30
Jan

Froose – The Healthy Drink for Kids

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

peach frooseWhen I decided to cut my youngest son’s milk intake recently I was nervous. I just knew that plain water would only be tolerated in small amounts and juice would be the better option. I was right about the water issue so a juice/water mixture was my game plan but juice has a lot of sugar so I was concerned about that too. As if knowing I needed a better alternative I get an invitation to test a new healthy juice drink for kids called Froose. Woot!

I received a big box of of Froose juice boxes in Perfect Pear, Playful Peach, and Cheerful Cherry. This is a brand new product for children that incorporates organic whole grains and fruit to make a nutritious alternative to regular juice that is low in sugar and has lots of fiber…like eating a whole piece of fruit. It was created by a mom who was once a food company executive. She was concerned about the nutritional value of juice because her own son wanted to drink it all day long….loading up on empty calories and leaving him not wanting to eat at mealtime. So she created a juice product with complex carbo­hydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber, AND organic ingredients. They are naturally low in sugar, they are sweetened with organic brown rice syrup, and they have 3 grams of fiber per serving. They are also gluten free and Kosher and natural coloring is used like Annatto or Elderberry so there are no red or blue dyes. Froose sounds to good to be true!

pear frooseI have tasted all the Froose varieties myself and while they did not appeal to my own taste buds so much (too mild) my kids like them quite a bit. My 2 year old makes kissy faces and says “Num , num” whenever he sees them so that is a good sign. :) My 4 year old and 7 year old seem to enjoy them too, so I think we will have some Froose in the house from now on and I won’t have to worry so much about their juice intake.

The only thing I would change is the packaging. I am not big on juice boxes so if Froose came in glass bottles that would rock. Also, ordering them online is okay but if they had them in regular stores that would be even better….maybe someday.

This product gets a thumbs up from me! Visit the Froose web site.

29
Jan

School Issue Update

by Tiffany in Children, Tidbits

homeschoolingSince I had so many supportive comments about my public school issue with my son and requests that I let everyone know how things went, I thought I would give a report. I went to the school meeting this morning.

For the first 10 -20 minutes I let them report about my son’s lack of progress and the fact that they believe he is about on year behind where he should be academically. When they asked my opinion about all of what they had said I basically explained that I am just not seeing the problems they do. My son is highly intelligent and has learned an amazing amount just since he joined this school but they seem to be less concerned with progress as they are with meeting up to a predetermined standards. I pointed out that education is a journey….not a race….and I feel my son is right where he needs to be and where he should be. I point blank told them that their standards are immaterial to me. Each child has unique abilities, learning styles, and strengths.

Well, as some of the commenters from my previous post hinted it actually went over well. All three of the educators there agreed that the standards were flawed and set some kids up for failure. My son’s homeroom teacher actually mentioned that my son would be better off in a Waldorf school and looked kind of dreamy eyed when she said it. I agreed….but the closest Waldorf school is two hours away (one way). If anything this makes me regret moving from Arizona a bit because the schools were more relaxed there and they have several Waldorf schools but what’s done is done. :(

My son is at a disadvantage because the requirements in AZ were a far cry from what they are here. In Arizona they wanted him to know his ABCs and letter sounds upon graduation. When he transferred mid year to an Ohio kindergarten class they expected him to be reading and spelling already, which was a big shock. He also had little parental assistance during his first year of schooling because I was going through Chemo 5-6 days a week every other week. So he is behind his classmates because he did not have the same starting point or the same instruction they did. Now the school is acting like the race is on to “catch him up”.

They told me we have 3 options…retain him (not an option I told them), see if he qualifies for special ed (they were doubtful), or let him move on to second grade and get lost academically and flunk out. They all showed regret that these were the best options they could come up with. I told them I would pull him from school and homeschool before I let him flunk out or be made to feel as though he were inadequate in some way and that I would be watching that like a hawk. They seemed to like that, LOL. They kept mentioning how lucky my  son was to have someone who cared so much about his education and put so much thought into preserving his self worth.

Then the prinicipal flat out told me that I should look into TRECA. I was NOT expecting that! TRECA is a public funded digital academy that services 5-6 counties in my area. It is homeschool with an online assistance program. The big benefit of TRECA is that you work at your own pace and you schedule your schooling as you see fit even working during summer months. After doing a search I also found some support/homeschool groups for kids using TRECA or any of the other online schools Ohio has.

So…wow…I have a lot to think about. BUT it looks like unless things drastically change I will likely be homeschooling for the next school year which is actually kind of exciting. Taking my kids on the 600 mile Highway 127 yard sale from Ohio to Alabama is educational right? My homeschool ideas are kind of eclectic, LOL.

