28
Feb

Would You Wash Your Kids Mouth with Liquid Soap?

by Tiffany in Children, parenting

wash_mouth_out_soap.jpgLast night my hubby and I watched Supernanny. Yes, we do watch a little of TV and I actually really like the show Supernanny….I think Jo Frost (aka the nanny) has some awesome ideas about parenting peacefully. Of course now I risk the lambasting I got last time I mentioned a TV show…when I got a seething email from a reader who said she couldn’t read the blog of a loathsome TV watcher.

So….I was quite upset by the show last night. The parents on the show were predictably clueless as is normal for the show but these parents we cruel too. I was shocked when the father screamed at his two year old and hit him in the head with a fork. I was irked when the mother let her five year old leave the home unattended without even bothering to check to see where he went. I was saddened to see the boys play video games that were marked M for Mature and which made recreation of murder and crime. I was about ready to strangle that mom though when she decided to make her oldest son eat liquid soap after he said “butt crack”. She made him open his mouth and he got a squirt of liquid soap, right down his throat.

Now mind you they allow these boys to play video games were swearing is commonplace and they even swear at their boys but saying butt crack I guess is an offense worthy of drinking poison I guess. I could not believe it.

Liquid soaps have so many chemicals in them it is outrageous…especially the antibacterial varieties. I just can’t fathom making a child consume chemicals as punishment for anything. The Supernanny also couldn’t believe it and she asked the mom rhetorically “Are you insane?!” She also implied that punishing a child in such a way expresses a conditional love. Jo also offered some of the soap to mom…because surely if she would have her kids eat soap then she wouldn’t have an issue with eating it to.

Well, the mom bugged out, said she didn’t see what the big deal was and stormed out of the house. She has some nasty things to say about Jo and didn’t want to continue the show. She also refused to eat the soap herself, saying “it’s not alright for me”. They did finish the show but you could see that things were strained and tense from that point on. I felt horrible for those boys after the show.

I know the “washing of the mouth” with soap thing was a popular parenting technique of long ago and perhaps I would not have had such an issue if it were relatively non-toxic bar soap but liquid soap??

Personally I wouldn’t do it. For one thing liquid soap is chock full of dangerous chemicals and kids have no business ingesting it. Second, I find that I don’t like to deal with kids in a manner that I cannot be proud of. If I can’t or won’t treat an adult in a certain manner (hitting them, slapping them, forcing them to eat soap) then I won’t treat a child that way either. In my family the principle of equality is very important. The thoughts, feelings, and needs of each individual (parent or child) is equally valued and equally considered. Golden rule parenting dictates that I give the respect I hope to get back.

My hubby on the other hand was not so mortified by the soap incident. Until I mentioned the chemicals in liquid soap he didn’t bat an eye. What are your thoughts?

26
Feb

Eco Laundry – Just Dropp It

dropps detergentI have not been a fan of conventional laundry detergents for a long time. My general fondness of natural detergents and laundering methods was cemented when I did the research for a cloth diaper detergent chart on one of my other sites. You should check out the chart…it was meant for cloth diapers in particular but it is a good resource for detergents for ANY kind of laundry. I have basically taken a ton of different detergents and rated them based upon their use of enzymes, optical brighteners, dyes, fragrance, and fabric softeners….which are pretty much all bad news and I explain why at the bottom of the page.

Something always bothered me about even the most natural detergents though…..the packaging. It is very wasteful…especially the big plastic bottles of liquid detergent.

So I was jazzed recently to get to try Dropps Liquid Laundry Pacs finally. They are tiny little packs of natural liquid detergent with no enzymes, optical brighteners, or fabric softeners. The scented version has dyes and fragrance but the unscented has neither. So the detergent is healthier for humans and for the planet right off the bat but the packaging is also very cool.

A regular plastic jug of liquid detergent is only 2 times concentrated. That means it is 75% water. What a waste! The Dropps on the other hand are 6 times concentrated…so you aren’t paying for a teeny bit of detergent and a bunch of water. Also only 75% of that plastic jug is made from recycled plastic and the cap is not recyclable so 100% of those end up in the landfill.

