I am excited to be an ambassador for ClimateStore.com this year. We share a passion for educating people about climate change and sharing ways to take small steps to make a difference. 

5 Ways to Get Kids to Love Gardening

As the seasons shift into spring, now is a great time to start planning your summer garden. There is no better way to teach children the connection between us and nature than gardening. Plant it, grow it, eat it. It’s so simple and easy to understand in a child’s eye. So how do we inspire a love of gardening in them at an early age?

1. Include Children in Choosing the Plants to Grow

The first step is to give the kids some control. All kids love to “own” things and you can start by letting them choose seed packets, or a special container to plant in. At our home, we have always limited our gardens to vegetables and herbs. This year I am choosing to follow this guideline and let our daughter plant flowers. I was impressed that she knew exactly what she wanted when we went to pick out some seeds. “White daisies.” So simple and so sweet.

white daisy flower

Kids can choose their own seeds and plant them in “cow pots!” Have fun explaining to them what they are made of. (wink, wink) Just know you are being a little greener by skipping the plastic starting pots.

Strawberry kids garden.

She is tending her strawberry garden.

2. Choose Fast Growing Plants

Radishes may not be every child’s favorite vegetable, but they will love to grow them. They have a seed to table time of about 22 days which is amazing. Cherry Bomb is a common spring variety and the key is to grow them before it gets too hot outside. The fresher they are, the less spicy they taste! Serve them with some ranch dressing to cool down any heat and you may have a new veggie to stash in the kids lunch box.

Radish seeds can be tucked in among other early spring plants like broccoli and spinach. The radishes will already be ready to harvest when the other plants need a little more growing space. Staggering the harvest time is more exciting for kids as there will always be something new to look forward to.

Alternatively, skip the seeds and go straight for the seedlings. It’s almost foolproof to just plop a seedling in the ground, water it, then watch it grow. There are often too many of one kind of plant in the seedling trays so partner up with some neighbors and make a trade or two.

3. Create a Growing Chart

Kids love to track things on a chart. Let’s move beyond potty training stickers and get out a ruler and measure some of the fun plants you choose to grow. You can also print out a calendar page and have kids draw out when each new action occurs. One day will be planting seeds, another the first seedlings, then the flowers and so on. Create a competition among siblings or neighbors and see which plants are growing the fastest!

4. Start Seeds Inside to Extend the Growing Season

With winter lingering here around Boston, and our raised beds covered in snow, we are starting seeds inside this year. Either go with the cow pots or a seed starting kit. This Indoor Garden kit is kid-friendly and includes 3 different seeds to grow: teddy bear sunflower, basil and zinnia. We already started seeds inside and the kids love to see how much higher they are every morning!

5. Give Kids Their Own Garden (or Container)

Our little girl has already placed a claim on her own raised bed this year to be used for flowers only. I think it’s adorable and love how excited she is to plan it. When the weather is warmer and we get the seeds in the ground, we can use the time to make our own labels for the flowers, and reread Miss Rumphius (or The Lupine Lady), one of our family favorites. If space doesn’t allow for a garden, see if there is a home for the kids to put their own large pot on a front step. Let them decorate it and make it their own.

Make a dinosaur garden for the kids!

There is also a fun trend of creating a themed pot. I love how entertaining the Fairy Gardens can be as it’s open-ended with what you can include. I also came across this idea for a Dino Pot and thought it was awesome! I’m so curious to try out this “Garden Pirate” idea from Climate Store as well. You get to create seed bombs and then then tuck them into fun spots around the yard.

As your child gets more connected with nature, it becomes even easier to teach concepts like Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. With Earth Day this month, now is a great time to kick off these discussions if they haven’t been happening in your home. While you are outside, talk about other ways to preserve natural resources. You can set up a rain barrel near a garden to help water the growing plants. Got a place for a compost bin? They are so sophisticated these days, and discreet, that most people can find a tidy home for a compost bin to create their own rich soil.

