Archive | June, 2012

Summer Activity ‘To Do’ List

With the end of our school year coming to a close, I thought there might be other parents experiencing anxiety about the upcoming summer months. This is what I’ve gone through with having four kids very close in age at the end of June and the best way to calm myself is to make a summer ‘to do’ list with the kids. After making these lists as a family – I find myself less stressed about keeping 4 busy kids (that have very different personalities) happy during July and August.  First you need to decide that it’s going to be the best summer ever!

Great summer vacations don’t mean expensive!

No matter what vacation plans, camp, or classes you have planned for your children, you control your own destiny during the summer months. Decide that it’s going to be the best summer yet and include lots of budget friendly, free activities. Heading into a forest, hiking, swimming at the beach, exploring, bike riding, organizing a park day to play soccer or games is free. We all know kids are happy doing anything with friends so spread the word to other parents on the last day of school to organize some ‘meet ups’ over the summer. I haven’t booked my kids in a single class this summer.  Normally I have a few things lined up but we are taking things as they come this year. I love trying new things with the kids during the summer so tennis, circus school or horseback riding lessons were a re-occurring request from all my kids so worth researching for lessons.

Here is what our lists looks like this year!

Get something accomplished!

Families are busy during the school year. Our kids are in school, sports, attending birthday parties during the school year. Take advantage of some down time over the summer months and cross something off your own ‘to do’ list while you’re spending more time at home. A few of theses items on my own list are get to the dermatologist, dentist, and de-clutter clothes and old toys.

Mix Things Up!

On our summer list each family member (including mom and dad) got to pick 4 main activities/vacation dream/events they would like to accomplish this summer. We put down whatever pops into the kids’ heads but they understand that the request to Disneyland (for example) is only a wish — not a guaranteed vacation. We’ve never left the Province of BC with our kids, opting for local vacations each summer. All the kids want to go to Disneyland or Whistler. I really want to travel to Tofino and watch the whales jump in the ocean. It’s something I’ve always wanted to see, but after seeing the young Humpback that died on a local beach this month (read here) I really want to show my children how they can be healthy and thriving in our BC oceans and teach them the importance of keeping our oceans healthy for these beautiful animals. Another dream on my list is to go on a farm-cation. No I don’t think working on a farm is a vacation – but I’d love the experience with my family of seeing all the hard work behind a farm to gain more appreciation for such an under appreciated profession. Hopefully that is changing as we’ve learned the value of farming and supporting local food this year.

So we have ‘dream’ items on the list but also activities that are easy for me to make happen – visiting an outdoor pool, visiting a farm, picking berries, etc.  This also helps me throughout the summer when I’m feeling frazzled and need to take the kids out. I’ll remember to take them to the local pottery store, pick fresh berries, visit a local farm to see the animals, go swimming outdoors. These are all possible for me and by the end of the summer you can look back and remember all the fun activities and time spent together. Whew – I’m already feeling a little tired <smile> but very excited for summer to get here!




DIY Stainless Steel Polish

My only cleaning products at the moment are baking soda, Dr. Bronners Liquid Soap, and olive oil.  In my efforts to remove any toxic cleaners from my home, I’ve totally streamlined my cleaners and it’s more cost effective than having multiple traditional cleaning products (there’s a myth out there that it’s expensive to go green). This DIY method for cleaning stainless steel appliances is the perfect example of how we can clean our house by simply opening the pantry door – rather than heading to the store.

I decided to try my beloved Dr. Bronners vs. olive oil on my stainless steel fridge to see which would make a better stainless steel polish. To be fair to Dr. Bronners – I’ve never seen cleaning steel marketed as one of it’s uses, but since I wash my clothes, clean my counters, floors, bathroom, etc. with it – I wanted to try. It didn’t do a bad job…it was WAY better than the traditional fridge wipes I still have from a bad purchase years ago. Dr. Bronners liquid soap required a bit more elbow grease and wasn’t as smooth as the olive oil to rub with the grain of the steel. The olive oil was easy, effective, and no streaks – the perfect polish for steel!  Here is the completed results from my fridge!

