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— Ryan age 4 with a friend


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Consumerism vs. conservationism

This summer i’m going to try to spend less money doing things with the kids. I’ll try and spend time and not money.

So far, my experiment failed.

… More to come


Travel activities for kids 2 and Under

Image by Charles via Flickr

I’ve been on many long flights with my son domestic and international, from the time he was 6 weeks old until present day (he’s 4).

I try to think of things that are cheap, easy to pack and replaceable. These tips are for the keeping the kids occupied and you sane during the journey itself.

Granted, children that are under 6 months or so are the best to travel with. It may not seem like it at the time, but believe me no matter the age, children are hard to control. At this age their basic needs being met, they are  usually fine.

I’ll try and add to the list if I discover more.

  • Tin Foil – cheap, folds flat, shiny and can be shaped in hundreds of forms, including a ball. Even recyclable!
  • Pen or Marker. This will help to decorate the barf bags in your front pocket. You can make hats and puppets.
  • Bubbles- unfortunately due to security checks this isn’t the best option anymore. It has worked for me in the past. You can try the stores at your gate to see if they sell them.
  • Blanket- tug of war, peek a boo, comfort.
  • Kleenex- yes it gets the boogies and clears the ears, but it’s a great game. Just tilt your head back, lay the tissue on your face and blow. Instant laughter. I swear.

P.S.-Interesting related links:

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Travel activities for kids 3-5

Fun with Wikki Stix
Image by Ross Mayfield via Flickr

I’ve been on many long flights with my son domestic and international, from the time he was 6 weeks old until present day (he’s 4).

I try to think of things that are cheap, easy to pack and replaceable.

I’ll try and add to the list if I discover more.

  • Balloons – they are cheap, packable, easy to pick up at stores no matter what country or town you’re in. You can blow them up and let them fly around, discover new sounds by pulling the lip of the balloon and there is always bouncing the balloon in the air. This is my favorite pre-boarding gate activity. It’s fun, people think it’s cute, it isn’t loud, and expels a lot of energy. Be careful on flight that it doesn’t become a “spring break” beach ball balloon or that the screech or pop of the balloon doesn’t scare the hell out of passengers – nuff said.
  • Wiki-Stix – discovered as a freebie in the kids activity kit at Grand Lux Cafe & PF Changs-Bonus. This is like a pipe cleaner but instead of fuzz, it’s covered in wax. They are cheap, even free if you save them up on restaurant visits. They are quiet and easy to pack. They are flexible to make any shape or figure including jewlry. My son made us all eyeglasses.

    They stick to anything. This is a bonus because they stick to windows, bags, tray tables, ect. and are removable. I will tell you this, I have had them stuck to my carpet and stepped on. It’s removable with a little effort and little damage. I’ve had them melted on the patio and they are scrapable with the back of a kitchen knife.

  • Activity books – There are TONS in the airport and some at most toy stores. They are usually under the travel section or under books. I prefer the ones with magnets just because stickers can be hard to remove. Be aware that when packing magnets DO NOT store near your electronics, such as a laptop or cell phone. It will hurt the screens at the minimum. My favorite is the bob the buildre typ of books. Ours has a screwdriver. It keeps my son busy fixing things from the taxi ride, to the gate, to the flight. Once on the flight the white noise helps quiet the clicking noise of the screw being turned.

  • Games – games like Simon Says (minus the big physical movements) can be great. They are quiet, free and weightless to pack.
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A Working Mother’s “Stay-at-Home” Experiment

A 'New Found' Respect For Mothers
Image by ronmarshall074 via Flickr

by Lela Demeter
I am a working mom – 10 months out of the year.  Yes, I am an educator and I do look forward to June, July and August.  This summer vacation was especially poignant, because it would be the first summer I spent with my son, and the longest duration of time we had together since his birth and my subsequent maternity leave.
The anticipation for summer built from the moment I went back to work.  Admittedly, I had been looking forward to going back – there were a lot of things I needed to do at work and I missed the pace of the workday.  As a new mother, my day had a structure all its own, a seemingly endless cycle of waking, sleeping, feeding, and changing diapers.  After I had recovered from my son’s birth (an experience we were very fortunate to come through with flying colors), I missed talking to someone who could answer, and I would anxiously await my husband’s arrival home.  I did a majority of the night feedings – my logic was that he worked all day – and I would be at home to sleep.  I want to make it clear that I did not and do not resent either of my boys (married or birthed), but I was just ready to go back.  I love my son more than life, but I just felt like I was missing out.
When I did go back in January, my son was in the midst of a two week (thankfully) bout of colic.  However, one can only imagine how I felt that week.  However, with lots of coffee and an iron will, I was able to complete a graduate degree and work AND take care of my family in the six months until summer break.
So, when my job responsibilities came to a close with the end of the school year, I was ready to be a full time mom for a little while.  However, it wasn’t the idyllic time that I thought it would be.

