Friday, September 23, 2011

Homemade Felt Horse *

     My daughter loves all things horses. As I was going through old emails to clean out my newsletter folder (yikes!) I found an email showing an activity involving sewing buttons on a felt pillow for children to practice doing buttons. Now I feel it is very valuable for children to learn tasks like that, but I think it's a bit silly to waste materials when you can just give them a button up shirt on a hanger and let them practice. My daughter learned how to use buttons by doing it herself on her clothing. She's gotten faster at in in time and I saved on materials. I like some of the Montessori concepts, but some of them can be accomplished with items already in the home. For the green me that is super important because I don't like to waste things. So I decided just to make her a felt animal, and horse was the first option that came to mind. I found a picture of a horse online with a good body shape for tracing, printed out the picture and then cut out the horse.

    Next up I asked my daughter what colors she wanted her horse. She chose pink for one side and yellow for the other. So I laid my horse paper on the pink felt and traced it with the head facing right (I took the picture above before switching it around), and then traced it on the yellow paper with the head facing left. This way I could put the sides with ink on them from tracing facing each other on the inside.

    After I had traced the horse on each piece of felt I cut them out. I put them together with the inked side facing in and trimmed any areas I needed to so they would match almost perfectly.

     I picked out green and yellow thread, my daughter's two favorite colors, and did a little of each while sewing the horse up. I didn't do anything fancy, and I sewed it all by hand. I prefer to sew some of her projects that way because I enjoy sitting down and spending time relaxing while I sew. She sat next to me doing school work - domestic bliss!

     Since I didn't have any fluff on hand for stuff the horse, I improvised. I took some old sock and cut them into strips and squares to use for stuffing. It didn't really need to be super soft since she's going to play pretend with it more that cuddle with it. I used two of the ankle socks for women. They worked out nicely and I love reusing things!

    There were smaller areas such as the legs that were easier to stuff as I sewed, that way I wasn't trying to fill them from one top opening. So I stuffed the legs and then sewed the tail, and I stuffed that as I sewed as well. And as I sewed up the back I stuffed the horses bottom and stomach. This just made it easier since I wasn't using something like fluff, which is much more pliable.

     This is the pink side of her horse, fully stuffed and all sewed up! She absolutely loved it! :) I think my daughter prefers the toys I make her and her wooden toys over anything else. The yarn dolls I made for her get lots of use still.

     And this is the yellow side of the horse. I love how it turned out honestly, and it really wasn't that hard. You just need two paper size pieces of felt, scissors, thread, a needle, stuffing and a print out of the animal shape you want to do. She's already asked me to make her more animals so I'm looking forward to that! :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Homemade Chunky Soup

     I love making homemade soup. Not only is it simple, but I can load it up with my favorite veggies for a super nutritious meal. And I can make it in bulk! That's the really great thing - I make a big pot full and save the leftovers for lunches and dinners later on. There is a reason I save all the glass jars we end up with. :)

     This time I made a thick soup using a can of cream of mushroom soup I had in my pantry mixed with water, though I used less water than required. I used the big can, so it's double of the little ones. I also added one big tomato diced and the juices from as I cut it. I also chopped up two small potatoes and three full size carrots. I took 4 pieces of kale and ripped them apart and added them to my pot. Last I added a little salt to taste, some garlic powder and a little onion powder. I can't seem to cut onions without the crying and burning eyes so I stick the powder. I heated to medium heat for a while and then switched to lower heat when it started to boil a bit. I'm sorry I didn't keep better track of the time, I just kept an eye on the pot while washing my dishes, stirring occasionally.

     I had enough to fill two bowls for dinner, one tall glass jar which holds two servings, and 4 single smaller jars. That's a lot! This way now I have at least 6 meals from one pot. These are great on days you lack energy and want something quick, and even better on days when you are feeling a bit run down. You can add some cayenne pepper for a little kick as well, or for folks in my state - green chili. I don't add anything spicy to ours because my daughter isn't a fan of spicy stuff and I'm really not either. But again, as with any of my recipes you can tweak them to your liking! :) 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nature Walk

     Tonight my daughter and I took a fun nature walk to a nearby store. We could have easily driven, but it was much more of an adventure walking. My daughter is five so she can't go for hours on end, but a half hour walk is fine for her. We stopped to enjoy the view several times because we have such lovely sunsets here.

     We stopped to look at interesting plants and my daughter asked me to take pictures of ones she liked. The area we walked is very much like a desert so we got to explore desert plant life and find beauty even in such an environment.

     We saw some interesting insects as well, but sadly most were moving way too fast for me to get a picture of. One of our first bug encounters was with a black beetle who seemed to really like putting his rear up whenever we came near. My daughter thought this was so hilarious! We then talked about why bugs do some of the things they do and why they are the colors they are.

