31
Aug

Haba Board Games

by Tiffany in Natural Toys

The kids and I spent lots of time playing together over the weekend. After all, it is almost time to get back to the business of school. So, we kicked off the weekend by playing two new games. Monopoly and Battleship are okay I guess but my two smallest kiddos like to play something unique and usually something that involves animals. I like games that involve strategy and aren’t too commercial in nature. Both of these games were a perfect fit for us.

The first we played was Tier auf Tier. These games and the company that makes them are German, just another reason we like them! The standards for toy and game safety in Europe kicks US booty so I know I am relatively safe with their offerings. Haba has long been known as a great source for safe, more sustainable, natural toys.

The game box is actually what you use to play the game instead of a board. It is divided into 4 sections and you have a menagerie of wooden animals to place around each section on the box. The animals reminded us of our Haba Eene, Meene, Zoo blocks. They have the same adorable look and feel. A bridge crosses from one side of the box to the other and the object is to stack animals on top of the bridge trying to make the animal combinations on your playing cards. Since two to four players can be stacking at the same time it can be tricky to do. The first player who manages to complete all their animal stacking combos and discard the associated playing cards wins the game. It was fun for my younger kiddos and I think it will be a nice game for them to play with the neighbor kids before school starts next week.

The other game we played was an even bigger hit, with my two oldest and with me. It was so fun I wanted to keep playing again and again and it will likely be the game we break out to play with Dad over the holiday weekend. It is called Inspektor Hase, which means Inspector Rabbit in English.

The board game is a garden with a winding path and all throughout the bunny garden there are bandits! You roll the dice and move around the board to uncover the pairs of bandits… hens stealing jewels or moles walking off with gold coins. Each player has two matching bunnies and so when you uncover one of the bandits you can keep one bunny on that space while your other bunny moves around the board to capture the matching bandit. It is mostly a clever spin on memory but it also has a lot of strategy. There are two dice, one  that rolls between 1-3 and one that rolls between 1-6. You can roll one or both at the same time so half the trick is figuring out which die is mostly likely to get you where you need to be, the fastest. You can also boot other players off their space and beat them to the punch.

It is a really simple concept but it was a lot of fun… as are most Haba games we typically find. We enjoyed both of them quite a bit but in the spirit of Simplicity Parenting we will keep Inspektor Hase and donate the other to a needier family. Much thanks to Haba for sending these games our way!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

4 Comments on Haba Board Games

29
Aug

Green Your School Year with Recyclebank

by Tiffany in Eco Fashion

It is that time of year so I  have been posting regularly about greening the upcoming school year. I have been doing this for a couple years so it is habit now but yet even I need reminders and motivation sometimes. Going to Walmart and tossing the cheapest stuff in the cart as fast as you possibly can is certainly tempting when your to-do and  your to-buy list is super long. If it were easy all the time then it wouldn’t be called “making an impact” would it? Even green parents can start to run low on steam and that is why I am loving the Green Your School Year challenge from Recyclebank.

Recyclebank is a community I first discovered a year of so ago. It is a place where a community of 2 million members keep track of their goals and successes while keeping it green. This is facilitated by great information and pledges to do just a little more. For this school year they kicked off a challenge to help parents keep the school experience green. In the first phase you walk through a nifty tutorial for shopping for greener school supplies. Right off the bat they recommended carpooling with another parent or family so you are conserving resources just making the trip to your local store. This was a step that escaped my mind for sure. Pledge to carpool and you get your first 10 points in the challenge!

Next up… pledge to buy green, recyclable, or recycled school supplies for another 10 points. As an added bonus they also have a download for you with a checklist of items to check/consider when researching companies and brands that you may purchase from. I love, love, love that they encourage people to research the ethics, certifications, and integrity of the companies and products you want to purchase.

The next screen had two quiz questions.. which I got right. Ding, ding! No doubt this feature is designed to help educate us on what to look for in these products and also make us aware of trends in family spending. They should turn this into a video game. ;) A link follows this page and and it provides a resource for you to recycle qualifying electronics and they offer up to 200 bonus points in return. I saved this info for future use.

Further on there more polls and informative links for keeping school supplies sustainable, including the wardrobe. It was a VERY fun tutorial and I enjoyed participating. I think I got all the available points could, minus the extra credit recycling points but I may end up finding some stuff to recycle and claim some of those too. When the challenge concludes they will be awarding some great prizes to some lucky winners including Bodhi Electric Bicycles (Yowza!), a solar backpack, gift certificates to department stores and grocers, lunch kits, vitamins, etc.