I ordered some of the books that you lovely readers suggested too. So I have some reading to do and some thinking to do….wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

14 Comments on School Issue Update

25
Jan

Friday Eco Wrap –

by Tiffany in Eco Tips

friday wrap upTGIF! Have an awesome weekend everyone!

First up I want to announce the winner of the Mama Knows Breast book I reviewed. According to Random.org the random winner is commenter #6…Mama K. Woot! Congrats Kaiya…if I had done this drawing earlier I would have sent this along with the other package I just sent you this morning!

For other freebies check out a new blog and a great new company called Generation Orange that sells natural goods. In fact we have a few of their goodies to give away coming next week but until then stop by their blog and check out their Friday Freebies! This week they are giving away a pack of Elsie’s All Natural Germ Fighter Wipes.

Also, the Sigg company asked me to mention their 100 Anniversary. They now have 100 delicious reusable bottles styles. The site will launch on Feb. 11th and last through April 22nd (Earth Day). During this 10 week period, SIGG will partner up with Laurie David’s organization, StopGlobalWarming.com, to explore 100 Significant Eco-Moments in the past century. Visitors to the site will have an opportunity to win a trip for 2 to Hawaii to attend the 5th annual Kokua Festival headlined by Jack Johnson (what mom doesn’t deserve a free trip!). SIGG will also be hosting online Q&A’s with 5 environmental activists, which include Zem Joaquin, Ed Begley Jr., P. Simran Sethi, Christopher Gavigan and Laurie David. Cool Beans!!

In other news…

I found some awesome solar lights from a company called Solar Cynergy. They really caught my eye solar colorsbecause they fit in the ground instead of above it like lanterns AND they come in colors like pink and green. They can easily be put along a walk way, a pool, even a city sidewalk. You can drive over them and supposedly they will be just fine. Pretty nifty!

Have you been wondering about how green and natural the new Clorox Greenworks products are? Me too. A post over at Really Natural has some good information and links if you want to study up.

I recently came across a cool site at BuyMyTronics.com. The founder, Brett Mosley, buys broken iPods, Zunes, iPhones, cell phones, Nintendos, Playstations, and laptops and then he fixes them up good as new and sells them on eBay. This is awesome for someone who needs a little cash and has a broken electronic device that they will likely just throw away. Even if you decide to send your device to the manufacturing company for recycling there is the possibility that they will refurbish it and you get zilch in return or they will send to to a third world country to be recycled. I like the BuyMyTronics solution much better.

Also, according to Brett the sixth generation iPods were designed to be unfixable. The way they are made ensures that the body section of the iPod is destroyed when removed. That really irks me. When my 2 year old iPod finally bites the dust I think I might buy a different brand of Mp3 player because that goes against their whole “green” image. You can’t tell me they haven’t designed these new iPods that way on purpose so that consumers are forced to buy new. Grrr…and here I had nice things to say about them only a few days ago. Mp3 players might be eco friendly but Apple….not so much.

Well, that wraps it up…have a great green weekend!

Friday, January 25th, 2008

5 Comments on Friday Eco Wrap –

23
Jan

I Really Should Homeschool

by Tiffany in Children, Tidbits

student struggleI don’t have many positive things to say about public school lately. In fact I don’t have anything positive to say really. I wish my oldest son (7) didn’t love going to school so much because I personally think that it might be a bad idea.

We had a long road to travel with his vaccine injury and his epilepsy. I was told long ago that he might have some difficulties with learning later on due to his brain injury so when I sent him to school I was VERY nervous that he wouldn’t do as well as the other kids and he would be made to feel inadequate. I lucked out in Kindergarten as the program was similar to Montessori education but I am not so lucky after our move to Ohio.

He is now in the BEST school in the county which I can now see is going to be a HUGE problem. My son is having trouble reading. In my opinion this is no big deal. I have no doubt he will learn to read just fine…even if a little slower than those in his class but it is a big deal to the school, who is now pressuring me with group review meetings designed to help my son with his “problem”. In these meetings it is me, the principal, my son’ teacher, his new reading teacher that was assigned at the last meeting, a Speech Language Pathologist, and the school counselor. Basically we are supposed to brainstorm ways to help my son “catch up” with everyone else.

The problem is I don’t think he should have to “catch up”. What in the Sam Dickens is wrong with a child learning to read and write at his or her own pace. Why do ALL children have to live up to this cookie cutter definition of a “good” first grader? Grrrr. I got really angry when two letters came home this week about this “issue” and one of them basically hinted that my son is becoming withdrawn in class as he begins to feel like an outcast that doesn’t have the same abilities and skills the other kids have. Whew….when I go to that meeting next week they are going to be sorry about that one. If anything it tells me that THEY are making him feel like an outcast…if in fact he is feeling that way…which I doubt. If he is being withdrawn it is likely because they are reading aloud in class and expecting everyone to be able to do it and he can’t. Sounds like a good reason to not participate if you ask me.