     Our walk wasn't too hot today thanks to a very nice and soft breeze. Yesterday we went earlier in the afternoon when it was much hotter and minus the breeze. So it was nice today to get to feel the wind on our skin and through our hair while we enjoyed the sites around us. It definitely made some of the plants look neat as well.

     One of the precautions we have to take walking through that area is to watch out for sticker bushes and for cacti. My daughter kept reminding me to look at the ground to make sure I didn't get poked. We take a short cut through this area because it's more enjoyable for her than walking on the sidewalks. It was fun looking for cacti and comparing the different kinds we found.

     The best thing about our walks is the time together. We get to share in something, be active, and relax together. She had fun climbing up dirt hills and then going back down "skiing" in the dirt as she called it. I enjoyed seeing joy from my child's eyes and showing her different things. I have to say, even just walking boost my mood and how I feel physically! With our busy lives it's so hard to make time for things like a walk, but it's beneficial in so many ways. My daughter got a real life outdoors homeschool lesson, totally unplanned today. We both got valuable time bonding together as well as good exercise. It was a great break from my day of business, stress, and so many things to do. I'm thankful for those little moments I get to escape like that, especially with her. I am working harder at making time like that for us each day, to relax and enjoy something stress free together. It really does benefit all involved! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Homemade Piggy Bank For Saving, Spending, Giving & Investing

     So in my search for fun learning tools for my daughter, I stumbled across a bank that has compartments for saving, spending, giving, and investing. What a neat idea! Sadly they are plastic, which is not worth the risk in chemicals or toxicity. So I decided to make my own for her. :) The nice thing about items you make yourself is you can customize them as you like. All you  need it a container like a box, scissors, a razor blade, tape, paper to decorate it, a couple pieces of velcro and permanent markers to label it.

     I decided to make ours out of a box I had saved which was a good size. So we ended up with four compartments, though I'm not sure how change a child saves can be used for investing... I started off with a box that I cut with two pieces that open on the top to get access to the money when needed. I used clear packing tape to keep the sides together as I needed.

     Next I took some of the extra pieces of cardboard and cut strips to go inside to separate compartments. Again, I used tape to help secure them where needed - to each other and to the sides and bottom of the box.

         Now comes the fun of customizing! My daughter loves horses so I took a horse calender she had that got ripped down and used some of the pictures for decorating the sides of her box. I simply cut them to fit and taped them on with clear tape. I covered all of each picture with tape to keep it from getting damaged by being ripped or getting wet. Contact paper just does't stick as well for me.

     Now for the two top flaps I left to open and close to access the money, I decided to use a piece of my daughter's art work for a personalized touch. Again, I cut the paper to size and was able to use just one paper for both flaps. And again, I covered them in clear tape.

     Next I took a razor blade and cut four slots in the flaps over each compartment I made. It was much easier and quicker than using scissors, and I trimmed off any excess cardboard with scissors when done.

     To keep the two flaps closed, I cut a small but thick piece of cardboard and covered it with another small piece of her artwork left over. I covered in it tape, and then added two pieces of velcro to each side on the bottom. Then I put it in the middle of the box, evenly in the middle of each flap. This way the velcro provides easy access when needed.

     And lastly, I took four different colored permanent markers and let my daughter decide which slot would be for which, and then labelled them as such. We spent our afternoon counting money, putting what we could in rolls, and separating it into the different sections. My daughter has such a giving heart so most of it went into the giving slot for her to send to help save wild cheetahs. :)

     This is a very simple and reasonably quick project, and it's so much cheaper than buying a pre-made bank, which seem to start at $30 and up! If you make one for your child, let me know how it goes and what you used! :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Whitefish Fillets with Baked Vegetables

     Today's lunch was simple and delicious! As always, I get the urge to create and take a basic recipe and make it my own. I thawed out 3 whitefish fillets in cold water, but you can do them overnight in the fridge if you want to prepare ahead of time. First preheat the oven to 425 degrees while you prepare the food. In a small baking dish, 9x9 I believe, I combined 2 tablespoons of olive oil, some garlic powder (I stink at mincing and dicing fresh garlic), a sprinkle of salt to suit our tastes, and maybe a tablespoon of basil, mixed with two tomatoes that I diced, 4 pieces of dino kale torn up into small pieces, and about 1 1/2 cup of broccoli cut up. Don't add the fish yet. Once you've combined the ingredients in the pan, place it in the over to cook for 15 minutes. Take it out, add the fish, and cover it with the veggie mix. Cook for another 7 - 10 minutes and voila! An absolutely delicious meal! It tasted amazing and was kid approved - my 5 year old ate it all. :)

     I love that it's quick and simple to make, and very healthy. And goodness was it tasty! It honestly surprised me how great it tasted. The flavor was wonderful and it was a great combination together. In all my meals I try to get in a variety of healthy and yummy foods. The great thing about a recipe is you can tweak it to suit your family and make it your own. Happy cooking!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Awesome Marriage Apparel Website!

