Archive | Boy’s Favorite Things

Pajama Holiday Tradition

I know so many families that give PJs at Christmas and Hanukkah and I love the tradition. Kids love to receive new Pajamas which is perfect for parents wanting to give practical gifts and it seems kids always need new sleep wear. I’ve been waiting for the organic PJs to arrive at My Little Green Shop because the designs and sizes are like no other store!  Seriously – it’s impossible to find organic Pajamas in the size range from 3 months old to 12 years old. It’s hard enough to find 100% cotton PJs for my older children so the fact they are available in organic cotton is great. So the good news is the PJs have arrived and the store is well stocked. Another piece of great news is everything in the store is reduced by 20% when you use the code Wishlist20 at checkout. The discount code is good until December 1st so shop soon!

Let’s also have a chat about why organic PJs should be at the top of your sleep wear list. Most of the big box stores sell PJs that are made from polyester. This material has naturally occurring flame retardants and in trying to limit chemicals in our bedding, pillows, and sleep wear – cotton is the way to go. And if you choose the organic cotton route with sleep wear, you can be assured that developing systems are not surrounded by the pesticides and chemicals needed to grow cotton.  The reason these organic PJs are budget friendly at $35 is because they are manufactured overseas. Organic clothing is usually much more expensive so it’s the very tough balancing act of trying to minimize chemical exposure, but stay on budget, and manage your footprint. It’s a tough thing for sure!  But for children that suffer from skin irritation, eczema, asthma and allergies – I would really recommend an organic sleep solution that includes natural pillows, mattresses and sleep wear. To read more on PJs and Polyester – click here.

I read a fantastic article by our friend Bethe from The Grass Stain Guru today. The title of the article “Holiday Shopping: Don’t Lose Your Sh*t People!” might just summarize the entire message of the post – but besides for being very funny and factual, she talks about a the concept of Four Presents that’s been circulating around social media. I LOVE it and agree that it’s a balanced and very smart guide for parents. Each child gets 4 presents:

1.    Something they want

2.    Something they need

3.    Something to wear

4.    Something to read

It’s easy and really keeps you on track with gift giving and not just running through a toy or electronics store mass purchasing gifts in order to fill some void that doesn’t actually even exist with our children. This also got me thinking about My Little Green Shop and their sourcing of PJs for the 4th present. Let’s address the other 3 points of the Four Present concept. The easy point is the ‘something they want’. All children have requests at Christmas. But actually only giving them 1 gift of the many they’ve vocalized will make them appreciate that gift so much more than receiving 10. Also, when we see our children’s Christmas lists, deep in our hearts we know what gifts are truly a good idea. The ‘something they need’ gift doesn’t need to be school supplies or dull and boring. Rather, it can be anything that you think they ‘need’ that they’ll appreciate after the glitter and glow of Christmas morning dims. My kids ‘needs’ a new hockey stick. Will he gloss over getting it on Christmas morning and only talk about the gift he got that he ‘wanted’? Probably. But 2 months later when he’s still using that hockey stick, he’ll think it’s great that Santa brought it. We’ve already covered ‘something to wear’ – although it could be something very functional like Puddle Gear (perfect for rain or snow), new boots, or super functional PJs. And lastly…’something to read’. What if you gave yourself permission to give your children a book to love this Christmas? Something that takes you back in time through the pages of your own childhood. I’ll always remember listening to Charlotte’s Web, James and the Giant Peach and devouring James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small when I was young. Why not give the magic that a book can bring to your child? I have book recommendations here for recent books I’ve read preschool aged to late elementary that engage children with nature.  To use these Four Presents as a guide – even if you don’t follow it to the letter (I would include a gift that is handmade) it’s something I really needed to see and read. Thank you for posting it Bethe!

Now ready for some cute pictures? These are some of the great new organic PJ designs available at My Little Green Shop!

 

Related Articles:

Polyester PJs and Flame Retardants

Plastic Ocean Pollution From Your Home

Books To Engage Children With Nature

Clothing Mis-labelling Leads To Composting Problems!

