thank you to Lee Valley Tools for working together on this gift idea!

Personalized:

This gift takes a bit of time to coordinate because it’s personalized. We’ve ordered necklaces before from Moo and the Bear Jewelry and although her store is closed for the holidays – you’ll want to bookmark her Fan Page on Facebook for next Mother’s Day or end of year teacher’s gifts. I love the necklace for my girls’ teacher made by Moo and the Bear owner Eleanor this year – thank you so much!

Group Gift:

No it’s not too late – trust me on this one. We’ve been at home with snow days and sick kid days all week so I still haven’t collected contributions to teacher’s gifts yet. But it always comes together – even if it’s last minute. Gift cards that capture an interest in the teachers’ life are perfect. If you don’t know the teacher well enough to know their interests – ask other teachers or the principal. . . they will love to help you!

 

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Plastic Dolls For Christmas

Navigating through our standard list of no-no’s this time of year seems to all go out the window when we are trying to find that perfect gift at Christmas. As green minded parents we know that plastic is always a bad option for toys. But when I found myself in Toys R Us after not being there for probably a year, I was completely overwhelmed and fascinated with the obvious love the big box stores have for plastic. And why not? The perfect details on the faces of toys, the cheap prices, and the packaging that will make a child scream with excitement! However, there is a big downside to these plastic options and it’s simply ‘health’. Now I’ve got you thinking the health of who? The planet or our children?

There are many toys that even very environmentally minded parents will make exceptions; especially those that include building, constructing, and creating. Lego and Playmobil have long been favorites for one of my sons and I don’t mind when he asks for a special set at Christmas. The imagination and hours of play are a great pay off and these products are hardly cheap. They are also not made from vinyl. Now here is where vinyl gets interesting – all plastic dolls are. And these dolls will be the focus of this article. They are probably one of the hottest toys at Christmas because when you don’t know what else to buy a little girl – you can always guess ‘doll’ because you know the shrieks of delight will be heard when a doll is opened. It’s immediate gratification, where they grab the doll, release their mothering instincts, and pour their love into this little being. It’s a tough thing to not buy into. I was even curiously drawn to the new Disney Brave dolls that lined the shelves at Toys R Us – the plastic replicas look so much like the fiery tempered character that is a different role model from the usual princess role (shooting arrows, being physically and mentally strong, and brave) which we all love. But my long standing struggle with how all the huge toy makers like Mattel, Disney, etc. produce dolls is always disappointing and I believe, a health issue.

I started really thinking about dolls a month ago when I watched two girls during my son’s hockey game looking with pure love at their American Girls dolls. I had never seen these dolls up close before but heard lots from my nieces when they went through the phase a couple of years ago. They seem to be the perfect solution to keep older girls (Grade 2 and up) playing in the wonderful world of imagination and dolls. Apparently visiting an American Girl store in the US is quite the experience – you can even get the doll and your daughter’s ears pierced at the same time!  I asked the group of girls playing with these dolls to tell me about the dolls and they were so excited – the popularity for American Girls hasn’t gone away and I live in Canada! I like to prepare myself for when my own daughters see a toy like this – so I started researching immediately. I know the dolls are over $100 so I assumed the materials used to make the dolls are something other than vinyl. I was wrong – the plastic arms, legs and face of these dolls are vinyl plastic. Plus, do you want to guess where the American Girls are made?  China.  Why the hell are they made in China – they are American Girls!  And the Canadian version of these dolls Maplelea Dolls are also vinyl made in China and the ethnic option Karito Girls are also vinyl and made in China – which for Karito Girls might make sense since they represent the world collection. So I immediately asked my friends if anyone had an American Girl doll that I could see. I was trying to find out if the vinyl that they are made from is actually PVC. I checked the doll to see if there was a material listed on the plastic and no luck. I also took a deep smell of the plastic and it didn’t smell like 100% PVC normally does but since the company states they are made from vinyl – I would guess a mixed variety of plastics have been used. After all we are taught that vinyl almost always means PVC. I asked my friend Alicia from The Soft Landing for some input on this subject – it’s something she’s written about and her article ‘When Is Vinyl Not PVC‘ is awesome! She also let me use this quote regarding vinyl and dolls:

“Vinyl is PVC 99% of the time, and so far we haven’t found a single plastic baby doll made from PVC-free materials.”

