The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

bring it on 2013! my resolutions

Unbelievable. Here I am, on New Year’s Eve, wondering where 2012 went. This has been a remarkable year for my family and I and I am confident that 2013 will be even better. I am totally one of those people who is looking back, reflecting on the year and thinking of the changes that I want to make for 2013.

Yes, I make resolutions. I do believe that a new year is great motivation to make fresh starts and set goals. Some succeed, some fail. For 2013 I’m going all out and focusing on something that I have been neglecting: ME. These resolutions are important goals that I have set to help me feel like me again, more like a human. As a first time mom, I’ve been completely focused on the happiness and well being of my baby. And while I understand that this is completely normal, I also understand that my mood and energy affects hers also. By focusing a bit more on myself, I can be better for her and for my husband.

So, here they are:

1. Eat clean. (again). I feel so incredible when I am eating a totally clean diet. My biggest challenge is going to be conquering my sugar addiction. My plan is to go cold turkey and try to replace refined sugar with more fruits and clean substitutes. I plan to log what I’m eating and drinking, focusing on fresh, whole foods and plenty of water. I used to do this and I know I can. Also, contuining our crusade to rid our house of GMOs.

2. Scheduled exercise. I used to be fit. I so want to get back there. I used to weight train 4-5 times a week, run 9-10 miles 3 times a week and do yoga every day possible. My goal is to schedule 20-30 minutes of “me time” a day to do an intense workout. My body is really craving it and I know it’ll be the boost I need to gain my self confidence and energy back. I can’t wait to have that “hurts in a good way” feeling again. I am also running the Saratoga half marathon this year so I WILL be ready!

3. Work on time management. Routines work. It can be tough with a teething toddler who may or may not resist a nap and require my undivided attention. But much like she thrives on a routine, I think I will too. Allot time for housework, exercise, meditation, play, husband, blogging (of course) and rest. I would love to try and devote time to all of these things that are so important to me. All of the things that make me ME.

These are some pretty tall orders, I know. But I’ve done them all before and I CAN do them again. The better I am, the better I will be for my family and that is my motivation.

Better me = better us.

Let’s get this New Year started!

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avoid getting sick with one simple step. true story.

So, you don’t feel like getting sick this winter, eh? Alright, great! Neither do I. Especially when I have an active toddler to chase around. Well, you’ve come to the right place. And I have to warn you, if you haven’t ever tried this you may be skeptical. But, trust me on this. This is a tried and true way to avoid getting sick.

I have one word for you. Garlic.
Ok, here’s a picture, too.

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If you’ve been following along, you already know about my recent discovery of garlic as a natural bee sting relief. Seriously, is there anything that garlic can’t do?? This super food has unbelievable healing properties and is much easier on our systems than antibiotic medications.

Garlic is the ultimate super food. When garlic is crushed or cut, it releases a sulfur compound called Allicin, a powerful amino acid. Allicin boosts and stimulates the immune system when ingested. It is also gentle on the digestive system and does not disrupt the natural balance of bacterial flora like typical pharmaceutical antibiotics do. Not to mention that garlic is proven to have more powerful antibiotic properties than penicillin and tetracycline. Really.

So, does it work? Yes. It works. I have been taking garlic at the first sign of illness for months now. Whether I wake up with a sniffle or a slight sore throat, garlic practically stops the illness dead in its tracks. I have just started to take it preventatively. Right now I am taking one clove a day with a tall glass of water. In the past, if I woke up feeling a bit ill, I would generally take it three times a day for a couple of days to give the ol’ immune system a super boost. Worked every time.

Sound gross? It’s really not. You don’t need to chew a clove of raw garlic, although if you’d like to, by all means. Have at it. You may just want to avoid any conversation for the remainder of the day. I chop one clove into pieces that I can easily swallow, about half the size of a vitamin. They can be larger, but just remember that the edges aren’t all smooth and rounded so it may hurt a bit going down. Just swallow your garlic chunks like you would swallow pills, with a big swig of water. I try to drink a nice tall glass per clove.

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I have never experienced any stomach sensitivity afterward, but it is possible. My husband fully chewed the clove the first time he ever tried it and it bothered his stomach. When he started swallowing chunks, he didn’t have any further problems. If your stomach is on the sensitive side, you may consider taking it before or after a meal. I’ve never experienced any odor ‘side effects’ either, though that is also entirely possible. The swallowing method does seem to eliminate the strong garlic breath.

So there you have it! How to avoid getting sick in one super simple step. I will follow up after winter and fill you in on how the preventative method worked out.

What do you think? Have you tried this? And if you haven’t, would you?

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Review and GIVEAWAY: Zenoobi.com

I was very excited to be contacted by Zenoobi.com to do a review of their fabulous site and one of their products. If you’re unfamiliar, Zenoobi is an eco-friendly and organic online retailer offering merchandise that ranges from baby and kids to furniture and household items. After exploring the site I was thoroughly impressed with the variety of merchandise that they have to offer.