     For those of you who are proud to be married or proud of your spouse, you might enjoy this site! I discovered it today through a Keeper of the Home post and I have to say - I love it! The idea is wonderful and unique, and it encourages people to be proud of their marriage and their spouse. While I am not married... yet... I love the idea and wanted to share it with ya'll. It's called Union 28 and the clothes range from shirts to sweatshirts to hats to kids wear. They have items for men and woman which I think is so neat. Some of my favorites are the black zip up hoodie sweatshirt that says, "My Husband Rocks" and the red winged t-shirt that says, "I Love My Husband." They have some cute clothes too! So check it out and see if you like any of what they have to offer! :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lack of Posts Recently

     I apologize I haven't been on here as much the last couple months. It's been very hectic lately and at many times I have not felt motivated to write. I finally got all the things I needed to start my at home daycare, yet I have not gotten any kids in yet. That's been a little frustrating but I am trusting it will work out. Due to financial issues I had to put school on the back burner for now but I still have to make payments. And I'm still waiting for the community where I live to put on a yard sale, which they said they'd do in October. I think it's a silly time to do one due to the weather, but it's not my call.

     So with all these things it's been tough to get on here and write, it's been tough finding things to write about. Add to this homeschooling my daughter and selling things in my free time, and it's all been a whole lot of stress. Some evenings to only thing I want to do is take a hot bath and go to bed early!

     I'll post soon with some of the new things I've been trying lately!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beginning Homeschooling!

     Tis the start of the school year for most children and I am excited that my daughter is finally 5 so I can begin our homeschooling journey. :) I'm not purchasing a curriculum mainly because I feel they are very overpriced and un-needed in most cases. Second hand curriculum is the best way to go if you're buying it. Fortunately the internet has a plethora of resources available for free or low cost. I found a great site with all the subjects I need for her kindergarten learning, and I can use either all the lessons or just the ones I like. I feel it's a great basic guide that I can add to with whatever we like. If you'd like to check it out: Lesson Pathways.

     As we who homeschool already know, this is also the time we get told all the so called "negative" aspects of homeschooling from those who don't homeschool, and usually don't know much about it. Choosing to homeschool is a very personal choice that each family has to make for themselves. I personally couldn't care less what anyone tells me because my daughter is well socialized, she is advanced for her age, and I look forward to her being able to take college courses in high school if she wants. I love the freedom homeschooling brings for us, as well as the much more vast learning opportunities than are presented in public school. I don't want her in an environment solely focuses on standardized testing, and lacking the opportunity to advance. I want to be able to cater my daughter's education to her learning needs. I plan to do the same with future children. I think children should have an individual learning experience because it helps them learn in the ways best suited to them.

     If you have free or low cost homeschool resources to share please feel free to leave a comment! One site with a list of free homeschooling resources is: Free Homeschool Curriculum. What's great about homeschooling is you can take aspects from different programs you enjoy. Happy homeschooling! :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Many Uses of Oil - For Skin, Hair and Body!

     Why are told that oil is bad when it comes to our hair and skin, and it needs to be removed to for us to be at our best. We use oil removing cleansers and lotions from head to toe. The products we use have so many chemicals and soaps, they actually strip our skin and hair of what they need along with the dirt. However, there are people on the natural-homemade-items front that are getting the word out that there are better ways! One of them is using oil.

     I know it's hard to believe that oil can actually be used to cleanse, but it's true. Oil dissolves oil. It can help balance your skin and clean out the dirt and bacteria naturally and effectively. Oil is not bad, the natural oil our skin produces helps to protect it. Hormones, dirt and trapped bacteria are what causes skin problems. When we use products with too many harsh chemicals and cleansers, we are stripping our skin of that natural oil, causing it to overproduce oil and throw things out of balance. By using healthy oil to replace dirty oil, you bring a natural balance to your skin and make it more healthy. Through Simple Mom and, I found a simple recipe for your skin using olive oil, which moisturizes, heals and nourishes skin, and castor oil, which draws our dirt and bacteria from pores.

     The basic recipe is equal parts of castor oil and olive oil for normal skin. You can modify this to suit your skin's needs. For acne prone or oily skin you use 3 parts castor oil and 1 part olive oil. With drier skin you use 3 parts olive oil to 1 part castor oil. Like I said, you can mix it up however you want to give your skin what it needs! Pour it into some sort of bottle and keep it by your sink. To use it, don't wet your face first. Just pour a quarter sized amount into your hands and massage it into your face, working it in for about a minute. Then wet a washcloth as hot as your face can handle, and put it over your face until it gets room temperature, about a minute or so. This step opens your pores, removing dead skin cells and impurities. After that use the wash cloth to wipe off your face. Your skin will feel softer immediately! :0) Olive oil is the same pH as human skin so it's the perfect cleanser and moisturizer, it works great for removing makeup and you only need to use it once a day. It makes your skin healthier, softer and brighter.

