The Best Lotion for Dry, Shriveled, Disgusting Hands (and Cute Babies)

My hands look about 100 years old. I never bother to paint my nails or wear fancy rings because I fear any embellishment would simply draw more attention to my flimsy nails and ragged cuticles. I’m also not particularly invested in keeping my hand-skin unblemished and supple. Though my day job includes tapping out stories on a computer and talking about writing in a classroom, by the look of my hands, you’d think I’d been toiling out in the fields. I’m always washing a dish, digging in the garden, or tiling my shower.

Me, tiling my shower, a crazed look in my eye. Also, mortar is murder for the skin.
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Try Cloth Diapering Without The Risk!

Jillian’s Drawers offers a terrific cloth diaper trial program for families who want to give it a go without the risk. You pay $154.54 for a pack that includes new prefolds, fitted diapers, one size diapers, and all in ones (12 pieces in all!) and use the diapers for 21 days from the day they arrive. Then, if you don’t like any or all of the diapers, send them back at the end of the trial, stains and all, for a refund of $134.54. That means your total risk is just $10, although you will also spend $10 on shipping. Many of our readers have recommended the Jillian’s Drawers Changing Diapers, Changing Minds Program as way to get started since the company provides excellent phone support every day of the week for cloth diapering questions.
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Do you make your own baby food?

I had visions of whirling up organic autumn blends of apples and squash for my babes. And I did, but not for every meal. I made huge batches of sweet potatoes and mashed bananas in my blender, froze them in ice cube trays, and then stored them in zip lock bags in the freezer. It was long process, but I loved reflecting on the fact that making baby food means saving about 90% over the cost of pre-made organic baby food and avoiding the environmental costs of packaging and processing. Still, working nearly full time, not getting enough sleep and having a relatively picky baby motivated to buy jars of organic baby food to save my sanity now and then.
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Top-Rated Green Gifts for Babies and Toddlers

This holiday season, I’ve been searching for the products that new parents are raving about in online reviews. It’s best to trust those currently in the trenches of early child-rearing for the gifts that children (and parents) will really love this holiday.

The Itzy Ritzy Snack Happened Snack Bag is an overwhelming favorite. Families love that it zips shut (unlike other reusable bags that seal with velcro), that it can easily contain an entire sandwich, and that it holds up well after several trips through the washing machine. The product would be perfect for baby finger foods and would easily transition to preschool within a few years. It’s a great stocking stuffer for a child too as parents are reporting that kids love the designs on the bags.
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Giveaway! Win an adorable wooden baby toy from Papa Don’s

I like to imagine Diana and Garth of Papa Don’s sitting in a snug little cabin next to a wood stove, whittling toys by hand. Their cabin looks like something out of Hansel and Gretel, with a thatched roof and gingerbread walls, protected by gigantic firs and pines. When they’ve polished up one of their hardwood toys–a wobble pull puppy, for example–a team of elves swoops it from their snug little Oregon cabin and delivers it to a deserving young child.

The amazing thing about my story is that it’s all true. I mean, maybe not the part about the gingerbread or the elves, but Diana and Garth really do live in the coastal forests of Oregon, crafting their heirloom-quality toys out of locally-harvested alder. “We make them with joy and hope that they bring countless hours of delight to the children in your life,” they say about their products.
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Family Cookbook Christmas Gift Ideas

Somewhere in the midst of laundry, errands, and picky eaters, I have lost my love for preparing the family dinner. And yet I yearn for mealtime perfection…the image of my children eagerly crowding around steaming dishes of nourishment. Are simple, healthy family dinners even a possibility?

The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time is on my Christmas list. It’s packed with tips, recipes, anecdotes and green tips for a better family dinner. Somehow the fact that Laurie David (producer of An Inconvenient Truth) manages to keep her teenage children at the dinner table is inspiration enough for me.
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Is A Wooden Toy Kitchen Worth It?

For awhile my daughter was quite content to play on her adorable little Alex Wooden Cook Top Playstove. It was a great value at about $30 and also took up just a small corner of her room. Glorious! Now she’s dreaming of a bigger, more luxurious environment in which to whip up imaginary cupcakes. Have you invested in a wooden play kitchen? Was it worth the money and space in your home?

I like the simplicity of the Melissa and Doug Cook’s Corner Wooden Kitchen. It’s smaller than some and costs under $100, but I wonder if its size would limit the span of years she’d be interested in it. Have you tried this one?
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Should You Buy an Organic Crib Mattress or Save Up for a Bigger Organic Mattress?

The good news is that prices on organic crib mattresses have gone down in the last few years and there are now several inexpensive organic crib mattresses available for less than two hundred dollars. But what if you end up co-sleeping most of the time? Or what if your child shifts to a bigger bed early and spends just a short time on that organic crib mattress? Should you just bypass the organic crib mattress and invest in a twin or queen organic mattress from the beginning?

The cost of any organic mattress makes this a very valid question. The strong>Natura World Organic Foundation Twin Mattress is one of the most economical, and it costs about $575. strong>Naturepedic’s 2 in 1 Organic Twin Mattress comes in at about $700. Still, if you think about your child using the mattress for fifteen years, the cost per year is far less than buying an organic crib mattress that they would use for a fraction of that time.
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Is Your Baby Carrier or Sling too Complicated?

Mine was. I once became trapped inside my Baby Bjorn Carrier with my snoozing infant snuggled on my chest. I was desperate for sleep and wanted to lay my baby down so that I wouldn’t roll on top of him, carrier and all, but I was utterly unable to figure out how to get it off. Instead I sat on the couch and cried until my husband got home. Was sleep deprivation a factor? Absolutely! But this was my least favorite baby carrier. Did other moms have this experience with complicated slings or baby carriers?
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Natural and Organic Crib Mattresses for Less

When we first began writing our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, organic crib mattresses were available only to families who were able to shell out several hundred bucks. How thrilling then to see that by the time the book was published, the market demand really had driven down the price of organic crib mattresses! Check out some of the organic options available to families now!

The Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress with Organic Cotton is just $95! It’s not completely organic, but for families on a budget at least it’s a more organic option than a standard mattress.

The LA Baby Organic 2 in One Orthopedic Crib Mattress is currently about sixty dollars off, coming in at just $107 on amazon. That’s more than 30% off!
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