How else can you encourage your kids to enjoy gardening this season? Happy planting.

Climate-Store-LogoDisclosure: I am a partner with ClimateStore.com and compensated for my time. I only suggest products I believe in. All opinions are my own.  If you want to learn more about climate change and what it means to your family, I suggest you start here and learn about the first steps you can take. As we celebrate Earth Month, now is a great time to have conversations about climate change with your family. Please share in the comments any questions you have about taking first steps to reduce your carbon footprint.

This story has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BringingInnovation #CollectiveBias

How to create an eco-friendly playroom

Creating a healthy learning environment for a child’s playroom is key. But is the space really healthy? What could you be doing to make it a greener space for everyone in the family. If you have kids like mine that are constantly in and out of their playroom, I want to make sure I am creating a healthy space for them to play and learn in.

Today I’m sharing 5 Steps to a Greener Playroom. As Earth Day approaches next month, now is a great time to start having talks with your kids about how they use their resources. Encourage them to turn the lights off in the playroom when they leave. Put the caps back on the markers so they don’t dry out. By talking about consumption we can educate our kids on living a more eco-friendly lifestyle without having to be an “ego-nag.”

  1. Use eco-friendly toy cleaners. There are lots of choices now on the market. You can use an all-purpose spray for the majority of the playroom. I like the Babyganics Toy & Highchair Cleaner. Want to make one yourself? Take a peek at my DIY Green Cleaner Board on Pinterest for lots of easy to make cleaners using basic ingredients like vinegar, castille soap and essential oils. Also, skip the snacks in the playroom. You will avoid having to clean up sticky spills that may need stronger cleaners.
  2. Stuffed animals collect dust and allergens. Remember to give them a spring cleaning.Limit the number of stuffed animals. This may seem a little harsh, but it’s not just for your health, but your sanity when it comes to clean-up time! Stuffed animals tend to harbor dust mites and allergens. Limit the number you have and remember to give them a little run through the washing machine on occasion. Our new dryer actually has a sanitizing setting and a flat tray that I can put the animals on for a little spring cleaning.
  3. Eco-Advanced-BatteriesChose Eco-Advanced Batteries. Let’s face it, kids do love their electronics. Whether it’s the batteries in the remote control or the ones for a Leap pad, as parents we go through A LOT of batteries. Energizer has come out with the new Eco-Advanced Battery and it’s the first one to use recycled batteries and materials. It’s also their longest lasting battery so you can also feel good about cutting down on your purchases too.
  4. Choose old toys over new ones. Ask neighbors if they are ready to part with toys if they have older kids. Legos seem to last forever so they are a perfect choice to pass along to friends and family. You can also look for local consignment sales for kids, like the Parent Talk Semi-Annual Used Clothing/Toy/Gear Sale on May 2nd. (yes, shameless plug. )
  5. Reuse kid's artwork and create gift tagsCreate a recycling bin for kids to use freely. I got this idea after reading this book and it’s been working great. Not only can the kids reuse the back of paper for their own projects, but I am also encouraging them to repurpose their art into new creations. The kids paint all the time and we truly don’t have room for all their masterpieces. They have helped me take their watercolor art and repurpose them into gift tags and mosaics.
Grab a pack of Energizer's new Eco Advanced Batteries at Walmart.

Find the new Energizer Eco Advanced Battery at your local Walmart. We had some fun girl time on our shopping outing.

 

If you want to take a peek at more stories about living a greener lifestyle, Energizer has pulled them together here and there are tons of fun ideas for your family.

What other ways can you create a greener playroom in your home? Leave a comment and share with everyone your great idea!

GuiltFreeEnergy Giveaway – $1,000 in Gift Cards

Be My Neighbor Fred Rogers

When we moved to our neighborhood eight years ago, we had no idea how important that decision was going to be to our everyday life. The day we closed on the house we met some of our neighbors. There was a group of Dads hanging out while the moms were at a movie night. Little did we know how much we would benefit from having these people in our lives.