     I use olive oil for more than just face cleansing, because it has so many benefits! I stopped using shampoo and conditioner over 6 months ago and I love it. I experimented with making my own hair cleaner using fresh made herb tea mixed with other things and I also tried using baking soda. I didn't like either of them alone or together. What I did find worked was the oil cleaning method for my scalp. I mixed together equal parts olive oil and castor oil, as well as some apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. Sound like an odd mix doesn't it? Tea tree oil helps heal the scalp and can help with dry scalp, which I can have. I mixed it in a bottle so when I take a shower I shake the bottle, spray it directly on my scalp all over it, and then massage in with my fingertips. Never use your finger nails on your scalp because it can rip out hair. I put it in at the beginning of my shower and leave it in until I'm just about to get out, then I rinse it out. It works great! My hair is clean, soft, healthy and chemical free. There are so many dangers with the cancer causing chemicals in shampoos and conditioners these days, it's been such a relief to have something I can use that's safe AND effective! Like with the skin cleansing method, you tweak it to suit your needs. You can add essential oils for fragrance if you like, and to help you scalp and hair.

     Now this next one is funny to imagine, but again so effective! Toss out your chemical filled shaving cream ladies, cooking oil is a shaving dream come true! Olive oil can be expensive, so if you need a cheaper oil try canola or safflower and see what you like. Basically you just keep a bottle of it in the shower, let your skin get wet and your pores open a bit, then rub it on like lotion and shave away! It moisturizes, helps prevent razor burn and leaves you feeling super smooth. I will notice it gets the razor a bit goopy but simple rinsing it under the shower head removes the goop. It's some of the clean oil, dirty oil from your skin, dirt and dead skin cells coming off. As for razor burn, this is a wonderful way to prevent it! I notice little to none razor burn when using oil to shave. My next tip for oil - wash your body in it. Yep, you read right! After I've shaved with it, I rub oil all over my body from face to toes. I leave it on for at least a couple minutes, then wash off with my organic all natural soap. The soap doesn't remove all the oil, just the extra oil to leave you clean and still very soft and moisturized. It works so great, because I get out of the shower so smooth and soft! And again, it's a chemical free way to moisturize the skin. :0) If you try any of these out let me know how you like them!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Less Is More

     It seems as we grow we just accumulate more and more things. We come into this world with nothing, but we find a world of things already waiting for us. As we age we amass even more things, and start adding things we've made to what we have. Enter teenage years where, in this day and age, more things mean a better life. As we enter into adulthood, we take a lot of those things we've accumulated with us, and then accumulate more. We go out on our own, forage our own path in life, all the while amassing more stuff. It almost seems like life is spent collecting stuff.

     Then comes the moment, in my life at least, where I look around and feel like I am drowning in things. More possessions than I can use, and most of which I really don't need. How did it come to be like this? Ah yes, the consumerism overload. Everywhere I go, everything I see, I am trying to be convinced to purchase something. I am told that to be a better woman I need 50 make-up products, another 10 anti-aging products, another 10 hair products, and at least 100 articles of clothing not including shoes. To be a better mother I am told I need at least 10 books, 50 DVD's, 100 different toys, an entire wardrobe of cutesy brand name clothing, all the latest equipment and child care gadgets, at least 5 child geared electronics, and a ton of accessories. It's almost as though my child has some how morphed into a Barbie doll and in order for both her and I to feel complete, I must attain all of her many accessories and add on packages. The same goes for being a better student, better athlete, better friend, better daughter, better artist, better writer, etc. For us to be better at whatever we are or do, we are told we need more things.

     I don't want to be controlled by things. I spend my days purging my home of everything I possibly can. I went from a huge desk with a large hutch and enough room to house a good 30 rabbits, down to two TV tables side by side for a desk. And they work great! The smaller space also helps me keep down on junk and clutter on my desk pretty well. I sell whatever I can, donate the rest and be done with it. I've now come to hate stuff. If I don't need it, I want it gone, and as soon as possible. I feel smothered when I have too much stuff. I am currently going room to room, taking everything out and only putting back in what I need. It's liberating. The only problem is I can't seem to sell stuff as quickly as I bought it. I sell online locally and nationally to help get it gone as quickly as possible, but it is not always a quick process. A lot of times I am stuck with a bunch of stuff I have no choice but to donate. I end up with receipts work hundred of dollars for tax right offs next year. While it doesn't bring me immediate cash, it does help knowing I will get something back for all that I spent. What it's really taught me is to SPEND LESS and SPEND MORE CAREFULLY. I take the time to evaluate a purchase before I make it. Do I really need it? Can I live without it? Am I going to be happy having it in my home for the next 10 years? I try to think long term.