Harry Potter Magic

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ImagiBRICKS™ Giant Building Blocks

I needed to purchase an older sibling gift for a special 3 year old recently and it had to be awesome because an older sibling gift should be better than the baby gift!  The baby certainly won’t notice and it helps keep the older sibling feeling important and recognized. When I spotted the ImagiBRICKS™ Giant Building Blocks on the Organically Hatched site – I knew I found the gift! My sons had these blocks when they younger (ages 5 and 7) and we got such great use from them!  The best part of toys made from a highly recyclable material is when it’s time to dispose of the item I know I haven’t stuck my friend with a lump of plastic that will be destined for the landfill. My boys played hard with these blocks – stacking, building forts, jumping, pretending to avoid boiling lava on the floor, and building stair cases; just hours and hours of fun so they were in no shape to donate when it was time to say goodbye to the blocks. The blocks went out to curbside recycling and it was great to not feel guilty about sending another broken toy to the landfill.  Gotta love a happy ending! Here is a picture of the older sibling gift of blocks in action that shows their great size and how sturdy they are:

Further lending to the green level of this product, the ImagiBRICKS™ Giant Building Blocks are manufactured in the USA, made from recycled materials, printed with non-toxic inks, and their design makes them sturdy for all types of play. The recommended age on the box is 18 months + and I would give that range a rather long leash. I’m hoping to purchase a few of these sets for Christmas presents and the children’s ages range between 2-5. The blocks come in a very large box so this is something to keep in mind if shipping long distances. I know as a green gift presenter it’s nice once in a while to have a big box to give a little kid (it just gets them so excited) if you sometimes feel self conscience that your green gifts are always one of the smaller boxes.

My thanks to Organically Hatched for having these blocks in stock and ready for quick pickup! I love that the message of supporting local is reaching mainstream this Christmas. There truly is a movement sweeping North America and it feels good to shop with small businesses that have options made on this continent!

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Preschool Play At Home

I’ve often said that if I spent everyday at my childrens’ preschool, I’d be writing daily for Mommy Footprint. The inspiration and wonderful ideas that come from this play-based, magical school have been a wonderful experience for my family over the last 6 years. Two of my favorite ideas that come from preschool have been around forever, but since I setup both in my house last week, I’m reminded just what great ideas they are from the amount of time all of my kids spend playing with them. And both are very low cost to setup!

Wooden Stump & Nails

Ever drive by a house that has cut down a tree and is offering the stumps/logs for free?  Well next time, stop and pick one up because your children will love to hammer nails into the stump. Both my boys and daughters have loved this activity at preschool and we’ve recently picked up a stump and ball pein hammer that I picked up at my local hardware store. The ball pein hammer is normally smaller, lighter and has a ball and opposite flat face..much easier for small children. And by small children I mean 3 years olds and up. They are more than able at that age to hammer nails into wood and the stumps help the nails slide in so easily!  It will keep them busy for hours and teach them great motor skills. You can teach children to hammer thin pieces of wood to attach to the stump or even cardboard once they get bored of just hammering nails. Also, pickup nails of all sizes to further encourage fine motor skill development.

If you are nervous and think your toddler or child is too young to use real nails,  find golf tees and left over Styrofoam packing from large appliances. Using the ball pein hammer, kids can hammer golf tees into the packing material and you don’t have to worry about them using real nails.

Sand Table

It’s a standard in any preschool and there’s a good reason why – sand tables are wonderful. When I received my package of safe sand from Santastik, I knew what I was going to use it for….creating an indoor sand table. The sand is amazing and kids love to play with it. We added some animals, scoops, cups, and the sand into a long flat plastic container and all my kids have enjoyed playing with it. I just put the container on top of their play table and voila…they are all very happy. And unlike the bean table I set up years ago (my husband still curses that idea), the sand table is very easy to clean up. Yes, kids get excited and throw the sand around, but the Sandtastik sand is super easy to vacuum so the mess is a non-issue. To find out why I’m recommending the Sandtastik brand of play sand – check out this article. This sand is made without carcinogens or asbestos which might be found in other brands of sand.

