Archive | November, 2012

Book To Engage Children With Nature

Over the years I’ve read some wonderful children’s books, but recently with a renewed dedication to visiting our local library each week, we’ve discovered books that really capture the essence of bringing children closer to nature. I love hearing about favorite books so I’d like to share my new discoveries. To make the list fun and more complete, I thought I’d select a book from each age bracket starting from babies until mid-elementary. After this age, chapter books enter the picture with bed time routine, so this list is for the under age 10 crowd.

Babies Pick:

When I think about books to read to babies I always think Dr. Suess. Since you won’t get the immediate gratification or feedback when reading to a baby – pick books that are fun to read, flow easily, and have a message for you to understand and remember once that baby starts to grow. The Lorax and The Giving Tree have two of the strongest messages and are books that can be read all throughout your child’s development. The Lorax is the type of book that you take away a new message each time you visit the pages. Long before your child discovers the movie, they should experience the strong messages on helping the environment from hearing the words read by their parent.

Preschool Pick:

Kiss The Cow – I was smitten by the book cover before even opening the book! The story is wonderful and current in today’s world of appreciating and respecting the work that goes into producing food.  Kiss The Cow is about a curious little girl named Annalisa and her cow named Luella. When the little girl milks the cow and forgets the kiss – who will be the first to back down? A magic cow who demands a kiss on the nose to keep milk flowing is a message of thanking our food supply, explained in a light and funny way! As you’ll see from the book cover (via Candlewick Press) this book is precious for both parents and younger children to read!

 

Kindergarten – Grade 2 Pick:

We keep renewing Seal Song from the library because it is such a refreshing change in children’s literature. Seal Song is a story about a boy that helps his father fish in a small town and secretly swims with seals in a secret cove. When he rescues a seal tangled in netting, he makes a wish that the seal could live on land. That night the seals sing and a mysterious girl arrives on the docks. The main character Finn and this girl immediately start a friendship but there is unease that she is a magical selkie until the seals sing again. Andrea Spalding did a great job writing this book and I love the special messages about our connection and rewards for helping nature.

Grade 2 – Grade 4 Pick:

Eagle Boy has another amazing book cover and is published by Random House. This story is based on a popular Northwest Coast Native tale and tells the story of ‘Eagle Boy’ who is born an orphan and grows up to love his eagle friends, despite the fact the rest of his tribe distrusts these birds. He is eventually outcast for his love of eagles, but after the tribe can’t find a food source, both the boy and tribe are saved from starvation by the eagles. A great book about individuality, standing up for what you believe in, and humanity. The pictures are also stunning!

Here is a variety of book picks from mom contributors via Mommy Footprint fan page. Here are their suggestions on books that engage children with nature! I know I’ll be adding a few of these to my Christmas list – what about you?

– Hey Little Ant

– Owl Moon

– The Last Wild Witch

– The Salamander Room

– We Planted A Tree

– A Log’s Life

– The Nature Corner

– Bear Hug

– The Whale and the Snail

– Jessie’s Island

 

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Air Freshener Options

Regular readers of Mommy Footprint know a few things about me… I’m scent sensitive and normally can’t tolerate air born particles from air fresheners, plug-ins, perfume, cleaners, etc. You see, when a person is sensitive to chemical scent, you can smell things most people can’t, triggering headaches and other reactions. So when our friends from Urban Forest Soaps sent me air fresheners to review I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I do know lots of people that won’t give up the convenience of a spray to combat odor so I tried the air freshener/linen spray and tested on my mattress, pillows, and used as a room freshener, I was actually surprised that I didn’t get a headache. It was also nice to have a linen spray to use while my pillows were out in the sunlight getting dust mite maintenance. I won’t turn into a daily air freshener user but I’m happy to recommend this to people that need one. And if you’re thinking you don’t need to replace that big bottle of Febreeze or Plug-In – the rest of this article is for you; to remind everyone why traditional air sprays are so bad. Not just for us lot that are sensitive – but the toll they have on human health.