     When I do buy something I try to buy second hand or used whenever possible. It's better to give something a new life and reuse than to buy a new product. Less waste. And whenever I purchase something I need, I sell something I don't. If something comes into my home, something else has to go out. This way I don't have an influx of items piling up in my home. It gives me an excuse to get rid of an item or two. It keeps a balance and gives me a little money back. I've been able to use the money from selling items to pay for the occasional dinner out, as well as fun activities. It's been great having the extra spending money while getting rid of clutter. We really don't need all the things we think we do. I try hard to spend as little as possible and sell as much as possible. I think it's important to look at all we have and decide if we actually need all we own. Do we really need 20 knick knacks that collect dust and don't do anything? Do we really need all those movies we didn't really like much? Do we really need a closet full of clothes that never get worn? I wear all the clothes I have now. And I can use the closet space I've emptied for storage. I look at things and ask myself, "Has it been used in the last month? In the last 3 months?" If it hasn't then most likely it is not needed. It's important to use what you have and get rid of what you don't use. It's made my life so much easier getting rid of the clutter and stuff!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Quick Snack or Lunch Whole Wheat Tortilla with Cabbage and Cheese

    One of my yummy quick meals is a whole wheat tortilla with melted vegan cheese and cabbage. You can substitute with dairy cheese if you want. Take one whole wheat tortilla, slice enough pieces of cheese to cover the tortilla, you can either add cabbage freshly sliced and washed or cook it first. You can either steam it or boil it, then place it on top after straining and drying it. Put in the oven at 350 degrees for up to 10 minutes. I keep an eye on mine to watch for the cheese evenly melted but not browning. You can use a toaster oven as well. It's quick, easy, and filling for a snack or light lunch. You can pair it with fresh veggie or fruit slices for a healthy and easy meal! :0)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson *

EDIT: THERE IS SOME CONTROVERSY OVER WHETHER MR. MORTENSON EMBELLISHED ACCOUNTS OF THINGS THAT HAPPENED AND SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ACCOUNTING AT CAI. I have researched BOTH sides, and while I feel neither one can fully back up their arguments, I feel it is important to use CAUTION here. Feel free to read the book and let it motivate you to do great things in your community! But please be leery of donating to this organization CAI, it's safer to donate to a group that shows you how they spend your money and has not had any questioning about the truth of their stories. And feel free to research these claims yourself and come your own decisions! ALSO, PLEASE CHECK OUT SOME OTHER WONDERFUL ORGANIZATIONS THAT YOU CAN DONATE TO IF YOU WANT TO HELP OTHERS DOING WONDERFUL THINGS:

      Three Cups of Tea is a book I HIGHLY recommend reading! This is a book about a man who started off attempting to reach the summit of the world's 2nd tallest mountain, and ended up creating an organization to build schools and other needed buildings in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I am sure that there are those who are anti both places, but you needn't be lumping the whole of these people into one group of terrorists. They are not all out to kill and destroy us. Most of the people there are peace minded, which shows in the book. Through this book you not only get the amazing story of how this organization came to be and has helped so many, or completely motivated to help however you can. You also get to see a different view of the people in these countries, one many times we do not think of learning about. These are impoverished people who want nothing more than the best for their villages and their children. These are people who desperately want schools, and whole heartedly believe that education can change their worlds. I have to agree - schooling and education can make a huge difference in the lives of children. It's a perspective many people don't see, or don't choose to see, and it's incredibly humbling.

      Greg Mortenson is the author, and we get to follow his journey in building schools, providing ways to water and food, homes and medical buildings for so many villages. Through him we can learn about other countries in need, and why it's so important for us to help. Americans are extremely spoiled, wasteful, materialistic and selfish. I know I have been most of my life! Reading Three Cups of Tea gives you a chance to be different, and to see what putting others first can do. It's amazing how a man with no money and no means of building a school in this foreign country, beat the obstacles to do just that - and go on to do so much more! This book can provide us much needed motivation to start impacting the lives of others however we can. You can let this book motivate you to find ways to make an impact yourself. You can raise money for organizations that are important to you, or even create your own! Let this book spur you on to change the lives of others in need for the good, and to stop living a useless life of materialism and waste. Instead of buying expensive coffee drinks, a new lipstick, new shoes, a new game system, a new blender, or some ridiculous vacation, consider giving to people who need it more than you do! And trust me, you do not need those items as much as these people need medical assistance and schools! These are very poor people by our living standards. Even the poorest in our country is richer than them by tenfold. So please keep that in mind when you are about to purchase some item you really don't need. It is so much more important to help others than it is to buy a drink, another pair of shoes or sunglasses, or buy a game system. "To know that even one life breathed easier because you have lived - that is to have succeeded." — Ralph Waldo Emerson This should be the moto of each of us, as we strive to be help at least one other life breathe easier!