My son, now eight months old, was a different person from the helpless infant of my maternity leave.  A blissfully mellow baby, he has become his own little person, complete with opinions and demands.  Immediately, I was back on the baby schedule of waking and sleeping, feedings and changing diapers. But, this time was different as the “happy blob” stage of infancy was OVER.  Now, my day was spent tackling a moving land shark of a child.  A child, may I add, that weighed over twice what he did during my maternity leave.
I began to become quietly desperate.  Forget sleeping in and enjoying a leisurely morning – I was on as soon as he was, and I wasn’t leaving for a job.  I started to hide out in my bedroom when my husband got home. Twelve straight hours of an infant began to wear on me – I wasn’t as patient with my son as I was when I worked.  I didn’t treasure the time with my boy, as I felt constricted.  I literally never had a moment without him.  I couldn’t focus on anything but him.  My house wasn’t any cleaner and I spent more money as I would go shopping just to escape the same four walls.
But, the benefits to me being around all day were obvious.   I was the first person to see my son crawl and the emergence of his first baby teeth.  Instead of reaching for his grandfather (his daily caregiver), he reached for me.  He began to recognize his name when I said it to him.  I love this kid more than anything and these small things were the balm of my desperate heart.
Now, as summer begins to swing into twilight, I am looking forward to going back to work.  Why?  Believe me, I am not in a rush to feel the mommy guilt of leaving my baby for eight hours a day.  I will miss playing with him.  I will miss being the alpha and omega of his daily existance.  But, for me at least, the eight hours a day I work at a job are my vacation from parenting.  When I hit the door of my car to go home, I am in mommy mode.  I get the twenty minutes from work to home to decompress and switch gears.  When I get home, I am all for my son, with a focus.  This is probably the second reason I work (the first being money), I feel like I personally am a better parent because I work, because I get to be away and come home and be completely focused.  As hard as it is to be a working mom, it is incredibly hard to be a SAHM.  Some people may disagree with me, but this experiment made me feel that working is the right choice for me.
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Bamboo Pashminas


I am a big fan of pashminas. They are a fancy wrap for you, blanket, nursing cover, sun shade. I have a few in every color. Now that I live in Florida I covet anything to make it cooler here and bamboo is a winner. This is something I absolutely love to wear when traveling, especially on chilly planes!

Try Naturally Knotty. It was reviewed by Moomettes Magnificents.

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Independent Traveler

Although I’m not an independent traveler – anymore since my kiddos came around I’ve become a big fan of a e-newsletter that gets dropped to my inbox. It’s called Independent Traveler.

It has travel tips, trip planning and some discounts. They also have a section specifically for families.

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GoPicnic – The real happy meals

I found this on cool mom pics. I love the idea of something quick and healthy on the go, something to throw in the van, diaper bag or backpack.
Do you know of anything like this that’s healthy and quick to pack? Post a comment below and let us know!
article from

GoPicnic Kids MealsWith my daughter entering kindergarten in the fall, I must now add “pack a lunch” to my list of duties–something that is clearly not my forté. So at least I know that in a pinch, I’ve got the GoPicnic kids Mighty Munch meals to turn to. These are a smart, healthy alternative to the more mainstream (i.e. nitrate-laden) complete kids’ box lunches out there, featuring  natural foods and snacks – no refrigeration necessary – plus utensils. Even a temporary tattoo. Because what meal is not complete without tattoos?