If you read this article and want a 100% organic solution for air freshness  – think back to how our grandparents did things: bake something with cinnamon or open a window. Want a longer term solution? I have a friend named Marisol that wasn’t going to give up her air fresheners and after listening to her reasons why, I know there’s more people that feel the same and want something easy and convenient. A good rule to follow is looking for options that release scent using essential oils. Here is a link to the sprays I was sent from Urban Forest Soap and I like they only contain two ingredients (witch hazel, organic floral water) and have a light scent that dissipates quickly. I tried the lavender and orange sprays and really liked them both. I sent them to my friend Marisol to test for me since she likes linen sprays and room deodorizers to see if I could convert her – she’s also very honest! She wasn’t a fan of the orange spray but is still happily using the lavender and has replaced using Febreeze type products to spray clothing, bedding, air, and her car. I’ll call that is a success story! It is important to note that just because a product contains essential oils – you might still find the scent or oils irritating.

Why am I so against traditional air fresheners? They are loaded with chemicals that cause cancer, effect fertility, and can effect brain/nervous systems. A bottle of Febreeze only lists 3 ingredients on their packaging – do you know how many actually exist in this air freshener? The EWG released an article finding 89 air contaminants within a bottle of Febreze Air Effects and the chemicals of concern according to this report are scary! Here are only three of the many chemicals but it gives you an idea of how serious these chemicals are. Read the full list here:

BHT: Neurotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Occupational hazards

ACETALDEHYDE: Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)

FRAGRANCE: Neurotoxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous

Do you want to know what is disclosed on the exterior label of the same bottle of Febreeze tested by EWG? “Odor eliminator, water, fragrance, non-flammable natural propellant, quality control ingredients.” There aren’t regulations on the use of harmful chemicals in air fresheners so as you can see, reading labels with traditional sprays won’t help us. Another place to check for air fresheners is your workplace or school bathrooms. I can’t think of anything I’d rather not have my children inhaling every time they enter a school bathroom than those chemicals found in air fresheners (you know those pink pucks found behind the toilets?  Yeah those!). Allergies and asthma are exasperated with spraying air-born chemicals so make sure you check what is flying around day cares, dance/gymnastic studios, schools, and locker rooms where your children spend large amounts of time. And for those that need something to spray  – Tricia from Urban Forest Soaps has you covered!

This article is being written just at the crest of Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Don’t get forget there is a lot of marketing for synthetic scents to spread the smells of Christmas (cinnamon, candy canes, and trees) around your house. Make sure they are the real thing rather than off-gassing with chemicals. Try this great DIY recipe for the stove top with cinnamon sticks and orange – it will fill your house with scent, without the chemicals. While your reading this article – scroll down further and read a story about my first encounter with a women using Febreeze around my children. My kids were shocked by my reaction but we all laugh about it now.

Related Articles:

Natural Tips to Improve Bedroom Air Quality

Think Before Using Fragrance

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Sharing The Journey Of West Coast Salmon

I’m a total West Coast girl. My favorite thing to do is walk through the forest and even though I’ve lived here my whole life, I will still gasp out loud at the lush moss, green ferns, amazing leaves, and trees that surround my community. I learned last year that not all of my readers have personally experienced watching salmon make their way back to their place of birth to spawn each year. The journey is a mixture of beauty and sadness because after the females bury their eggs and male spawners fertilize, their journey is over and they dye.  From each thousand eggs that were laid, only a few adult salmon survive and return to their home streams to spawn and die and continue the cycle.

I always take my children to watch the salmon’s journey up our local rivers and streams because they see the tremendous effort these fish make to continue their cycle.  Their pre-school did a great job of organizing field trips to local watersheds so the kids could learn about local restoration programs. When salmon streams are not taken care of properly, it has a dramatic effect on salmon numbers and spawning numbers. Having been raised with salmon being an important part of the environment, I think watching and learning about the salmon run is amazing for children!

It’s taken a few attempts to get a good video of local salmon making their way upstream, but I hope you get a glimpse of this beautiful event we are lucky enough to see up close.  As you can see, this stream is filled with salmon but the moving water makes it hard to get a super clear video. . . hopefully you can make out the moving salmon under the stream’s surface!

 

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