      For those of you, like me, who feel the importance if inspiring our children to be better and do greater, there is a young readers version of this book available here: Three Cups of Tea (Young Readers Edition). With this version you get an interview with the daughter of the author, and she shares insight that most adults I've met don't have! One of my favorite quotes of hers is, "Here (America), it's like we live to eat, and there it's like they eat to live." I couldn't think of anything more true! We have made eating here go beyond just sustenance, or eating to live. We eat just for the heck of it while people all over the world have so little to eat. It makes you think twice about wasting food and about money wasted on food in ways it doesn't need to be. For those who teach children or who have kids who'd love to do a fundraiser for a good cause, look into local fundraising ideas you can do with your kids. My daughter created a donation box necklace she takes with her to raise money for saving cheetah's. You can have a bake sale and make animal shaped cookies, do a car wash, and more! It's a great way to get kids involved in helping others! :0)

      Please take the time to check out the books! Get inspired to change lives! :0)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Business of Being Born DVD Review

     The Business of Being Born is a great movie that gives you a look into births in America. This movie shows you a lot about hospital births many of us do not know. In many ways it seems our country is so behind compared to most other countries. We have an extremely high rate of cesarean sections and infant deaths compared to other developed countries and non-developed countries. With this movie, you get to see what home birth is really like, and you learn it's not the dirty experience many doctors make it out to be. It's amazing to watch women go through labor like we did for so many years with beautiful outcomes. Hospital births just do not seem to compare in that aspect sadly. I do feel that there are time when they are definitely needed, but not 90% of the time. Until hospitals change their practices and their way of treating pregnant women, they will never be actually needed for most births. They are so quick to rush labor and give drugs, which is not the healthiest way to give birth. I hope that by watching this movie, while it does have some bias as all movies do, you can begin to understand more about the positive aspects of home birth. This is an area that desperately needs more publicity so that people can see the benefits and the options other than a hospital they have. We need to take a deeper look at what we are told we need to do and what is the "norm" when it comes to our own bodies, experiences, and our children. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

So Sexy So Soon by Diane E. Levin Ph.D. & Jean Kilbourne Ed.D.

    This book, So Sexy So Soonwas an eye opener and a good book to read. I learned a lot that I felt was vital for me as a parent to know. We now live in a time where our children are sexualized earlier than ever before. Toddlers are made up to look like 20 year old women, our pre-teens are half dressed and "hooking up," and out teens are living lives of porn stars. This is not comforting for those of us who are parents. This book helps you take a look at this over-sexualization of children, and gives you ways you can fight back. This book has a lot of great information and tips, and it really gets you looking more deeply at childhood in this day and age. I say things in this book that I could see having affected my own childhood, and they are even greater now for our children. It's important for parents to educate themselves so that they know what is going on in our culture and how to help our children through it. The book is well written, in an easy to read and understandable format, with clear writing. I definitely recommend reading this book if you are a parent!

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Am A Vegetarian, But My Dog Isn't

     For those in the hardcore vegan/vegetarian community this might be upsetting. I am okay with that, because science and nature back up my decisions on what to feed my dog. Dogs are carnivores. They cannot digest grains, and are not meant to digest plant matter. Is it okay to occasionally give your dog a fruit or veggie? I think so. My dog will eat an apple slice or gnaw on a carrot every now and then. I don't feel it's hurting her, I've never seen the evidence in her heath or her stool. That being said, I would not try to feed her exclusively with vegetables and fruits. Nor would I feed her any of the vegetables or fruits that dogs cannot because they will make them sick. Do I think it's fair to subject an animal to a diet their bodies are not created for, nor is good for their health? No I do not. I think animals are wonderful, and I try to do my best for any I see.

     I personally get a great deal of unease when it comes to eating meat now. I get high feelings of anxiety, anxiousness, tenseness, unease, and stress when I go to the meat counter at a market. Bear in mind this happens when I go look at all ORGANIC meat, the very best kind, that was also raised and treated the best. So even the highest level of standards for meat put my at unease when thinking about eating them. I've seen Food Inc., I won't eat conventional meat. But when I look at my dog I see a little furry carnivore, cute and tiny, but a meat eater with no doubt. If I stood before my dog holding a piece of meat or a veggie (and I've done this before) my dog goes straight for the meat every time. Like I said previously, she eats the occasional small piece of veggie or fruit. But her diet mainly consists of meat. Not just meat though, but bones of different animals as well as the guts/innards or different animals. And she loves it! She is a happy, thriving dog when she is on this raw meat diet. When I tried switching her back to kibble and canned dog food to see what would happen, she refused to eat the kibble and she had massive diarrhea on the canned dog food. My dog hates dog food, and I can understand why! It is mostly grains and corn processed dog food are made of. Dogs cannot digest grains at all. Let me repeat DOGS CANNOT DIGEST GRAINS. So if you are feeding your dog grains please stop for the sake of your dog. They are not built to digest grains and it affects their health. Do the research online and in books, those who truly know a lot about dogs tell you they cannot digest grains.