So I am at a loss about what to do. I would hate to pull him from school against his will but I have no doubt that these teachers and this school WILL undermine his confidence eventually and I will be one mad mama when that starts to happen. Putting him in a private Montessori school really isn’t an option because there aren’t any here. Right now I am looking at Sylvan and Kumon for tutoring but I HATE the thought of adding more school work to his life. His weekday schedule is this….get up at 7:30, get on bus on 8:00, get off bus at 4:00, play until 6:00, eat dinner, do homework, go to his bedroom at 8:00 and watch TV till 9:00 and then sleep. Rinse and repeat. Homework last night consisted of two math worksheets, 2 books that had to be read, and one reading board game that had to be played. On the weekends I let him run free. Especially since he only gets to spend every other weekend with his Dad (who travels extensively for work).

So what I do when I don’t consider the school’s problem to be a problem? Yank him from public school? Get his some tutoring? Ignore it? I wish I knew what to do.

Anyone have any ideas, experiences, or insight to share?

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

27 Comments on I Really Should Homeschool

21
Jan

BPA Free Sippy Cups – Part Two

sippy review

Check out my review on the New Glass Sippy!

A few months ago I wrote a lengthy review of BPA free sippy cups. I reviewed, compared, and rated 5 major sippy cups that are BPA free…Klean Kanteen, the Sigg, the Foogo, Born Free, and Avent Naturally. A few months before that I also wrote about BPA free baby bottles and particularly glass baby bottles. I wrote another one just a few weeks ago. All of these posts draw a lot of daily traffic to this blog so I know this is a topic of great importance to parents. It also turns out that ever since I wrote that sippy cup post I have been contacted by several companies that make BPA free products to ask me to review their products and to keep writing about this important issue…keeping BPA or Bisphenol A out of the products we give to our babies.

I recently heard about a mom that wrote a letter to a baby formula manufacturer asking them to remove BPA from their product. The response she got was essentially that “the government says the tiny amount of BPA in our product is safe…we aren’t breaking any laws…tough cookies”.

This response infuriates me. Yes that one can of formula may have “safe limits” of BPA but what happens when parents go home and feed their babies that BPA tainted formula inside a BPA tainted bottle? After feeding time maybe they give that child a teething toy that has BPA in it and for nap time maybe the child sucks on a pacifier with BPA in it. The total exposure to BPA is getting quite large when you look at ALL the products in their small lives that may contain this harmful chemical. For ANY company to sit back and say that they don’t care about that is morally reprehensible IMO. We as consumers need to withhold our financial support of such companies until they clean up their act.

I am happy to report that MANY new companies, and some not so new companies, are stepping up the the plate and making safer products. In fact I have six new BPA free sippy cups to review! Several of these came to us gratis from some great companies so thank you! We now have an amazing collection of BPA cups including a cup that is perfect for older kids.

fluid cupFluid No Spill Toddler Cup from Boon (Price $6.00) – This cup is really kind of special and you can see why immediately. It has a very unique shape….kind of like a doughnut. It is uber stylish drink-ware for kids. The Fluid has an ergonomic two handled grip and an angled spout that requires less heading tipping. The price is very reasonable too.

A big plus for me is that it is a two piece system unlike so many other sippy cups. I am also happy to report that it is dishwasher safe because washing this thing by hand wouldn’t be very easy. The drying time required is a little long IMO though. I wondered how my son would react to the shape of this cup and at first it seemed we had a dud on our hands because he screamed and refused to drink out of it. :) But I left it front of him during dinner and he eventually took a cautious sip and now he likes to drink out of it. However I usually try to reserve this cup for meal times because while it will not spill if knocked over, it will drip if turned upside down…a bonus feature for my two year old.  My kids give this cup an A+ but mom gives it a B.

safe sippy by kid basixThe Safe Sippy by Kid Basix (Price $16.95) – This cup is kind of deceiving. Just by looking at a picture I would not have discerned that it is stainless steel…but it is. It is a non-leaching stainless steel cup with a hard plastic, angled spout, removable plastic handles, and a cool rubber-like plastic sheath similar to the ones we are know seeing on some glass baby bottles. All plastics used to make these cups are free of BPA, DEHA, and phthalates. This is even declared on the packaging which is a HUGE bonus IMO. The packaging is also made from recycled paper and soy based inks. The cups come in pink, blue, and teal.

