Alternative Choices to Halloween Candy

I think I might give these out this Halloween

I think I might give these out this Halloween

Let’s face it: no kid wants to find raisins instead of candy in their Halloween loot. A toothbrush? Come on! Still, not all of us are comfortable with giving out a bunch of junk food to the neighborhood kids. Are there any kid-approved alternatives, candy or otherwise?

I always thought that packs of stickers were a good choice. There might not be a one-size-fits-all sticker, but you can stock up on choices that appeal to separate age groups and genders. Or just get scratch and sniff stickers, since who doesn’t like those? The bonus is that you can save leftovers for next year, like if you get rolls of Halloween stickers.

Temporary tattoos are great for kids that might be a little old for stickers, or you can get packs that include both stickers and tattoos

Crayons and mini activity books are another non-candy alternative. As a parent, I think these are a great choice! Not only are they sugar-free, but they last longer than a jaw-breaker. A handful of little toys is a similar option.

Annie’s Homegrown Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks Variety Pack (24 ct) are a sweet alternative to candy, and contain no artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives.

This 5 Pound Bag YumEarth Organic Lollipops won’t break the bank and will last all night (contains 325 pops). Free of gluten, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial dyes, they are also allergen free AND kosher!

One option I was hoping to include is a fun-sized chocolate bar. I haven’t come across any chocolate choices that are reasonably priced and don’t contain artificial flavors, besides Lindt LINDOR Assorted Chocolate Truffles. I would love to hear your suggestions!

Do you still give out candy or have you switched to other treats for Halloween?

Making Your Move Eco-Friendly

Moving is a resource intensive prospect, even when you are planning for it. There are a few ways you can make your move, whether in town or across country, a little more eco-friendly.

 

 

 

 

  1. Hire a green moving company. Depending on your town, you might be able to find a moving company that drops off reusable bins in advance and reuses and recycles packing materials. On the day of the move, the bins are loaded into a biodiesel truck along with your furniture.
  2. Downgrade your house to something with a smaller footprint (carbon and otherwise). A few years ago, Joy wrote several posts about Choosing a Small Home for Economic and Environmental Reasons, How Much House Does Baby Need? and the Pros and Cons of living in a small house. Depending on your area, you might be able to find a house that already has solar panels, a rainwater catch system or at least a tank-less water heater.
  3. Reuse boxes and packing material. For most of our boxes and packing material, this move will mark their fifth use. If you count the boxes that came from my parents, it’s double that. I’ve always made it a point to collapse boxes and fold up paper and packing bubbles and find a place to store them. Since we plan to be in our new home for a decade or more, instead of saving boxes I’m going to offer them up on Craig’s List. I often see packing materials up for grabs there and on local FB groups.
  4. If you are anticipating a move, start saving any boxes that come your way (an easy feat if you are a dedicated online shopper). Some grocery stores offer product boxes to customers instead of bags (Trader Joe’s, for example, has tons of wine boxes), so start bringing your groceries home in boxes. Another great source for boxes that will otherwise be wasted are liquor stores. Call ahead and ask if you can haul some away for your move.
  5. If you are really dedicated, or very cheap, you can forgo packing paper and bubbles and use linens and clothes to protect breakables. Combining your bedroom and kitchen packing will not only reduce the number of boxes you need overall, but will eliminate the need for disposable packing materials.
  6. Populate your new house with house plants. It’s surprisingly easy to make new plants by taking cuttings off your current plants, friends’ plants or plants you see while walking around town (respectfully, or course). Almost any container can be turned into a pot, and drainage can be added to any ceramic vessel with the correct drill bit.

What are your favorite tips for a greener move?

Age Appriopriate Chores for Children

Picking up toys before bed

Picking up toys before bed

Now that Franci hit the 18 month mark, and has a handle on using her potty (as long as she is naked from the waist down) I thought I would try introducing a few chores. I tried a few times in the past, but she was unable to follow my simple instructions. She would “help” me pick up and then start playing with the toys, undoing all our (my) cleanup efforts.

It all started in the laundry room. She was so interested in what I was doing and wanted to help put clothes in the washer with me. A-ha! It only took a try or two for her to follow my lead as to when the clothes are going in, and when they are coming out. Now whenever it’s time to put clothes in (or take them out) of the washer or dryer, I let her help. I guess you could say laundry was Franci’s first chore.