The Dropps are tiny little baggies of detergent and you throw the whole thing in the wash. The plasticy film completely dissolves like those Listereen breath strips so there is no waste. The Dropps do come in  a larger plastic bag but I hear they are changing that aspect of the packaging so I am excited to see what they come up with. Overall this detergent means far less waste and after a few weeks I find that they clean just as effectively as my other detergents and without residue build-up, so Dropps are a big winner in my book. They are good for people with sensitive skin in my opinion too, because that is me for sure…I get hives when things irritate my skin.

 

21
Feb

BPA Free Plates, Cups, and Utensils for Kids

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

bpa-free-plates-cups-and-utensils-for-kidsWhen I released my reports on BPA free sippy cups I had a large number of moms ask about regular cups (non sippy) as well as plates, bowls, and utensils. I can certainly understand why any parent would hesitate to give a toddler or young child a glass or ceramic cup and plate so of course it is important to highlight BPA free options for plates, cups, and utensils. Fortunately there are quite a few options! They are stylish and non-toxic. I have highlighted most of the ones I know of. If you have a lead on others…just let me know.

The ThinkBaby Feeding Set – This is a set of stainless steel feeding products covered in safe plastic. It contains a cup, two bowls, a bento box, lids, and utensils.  They are free of BPA, PVC, phthalates, lead, and melamine. It is a big hit in our home! Read our personal review of it here.

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Pint Cups – These are super simple stainless tumblers and they look great. I have several of these for my kids (ages 6-12). Love them!

Boon Products – This company offers several BPA free products that parents will love. If you recall we just reviewed their Fluid Sippy Cup in our second report on safe sippy cups. It is a pretty snazzy looking cup. They also have plates, utensils, and feeding cups that are all equally snazzy.

The Catchbowl – Boon just can’t do anything ordinary it seems. This groovy shaped bowl works better than a bib and funnels runaway food back into the bowl rather than on the floor. A suction cup base keeps bowl securely in place. This is a good bowl for newbies to table food and the process of feeding themselves.

The Groovy – This is an interlocking plate and bowl set and a fun way to serve meals in a customizable configuration. This set includes a toddler-sized plate with two separate compartments plus two small bowls that attach to the edge of the plate in several different positions.

The Snackball– This is a sphere-shaped snack container. Sooo much better than a plastic baggy or a toxic plastic container. The rigid form protects snacks from being crushed, making the Snack Ball great for travel. The two halves unscrew for easy cleaning and the lid snaps in place to keep snacks inside. Dishwasher safe.

Modware – True to their orange and blue theme these utensils are pretty cool looking. These are for toddlers that have mastered the Benders (below) and are not ready to move on to adult tableware. They too are soft with no sharp edges and they have an ergonomic design. Dishwasher safe.

Benders – They help children transition to regular utensils and develop motor skills with their sharp angles and easy grip handles. They are dishwasher safe.

camden rose bowlCamden Rose Wooden Bowl and Spoon – Woot! Our top pick! What could be more natural than wood. This set is solid Cherrywood hand-rubbed with a non-toxic Beeswax polish. It inherits the natural markings of the parent tree’s grain pattern. They are handcrafted by an Amish Co-op and are perfectly functional and ready to serve. They should be hand washed.

Laptop Lunchboxes – I have mentioned this lunchbox system many times but never in reference to being being BPA free so there is yet another reason to buy this awesome lunchbox! Read my review of it here.

Mini-Me Bamboo Bowls from Bambu – Hand coiled bamboo bowls. The outsides of the bowls are painted in several lovely colors. They also have bamboo flatware and plates.

Silicone Bowls – Silicone is BPA free and kid friendly. These bowls are so squishable and compact you can take them anywhere too.

Ikea Rainbow Tumblers- These are some very pretty, simple, and affordable cups from Ikea. They are made of Polypropylene making them BPA free and they are stackable and dishwasher safe.