Fast forward a few years and three kids later, our neighbors feel like extended family. We regularly use the quote, “It takes a village.” It’s a dynamic neighborhood with families with young children, school age babysitters, empty nesters and elderly citizens. Together, we have developed a network to quickly address the needs of child care, lawn care, handyman repairs, party planning and more. Emails, text and conversations at the bus stop allow us to stay connected with each other, despite our busy schedules.

Be My Neighbor

JJ loved helping out the raking team!

On one particular Saturday morning, our neighbor went out to rake and elderly neighbor’s leaves. Our family joined in to help, and then I invited some of the younger neighborhood kids to come enjoy the giant leaf pile. The morning then turning into a traveling raking team who went on to clean up two more yards. It was spontaneous and tons of fun. Now my husband is planning another neighborhood sweep of dealing with outside projects asa team before the snow starts to fall.

Have you found your village in your neighborhood? Maybe you’ve found it in your playgroup {oh yes.}, school community or church group? As Fred Rogers said,

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.

Today you can join in to talk about finding ways to encourage being neighborly at Twitter party celebrating the launch of the new website Wont You Be My Neighbor. You can share a special story about being a good neighbor or you can recognize someone else you’ve seen demonstrate neighborliness. Your stories will be shared on the site and inspire others to do neighborly acts of their own! Join us for the #BeMyNeighbor Twitter party to learn more ways you can do good in your neighborhood and share your own ideas with others!

You can see the details and RSVP via this Invite: http://vite.io/themotherhood It’s TODAY at 2pm EST. 

Prizes: They will be giving away five prizes throughout the party for correct answers to trivia questions. Each prize pack includes a Mister Rogers quote book & t-shirt and a Daniel Tiger mini plush, book & DVD. Prizes are limited to U.S. participants only.

Hosts: @TheMotherhood, @TheMotherhood25, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

Today’s twitter party Co-hosts: @MoreThanMommies, @DancingHotdogs, @DonnaChaffins, @EmilyARoach, @gogrowgo, @AsCuteAsBugsEar, @EatSleepBe, @JessicaMcFadd, @JustJillyBlog, @CoconutRobot, @2kidsandacoupon, @MyBaybah, @ohMariana, @PittMommyBlog, @Tiffanyblogs

Disclosure: This story was written in partnership with The Motherhood and I was compensated for my time. All opinions and stories are my own. 

Rock the Lunchbox. #schoollunch #backtoschool

Does your idea of a healthy lunch differ from one your kids dream about? Is there some way to get you both on the same page? As we continue to talk about school lunches this week, today I’m sharing an awesome giveaway and some resources on how to make your kid’s lunchbox rock.

I asked Madison to draw her favorite lunch. She struggled because she said she “likes everything.” If only that was true. So I asked what she would like for her first day of kindergarten. Can you tell what it is?

Rock the Lunchbox Dream Lunch

It’s a sandwich, with Nutella AND Fluff. At least we could have the conversation now that this would not be her lunch on the first day of school. On the side, she choose fresh pineapple. Now that I will happily pack in her lunchbox.

Then I took another approach and asked the kids to pack a lunch with the Laptop Lunchbox. I was pretty excited when they packed nearly all fruit into the box. There is something so compelling about filling up the little bento box containers with brightly colored fruits and veggies. The kids just naturally tapped into the rainbow.  We did talk about what’s missing-the protein. We could add in some Stonyfield Kids yogurt squeeze tubes or Organic Valley string cheese.

Kids fruity lunch in laptop lunchbox

The RocktheLunchBox website is filled with tons of ideas to pack for lunch. They are made by real moms and can help inspire packing lunches this year. I also like getting ideas via Instagram and you can find them @rockthelunchbox. {I also share a a few other lunch packing resources in this post.}

Ready for the Giveaway! One lucky reader will win:

Three Free Lunchbox Containers – get creative on how to pack!

Six Free Product Coupons – get creative on what to pack!

