Going green is hard. Being green is easy.

Earth Day graphicWhen I first set out to cloth diaper, it was mostly as a means to save money. I wanted to stay home with Hannah, and saving two grand seemed like a great way to manage the financial change of not returning to work. I quickly began to search for more and more ways to save money with reusable products.

There I sat on the interwebs scouring for reusable zip lock baggies, Eco-friendly car seats, and bpa-free storage containers. It took me a long time to realize that green living wasn’t an apples-to-apples transition at all. It’s about evolving to fit the seasons and the surroundings. I had to learn not only to be resourceful, but understand what my actual resources were and how to use them. It wasn’t just about swapping from non-stick cookware to stainless steel. No, I had to learn the secrets of cast iron cooking (which is also non-stick). Just when I thought I was finally catching on, I discovered that the ease of eating raw food is such a simple option that it is often overlooked. Through it all, I’ve realized that I’m done Going Green.

I am at the beginning of a new life of being green and it is a beautiful thing. The problem is, the days that I truly feel green, I’m not very entertaining. We watch grass grow. We listen to the trees. We take half the morning to cook lunch, do the dishes by hand, and then cook dinner after a nap. For me, I’m torn because I desperately want to be the blogger I set out to become. I want to share about great experiences and give handy advice. On the other hand, I want to walk out the door with my family, head to a desert island and never come back. If that does happen, you better believe I won’t stick around to tweet about it! Consider this my pre-written blogging Eulogy. Life is good. I predict it will get even better. There is a lot for me to learn. After all, you’re talking to a girl who, at age 2, replied to the pediatrician’s inquiry about green leafy vegetables that “My Mom never makes me those.” For now, I will be here learning and living. Maybe I will teach some of what I learn, but I need you to know that I am not an expert on green living. I am a Mom on a journey to make a better life for the next generation. If you think I am unique or different or crazy, you may be right! However, there are lots of other green bloggers with terrific information about how to be green. Whatever it is that inspires you to love your surroundings, dive into that. Go ahead and Google “Does Target carry Eco-friendly shampoo” or “Local Organic Dry-cleaning.” Live guilt-free by trying your best. Don’t be surprised if one day, you fall off the wagon into your own green backyard paradise with everything you need. No matter the journey, some day we will all be dirt. I’m just going to get used to that now.

In celebration of Earth Day and life in general, I’m taking a few days off the internet to enjoy everything that I have. You better believe I’ll be kicking off my shoes and walking barefoot through the grass with the girls.

If Your Kids Don’t Watch TV, You Are Not Alone

tots without techI made a decision two years ago that I’ve never regretted. No tech for my tots. Because we’re in the minority on this choice, I don’t talk about it very much. The thing is, even without watching shows or playing apps, the girls are still exposed to tech all the time. I’m a blogger for goodness sakes, of course they see my iPhone. I didn’t want to write this post from a position of authority and dictate 10 Reasons Why Children Should Not Watch Television or 8 Apps that Stall the Development of Infants. I just wanted to put it out there, that if you spend a day with children circling your legs and immersed in your to-do list, you’re not the only one.

If the thought of playing with children’s toys and entertaining them all day sincerely terrifies you, I can tell you that I am in the same boat! Hannah feels that way, too. She gives me about 8-24 minutes of solid focus and then takes off on her own. Generally in the morning she and Audrey play independently or together while I get breakfast ready. She pops in just in time to cajole me to put the food on the table and then happily gobbles her meal. After that we clean up the dishes. Some days I do the dishes by hand because it keeps Hannah out of the dishwasher and it takes a little extra time.

We have a helpful morning routine upstairs that stages our day. I open the windows and water the plants in the bedroom. Then we make the bed, brush our teeth and get dressed. Sometimes this happens at 8:15 and sometimes it happens at 11. I try to be flexible and follow Hannah’s lead. A few times a week we run errands or meet up with other Moms, but most days we stay home and hang. The girls are fascinated when I do laundry or vacuum. Truly, any household chore is entertainment for them and that makes it enjoyable for me.