After I read this quote from Alicia I found it so much easier to wrap my head around the fact that all, yes all dolls until proven otherwise, made from plastic are PVC. When we are buying to hear the shriek it’s selfish. I know if I picked up that Brave plastic doll for my daughters it would be played with and happily received but I’d rather give them one of the older doll designs from my friend Kellie at The Rice Babies. She’s combined a funky design with high fashion boots, funky hair accessories, and I even saw tattoos when I visited her beautiful display at a craft fair a few weeks ago.  There are options out there. I would have to say Christina from Bamboletta is my doll hero and after seeing Bamboletta dolls for so many years you simply can’t compare the quality and care that go into her creations. Read the story of Bamboletta here. Of course the fact that she hasn’t strayed from her first mission of keeping these dolls made with the safest of materials, by a group of sewing mamas, local to her community keeps her totally unique. And her magical dolls are truly unique in the world of Waldorf doll making. You might initially scream they are expensive but I say they are the safest toy on earth. No worries of off gassing, no worries that it will fall apart, no worries of asking questions to the manufacturer that can’t be answered. I say don’t buy the 10 plastic dolls you probably will before your daughter turns 2 years old and invest in a doll that’s been handmade with cloth, wool, and cotton. Don’t give them all the plastic, commercialized options  – only 1 or 2 dolls to love and appreciate with a story that is unique.

The first dolls my girls received were from me. I was so excited to purchase Corelle dolls but with my current awareness of plastic, I would lump these high-end dolls into the same vinyl category as the rest. Made from vinyl and what makes Corelle dolls even worse in my opinion is the fact they release scent when squeezed. Yes, we probably even pay extra for it. But will the company respond to questions asked about if the perfume being released is synthetic or not?  Of course not. And to me – unless you prove and market to me that your doll is something other than made from the cheapest form of plastic that starts polluting with carcinogenic dioxin from the moment it’s first made – then I won’t even entertain the thought that you’re different.

But do you want to see something different?  Check out Bamboletta’s magic. And just in case you think Christina forgot to add the hair to the dollies in the front – this upload of dolls was on it’s way to Ronald MacDonald House in Vancouver – the dolls in the front have lost their hair after going through chemo so you can guess who the recipients are for these bald dolls. All of the dolls in the photo below have been donated from this generous company that just keeps on giving back to the community. All the time. When you follow their updates on Facebook you feel like the world truly contains people with good hearts, doing good things with their talent. The team at Bamboletta is special and there is a good reason why it takes so long to actually purchase these dolls. If you are wanting to purchase a Bamboletta doll just remember that all magical things in life are worth waiting for but might take a little hard work – these are no exception.

And here is a photo I snapped from a recent table from The Rice Babies doll selections; hip, handmade, and perfect for the older crowd.  Way to go Kellie – I’ll be proud to say “I knew her when..”

 

Related Articles:

The Bamboletta Story

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Dilly Dally Kids – Wooden Wonders

I rarely get the treat of walking into a business to write a review – normally we focus on online stores. So while this article is more directed at Vancouver consumers, the rest of North America will meet an online Dilly Dally Kids later this year when they launch their online store. So bookmark them on Facebook and stay up to date on their beautiful sourcing. The wooden selection at this toy store caught my eye last Christmas where I picked up many wooden characters for stockings and rainbow stackers for gifts. This year at Dilly Dally Kids is no different and the wooden selections are hands down unique. Why? I’m convinced you could replace or never be tempted to purchase the plastic characters we buy purely for the detail and durability. Want to see an example? All kids of any age like staples and dinosaurs are one of these toys. Check out the below design of these hand painted wooden dinosaurs available at Dilly Dally – so bright and fun that a child won’t feel ‘forced’ into sustainable play. All of the wooden play figures ranging from woodland, farm, dinosaur, fairy tale, forest creatures have such great detail. The pictures below were all taken from my visit. . .I had a little too much fun setting up the toys!

Continuing on the wooden journey at Dilly Dally Kids – more wooden wonders kept jumping off the shelf. I think wooden toys are my favourite because at the end of their play life – they can be composted. Especially now with wooden toys covered in beeswax or orange oil, then painted with veggie based paints. Do we not all wish we could do away with the hoards of small plastic toys our children collect over the span of their childhood? There is nothing to do with these toys except continue to pass them down until someone finally puts them in the garbage. Knowing these toys will then outlive our grandchildren at the landfill is not a good feeling. It hurts to give plastic toy characters and receive them! So I’m just a huge fan of wood and a classic toy that all children love – BLOCKS. Normally I would give blocks an age rating of 5 and under but I was reminded by my 6 year old daughter and 8 year old son recently how awesome blocks are. Especially the spheres and different shaped blocks – kids will build and discover with a good quality set of blocks for a long time. Invest in a great set early and watch their play evolve over the years. I love the back wall of block at Dilly Dally Kids – it’s just a solid display of all the different classic block options.

There was more magic to discover and I urge you to checkout Dilly Dally on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. They have classic games, work books, stories, stocking stuffers, Waldorf inspired, and traditional toys. I’ll be sharing more of their selections via Facebook, but the last picture I want to share is the fleet of wooden bath toys that are water safe. I also love wood in a child’s bathtub – although it’s trickier to ensure the toy dries properly; tip the boat over and you shouldn’t have any problems. You’ll find less mold on wood toys than plastic ones with holes in the bottom and you don’t need to worry about anything leaching from the plastic. With many of the wooden toys made in Europe at Dilly Dally Kids – these boats are made in Canada. Great sourcing Dilly Dally and check out their holiday gift guide to view more of their amazing toys!

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