And the ‘wipes’ on the market you can use to clean steel?  I call them the traditional toxies and I mentioned my husband bought a container a few years ago. To be fair to him, the packaging states ” non-toxic ” and there actually isn’t an ingredient list on the product. The smell and headache I get when opening the wipes is enough to tell me what’s inside. The wipes also didn’t work. I’ve also pointed out in the below image that there is a blue ribbon for Ovarian Cancer Awareness. This is what upsets a lot of green advocates with companies manufacturing products with chemicals and then marketing them as benefiting cancer agencies.

I love a great DIY recipe for cleaning and this is my favorite because you only need cooking oil and a rag. It’s important to rub along the grain of the steel and it might sweat after you’ve cleaned it. Go back later and rub along the grain again without adding more oil.  I recently cleaned the dashboard of my van with olive oil and the results have been fantastic! Click here to learn how to clean your vehicle without chemicals.



2 in 1 Summer Shoe – Salt Water Sandals

With the rain on the West Coast – we’ve had a delayed response in purchasing summer footwear for the kids. My reluctance to purchase another pair of plastic summer shoes last year resulted in my oldest son actually wearing his running shoes all summer – that’s a dedication to reducing plastic! But it’s tough to beat plastic shoes for kids because they can be worn in the ocean, beach combing, water park, etc. So when venting my frustration about this to Maria, Owner of dandelion KIDS, she introduced me to Salt Water Sandals. This was a new recommendation and with how cute the sandals are it was amazing to discover they are water shoes!  After raving about BOGS footwear for the same reason, 2-1 boot for snow and rain, I thought these could be my summer shoe solution for my girls. And after almost a month of testing – they are! First, check out how cute they are!!

Knowing that my girls would love the stylish design, I purchased a pair and received a pair for the review. My girls are tough on shoes because they are rough and tough little things.  These sandals have been incredible.  Not only can my 6 year olds manage the buckles themselves, they wear these as their ‘dress-up’ shoes with dresses for events we attend, they are worn bike riding, and as the summer warms up they can wear them into the ocean for beach walks. We tried a beach walk before having these shoes and my girls had cuts all over the bottom of their feet from sharp rocks, barnacles, etc., so thank you Maria! It’s important to note that Salt Water Sandals are also machine washable . . they have the ability to bounce back into shape.  Ours haven’t reached that point of scuffing yet, but it’s only a matter of time so I love this!

We know I love a good story and two great tidbits on these sandals is the company behind the shoe has been in business for over 60 years and were created as an alternative to traditional children’s leather sandals as a way to cope with leather shortages in World War II. The sandals were made primarily from scrap leather left over from making men’s shoes. Maria shared with me that both herself and Stephanie, co-owner of dandelion KIDS owned these sandals as children. I guess even back then they had an eye for sourcing great products!

Available online at dandelion KIDS. They fit on the bigger side so if you’re in-between sizes, go down in size.

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BOGS Boots



Urban Forest Soap – Shaving Bar Review

This article has been writing itself since I read Alicia’s post over at The Soft Landing regarding traditional men’s shaving cream containing Teflon. Great information in this article, especially for those people that shave with a gel! With Father’s Day approaching I think it would be a great token of love to de-tox the products that surround the important men in your life. Before taking the easy route and buying dad new cologne or traditional after shave lotion, take the principals that apply to women’s and children’s personal care products. Men should be trying to live a more organic life-style but ofter we forget about them. Start to slowly replace personal care products as they run out with those that contain more natural ingredients…and last time I checked, Teflon was anything but natural!

So when a Mommy Footprint reader mentioned the company Urban Forest Soaps and that they sell Shave Bars… I was very interested. It turns out having my husband spend time reviewing a product is a slow endeavor – but he reported back with a thumbs up for using the shave bars on his very thick and stubborn stubble. It took him awhile to get used to the lack of lather from the bars, but a more seasoned ‘greenie’ wouldn’t be as surprised by the lower amount of sudsing.