When we play together, I watch, listen, and offer suggestions. She loves to hear stories so I generally read to her while I nurse Audrey. Sometimes I’ll put on my creative hat and reminisce old Blue’s Clues episodes for inspiration on how to play with Hannah. In our world, I am Steve, Elmo, Big Bird, Mr. Rogers, and Miss Piggy. I am awesome. Hannah loves to watch me cook and assist when she can. We took our time and made big pots of soup last winter. I will say that we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Did I mention that I’m also Giada? When Hannah is with her Dad, he fills the time by building and creating in his workshop. This summer he is hitting the backyard hard and creating the ultimate backyard escape. Out there, Hannah, Audrey, and I can watch the Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie.

I do not think that the girls will ever be behind the curve when it comes to technology. Just from observation, Hannah knows how to identify and manipulate technological objects. My Mommy Mantra is based on Montessori ideas, so I’m happy to follow their lead on identifying skills to work out for children instead of learning through tech. Our life is far from boring without TV or Apps during the day. It is full of creations, hobbies, and peace. We walk, think, talk, share, laugh, and learn. I don’t know yet when I will switch on the Tube for the girls. I always enjoyed Disney movies as a kid and I’d like to share those with the girls. Hannah is turning two this summer, but I think I’ll wait for a rainy day. Although, we do like to play in the rain, too…

Sahara Sam’s Indoor Water Park + Babywearing in the Water

We’re heading to Sahara Sam’s next month and I am so excited to hit the water! Sahara Sam’s is an Indoor and Outdoor Water Oasis in West Berlin New Jersey. It boasts slides, surfing, tubes, and an adventure playland. Next month they are adding an entirely new Outdoor Park full of attractions for all ages. Since the park is for all ages, we’re bringing the two girls so that we can all hit the water. They have a great toddler splash zone and I learned some new tips from the Chester County Babywearers group on how to babywear in the water.

sahara sams water oasis

Option 1: DIY Make your own nylon sash and practice a variety of wraps using videos on Youtube. An experienced Mama recommends using two layer carries for this style since the fabric tends to give.

Option 2: Select a nylon carrier like the Boba Air. It is not technically designed for water, but it would dry and wash quickly based on the material contents.

Option 3: Purchase a two-in-one swimsuit with built in baby wrap like the Wrapsody. I don’t know why this suit doesn’t come in a men’s version?

There you have it. Plenty of options to babywear. I’m a fan of using what I already have, so I’ll probably just bring the k’tan to use in the water and the Ergo for anything else. The k’tan is cotton so it will wash easily. Audrey and I may feel a little soggy, but at least we can snuggle all day.

What fun, family destinations are you planning to visit this year?

A Fairy Tale Come True

fairy tale cakeBed time in this house is a challenge. No matter the day, it seems that one of the girls finds a way to prolong the ‘night night’ ritual. Hannah tends to practice her rock climbing skills while Audrey attempts to drain every ounce of breastmilk that she can get. I try to relax and remain calm while all the action unfolds, especially since they play off one another. The way these girls do fall asleep is downright comical. Sometimes Hannah conks out on the couch while listening to a story. Other nights, they’ll fall asleep on either side of me in a Mama Pajama party. Only on rare occasions do both girls fall asleep in their own beds, and that never lasts the whole night.

This evening, I lost all my inspiration for singing songs or reading board books. Instead I let the words to this happy fairy tale roll out of my mouth and coax Hannah to sleep. It. Was. Magical. Maybe I should get this published?

Hannah Falls Asleep

Once upon a time there was a beautiful Princess named Hannah.

Hannah lived in the highest tower of the biggest castle on the highest hill.

She loved to explore and play all day.

Sometimes, it was hard for her to go to sleep because she was so excited after learning all day.

This made her Mama very sad because she wanted to go to bed, too.

One day, Hannah realized that she could go to bed and wake up the next morning to continue playing.

She decided to lay down and get some sleep.

After that, she felt very happy and she slept all night long.

(Mama crosses fingers.)

Shop the Best New Toy Store In the Philadelphia Suburbs

Monkey Fish Toys opened their doors for a sneak peek for bloggers in preparation for the Grand Opening in April. They are currently open daily to the public in their new space in The Shops on Eagleview Boulevard. The new shop boasts 19 eco-friendly or sustainable toy brands in addition to the mix of popular toys like Legos and Gund. They have done a really great job identifying brands that parents can trust and value. The best part is that I didn’t see a single toy in the shop that required batteries.

monkey fish toys

Going to the shop is an awesome experience in itself because there are stations where kids (and adults) can test out or play with the products. For special occasions, parents can book the shop for an unforgettable party featuring their children’s favorite toys. With themes like Legos, dinosaurs, pirates, dress up, crafts, or Holidays, every kid is sure to have a great time.