Bolstered by our success, I decided to see if she was ready to pick up toys at the end of the night. She caught on very quickly and it has become part of her bedroom routine. I have to direct her work (think, “go get that yellow book under the chair and put it right here on the shelf”) but it saves me from crawling around on the floor myself.

I haven’t tried any other chores at this point, because I’m not really sure if there are any others she is ready for. I hope I remember to introduce new ones as she becomes more able!

How old are your kids and what are their daily chores?

Blogroll Update

Looking for more Green Parenting Blogs

Looking for More Green Parenting Blogs

Being a green parent (or person, in general) is a commitment that requires support. A community is the best place to find that, so it’s time to renew our ties and make some new ones!

I have been meaning to update our Blogroll for months and months, and I’ve finally done it!  The eminent arrival of baby number two in 69 days has spurred me to get through as much of my to-do list as I can, and connecting with other green parenting bloggers is at the top of that list.

You can find a list of these “Blogs We like” at the bottom of the righthand colum. I encourage you to check them out and like them on Facebook! If you have any suggestions for green parenting websites, please leave me a comment so I can add them to the list. If there are any blogs I’ve listed but you think deserve a little extra attention, please leave a comment!

And if you know of any good Blog Carnivals, please let me know!

Summer’s Bounty

U-pick Tomatoes, Yum!

U-pick Tomatoes, Yum!

There’s no better time than summer to enjoy locally harvested fruits and vegetables. We’ve lived a lot of places that have farmer’s markets and CSA shares year round, but Northern Nevada is not one of them. Our growing season is relatively short, from June to September, so we’re trying to make the most of the delicious produce that is coming our way.

We’ve had wonderful experiences with CSA’s over the years. You receive a box of fresh, local produce on a schedule. Not only do they ensure you are eating foods in season, but they encourage you to think outside the box and try new things (kohlrabi, any one?). The best way to find a good one is to ask around your community, or search LocalHarvest.

Farmer’s Markets are so prevalent it seems hard to find a town that doesn’t have one these days. They are fun to visit and your patronage helps support local farms, but you do pay a premium for whatever finds its way into your basket. The USDA keeps up a pretty good list of Farmer’s Markets around the US.

If you have the inclination, nothing is greener than having your own garden. Whether you have a few standing pots full of tomatoes, a raised bed with a few plants or a large plot, you’ll get to enjoy fresh vegetables without leaving the house. If you don’t have room for one, you can find a community garden to dig around in.

Are you into locally harvested fruits and vegetables? Do you grow them yourself or frequent a farmer’s market? What’s your favorite source?

Unsupervised Children

Too Young to Walk Unsupervised?

Too Young to Walk Unsupervised?

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard about the mom that was arrested for leaving her 9-year-old daughter at the park while she worked. Since it hit the news, it’s sparked quite the debate about leaving kids unsupervised.

My friends and I remember playing at the park, walking to school, and going to the corner store without an adult at that age. Perhaps we weren’t alone for as many as 6 hours, but we certainly didn’t have cell phones. When I talk to my parents and other people their age, they remember being even less supervised. Are things really that less safe nowadays?

Statistics show that stereotypical kidnapping (where the child doesn’t know the abductor) rates have not increased over the last 25 years. The US Department of Justice concludes, “Teenagers were by far the most frequent victims of stereotypical kidnappings”, according to their 1999 study. The study also concluded that there are an estimated 115 stereotypical kidnappings a year as of 1999, whereas the rates were twice that in 1988.

There are an estimated 58,200 “nonfamily abductions” per year, where the victims are not considered “missing”. It’s more like they were detained by an acquaintance (or disgruntled boyfriend) for a time. NISMART has a great description of the difference between these kinds of abductions. The FBI estimates that 367,500 children are abducted by family members per year. As Free-Range Kids so glibly puts it, “Your safest bet is to leave your child with a stranger”.

Maybe it just feels like there is more stranger danger because news travels fast in the information age. These accounts don’t make it easier to decide how much freedom to give your children.

At what age do you think kids should be allowed to play unsupervised at the park? Do you let your kids walk to school alone?

Stockpiling Redux

Let's get cooking!

Let’s get cooking!

We bought an upright freezer during my first pregnancy so I could prepare a bunch of meals ahead of time.  By the time Frances was born, we had 100 dinners and at least as many lunches stashed away.  Just over a year later, we finally finished them off.  