We’re personal fans of the Aqua Lunch (pictured), which could suit vegetarian, Kosher folks, and foodies alike. It includes Sunbutter instead of PB, Bonne Maman strawberry jam (yum), all-natural apple sauce and more. If you’ve got a gluten-allergic kiddo, try the yummy Sports or Explore Munch. At just $5.99 a meal, they’re more than whipping out the Costco-size tubs of peanut butter and jelly, but not a fortune.

bonne maman preservesEven if you’re particularly adept at packing lunches, don’t cross these off your list. They’re fantastic for plane rides, or road trips where fast food joints are your only option. Considering what goes into each box, you could safely call GoPicnic lunches the real happy meals-Kristen

Check out the selection of healthy boxed lunches for kids at GoPicnic.

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8 Beauty Items to Get You Green Friendly Gorgeous

I really liked the fact that Moms out there are looking for all products that protect the earth. Here are a few products from a fellow momblogger.

What are your favorite green beauty products?

Leave a comment below!

This post was written by Chelsea on July 28, 2009
Posted Under: Fashion For You, Green Goods, Sunny Style

bigimage.aspxThe Queen of the Caboodle is back! This time, she brings new meaning to “Kelly Green.”

Don’t get me wrong, I try to help the environment as much as the next gal. I use my reusable bags when buying groceries, purchased stainless steel water bottles for the entire family, and even replaced my old light bulbs with energy efficient ones. I also try to buy organic foods and chemical –free products for my family and myself. But am I willing to sacrifice my favorite eye shadow to use chemical-free products that are good for the environment? THAT I have a harder time with. So, unless I really believe in an organic product, I am sticking with my paraben-filled eye shadow in its non-recyclable container, thank you very much.

That being said, I decided to take it upon myself to test some organic/recyclable products to see which ones are as good as the “high pollutant” ones. Here’s the list of products that I would easily use in the name of beauty, while saving my body from harsh chemicals and would certainly make Al Gore proud:

8. Physician’s Formula Organic wear Mascara- Organic Mascara (as seen in photo above) with a 100% recyclable brush. At $9.95, I wouldn’t bat an eye at buying this one! To purchase from Physician’s Formula, click here.

7. Dr. Hauschka kajal eyeliner- This eyeliner is made from mineral pigments and quince wax so it glides on super smoothly. An added perk? Neem and cameliea extracts help strengthen your lashes! $17.95 To purchase from Amazon, click here! 110YUZ9-LCL._SL500_AA250_
31q4cDLraZL._SL500_AA250_ 6. Smashbox Cosmetics Mother Earth Palette- This is my personal favorite. Five gorgeous paraben- and fragrance-free shades all in a recyclable compact. $45.00 To purchase from Amazon, click here!
5. Pacifca Solid Perfume-Made from organic coconut and soy wax, there are many yummy fragrances to choose from (I have Malibu Lemon Blossom). It comes in a beautifully painted tin and is a little bigger than a quarter, so that it fits easily in my purse and I don’t have to be afraid of it leaking. Oh, AND it contains no GMOs, no preservatives and is vegan. $9.00 To purchase from Amazon, click here. 31e5QXFQm8L._SL500_AA250_
LipStickMAIN_deptImg 4. Mineral Lipstick by I tried a few different mineral lipsticks. This lipstick did its job just as well as the $15 tubes and it is only $5! I got the cheerful cherry which gives a nice pop of color if you are in a vixen-kind-of-mood. Best of all, it is chemical free and comes in recyclable packaging. $5.00 (!!!) To purchase from e.l.f., click here.
3. Nail polish by Karma Organic has come out with a great line of nail polish that is free of DPB, toluene and Formaldehyde and is also cruelty free. I like the color Warm Coral. $9.99 To purchase from Karma Organic, click here. yhst-46251602920947_2064_1112704
21DiJuol5WL._SL500_AA170_ 2. Tigi Love Peace + The Planet Shampoo-Organic aloe and rosemary make it super-hydrating. The Cranberry Orange Mint smell is divine. To purchase for $15.90 (vs. $19.96) from Amazon, click here.
1. The All-Nighter Styling Powder- When I raved about Bumble and Bumble’s Hair Powder in my last article, the nice folks over at A Beautiful Life sent me over their version of hair powder to try…SANS the paraben, aluminum, talc and silica. I must say, I am a true convert! It was even easier to apply than my B&B, contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect the scalp from UVA and UVB rays AND is HALF THE PRICE!!! Awesome! $18.00 To purchase from The All Nighter, click here! 1anchart

So go ahead, look gorgeous and save the Earth and yourself while you’re at it!!!

