Archive | April, 2013

Triple Flip – Locally Made Active Apparel

So it’s not a huge surprise to you that I really don’t like Malls. When I’m inside them I’m always heading to one store with a direct purpose to get in and out as quickly as possible. I stare into the bright lights and don’t understand the allure of spending hours in a place that does little to support my consumer values; supporting locally manufactured items made with earth friendly materials. The majority of my sons’ clothing is purchased 2nd hand but having growing daughters has put a slight dent in my master plan to buy the majority of their clothes already recycled.  Although, to their credit, my girls are very practical like their mom! <grin>  This practicality recently got traded in when we discovered Triple Flip. Do you want to see the faces of my normally very reluctant shoppers?

    

I laugh every time I look at these pictures because they had SO much fun picking out an outfit. And there was a small part of me that actually felt relief that I could experience this mother/daughter ritual and feel good that I was shopping in a Mall without ignoring my core values trying to support locally made clothing. Because if I haven’t mentioned it – Triple Flip’s stretch wear line is manufactured in Canada! So if this is important to you as a consumer, check out a Triple Flip store or shop online. If visiting a store you’ll need to ask where the stretch line is and let Triple Flip know that you LOVE the fact they are manufacturing their house line in Alberta. I think parents know that Triple Flip clothing is high quality and cute designs…but it’s more than that. For me, it’s a commitment to something that makes me feel good and bridges an outing with my girls that we can all enjoy. My girls also got to experience the ultra fab dressing rooms  – talk about all star treatment. I’m not sure another changing room will ever hold a candle to these again.

I look at this picture and again smile. It’s so outside of our norm to be excited about a shopping experience but that is what our day at Triple Flip became – an experience. And although the girls made their choices very quickly, the day was special and I thank Triple Flip for producing clothing that I’m happy to purchase. In. A. Mall.  Life is just full of surprises.

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Earth Day Projects For Schools

Do you have a really cool idea that promotes environmental stewardship within a school but haven’t been able to get approval to implement it? This is usually a good time to pop your head into the principle’s office and ask “what’s happening at our school for Earth Day?” If they look at you momentarily stunned – you are in luck! Your awesome idea stands a good chance at getting passed because school administrators often needs help coming up with Earth Day projects. Here are 3 ideas that can be organized quickly and with little cost.

DIY Bike Racks & Bike Challenge

I will be trying this idea with my own family for Earth Day week. I was hoping to have the school’s support but I might be biking solo with my clan on April 22nd. I can only hope that my children understand the importance of celebrating Earth Day by challenging ourselves to try new things that reduce waste, fuel, or consumerism. Here is where the inspiration for this idea came from – picture credit Punyx Tumblr:

If your school already has bike racks this Earth Day project is already easy. If not, I love the idea of using up-cycled tires to make them and how much easier can it be to build a bike rack? Our school doesn’t have bike racks so I thought this project of building them teaches the importance of up-cycling materials already available. The other half of this project is to post a challenge sheet in each classroom and kids can record the number of miles or Kms that they walk or bike ride to school during Earth week (April 22-26). At the end of the week, classes or Grades can tally their totals for the number of carbon emissions or greenhouse gas emissions saved by the act of walking or biking instead of kids being driven to school. There are conversion calculators on the web that can transcribe these numbers. The school could post the total number and I think kids that don’t normally bike or walk to school would feel very proud!

Neighborhood Beautification

Working with your city’s environmental department is a great way to get ideas for helping the community on Earth Day. Does the school’s neighborhood have any invasive species or plants that kids can help the city identify and control? Is there a section of forest or river/stream close-by that can be swept for litter? And if it’s okay with the city – have kids make seed bombs in school and then throw into an approved area of the woods. David Suzuki’s Queen Of Green has a link on how to make DIY seed bombs. What could be better than unleashing children into nature with something to throw? They would love it!

Another way to beautiful your school’s neighborhood is to mark storm drains with fish decals to show they lead to waterways and should be protected from chemicals, paint, etc. We marked the storm drains along our street a few years ago – it was a great activity that my kids are still proud of! Again – getting the kids outside with an activity seems like a win/win. Many storm drain marking kits come with literature to hand out so they children become the educators with this project.

Earth Day Festival

This last project will take more time and energy to plan – but the results would be awesome. The key to keeping children engaged about learning how to help the environment is to let them speak to the issue. Kids know better than anyone little ways to help the environment. Not just for one day – little things that can be incorporated into our daily routine that just might inspire permanent change in our households.  One station of the Earth Day festival could have kids talking about how to pack a litterless lunch and why that is important. Maybe this idea could catch on and become a routine day of the week where students bring littler-ess lunch every Monday. Another station could be a game with a sorting station. There would be one large bin with 10 items that need to be sorted into compost, recycle or garbage. Fun! Another station could have a planting station where each child plants a seed into an empty egg carton cup or empty paper milk carton they’ve brought from home.  Having the children in charge of stations where learning is ‘hands-on’ has a larger impact than adults simply talking about it.