  • o   Annie’s Homegrown
  • o   Applegate Organic & Natural Meats
  • o   Honest Kids
  • o   Organic Valley
  • o   Rudi’s Organic Bakery
  • o   Stonyfield YoKids Yogurt

Plus 1 Set of Free Crayola Crayons – get the kids involved drawing their dream lunch!

Please enter via the Rafflecopter below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure~ I received the same giveaway set to facilitate this post. All opinions shared here are my own. Now go Rock the Lunchbox! Grab coupons from these popular brands to help build a better lunchbox™: Annie’s, Rudi’s Organic, Applegate, Organic Valley, and Honest Kids at www.rockthelunchbox.com

 

Encouraging Creativity at the BeachDo you ever feel like you are bringing everything but the kitchen sink to the beach? From the towels, chairs, food and toys, it can be overwhelming packing up for the beach. Today I’m sharing a story about what happens when you let the kids use just one reusable yogurt container, with no guidance from mom and dad. It turned into a very cute and creative activity at the beach.

Meet Hermie, the little hermit crab the kids found while exploring the rocks at the beach.

Hermit Crab Beach Discovery

Hermie came back to our beach camp and then the kids went off to build Hermie his own home.

Building a sand castle together

The kids worked together to build Hermie a four room home, delightfully presented like a flower.

One little yogurt cup turned into quite a little project for these kids. It was a wonderful reminder that sometimes we need a little less to allow our children’s mind to tap into their imagination. They got no directions from us, just a lot of praise in the end on what a wonderful job they did building Hermie’s home. No one squabbled over the lack of toys, no one asked a grown up for help, and in the end, the kids were so excited to share what they built.

Proud kids of their beach house

It’s a great lesson as we think about the change of seasons in another month or two and we move indoors a little more. Where could we use “less” so that we allow our kids to reach into their imagination a little “more.”

Thank you to Stonyfield Yogurt for providing our family with complimentary yogurt through my involvement as a Clean Plate Club Ambassador. The kids love their Organic Vanilla yogurt for breakfast and I’m sure we can find even more creative uses for our yogurt cups this summer.

I am honored to be a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club. I received product or coupons for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.

Borrow instead of buying

Today I ask you to consider borrowing instead of buying. What little, or big, items could you borrow for a short time from a neighbor or friend. Can you knock on a neighbor’s door and borrow their hand mixer? Do you have a shovel you can lend a neighbor to plant some trees? Can you let my sister borrow a crib until hers arrives from Hawaii?

All these borrowing ideas are true stories in my little world. Borrowing can build community among neighbors. However, it also helps slow the flow of extra items in our homes. Some people only need a hand mixer a couple of times a year, and I am happy to lend mine out. From kitchen gadgets to baby gear, there are possibly a few items you could borrow instead of buying.

Today is Earth Day. I ask you to consider the idea of borrowing more often. It’s one small way you can reduce the build up of stuff in our homes.

This post was inspired by the new book, All You Need is Less. I received a copy to review by my stories shared here are my own. {affiliate link}

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser. #WalgreensOlogy
Tips for Under the Bathroom Sink Organization

Time for some spring cleaning everyone! Every March I tackle a few organizing challenges and up first is the bathroom. In my Organization Pinterest Board, I noticed one pin has over 5,000 repins- it’s an Under the Sink Organization pin. I had two thoughts about this. One, I wish all the traffic was going to my site, and two, why doesn’t my bathroom sink look like this?! Now is the time to clear out the clutter and restock with some new cleaning supplies from Ology, which is endorsed by one of my favorite organizations, Healthy Child, Healthy World. The Ology product line uses sustainable raw materials, doesn’t test on animals and uses a variety of natural ingredients.

Ology endorsed by Healthy Child Healthy World

Just a few weeks ago I bought my own Ology product- toothpaste. We buy the same natural toothpaste but I noticed the Ology brand next to my usual one. I compared the ingredients and they were nearly identical so I gave it a try. Turns out I like the Ology toothpaste, and the lower price. When I started my bathroom organization product, I decided to give the Ology cleaning products a shot. There’s just something satisfying about having all the cleaning things match too, don’t you think?