I love my kid’s preschool. We’ve been there 6 consecutive years because of the close ages of our 4 children and although I’m very sad this time is coming to an end this Spring, I’m grateful for the many lessons the teachers have taught me.   A parent participation/play based preschool will not only bring your children great memories – but you’ll be surprised how much as parents you will learn.

Related Articles:

Finding Non-Toxic Sand For Kid’s Sandbox

The Perfect Home Made Play Dough Recipe!

Walnut Boats Made By Joel – Great Craft!

Are you on Facebook?  Check out the Mommy Footprint fan page and join our green chats!

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Greener Birthday Parties for Older Kids

While the party is still fresh in my mind and I’ve embraced the fact another year has passed (all too quickly) for another one of my children, I wanted to write an article about hosting a greener party for older kids. I have to say the planning, execution, and green factor (being high!) from this party was very easy this year. Yes, it’s our 3rd year of hosting green parties for our children, including asking for donations in lieu of gifts, but there was no big meltdown (on my part) this year so I wanted to make some realistic recommendations to help parents trying to plan greener parties or celebrations.

When I think or say ‘greener birthday party’ or ‘eco-friendly birthday party’ a vision of children sitting around dying play dough with vegetables as the craft, eating raw/organics and picking up garbage as the activity often comes to mind. This is a lovely concept, but more realistic for younger children. The older kids get, they are picky and want to enforce their opinions on details and activities for their party..this is why things can often get expensive.  This past weekend we hosted Angelo’s 7th birthday party at a local rec centre (no I wasn’t up to the task of having 15 hyper boys in my house with only me to entertain them) and they had a teen room that is reserved during weeknights as a teen centre. The room is equipped with a Ping Pong & Pool Table, Foosball, Air Hockey, Basketball dual game, and a Wii system. There was also a party host that took them to the gym for an hour to play floor hockey and soccer. The key…these boy party guests stayed active, active, active!  The kids left the party having exercised and played with lots of different partners in the party room with the fun activities.

So the venue rocked and was very easy for my husband and I. A few other things I found easy:

Sent the annual Evite to save on paper invitations and hurt feelings from any children that weren’t invited to the party when paper invitations are passed around a classroom.

Used Angelo’s name banner for the 2nd year…best decoration for a child’s room and birthday party from my company Green Planet Parties. Besides for the tablecloth, this is the only decoration needed in this party room – everyone loved it.

My boys are crazy for Harry Potter so rather than host a Harry Potter themed party – we used understated wizard magic with the loot bags. They were cloth camouflage bags that contained organic candy, wooden wizard wands, and grey felt beards (so everyone can be like Dumbledore) once they are home. I have to say, the last guest to leave had the best reaction ever to the loot bags. He opened the bag and took out the wand and screamed “really? You got me my very own wand?” It was just awesome….anyone that believes boys need plastic, battery operated toys to be happy is frankly mistaken.

Brought in earth friendly tableware. I used palm leaf plates, corn cups and put all party guests names on them so they only used one throughout the party, used wooden cutlery, and recycled napkins. The facility where we hosted the party doesn’t have curb-side pickup for food waste so we packed up all the food waste and compostable tableware and brought it home with us to compost.  It was very easy.

For the third year Angelo hosted a donation party and asked his friends to bring a donation rather than a gift. He is a very green little guy and sees the value in helping a charity and knows that the amount of packaging that will be saved from toys and gift wrap is important. It really helps cut down on unrecyclable plastic when you ask children not to bring gifts to a party. We left the party with just envelopes because most of the kids made their own cards. In previous years, Angelo has helped Endangered Animals because it’s a concept younger children love – helping animals. This year, Angelo decided to give 1/2 of his party donations to Cancer Research because our family lost my father-in-law last year to a courageous battle to cancer so it’s a new cause that is close to their hearts. Donation parties really help empower children because they are making decisions (sometimes for the first time) with where their money is going – it gives them confidence and makes them proud.

For the first time in a long time, I simply just enjoyed the party. I wasn’t running around like a crazy person…I had support and help and got to enjoy the 3 hours, taking pictures and playing games with the kids.