Good luck and be sure to post your experiences with Earth day projects within your school on our Fan Page – keep the inspiration flowing!

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Earth Month – DIY Personal Care

It’s Earth Month with April 22nd being the day we recognize as Earth Day. I used to feel pressure to come up with amazing one-day projects of how to celebrate Earth Day but as the years pass, I’m aware that how I live my life everyday is more important than my actions on April 22nd. Don’t get me wrong – I think Earth Day is great for learning and being inspired by children this time of year. I love hearing their thoughts on the environment and what we can do to help, but today, we are talking about YOU!  And what better way to approach Earth day then to minimize your personal waste, packaging, chemicals, money, and reuse items you already have in your pantry.  For Earth Month, Week, or Day – however you choose to celebrate, step out of your comfort zone. Try something that seems totally out there! By trying completely new ideas . . you will realize that making small changes to everyday routines are not that big a deal. And since the concept of Earth Day is NOT to go out buying a bunch of stuff to be ‘green’ – let’s keep things easy and inexpensive.

Here are 3 of the easiest DIY recipes I love because they contain limited ingredients and maximum effect. We are starting with your personal care because a lot of your household chemical exposure that is harmful to your family comes from personal care products and cleaning supplies. We are going to make deodorant, facial wash, and teeth whitener. We can make these three products with only 3 ingredients: coconut oil, lemon or lime, and baking soda. If you have these items at home – let’s go!

Deodorant:

Up until a week ago, when I wanted to use deodorant I used this recipe and I’ve always been very happy with it. It’s effective enough for me with scent and moisture reduction but when I saw a post about trying lemon or lime as a deodorant I knew I had to test it out. Why? How easy is a one ingredient deodorant and because I’m addicted to hot water with honey and lemon at the moment, I’ve always got lemons in my fridge. To use lemon or lime for deodorant simply cut a lemon in half and wipe under your arm pit. It doesn’t get easier that this. Obviously don’t use this deodorant if you’ve just shaven under your pit – common sense needs to prevail here. My 1/2 lemon wedge lasted a week at the edge of my bathroom sink, it dried on skin quickly, and is very effective with reducing scent. Reduce your exposure to propylene glycol (neurotoxin), parabens (preservative) and  aluminum (effects your brain) just by this one simple DIY deodorant tip.

Facial Scrub:

Next up – an organic and 2 ingredient recipe to create an amazing facial wash or scrub.  I’ve always used either Noxzema, bar soap, or just water to wash my face. I’ve never spent a lot of money on skin care so when I ran out of Noxzema a few months back I decided to try making a facial scrub from coconut oil and baking soda. The beautiful part of this DIY is you control the amount of ‘scrub’ with the wash by how much baking soda you add. For every teaspoon of coconut oil, I add a pinch of baking soda. I would say my face is pretty sensitive and I’ve had no problem with the natural abrasive action of baking soda against my skin. My advice would be to start with a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a jar and add small amounts of baking soda until you find the right balance. I just prefer a bit of a scrub when I wash my face. And if the first time you try this your face feels really greasy or oily after you apply the water to remove the coconut oil . . .don’t panic. Once you remove the facial wash with water, pat or lightly rub dry with a towel and feel your face. It will be super soft and perfectly moisturized. So will your lips, neck and hands. I have no desire to go back to store bought facial cleaners that I know include preservatives to keep shelf life and a host of chemicals I’ve discovered my skin simply doesn’t need or miss.

Oil Pulling:

I know, I’ve been talking a lot about oil pulling. And I’ll probably be mentioning it a lot for the next while. I love it. Since the first day I tried oil pulling I’ve been doing it everyday. My mouth misses it by the afternoon if I’ve had a busy morning and haven’t been able to ‘pull’. This act of oil pulling sounds very complicated and involved, but again – here is a DIY that only needs one ingredient. You take a heaping teaspoon of unrefined coconut oil, put it in your mouth, wait for it to melt and then you swish around with your saliva between the teeth for 15-20 minutes. Think you need super expensive and questionable ingredient Crest Strips? Do you go to the dentist for whitening treatments? Do you use mouthwash? Why wouldn’t you save your body and wallet by trying this organic method of reducing plaque, whitening teeth, reducing bacteria, re-mineralization for teeth, and gum strength. Oil pulling has also been documented for improving skin disorders and pulling toxins from not only your teeth but mucus membranes.