The next phase, which starts in a couple days is all about the first day of school. So after you join up and claim your points for greening the school shopping experience, make sure to check back with Recyclebank for the first day challenge. Good luck!

This post is part of a campaign sponsored by Recyclebank.
25
Aug

Eco Friendly Hiking Gear for Women

by Tiffany in Enjoying Nature, Fitness

Hiking is an easy and fun way to get in shape and work on your fitness goals. It is also a great way to reconnect with nature, get much need outdoors time in the fresh air and sunlight, and get away from the stresses of fast paced city living. Hiking has been one of my all time favorite ways to exercise for many years now. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

But like many sports and fitness activities it seems that synthetic clothing and gear is predominantly what you find in sporting goods stores. I happen to find much of it uncomfortable and prone to getting smelly if you wear it long enough. This clothing is often made of some sort of poly blend which is actually plastic. Unless it is recycled plastic, then it may not be the greenest gear for you to wear. Since hiking is supposed to help us connect with mother nature and identify with the need to protect our outdoor spaces, wearing clothing that harms the planet is a form of hypocrisy. Fortunately outdoor retailers are catching on to this and slowly we are seeing more green options for the hiking enthusiast. An example of affordable and effective green options are the north face products.

After checking local thrift stores and consignment shops you may end up with a few good hiking pieces but then again you may not. Serious hikers can go through gear pretty fast. You may find some hiking poles, an external frame pack, or wool socks though… it always worth a look right?

If you can’t second hand source this stuff I have put together a quick list of some of my fave eco hiking recommendations below, to give you some ideas of what is out there. Enjoy!

1. You may hate slathering yourself with toxic sunscreen but your head and face can get burned pretty quickly if you don’t cover up. This Earth Divas  Hemp Floppy Hat is just what you need. If will help keep those harmful rays off your skin and it is made with natural, breathable hemp.

Wool is a great choice for hiking gear since it is a natural fiber with lots of great qualities. It is breathable, eco friendly, and it helps regulate body temperature, which makes it a good choice no matter what the weather looks like. Wool is also known for its ability to repel moisture and wick it away from the skin. Perfect! The next 3 items are made from wool…

2. Icebreaker Women’s Henley Lite Shirt – made with silky smooth and lightweight merino wool which gives great protection against the sun and wicking properties to keep you looking great and feeling cool.

3. SmartWool Foothills Full-Zip Sweater – Gorgeous! The color and style of this sweater is amazing. For chilly morning or evening hikes it will help you warm and toasty without making you overheat. Made with 100% Merino wool for excellent insulating power and breathability. Make sure to take this sweater on ski trips too! And if you need a jacket, SmartWool makes them too.

4. Socks are an important part of hiking, just like some good boots. No one likes cold and/or wet toes… that will ruin a hike right quick! Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks are made of itch free antimicrobial merino wool.

5. Finding eco friendly shoes is tough already, finding hiking boots is even more so. These are not the perfect choice but they are definitely a step in the right direction. The idea is to absorb moisture and keep it away from your feet and these boots – the Kayland Zephyr W – use a new technology that utilizes activated carbon derived from coconut shells.. which is a recycled, sustainable material.

6. MountainSmith backpacks are often made of recycled materials which makes them a green option. Hemp and canvas are also wonderful options but may be harder to find in something larger than a daypack.

7. This bottle is really unique and I intend to write a more elaborate post on it soon but it is bamboo on the outside and glass on the inside. It can also be attached to a backpack with ease. It is sleek, fun, and eco friendly.

Get outside and go for a hike this weekend okay? If you need some inspiration check out an amazing book I just read about a woman who has hiked the Appalachian trail 3 times… Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail.

24
Aug

Back to School Goodies

by Tiffany in Children, Homeschool

Attn: Giveaway at the bottom of this post

It’s what is on our mind this time of year… back to school, or back to homeschool… whatever the case may be. We start thinking about scheduling, curriculum, activities, new Fall clothes, ways to stay on budget, and much more. It is also the time of year when I get lots of school related gear to review as a blogger. Many products and pitches don’t make the cut but others I find really helpful and the above are some of the winners I spotted this year.

We are doing a mish mesh of schooling stuff this year. I have one child who will be home most of the time, minus therapy sessions at a public school. He started attending last year for speech and developmental delay issues and they helped him so much it just amazes me. He is now 5 and could technically enter Kindergarten but I opted to keep him home and send him to the special needs program again. He will be gone for about 2 hours a day.

My daughter is very much looking forward to returning to her public school. She thrives in this environment, just as I always did. The girl is much like me. Although I don’t recall asking my mom to do a photoshoot of me in all my back to school fashions. Whether it is new clothing or thrift store clothing, the girl loves fashion. Here are some of my fave shots from the fashion show…

Isn’t that no poo hair gorgeous?