It occurred to me a few weeks after receiving the shave bars that I could be testing them too since I the rare occasion I do shave my legs. <grin> The first thing I noticed was a difference in my skin’s texture, like a barrier on my legs after I applied and shaved with the shave bar soap. The owner of Urban Forest Soap explained it’s the Kaolin clay that provides the slip…it is a very important ingredient & reason the shave bars are bestsellers for men.  Also important to note is the cucumber extract provides a cooling & anti inflammatory affect on the skin which helps eliminate red bumps. The ingredient list is lovely to look at – all recognizable names and the EWG rates the Urban Forest Soap bath salts a perfect 0 for being a safe product!

This little Canadian company is growing and always posting new yummy products so keep in touch by checking out their fan page here.


Ingredient List for Urban Forest Avocado Shave Bar: Ingredients: olea europaea (olive) oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, aqua (water), persea gratissima (avocado) oil, prunis dulcis, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter)



Today I Ate A Rainbow

I’ve had a few questions lately requesting resources for healthier eating with children. The first site that always comes to mind is Kia, Founder of  Today I Ate A Rainbow. She’s managed to capture the fun of eating healthier with a magnetic rainbow chart that helps kids track how many rainbows they’ve eaten in a day. When you hear that kids need a minimum of 5 fruits and vegetables a day – it can be a little overwhelming for parents thinking how to provide those kinds of portions. But when you phrase it “how many rainbows did your child eat today?” it’s instantly fun and easy for parents & kids to wrap their mind around.  A professed ‘picky eater’ Kia knows first hand how difficult it is to transform stubborn eating habits that develop with children. One thing that really stuck with me from a phone call I shared with Kia is when picky eaters are exposed to new foods, it can take up to 20 tries before they will accept it. For a non-picky eater that exposure is closer to 10. We’ve been testing the Today I Ate A Rainbow chart for months with my four children and I love how easy it is! Kia is also a like minded business owner by sticking to her vision of keeping things local by having the magnetic charts manufactured locally and with vegetable dyes. Great value in this kit and keeps eating fun for kids!  I’ve learned along the way too – I had no idea raisins would count as a serving under the blue/purple rainbow.  Hooray for raisins!

How does it work? There are different shaped magnets for each family member and once you compete a food group color, you place a magnet on the strip of rainbow. The helpful part of the chart is fruit/veggie suggestions are printed on the rainbow so kids can quickly see results and parents can quickly reference the chart. Ours is on the fridge and the convenience is awesome! Just by visiting the Today I Ate A Rainbow website or Fanpage will immediately bring you valuable information. The cute videos on the site of Kia and her daughter cooking together are awesome for kids to watch!  Let Hannah inspire your child to try making eggplant or kale chips!

As I mentioned, Kia was a really picky eater and has some amazing tips for parents!  Find tips for picky eaters here. Other helpful suggestions from Kia that my family has been putting to the test are listed below.

1) Keep Fruits and Vegetables in Sight: Stock your fridge full of washed and ready to eat fruits and veggies. Having them cut up in slices makes it even easier for your kids to reach in and grab a quick healthy snack.

2) Be a good Role Model: If you expect your child to eat vegetables, you need to be eating them, too. Children learn from their parents, so model the behavior you wish to see in your child.

3) Serve when Hungry: Serve fruits and veggies to kids when they’re hungry. If the option is either produce or nothing they will go for the food!

4) The Today I Ate A Rainbow!™ Chart is all about setting a healthy habit of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. Keep in mind that it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit.

5) Offer fruit or vegetables for snacks. In between meals let them snack all they want on healthy fruit and vegetable slices.

6) Watch the clock. Make sure to stop all snacks about one hour before your meal. That way they’ll be hungry when they come to the table.

I can say from speaking with Kia and staying in touch via social media – you can feel her positive outlook and passion for healthy eating for the entire family!  She is an incredible resource for all families and I’m super proud to have met, connected, and follow this amazing mom!

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