     I have purchased the most fancy, expensive processed dog kibble I could find. It's still dog kibble. My dog won't eat it. She is smart, and knows what is good for her and what is not. Sadly some dogs do not and they eat kibble their whole lives because they don't get a chance to taste what is better for them. Feeding a dog a raw meat diet is not very expensive if you put some effort into it. Hit up big sale days at the grocery store and load up on cheap meat, which you can freeze. Call butcher shops in your area asking if they have pieces of meat that they normally don't sell, or even leftover pieces, that you can buy lost cost for your dog. You can go to a Farmer's Market and ask someone there selling meat the same thing - if they have any leftover meats they can sell you at low cost. Please make the effort for the sake of your dog.

     While I cannot eat meat at this point, I will not subject a carnivore animal to eat the same as me. My dog has no qualms about eating meat; it is what is natural and best for her. I do not think it is humane to force a dog to eat something their bodies are not meant to eat. Raw meat, bones and animals innards are the best thing to feed a dog - not a vegan/veggie diet. Please understand that it does not make you less of  a vegetarian or vegan because your animal eats meat. They are supposed to, and as an animal lover, you are doing what is the best for your animal. I cannot eat meat but I have no issues keeping it in my freezer and fridge for my dog, because I know it is what is natural and good for her to eat. And she loves it! If she hated meat I would think twice, but there is no hesitation on her part. Give her meat and it's gone in a matter of minutes, or with the bigger bones she gnaws on them all day. This is the big sign that my dog is supposed to eat meat. :0)

Our Dog Gracie Enjoying Her Meat! :0)

     Here is a link to a website that dispels myths about raw meat diets for dogs: Myths About Raw Feeding

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Packaging Girlhood by Sharon Lamb, Ed.D. & Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D.

     This is a book, Packaging Girlhood,I definitely recommend mother's of girls read. It is not always easy to read, as it gives you a look at things that are hard for any mother to imagine. However, this is information we as mother's need to know. We need to see what's going on beyond the surface and what marketers are really selling to our daughters. The world of pink and glitter from head to toe, being cute and flirty, wearing sexy clothes, doing everything to get a boys attention - those are things that our society is now teaching our children through TV, movies, magazines and celebrities. These things are limiting our girls. Each girl is so diverse, so unique, with so many facets to her personality. We need to embrace that and let her shine for all her unique and amazing qualities. Not tell her she's unique but then force her to choose between princess, diva, rockstar, punk, goth, or tomboy. Labels are not healthy in that form. I remember growing up feeling like I didn't fit into just one label, but feeling like I had to limit myself to one. Was I a cutie? An angel? Miss attitude? A bad girl? It seemed I could only be just one.

     Now I am the parent, and I am a lot more involved than my parents were. They basically took a nap during my growing up, which did a lot of harm to me. So I am determined to do much better with my daughter. Since starting the book, I've begun to look at things in her world a lot deeper. We don't watch TV (that's a whole other post!), so I don't have to worry about TV shows or commercials getting to her. Unfortunately they are often in the previews of DVD's though, and some DVD's don't let you skip to the main menu. You have to sit there and fast forward through all the previews. It's worth the extra hassle for me, to keep my daughter from seeing things telling her that her life quest should be to impress a cute boy. How silly! And yet so many mother's unwittingly are letting them teach their daughters just that. Marketers are sneaky and they will sneak those things in whenever they can. They want your daughter to think have glittery jewelry, cute shoes and the latest cute clothes is the most important thing. They don't encourage her to get up and go join a soccer team, or ride horses, or go hiking. They don't offer positive examples of girls who do those things - just examples of the girlie, boy crazy, glittered out girl.

     Here is a couple excerpts from the book that I think are pretty mind blowing: "Disney girls are women with Barbie doll bodies. And, like Barbie, one small size fits all. The form-fitting clothing of these heroines proves it. They have all the exotic made-up faces of women and the gowns and midriff-baring bikini tops of women. No real women of course - they're too perfect - but the male fantasy version." Is this what we want to teach our girls? To be some man's fantasy version of a woman? No! More from the book: "They arch their backs (did they use the same template for the Victoria's Secret bra ad as they did for The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas bursting out of the water scenes?), toss their hair, smile sweetly, and speak softley. They're pretty when they're angry. ..... Disney girls cannot resist a mirror. ..... Disney girls are not complete without a man. ..... A girl can't have her own story or live a life of bravery unless, in the end, she assumes her rightful place. She is not a Disney girl unless she marries."