These are my favourite DIY recipes for personal care. You can tell I’m not much of a cook since they contain so few ingredients but keeping things simple is key for me. I’ve petered out with any DIY recipe that contain a lot of ingredients. They are always very expensive to make and I’m trying to consolidate my personal care portfolio – not add to it.  I keep a jar of coconut oil separate for my hair care. I’ve enjoyed using this as a slicker and protective coating to the ends of my hair after I’ve dried it and have frizzies. Using coconut oil to moisturize hair is another DIY favourite. The list goes on and on once you embrace all the different uses for coconut oil. This is one product that lives up to the hype but make sure you purchase unrefined coconut oil so that chemicals aren’t added during the processing stage of making the oil. Go extreme with DIY personal care – you will love empowering yourself and the look on your family member’s faces when you tell them what you’ve been up to with lemons. Okay…that might just be me. (grin)

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Sext Up Kids

I’ve become a bit of a documentary person since I watch so little TV so I discover information important to my life online. One documentary that we had great discussions via Facebook but I didn’t write an article about was Sext Up Kids  produced by CBC DocZone. I was honored to preview the documentary a few days before it aired on TV and I have not stopped talking about it since first watching it. I immediately took to social media to encourage parents to watch it (even parents with young children). I also mentioned the incredible resources listed in the documentary to our Premier Christy Clark back in October. When I see the reemergence of concerned parents with social media profiling or reading the letter written to Victoria Secret from a concerned dad about their new clothing line called “Bright Young Things” aimed at young teenagers I think of the information all parents need to know if their kids participate with adult tools like social media or devices that connect to the Internet.

The main concern of DocZone experts is our children are moving from toddler-hood to teenagers – the middle gap of childhood seems to be lost with the intense pressure of sexuality.  And the surprising (for me) reality for our sons? That they are using their widely accessible electronic devices to access porn. This is where they are learning how to treat our daughters and the amount of time spent watching porn is causing desensitization to violence by watching sex in such an aggressive forum. I can see both sides of this documentary having both sons and daughters but I have to say the learning curve on how I need to parent my sons really was a surprise to me. But it’s not hard to believe that this happens. It crossed my mind as a reality when I recently hosted a play date for my oldest son and an electronic device that couldn’t connect to the internet (only because we don’t have a wi-fi password) was  brought over to the playdate. If the ipod could connect to the Internet – what would they be watching? I still think of my 10 year old son as my sweet innocent baby, but kids profiled in this documentary say they started watching porn in Grades 4-7. ** Yes, mouth is on the floor **

And the flip side to the pornography issue with boys watching it? Girls feel pressure to become the characters portrayed online – from how to act, look, and perform. Phones and social media only intensify these online relationships with children producing images, texts via sexting, and videos with horrible, horrible consequences. We’ve all heard about children that have been tormented and bullied online from mistakes they have made sending pictures or actions over a phone or Facebook.

On the West Coast,  iGirl workshops are one proactive answer to addressing the feeling of not being enough for the pressures of society. Saleema Noon talks about the huge problem of young children receiving adult toys (Smart phones, etc.) and not fully understanding what is private and public. Teens are sending approx. 135 texts per day and social media is re-packaging their image on a daily basis. The documentary also states that girls that text the most, often are most sexually active.

Another BC expert in the fight against online bullying is Jessie Miller who talks to kids about the downside of the sexy side of social media. He tries to educate that just because kids can easily access technology doesn’t mean what they are using it for is right. His no nonsense approach with kids using social media is smart – they need to be educated if they are going to be using these grown up mediums. My favourite part of his speech to teenagers is when he tells them if anyone has a picture of a person under the age of 18 wearing less than a bathing suit on their laptop, iphone, or ipod they are in possession of child pornography. . . which is a crime. Why are we scared to educate our children about this? If we are going to give them adult tools to communicate, they need to be educated on how not to use these tools.

This is the list I provided the Premier when she reached out to local bloggers concerned about online bullying in BC. I told her our Province is already filled with experts – why not gather a team to go into schools and educate on this huge problem with a taskforce? I didn’t hear back about my suggestions. I’ve listed them again to help parents:

iGirl Empowerment Workshops created by respected sex educator Saleema Noon: http://www.saleemanoon.com/igirl/

Mediated Reality created by Jessie Miller: http://www.mediatedreality.com/ I would love Jessie to speak at my children’s school – the no nonsense approach to social media is fantastic.

Author Peggy Orenstein wrote ‘Cinderella Ate My Daughter’ award winning writer about issues affecting girls and women: http://peggyorenstein.com/

And other great resources quoted in Sext Up Kids documentary can be found here. I make lots of mistakes with parenting but I prefer to do it with my eyes wide open. Watching this documentary is important for parents to watch – even parents with young children. There are lots of examples of how to curb accelerated behavior and modelling at a young age. I talked about this documentary when it first aired and I keep referring to it. The world has changed and here is a lesson in how we can adapt.

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