My oldest boy was all set to be homeschooled for another year and then an amazing opportunity kind of fell in our lap. I met an amazing lady a few weeks back and spilled my guts to her about our horrific public school experience in regards to this particular child. This angel just happened to be a kick butt lawyer who then pulled some strings to get us the chance to enroll in a unique private school. Instead of an hourly requirement the kids earn credits and thus he will be at school for much less time than his sister in public school. The approach is similar to Montessori with all grades being intermingled and there is also one on one time with tutors from OSU. The meals (a catered breakfast and lunch) are designed to exceed the lax state standards and be extra nutritious. Instead of a bus with dozens of students, a private car service transports the kids to and from school. There are also uniforms, which I happen to think is a good idea. The school sounds amazing so we figured that it was definitely worth a try. So, that is what out school year is shaping up like. We needed a mix of supplies for 3 very different schooling approaches.

One of the best back to school finds for us was Naked Binder. They have binders and folders made from 100% Recycled materials and they are recyclable themselves. They make their binders, folders, and tabs in Des Moines, IA in the US of A out of FSC certified, 100% post-consumer waste binders board, 100% cotton cloth, a few FSC certified papers and metal rings.  No plastics, vinyls or toxins. I like the natural and “naked” colors personally and they are super durable. Honestly my kids will be lucky to get any of the products sent to us for review because I want to snake them for my home office. They get an A++ from me as they are but if you want to personalize them for your kids I would suggest stickers.

And while we are on the subject of great green companies… Annie’s Homegrown, Stonyfield YoKids, Honest Kids, and Seventh Generation have teamed up to help families toss their brown bags this back-to-school season by offering a free Kids Konserve lunch sack with the purchase of participating products now through September 30, 2011. These re-useable lunch sacks are washable and made of recycled cotton and eliminate a great deal of waste that would otherwise occur from the use of daily paper or plastic lunch bags.

Consumers are invited to visit Annies.com/bts11, print out the form then mail in proof of purchase of all four brands. Eligible products include:

Any Annie’s Homegrown item
Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt 6-packs or Squeezers
Honest Kids Organic Drinks 8-pack carton or 64-ounce bottle
Seventh Generation Disinfectants (sprays or wipes)

These could already be on your shopping list for school lunches or for school supplies (the wipes) so the bag is a nice bonus. A

I also found two books that mesh well with this time of year. The first is Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo. It is a clever children’s book that uses the idea of little monsters (which my 5 and 7 year old loved) to teach concepts like the alphabet. The professor is searching for the elusive Zipperump-a-Zoo but he doesn’t know what one looks like or where to find one since no one has ever seen one. The book is a lot of fun and the ending was laugh out loud funny. B+

And I already mentioned Playful Learning once but it deserves another mention. It could easily be incorporated into preschool or homeschool activities and curriculum and I would highly recommend that after having had some time to read through this amazing book. The idea that meaningful learning can be achieved through play is well documented. What better way is there to teach then by making it fun and relevant to kids? Kids are natural scientists, artists, authors, mathematicians, and scholars. It is a drive innate in them to make sense of their reality and parents can leverage that natural curiosity and playfulness and channel it into a love of learning. The book is broken up into several helpful sections:

Nurturing Young Authors
The Joy of Reading
Mathematics at Work
Scientific Investigations
Exploration of Art and Artists
Growing Globally
Raising Citizens of Tomorrow

Instead of sitting down and thinking about how you can teach math today you can pull out this book and identify which playful activity you think would best help them grasp certain math concepts on their own. Its a wonderful resource and even if your kids attend school away from home you can still do these activities during evening and weekends hours because it’s learning disguised as FUN. A++

Sooo… that brings me to the giveaway. The folks behind the Annie’s Homegrown back to school promo have offered to give away a Kids Konserve lunch sacks w/ coupons from all participating companies (seen above) to 4 of my readers. If you want one please leave a comment below and I will choose random winners next week. If you comment with your Facebook profile please be sure to include your email in the comment section so I can contact you. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

31 Comments on Back to School Goodies

22
Aug

The Limbic Imprint: Creating Emotional Health In Our Children

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby

Look around. What do you see? Do you see a population of unhappy, addicted people…people addicted to food, to sugar, to alcohol, to drugs (prescribed or un-prescribed), to shopping, to praise and approval, to entertainment…to everything outside of themselves? Do you notice that authentically happy, well-adjusted people are alarmingly few and far between? How could this be? Why does happiness seem to be a goal we are constantly striving for rather than an intrinsic quality of our being?