All the craft supplies are from a new brand called Eco Kids that boasts products made from natural materials. This is huge for me since my kid always puts crayons directly into her mouth. We picked up a pack of the exploratory molding dough. I like that it is an appropriate toy for kids 2 and up since it is non-toxic. Some of the brands I’ve seen in stores recommend waiting till kids are 3, but age 2 is the perfect time to squeeze and press the dough into shapes. Hannah loves the stuff!

For me, seeing how hard Monkey Fish Toys worked to find new brands that fit the eco-friendly lifestyle is a huge motivator for me to help get the word out about their shop. It’s encouraging to see that a company who chooses toys that increase in value over time (like Legos) has honed in on this niche. I’m inspired to pick out the educational toys that will foster a love of learning through play in our home from their great selection and I would encourage you to visit the shop, too.

monkey fish toys exton pa chester tounty toy store

How to find Monkey Fish Toys:

This part gets a little confusing since they are in the transition phase, so I’m going to give as much information as I can.

Shop Address: 264 Eagleview Blvd, The Shops on Eagleview Boulevard, Exton, PA 19341

Phone: (484) 341-8367

Email: KerriR@bullmarkettoys.com

Monkey Fish Toys on Facebook

Monkey Fish Toys on Twitter

The Online Shop – Bull Market Toys 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received compensation for sharing this information. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Cut Apples for Toddlers

toddler eats an appleThe easiest snack for me to get Hannah to eat is a cut apple. She’ll eat a slice of an apple that I cut any time of day, but usually she only eats a slice. Right now, that’s not a problem since I can eagerly gobble up any leftovers due to my increased need for calories from nursing. But, I got to thinking the other day about how much Hannah enjoys learning how to do things on her own and I figured out a neat way to prepare her snack together using a little Montessori inspiration. This is an activity that we can do every day. It leaves no waste and is simple to clean up. Plus, we’ve got a handy, healthy snack ready to head out the door whenever we need one. You could say that we’ve taken the old adage, “An apple a day” to a new level.

Cutting an Apple Together

Our journey starts at the top of the Learning Tower. Hannah Appleseed selects an apple from the lowest drawer in the fridge. If we’re preparing a few apples, we’ll wash them together in a bowl to conserve water. At this point, Hannh holds her peeler at the ready while I slice the apple in half, then into sixths. After that, she can hold a slice (or sneak her first bite) while I peel the remaining slices. Then we place each slice into a reusable baby food jar and close the lids. We store these on the lowest shelf of the fridge, next to her milk. She can reach for a snack whenever she is hungry. By keeping the jars in the fridge and returning them to the fridge right away, I can use them several times before washing. My favorite part of the activity is when Hannah climbs down from the tower and goes to the cabinet under the sink full of purpose. She announces, ‘POST’ and hands me the compost jug to toss our scraps.

Hannah loves routine and she does a great job carrying out steps in sequence. We don’t rush through this because we don’t have to. We make our snack early in the day so that it’s ready at any time. An older kid could probably easily keep all the apple pieces in the same container, but Hannah enjoys opening these jars and dumping them out. Once a day, she shares an apple with her little sister. At just 6 months, Audrey is only beginning to explore foods. Watching the two of them fumble with their fruit brings me a true sense of joy. The only way to make snack time even more enjoyable is to bite into a crisp, refreshing apple myself!

Fish Inspired Toddler Activity

Sea inspired fish playdate activity for toddlersI’m excited for our fishy playdate today! We are reading the boardbook version of The Rainbow Fish and Squishy Turtle & Friends. I’ve got a colorful fish puzzle for the toddlers to explore, along with a puzzle of sea creatures. Last night I cut out various sizes of felt fish in red, orange, and yellow to ‘swim’ in a blue sea with a touch of algae. We can make one large school of fish or group them by color or size.

I reserved a smaller section of the blue sea to lay on the floor for my infant with her red crab. This crab has moveable legs that click and bounce. Plus the vibrant color is appealing for little ones. I wonder if both girls will figure out how to make a fish face today?

Thanks to my reader suggestions, we’ve got a few fishy songs to listen and sing along.

One little, two little, three little fish-ies

Four little, five little, six little fish-ies

Seven little, eight little, nine little fish-ies

Ten little fishies swimming in the sea.