Walgreens Ology Shopping Trip

I have to say I had fun doing this shopping trip. As I went from the beauty aisle to get some Ology Castile Soap (for my homemade soap recipe) and then to the cleaning aisle, I was impressed with how many Ology products Walgreens now carries. It’s a line of products for those of us who are trying to avoid using products with parabens, phthalates, fragrances, triclosan and a few other nasty ingredients. They are safe for me, but more importantly, they help maintain my healthy home for the whole family.

Armed with new cleaning supplies, in very cute packages, I started the big purge under the sink. It was a little scary down there and I was able to toss a lot of old cleaning supplies. If I hadn’t used it in six months, I decided it was safe to say it was time to get rid of it. I also found six empty spray bottles for creating my own cleaners. Clearly I had high hopes, but it’s just not something that I’m able to do these days. Once everything was sorted, cleaned and repurposed, it was time to set up a new system.

Create Cute Labels for Drawer Organizers

My advice for tackling an organization project, take the time to make it pretty. It may seem silly to make fancy labels, but I think the better it looks from the start, the more likely you are to maintain it. I made the labels above using PicMonkey and printed them out on sticker paper. You can also print them out on regular paper and laminate them with packing tape. The drawers fit so well and help use the space more efficiently. I think I’ll buy one more and label it Baby and include the wipes and a couple of diapers.

Label cleaning bottles from the top to easily identify them

The only tricky thing with having all your cleaning bottles match is you can’t see which is which when they are down low. Time for p-touch labels! I may move my all-purpose cleaner to the kitchen, but for now I like having all of them lined up. Yes, that’s how we Type-A people work.

Keep cleaning rags handy to wash the bathroom

The worst offenders under the sink were the towels and rags. I bought two drawers to contain them and I love how easy it is for me to reach for a rag when I need to spray down the bathroom after the three-year old goes potty by himself…and misses. If paper towels are more your thing, the Ology paper products are all tree free.

If you want to learn a little more about Ology, you can watch this fun YouTube video and get a quick flashback to Melrose Place…

Here’s a peek at the full before and after shot…oh my is it better!

Before and After Under the Sink Organization

 What organization project is next on your list?

How to save your favorite pair of jeans!

Have you ever had a favorite pair of jeans wear out in the knees way too fast? A tear from your boot heels? Turns out there is a place to get your jeans fixed, kind of like a denim hospital. I first read about Denim Therapy in a Real Simple article about organizing your closet. You send away your jeans, they give you an estimate, then you decide if you want to have them fixed.

As I cleaned out my closet of maternity clothes and in-between baby clothes, I found one of my favorite jeans (Gap Curvy) with a split open knee. Distressed jeans can be cool, but this isn’t quite the look. In January I started the process online, printed out the instructions and sent it off to New York. (If you are in NYC, you can just drop them off!)

Repair your favorite jeans with Denim Therapy

While at Disney World, I got the email with an estimate to fix my small hole. It was $12.00 to make the repair. I said yes and they got to work. I waited a few weeks and then wondered where my jeans were. I sent an email off and they called me back within the hour to say the jeans were done, but had accidentally been put in the “pick-up” section. They fixed the problem, since I paid for shipping, and they arrived on my doorstep the next morning. Kudos for fast customer service.

The shipping cost was more than fixing it, $7 there and $12 back. Clearly a more economical choice if you are in NYC, but still a great option if you are looking to fix an expensive pair of jeans. I’m kicking myself that I donated my favorite Citizens of Humanity jeans before I knew about this service. I would have happily paid $31.00 to hang on to those jeans for another year or two.