I may be the owner of Green Planet Parties, but I’m not perfect and have a few areas to improve next year.  I love the convenience of supermarket cakes…I really don’t enjoy baking and know I’m not capable of pulling off a Harry Potter cake on my own, but knowing the icing is made from loads of artificial colors and the toys on top of the cake are made with PVC, doesn’t make me feel great. The convenience is wonderful…but I’d love to find another solution. There are lots of smaller cupcake, cookie, cake pop bakers in every community that are making these items from scratch and are probably more healthy than the supermarket. One person I’ve become friends with on Twitter is Event Envy. Not only is this mompreneur witty and friendly on social media, but her cakes and cake pops are incredible! My new favorite from her site is the Ruffle Cake!

Besides for the cake ‘fail’ I also brought juice boxes to the party. We did use water pitchers with the corn cups instead of plastic water bottles, but didn’t have enough containers to serve juice. The centre had recycling facilities and took care of the juice boxes but I would eliminate these for next time.

Ohhh just remembered I used beeswax candles on the birthday cake rather than petroleum based.  Maybe I just earned a point back?  <smile>

I wanted to write a post that anyone can follow regarding hosting greener birthday parties for children of any age. It’s still very possible (easy in fact) and doesn’t need to be this incredibly stressful occasion for parents. It should be enjoyable and fun….it is a party after-all!  Hmmmm next party is for my 4 year old twin daughters so everything might change trying to balance the ‘princess’ wishes they’ve been talking about.  That’s okay…I have a few ideas of my own how to keep their party green, fun, and girlie!  Wish me luck.

New, locally handmade items are arriving for Green Planet Parties. Join us on Facebook via the Fan Page so you don’t miss any of these new additions.

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A New Spin On Superhero Themed Gifts

I was inspired to write this post from the awesome ideas in the Cool Mom Picks holiday gift guide – they did such a great job in choosing original ideas for Superhero fans, without adding the usual plastic toy options. I’ve got some beautiful little nephews to buy for this Christmas who are very into Superheros so I wanted to highlight the CMP ideas plus a few of my own.

From the CMP guide….for the kid obsessed with super heroes

Personalized Cape

For the child that already has everything superhero – this personalized cape with their initial is awesome!

Personalized Adventure Story

I love the idea of personalizing an adventure story with your very own superhero.  I walked through the steps of setting up your superhero and their appearance…you can really get close with how the superhero looks by changing eye color, hair styles, etc.  So much fun and again, great gift idea for the little super hero fan that already has everything.

Superhero Mask and Cuffs

Green Planet Parties carries superhero themed lightening bolt arm cuffs and masks that are made 100% with felt and have large eye holes so the superheroes can see where they are flying!  These would compliment any capes or dress-up costumes and make the perfect stocking stuffer (size and price point). I love these so much because there isn’t any vinyl used to make them which make them a safe and fun alternative around the eyes and face.

Custom Reversible Superhero Capes

Yes I’m back to capes because we all know that kids love them. For the die hard Superman, Spiderman, Batman/girl child – The Cosmic Banana shop will nail it because kids will visually love them, but what’s great is they are hand-made in the US. I like them so much because the appliques are hand-stitched…not glued which means they will last a very long time. Check out the girlie superhero designs too!

Shutterfly Photo Books

Have you ever used the Shutterfly site to create family Photo Books?  I used to make one every year for my in-laws and parents each year as a Christmas gift….they loved them! A very special idea for your superhero fan would be to take a bunch of pictures with him/her dressed in their favourite ‘saving the world’ outfit and made a little story using Shutterfly. You can make your own story or talk about how much you love your superhero…any child would love this. My kids look through our Shutterfly photo books regularly and love the special captions that were personalized especially for them. Shutterfly is always good about having discounts and/or free shipping on their Christmas cards, calendars and photo books so always check out the home page for updates.

From having two boys I know there is magic to be found in believing in Superheroes. Great job to CMP and other talented artists for thinking out side the box and encouraging this wonderful world using earth friendlier Christmas ideas.

Related Articles:

Boys and Fun Alternatives to Electronics

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