     Wow! But all that is found in the Disney movies. Most of the time we just haven't really noticed it. Or you already have, and congrats on that! Packaging Girlhoodis a must read for all mother's of girls. We need to learn about what the marketers are trying to turn our girls into, and how to help them. For more information on the book, click one of the links above. You can check for it in your local library, pick it up at your local bookstore, or order a copy online. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

An Attack On Our Parental Rights

     Today I read a very informative, and a bit scary, post at The Homeschool Post about the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child treaty that it is pushing all member nations to ratify. To quote from The Homeschool Post article: "The CRC Treaty consists of 54 articles which spell out what members of the Convention believe are the rights of a child, ranging from the “right to live” to the “right to privacy from parents.”  But to understand why this treaty is so dangerous, we must first turn to our Constitution to understand how treaties affect our laws and protections. Our Constitution gives a very high value to the treaties into which our country enters.  Article VI, paragraph 2 states: “all Treaties made, or shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby.”  In short, any mandate of a treaty takes precedent over all state and federal laws, including rights and protections in our Constitution.  Passing the UNCRC would take away many rights and freedoms we currently enjoy, and we would be giving governing authority of our freedoms to the international community."

     You can go to to view an article by article review of this treaty, as well as sign the pledge for the Parental Rights Amendment, which would protect parents and our rights. You can also find your list of Congressmen to contact about these issues. One Congressman in my state has signed the pledge, so I contacted the other 3 I could. If you are not quite sure what to say, they can also provide you with a general note that they have been using in their calls to Congressmen. I just edited it and used it in my emails. We as parents need to stand up on attacks against our parental rights. Please check out for more information, and also for screenings of their showing The Child in your area. This is a short film that covers many of the issues the UNCRC would create for families, and the rights it would take away. Let's all do our part so we can see the Parental Rights Amendment ratified!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Natural Wood Toys - An Etsy Shop (Amazing!)

     In my quest to replace as many plastic items as I could, I began searching for quality wooden horses. My daughter loves horses, so this was a *must* replace item. We had accumulated many plastic horses with plastic hair that now made me cringe. There are a lot of great wooden products out there, but we really wanted decently big horses that we could customize a bit, and all non-toxic. We finally found what we were looking for: Natural Wooden Toys! They are an AMAZING shop on Etsy with beautiful and unique wooden toys. We were able to customize the colors on our horses, and we ordered 5 of them. My daughter was SO excited to be able to order them! When they arrived we were super busy so I didn't get to open the box until long after she had been asleep. I have to tell you - when I saw them, I almost started crying. They are beautiful, absolutely wonderful and I am sure they will be treasured for a very long time!

     I was blown away by the craftsmanship and the lovely detail on them. They were exactly as my daughter asked. Not only that, but the sellers themselves were so wonderful to work with! They were extremely patient and answered all of my (numerous) questions, kindly and with as much info as they could. The entire experience has been great, which is not something you always get to say when purchasing online. Natural Wood Toys displays kindness and professionalism, which makes the whole purchase a very pleasant experience!

     I love the unique quality in hand crafted, hand painted items. Each is a bit unique and special in it's own way. You don't get that "same as everything else" type mold used in mass produced plastic toys, so each toy has a bit of unique character to it. And no one has two exactly alike.

     There are tons of customization options with the horses, which is great if you have a horse lover like my daughter who wants one in each color and type! :0P We sat down together and looked at the horses listed, as well as the color/design options sent to me, and picked out her 5 top picks. I can honestly say neither of us was disappointed! My daughter adores them!

     Last night I set them up in her room near her bed so when she awoke she would see them. I woke her up and sat with her, usual morning routine as she wakes up and gets up, waiting for her to notice them. I saw her eyes glance over them and then go back - "Horsies!" she said happily, with a huge smile on her face. :0) She got up and started looking over them, counting them, and exclaiming over them all.

    And we cannot forget the two smaller friends who came to live with us as well. My daughter held up the rabbit, telling me, "I love rabbits! I have been trying to catch one like this outside!" We have wild rabbits that run around this area looking for food daily, and she's always chasing them haha. The chipmunk is so cute as well, with it's adorable detail! So welcome home to our new adorable friends!

     So if you are looking for a beautiful and long lasting gift for your child or for someone else, please stop by Natural Wood Toys and see what they have to offer. You will not be disappointed! :0) The toys are all beautiful and wood is so much more long lasting than plastic!