Fix your favorite jeans with Denim Therapy

So how does the repair look? I say pretty good. The thread matching is good, with just a little discoloration around it where the fabric first started to show some wear and tear. When they are on, you can hardly see the difference. I have washed and dried it and the repair is still strong and flat. Would I send another pair in? Yes, as it’s a great way to maintain the clothes your already own and save you some pennies (and time) shopping for a new pair. It’s great to get your already broken in jeans back into the wardrobe rotation.

Got a favorite pair to fix? Send your jeans to the denim doctors over at Denim Therapy and let them work some magic.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, I found them on my own. I did discover that they have an affiliate link to earn “denim dollars” but I’m hoping I don’t have to use them anytime soon! 

 

Anyone else have big plans of introducing new meals in their meal plan, only to find you keep going back to old favorites? In light of busy schedules, picky kids and general post-holiday tiredness, I’m realizing it’s okay to stick with your favorites. Start smaller and make one new recipe each week. Maybe one will be vegetarian, or Paleo, if you are looking to introduce a new theme into your meal plan. Just realize small steps are okay.

Roast beef with oven roasted salsa

Sunday- Roast beef {eye of the round} with roasted potatoes and asparagus. Our new recipe for the week that was delicious.

Monday- Chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, salad

Tuesday- Dinner with friends

Wednesday- Clean Out Refrigerator Night

Thursday- Honey Balsamic Drumsticks with steamed broccoli and Annie’s shells.

Friday- Pizza night.

Monday Meal Plan for Jan wk 2 via Random Recycling

For more inspiration, see my past menus here, or the Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of meal plans.

For many moms, once they get pregnant, they become aware of buying organic food and making healthy eating choices. At some point,  you may question your beauty care routine, the cleaners you use in your home and the toys your kids are chewing on. Our buying choices are not that simple these days. Today there are more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the U.S., many of which have not been tested for human safety. These toxic chemicals are entering our home environment, and we need to be educated to make the healthy choice.

Support the Chemical Safety Improvement Act

Postcards I wrote encouraging US Senators to support for the Chemical Safety Improvement Act.

This month I’m partnering with Seventh Generation and Healthy Child Healthy World to spread the message to support the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) that is up for approval by congress. This bill hasn’t been changed in 35 years, and clearly times have changed. Remember all the baby bottle manufacturers that had to remove BPA in it’s products? It’s not because the government told them to, it’s because MOMS got together and were very loud and demanded a change. It would be awesome to see more Moms get together and voice their support for CSIA. You can learn more here and also show your support of updating the CSIA.  The stat that always jumps out to me is that there are 1328 chemicals in the European Union that have been banned….only 11 have been banned in the U.S. Let’s do something about it.

So are you ready to learn a little more about what to be aware of on product labels? Who can you trust? I got to participate in a virtual Healthy Baby Home Party and even I learned some new info about what to be concerned with. Turns out the “natural” unscented baby wipes I have been using have some questionable preservatives in them. I’m going to try out the Seventh Generation Wipes and see how we like them. (Seventh Generation baby products are now easily found at Target!)

We watched this video and it was eye-opening. What do you think?

Makes you think twice about the toys the kids are chewing on…especially in my case with a 5 month old teething baby.

Ready to learn a little more? Join in the Twitter chat next week on Thursday, November 14th at 1:00 EST.

Click here to join in and follow the conversation: http://twtvite.com/healthybabyhome

Join Seventh Generation for a fun, informative Twitter party to talk about all-natural baby product options! We’ll also talk about the Healthy Baby Home Party which give moms an interesting and engaging way to educate friends and family on topics like creating a healthy environment for the next generation. There will be a chance to win a month’s worth of diapers and wipes from Seventh Generation! There will be 5 winners, all chosen randomly from answering trivia questions.

Hashtag: #HealthyBabyHome

Hosts: @TheMotherhood, @TheMotherhood25, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

(If you are not following me on Twitter yet, you can find me here @EmilyARoach)

 

I participated in this program on behalf of Seventh Generation and The Motherhood. It’s a cause that means a lot to me and the more parents that speak up, the better it will be for the healthy of our children. And their children. All opinions shared here are my own.