Baby Cie Tray Sets – Very cute! You can get a plain tray or one with cup, bowl, and utensils. There are many designs too like their Jungle set and their farm set. It has French words in the tray areas designed to keep food separate so baby can learn french while they eat, LOL. They are very durable and dishwasher safe.

Trebimbi Puppets Club 6-pc. Dining Set– This set includes knife, fork, spoon, egg cup/condiment holder, bowl and mug. It has a Stainless steel body with plastic handle for the best of both worlds. Set of 3 utensils snap together for easy storage; dishwasher safe. For ages 2–6 yrs. I have seen pink, blue, and orange. What is so fun about these is that they have little smiley faces like little puppet people….too adorable!

Sassy Baby – Sassy also has several BPA free options for tableware.

Sassy Stackable Feeding Plates – This set contains two divided plates, two standard plates and two snap-on lids in a rainbow of colors.

Sassy Insulated Feeding Pots with Spoon – This set has two insulated feeding pots that keep food cold or warm longer. Perfect for babies! They are dishwasher safe too.

Sassy Baby Less Mess Toddler Spoons – Cute spoons! The holes in spoon are to keep food on spoon longer and the soft grip handle allows child easier grip. They are dishwasher safe and come in multiple colors. See also the Toddler feeding spoons.

Sassy Baby Less Mess Toddler Bowl – Comes with a suction base and storage lid and a uniquely shaped bowl to make it easier to guide food onto spoon. Dishwasher safe and comes in multiple colors.

On the Go Feeding Set – This is a baby Bento! Ya’ll know how much I love these. It is a 9 piece set with a large sectioned bowl with lid, three removable dishes with lids, and a toddler feeding spoon.

Baby Bjorn Plate & Spoon Set -These really are adorable. The shape of the plate kind of reminds me of Mickey Mouse and the utensils have little eyes. Very cute. They are designed to help children eat by themselves at an early stage and the three-leaf clover shape makes it easier for the child to scoop up food with his or her spoon and hold on to the plate. A rubber base prevents the plate from sliding

Stainless Steel Dish Sets – I often prefer stainless steel for drink cups so I was happy to find a complete stainless steel alternative to plastic. You cannot microwave these or put them in the dishwasher though so they aren’t for everyone. Love this set from Untangled Living Anywhere

I hope you enjoy this information!

21
Feb

Chemical Free Pools

by Tiffany in Children, The Homestead, Tidbits

Chemical Free Pools

Ugh…I thought maybe I would have a little more time before I got hit with this again the kids are already asking if we will be getting a pool this summer. Last year I dodged this issue more times than I can count and I am not looking forward to that again. But I can’t blame them. I had a pool growing up and I loved it so I know how they feel.

But I have two objections. First is the massive amount of work involved in keeping a pool clean and second is the chemicals required to keep the water clean and clear. I am not keen on either. I remember all to well the chlorine and acid my dad poured into our pool on a regular basis and how it stung your eyes and irritated the skin. Kids don’t want to hear about these things though.

So….I have been looking around a bit for alternatives to chemicals to clean pools and and I encouraged. I recently found this chemical free pool company called Eco Smart Pool. They offer a 100% chemical free pool and spa treatment that uses natural oxygen technology and a pool ionizer. It is kind of fascinating the way it works with a safe low voltage DC current being applied to copper electrodes.  Copper ions have the ability to pierce the protective outer membrane of a cell and disrupt enzyme balance which then kills algae. Although lethal to bacteria and algae, pool ionizers are completely safe for humans and much more effective and safe then a chlorine and acid cocktail.

These types of systems are credited with eliminating:

Toxic chemicals
Health hazards
Offensive chemical odors
Damage to our environment
Damage to pool equipment

I remember reading something similar and blogging about it….the water quality sounds heavenly. This same company also has info about salt water pools and how they are a bad idea. They also donate 5% of their profits to environmental charities.

I am looking into pricing now but objection number one remains unaddressed…having a pool is a lot of work! And of course drowning is no small concern! I pretty much let my kids run wild in our back yard and those carefree days would be long gone if we had a pool.  Ugh…anyone else have to face this recently?