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The Curse of the Sanctimommy

Mommy Sandwich - Week 2 my kids & me
Image by ~PhotograTree~ via Flickr

by- Lela Demeter

Most of the time, I think I am the world’s worst mother.  A good friend of mine told me that “jackets are the things God invented when mothers are cold.”  Yeah, well sometimes my kid doesn’t have a jacket and probably should.  Oh yeah, when my kid is whining, I am the mother that says, “Don’t sweat it, it will be okay.”  Yeah, baby talk doesn’t happen in my house and I have been known to watch the Bachelor in front of my kid and read excerpts from Wiseguy (the book that inspired the movie Goodfellas) aloud to my baby (hey, its reading and I only read the part about how to hijack airplanes).  In all seriousness, I know that I am not the perfect mom, but I put a lot of effort into trying to be as good as I can be.

Which is why it surprised me that I had a major sanctimommy moment.  If you have looked at any mommy blog, you will know that the sanctimommy is the mother who looks at another mom and either thinks or says something critical.  Like if you see a mom like me at the mall, and she is cursing the stroller because it has the audacity to adhere to the laws of physics and flip over because you have taken the equal weight of one side- your child and left weight on the other side- the diaper bag (this goes without saying that the diaper bag and child are approximately the same weight and considering my child is 20 pounds, this is a sad commentary on my packing issues), the sanctimommy makes a comment or thinks, “Man, what a disorganized mom, I feel sorry for that kid.”

I used to think that I was so scattered that I would never have a sanctimommy moment – but I did.  Picture this, my husband and I are doing one of the many truck shows that he takes (ahem, drags) me to.  Of course we have our baby, our junior mint, with us, because we have to start our boy young. Anyway, I look over and this girl (at least 10 years younger than me) is holding a tiny baby.  He is five months old and my husband and I are staring in disbelief because there is no way that our sprout was this little at five months.  Now, its about 55 degrees outside and while balmy for Chicago, I have our boy bundled up in jeans, a shirt, thick socks, a thick fleece sweatshirt, in the stroller, under a blanket and with protective ear wear.  This other little baby – t-shirt, blanket, no socks and no hat.

Now, I immediately go into Sanctimommy mode – this poor child must be saved.  And all of these thoughts go running though my head – low birth weight – obviously this girl wasn’t taking care of herself.  No clothes- and I notice the baby has blue hands.  And all of these thoughts fly through my brain and then I begin to look around.  It seems like my kid is the only one bundled up like we are going to compete in the Iditarod.  Further, everyone else is having fun and I am the one scowling at my husband that we are out past the baby’s bedtime even though the baby is peacefully sleeping 100 feet from the trucks (that I, of course, thought we were sitting too close to – what if one drove into us?).  Then I look at the girl and the baby.  She is holding him up and smiling at him – when she is not wrapping the baby tight in the blanket close to her.  And then she spent five minutes chatting with some friends and she left.  Total cold exposure for baby = about 10 minutes.

Stylish diaper bag
Image by eugene via Flickr

Such is the curse of the sanctimommy.  Sometimes we are just so worried about doing right by our own children and are so hypersensitive about how our own parenting is perceived by others that we sometimes can feel better or sanctimonious just because we need to feel as though we are doing a good enough job. In the working world, we perceive our job performance by praise or raises.  In the parenting world, we don’t get that feedback at all – everything we do is guesswork on a good day.  By the time we can see the fruits of our labor, i.e. well adjusted kids, we have enough life experience to realize that sometimes the best you’ve got is all that matters. Now, the next time I go out, instead of looking to see if I am the best mommy there, I will go back to what I like to do – eyeing up the other baby gear that the moms have and coveting it.

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Tatoos for Your Car

Sugarcoat Decals: Like a temporary tattoo for your car

My car is completely and utterly utilitarian; it gets me–and my three children–from Point suarcoat car decalsA to Point B. But while an upgrade isn’t in my budget these days, Sugarcoat Decals are. These vinyl car decals helped me give my car a super-cute facelift with flowers, leaves, vines, and bugs.

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