The answer may lie in a little known and rarely discussed phenomenon called Limbic Imprinting – the imprinting of the emotional area of the brain during our formative period (in the womb, during our birth and early childhood). Over the last 25 years, pioneers in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology have repeatedly demonstrated that accepted and standard practices during pregnancy, childbirth, in the home and in the schools are having catastrophic consequences on our children and on society as a whole.

The good news is that the solution lies with you and that you are able to facilitate a different outcome for your children. It starts with putting consciousness back into pregnancy and parenting and recognizing the experiences that we have during our earliest experiences of life directly shape our emotional health and our ability to see and know our true selves.

Elena Tonetti-Vladimirova, who travels the globe conducting Limbic Imprint Re- coding ‘birthshops’, and the director of the powerful film “Birth As We Know It”, tells us “the quality of life is defined by the quality of birth”. These are some powerful words! Considering that 95% of the births in the United States are considered to be traumatic, 45% of which are severely traumatic, this does not bode well for future generations if left unchecked. She also
states:

“…if our early impressions are anything less than loving, then that ‘anything’ imprints in our nervous system as a valid experience of love, regardless of how those experiences might have been. And throughout our life, we will subconsciously recreate the conditions and feelings that were imprinted at birth and early childhood, because in spite of all logic, those experiences are our comfort zone.”

It’s time for us to realize that pregnancy and childbirth are sacred events in our lives and they are to be treated as such with preparation, nourishment and conscious connection with that new life.

While pregnant, a woman is eating, thinking, feeling and emoting for two. Just before and after birth, a human is more open and sensitive than they will ever be as an adult. Unnecessary interventions such as early clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord, separation from the mother, unconscious cutting of the foreskin and avoidable poking and prodding are all recorded into the limbic system, permanently (unless subsequently re-imprinted), as what is to be expected
of this world – harsh treatment, violence and pain. Later in life, feelings of fear, hostility, anger and of “wrong-ness” may not be logical as analyzed through the thinking brain, or cortex, but that won’t make them any less real or limiting.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you are afraid to speak in public? Why you feel you aren’t “good enough”? Why you keep sabotaging your relationships or your success? Why you lack the confidence to move forward in your life? Why do we spend so much time dealing with our “stuff” by going to countless self-development seminars, reading countless self-help books and listening to countless motivational speakers? Why is there so much to “fix”?

Your limbic imprint may be unconsciously destroying any chance of you achieving your dreams. We constantly attract circumstances and events in our lives that resonate with our limbic imprint, and if our beginnings were less than blissful, this will be reflected in the state of our lives. The good news is, as Dr. Bruce Lipton tells us, consciousness can rewrite these limiting beliefs, although it takes the awareness and tools to do so. Hmmm…sounds like a whole lot of work…

Now wouldn’t life be a whole lot rosier and easier if there was nothing to “fix” in the first place? What if the limbic imprint was based on nothing but love? What would this world look like if our children grew up in a world where they knew that they were supported, heard and loved, no matter what? What would life be like if each fetus lived in the womb of a mother who was fully supported, well nourished, stress-free and consciously connecting with her baby throughout her pregnancy? What would children be like if they came through the birth canal under peaceful, loving conditions, where there was complete trust in the wisdom of the female body to bring forth new life? How confident would our children be if they were given the breast immediately upon arrival into this new world, were held close to their mothers or fathers for the first year of their lives, and slept securely with their parents every night with no need to cry out for nourishment or comfort? My guess is that we would see the world transformed into one where superheroes
walked the earth!! I see peace and love being the norm, intelligence levels sky-rocketing and abundant health. It really is within reach and it need not take long. But it does depend on us. Our babies do depend on us, and as such, we must respond to them on their terms, not ours. We must keep them close and we must trust our children as they grow.

In one simple generation, if we choose peace over drama, love over fear, allowing versus resisting, confidence in our innate abilities over mindlessly giving our power to surgeons, doctors and other so-called ‘experts’, we will see humanity transform. We must start by looking within and be willing to heal. By healing ourselves, we heal our children and we heal the earth.

The result could be no other and our continued evolution on this planet depends on it.

Resources for further information:

www.birthpsychology.com

www.birthintobeing.com

www.brucelipton.com


Sascha Kalivoda is a holistic nutritionist and the creator of “Your Conscious Pregnancy and Parenting Guide”, an online program devoted to the education around raising healthy, confident, well-adjusted children. Her program brings together information from world-renowned experts in the fields of biology, nutrition, herbology, conception, childbirth, parenting, learning and more. For more information pleasevisit http://bit.ly/kidsneedu.