Resources:

Natural Swimming Pools: Inspiration For Harmony With Nature
Natural Swimming Pools: A Guide to Building
Natural Swimming Pools: A Guide to Designing & Building Your Own (DVD)

Chemical Free Pools sm

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

10 Comments on Chemical Free Pools

20
Feb

Natural Learning – What Is It?

by Tiffany in Homeschool

natural learning unschoolingAs many of you know I will likely be homeschooling my 7 year old son after the conclusion of this school year. I have been giving a lot of thought to what type of homeschool methods I would like to incorporate and as with everything in my life I find that approaching things “naturally” is usually best.

Right away I can see I will not be a homeschooler with strict schedules and heavily organized curriculum. It just isn’t me and it isn’t my son. We are both pretty independent and stubborn. We want things the way we want them period…and we don’t like being told what to do. So right away I can see that buying a bunch of workbooks, textbooks, and sticking to a scheduled curriculum will NOT be the best course of action for us. So what is the opposite end of the spectrum…unschooling. It is touted as being the most natural way to learn and as I investigate it more, I see the inherent value.

What IS unschooling? Basically, as I understand it….unschooling is allowing children to learn from life and not from a structured school setting. According to Wikipedia, Unschooling (also sometimes referred to as “natural learning”, “child-led learning”, “discovery learning”, or “child-directed learning”) is the term given to an increasingly popular method of homeschooling. Under unschooling education, parents act as “facilitators” and are responsible for having a wide-range of resources available to provide their children with a quality education. – zen-mother.com

Right away I see the value in a directing your own learning…that is the way I have always liked to learn and I still love to learn and pursue education on my own terms. Case in point…right now I am reading a book called The Case for Faith. It basically discusses the 8 main objections to Christianity and objection number 7 discusses the atrocities committed in the name of Christ…ie the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem with trials, the Holocaust, etc. I pause for a minute and realize I do know quite a bit about the Holocaust but not so much about the other three. So I decide right then and there to research these, either on the Internet or via a trip to the library. I decide I need to know more about these historical times and although at some point I am sure they were discussed in school history classes they made virtually no impact on me…I didn’t want to learn about them for whatever reason. Now I do….and as I direct the learning I am sure that what I learn will remain with me this time.

So will this work for a 7 year old? Can I trust him to want to learn about history and lead himself to history or other similar school subjects without directing him there myself or allowing a teacher to do it?

I say yes. Another case in point…a few weeks back my son was painting in his room. He was painting the New York City skyline and using a postcard sent to him by a classmate that visited the city over the winter break as a guide. When he came to show me his work I was very impressed and I expressed that to him. He looked perturbed though and I asked him what he was thinking. He wanted to know what were these two vertical lights shining up into the sky. Wow…what a great question. So I sat and explained to him about the World Trade Center Towers and what happened to them on 9/11 and how these two lights now shine their place. I told him about his Uncle worked in at the World Trade Center and how by mere chance he was late to work that day or he would have been there when they fell. As it was he was a 1/2 mile away watching from the street. I also showed him pictures of the aftermath ( I was at ground zero only a few weeks after they fell). And thanks to the amazing Internet I pulled up a YouTube video of the actual footage of the planes hitting the towers and towers falling.

We had an impromptu history lesson and he instigated it. His natural love for learning caused him to seek out answers and this runs contrary to the idea that unschooled children will be lazy and unmotivated. This week he asked me for a math workbook to work on during the weekends AND he asked that in lieu of presents for his birthday we take him to Pittsburgh…to see the Children’s Musuem. Come late August that is where we will be.

So does this mean I have settled on unschooling? No…but I think I can’t ignore the benefits of allowing a child to learn and develop on their own terms. I think a happy balance is where I am heading. My son has been using a Phonics system I bought for him and he LOVES it and is is doing great with it. So I see the benefit of structure but then again I see the benefit of the unschooling “natural” approach of learning from life and allowing natural interests to take root and grow. And as brought out in the book Homeschooling Our Children Unschooling Ourselves…unschooling creates an opportunity to learn as a family.

So what are your thoughts? Learn by the book or toss the book and learn from life…that is the question…