My 4 year old daughter LOVES this cup. She opted to remove the handles as they were awkward for her but now that they are gone this is her favorite cup…knocking her Sigg and her Klean Kanteen down to seconds. She tosses it around quite a bit and it does not leak. What I like about this cup is the sheath on top of the stainless steel. It keeps her little hands from getting cold when a cold drink is put inside of it. The other two cups I mentioned do get pretty darn cold and cold is not cool in winter time.  She tells me that the pink color is perfect for princesses too. She gives it an A+ and so do I.

nuby greenNuby No-Spill Sport Sipper (Price $3.95) – This cup is probably the most affordable BPA free option for parents and as such it gets big props from me. Yes I personally prefer some of the more expensive cups but lower income families should not be relegated to using toxics because that is all they can afford. This Nuby cup is very durable and attractive with lovely shades of purple, red, blue, yellow, and green.  We have the green cup and it is a very pretty lime hue. It too has a hint of that rubber-like sheath that is getting so popular with a no-slip grip around the middle of the cup.  The middle of the cup is also curved allowing little hands to get a good grip. I think the easy grip is one reason my two year old REALLY likes this cup. It also has a soft silicone nipple-shaped straw. I am not sure how long the straw part will last in comparison to the rest of the cup but time will tell. My kids gave this cup a B. I think it wasn’t fancy enough for them but the low price and the overall appeal have prompted me to give it an A.

nuby smallNuby 10oz Sippy Cup with Handles (Price $4.95) – This is another great cup from Nuby. It is smaller and is made with a harder plastic than the one above. It has twin handles with a wide soft silicone spout, and a pressure sensitive Vari-Flo feature that regulates fluid intake and doesn’t leak.  This Nuby is probably ideal for kids just making the transition to a sippy cup but the quality is really very nice for such an affordable cup. My youngest son didn’t seem to prefer this cup but we didn’t have any leaks when he used it. Overall my kids gave this cup a C…but the affordability once again can’t be ignored. I gave this one a B.

Note: I need to mention that Nubi has MANY sippy cups on the market that are not BPA free so use caution. My reviews of the two cups above are product specific and do not apply to the whole Nuby line.

think baby sippy cupThink Baby 9oz Training Cup (Price $8.95) – The Think Baby line is free of BPA, PVC, Nitrosamines and Lead. The sippy cups are made from a safe, durable and heat resistant plastic called PES (Polyethersulfone). The actual cup body is a lovely honey color and the top and handles are melon colored. The color scheme was hit for me as was the fact that it came in recycled packaging. This cup is ideal for training babies to use a sippy cup so the handles are kind of big and chunky and the spout is soft and nipple-like. Other nice features inlcude the fact that all Think Baby bottle and training cup parts are interchangeable and it is dishwasher safe. We removed the handles and it is working well for my youngest although I think if left unattended he would chew on the spout and ruin it. I think this cup is definitely for younger kids. My kids gave it a B and since it does have a specific and narrow market I would also give it a B. For the same price I could buy each of the Nuby cups described above and have a transition cup AND a toddler cup.

funtainerThe FUNtainer Straw Bottle by Thermos (Price $12.99-14.99) – This is the BPA free cup option that will appeal to older kids. It is made by Thermos who also makes my favorite sippy cup…the Foogo. In fact the taller Foogo straw cup is pretty darn similar. The FUNtainer is a fantastic stainless steel straw bottle with a plastic lid made of non-toxic polypropylene and the straw is made of silicone. The lid stays attached to the cup so losing it is not an issue as it is with so many other cups. You simple push a little tab and the lid pops up and falls back to allow drinking. It is really very nifty. It came with an extra straw for the inside and the out which is nice too. I would have to say that this cup is a bit hard to clean though so I only allow water in it. Which really is good because I want my kids to drink more water.

Another big plus for this cup is the fact that it comes in a lot of great styles. You can get a FUNtainer designed with Barbie, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars the Movie, Scooby Doo…there are many different options. The lower price is for more generic designs like flowers and the upper price is for cups with licensed characters like Barbie. We have the Cars FUNtainer for my seven year who is a big fan of Lightning McQueen. He carries this cup in his Laptop Lunchbox bag or in his backpack if he doesn’t pack a lunch. He gives it an A+ rating and I would have to give it the same.

So, which cup rates the best in our family? Well, for this round we have to pick two different cups. The Safe Sippy comes out  a winner because it is stainless steel and has a protective sheath that makes it more practical for cold beverages (or cold weather – I live in Ohio). The FUNtainer is also a big winner because it is perfect for older kids and my oldest son wants his own special cups that don’t look babyish.

Now if I include the cups from my previous sippy cup review I would have to say that overall I still like the Foogo with its Thermos ability to insulate drink temperatures and its gorgeous design. The Safe Sippy may just have to be our colder weather cup though. And my favorite cup for older kids is the FUNtainer. Lots of readers asked about cups for older kids so I was happy to find a nice solution.

Make sure to check out our reviews on BPA Free Plates, Bowls, and Utensils!