In retrospect, it was actually more helpful the older Franci got. When she was a newborn, I could just strap her to my back and cook away. It wasn’t until she got more active, and I went back to work, that the freezer meals really came in handy.

Now that I’m just over half way through the next pregnancy, it’s time to get down to the business of filling the freezer up again. If I thought it was nice to have prepared food at hand when we had one kid, how about when we have two!

If you’re wondering my secret to having enough pans to hold all the meals, I do have a trick up my sleeve. I line each pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray before filling it up. Once the dish is frozen, I use the parchment handles to pop out the meal. Next, I peal off the parchment and slip the meal into a food saver bag. I vacuum and seal it, and the meal is ready to store in the freezer for up to 2 years! Then I put the greased parchment back in the pan, and fill it up again for another round. I usually fill 4 pans at a time, so it can take two or three days to get the whole batch frozen.

Some of the meals I made were more popular than others, so I’d like to make a bigger variety this time. Maybe a dozen different meals instead of 8. Here’s what I’m planning to make: Chile Verde, Shepard’s Pie, Pasta Sauce, Black Bean Soup, Tortilla Soup, Lasagna, and Chicken Pot Pie. As you can see, I’m short a few ideas.

What’s your favorite meal to make ahead and freeze?

Celebrating a Green 4th of July

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July! Whether you are at home or with friends, here are some green ideas to help you celebrate:

Have a picnic: Pack up some sandwiches and finger foods, grab a blanket and find a nice spot in the shade. You don’t have to travel farther than your backyard, if you want to avoid holiday traffic. The best part is that you don’t have to turn on your stove or oven.

Make your own giant soap bubbles: The general consensus is that Dawn dish soap is the best, and don’t forget the secret ingredient: glycerin.

Enjoy homemade popsicles: If you don’t have popsicle molds, just use a dixi cup! For an extra-patriotic treat, try these Red, White and Blue Creamsicles.

Have a watermelon seed fight: Be sure to buy a seeded watermelon, so you have some ammo. Pinch the watermelon seed between your thumb and index finger, aim, and squeeze. With a little practice, you’ll be hitting your mark in no time.

Cool off in a kiddie pool or sprinkler: Or if you’re feeling fancy, a Slip N Slide

Have a backyard movie night: Pop some popcorn and get out the blankets!

What activities do you have planned for Independence Day?

It’s a Girl!

Big Sister in Training

Big Sister in Training

We’re happy to announce that there is a new Green Baby on the way! We’ll be welcoming a little girl into our lives in the beginning of November. We’re very excited that our family is growing and that Franci is going to be a big sister!

Since my belly is growing by the day, I’ll be posting about pregnancy more often. Write what you know, as they say. They also say that each pregnancy is different, and that certainly is the case. As anyone with more than one kid knows, there’s little time to rest and relax your swollen feet when you’re chasing after a toddler! It’s going to take a lot of organization to be even half as prepared as the first time around.

Besides preparing for another home birth, we need to prepare Frances for her role as big sister. As a younger sibling, I have no idea how to begin! I’m sure that’s a topic I’ll be revisiting here later.

In the meantime, we’re looking forward to a fun-filled summer and plenty of changes come fall!

Losing a Loved One

Four Generations

Four Generations

We had a sad week here at The Green Baby Guide, because Rebecca and I lost our grandmother and Frances and Audrey lost their great-grandmother. Caroline Frances Best Kelley, known as Tutu to her family, was an amazing woman with a big heart and a welcoming smile, and she will be missed by many friends and family.

I’ve been taking Franci to see her great-grandmother once a week since before she was born. No matter how she was feeling, or how tired she was, she always lit up when we walked in the door. She loved to hear about Franci’s new tricks and kept up on all our activities.

Although I’m so glad that Tutu got to know Frances, I’m sad that Frances is just a little too young to remember all the time she spent with her. On her last few visits she would say “T-t-tu-tu” on our way to the front door, but I don’t think she’ll notice that we stopped going over to her house.

In some ways, Franci’s age takes the burden off of us to explain death, loss, heaven and all those tricky topics. If she were older, I would probably make use of one of these books to help explain the situation.

Have you had to deal with a similar situation with your kids? What helped or what would you do differently next time?