At first glance, the site is very well-organized and offers a perfect balance of simplicity and variety. It is extremely easy to navigate and very user-friendly. It is apparent that the website is thoughtfully designed for a pleasant shopping experience. I had a very good first impression of the site.

I loved browsing the various products that they have to offer, from adorable organic baby clothing to my personal favorite, Aden + Anais swaddle blankets! (If you don’t already own at least one of these, now is your chance! Great gift, too!) There are a variety of natural bath & body products including the Earth Mama line, unique toys and crafts and even furniture for your little one or the nursery. And if that’s not enough for you, they also offer a large selection of natural cleaning products, bedding and household items.  Zenoobi.com carries an array of reputable names such as Happy Baby organics, Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, GreenToys, thinksport and many others.

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Zenoobi.com carries a fantastic selection of items for mama’s and mama’s to be. I received a bottle of Earth Mama Angel Baby Happy Mama Spray to try out. I haven’t tried many aromatherapy type products so I was eager to give it a shot. Described as ‘bliss in a bottle’, this spray is specially formulated with a blend of oils to be uplifting during stressful times and to curb pregnancy nausea. As the mother of a toddler, I used it for the former. The fresh citrusy scent is indeed uplifting! A spritz in the air or on the wrist and it really does give a refreshing feeling of calm. I’m sure the deep breath helps too! I obviously didn’t get to test the effectiveness on nausea. I have a hunch that it would depend on the woman as we all have very different aversions during pregnancy. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a try if I should ever find myself pregnant again. I thoroughly enjoy this ‘bliss in a bottle’ and look forward to having it handy when we get further into toddlerhood and I need burst of serenity now!

Zenoobi.com is a great site for those, like myself, who like to support eco-friendly retailers. Based on my experience thus far, I would highly recommend giving them try. If we all did our part to select environmentally responsible products and support retailers like Zenoobi, the world would be a better place!

HOW ABOUT A GIVEAWAY???

Zenoobi.com is generous enough to be offering one of my lucky readers a $20 gift code for their site! Great time to pick up one of those sweet swaddle blankets I was raving about!

You will get one entry for each of the following:

1. Like Zenoobi on facebook and leave a comment about the giveaway. Bloggers be sure to ‘like’ from your personal FB page for it to be counted.

2. Like the big green parenting experiment on facebook and leave a comment. (Again, from your personal account.) if you already like the bgpe, leave a comment saying so to receive your entry.

3. Sign up for the Zenoobi.com newsletter and mention it in one of the above comments.

All entrants will receive a gift from Zenoobi.com, so please be sure to leave your comments so I can contact you! Who couldn’t use an extra $20 towards gifts right now? I know I could!

Zenoobi.com also states that they plant a tree for every order placed! How sweet is that?!

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the convertible car seat debacle

We have reached the point where we need to make the transition to a convertible car seat. Schy is a pretty tall girl and while she still has some room to grow weight-wise, she would probably be more comfortable in a non-infant car seat. I had been doing some research and was somewhat alarmed at some of my findings. It’s amazing how much more serious health and safety becomes when we are talking about the littlest people in our lives.

Based on friends and family recommendations, I decided to focus on the Britax line. We have had pretty good luck with Consumer Reports in the past, so I went there first. Out of the top ten “greater than 40lb. harness capacity” seats, Britax holds seven of these slots, including three models that are actually tied for the number one slot. Not bad. This rating includes crash protection, ease of use, rear facing fit to vehicle and forward facing fit to vehicle. After weighing these ratings, size and price, along with some other consumer reviews, I narrowed it down the Britax Marathon.

I was pretty satisfied with my choice and started to price them out. WELL, this lead me to Amazon.com, which is generaly where I start when I am comparison shopping. Naturally, I started to read reviews there, also. To my horror, one of the reviews stated that this car seat was among the most toxic on the market, along with multiple other Britax models. You have GOT to be kidding me. Seriously???

Apparently the Britax seats tested positive for high levels of bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants) and chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC and plasticizers). Wow. I was in complete disbelief! We are quite anti-chemical, hence trying to rid our home of them. This just wasn’t going to fly. I was pretty devastated having already done all of my research.

I did a bit more digging and came across this list from healthystuff.org of the best and worst car seats of 2011. Sure enough, the Britax Marathon was on there, not once, not twice but THREE times! WTH?!
I then noticed that it seemed to be certain colors, mostly the blacks and greys… Jet Set, Platinum, Solstice. I searched for information regarding Azalea, which was the color that i had decided on, but couldn’t find anything. I guess that’s a good thing? Think no news is good news? *frantically biting fingernails* It really just blew my mind that there could be such high levels of toxic chemicals in these car seats where our precious angels spend so much of their time. You don’t even have to be a treehugger for that to freak you right out. I was immediately concerned for all of the friends and family that own, use and swear by this car seat everyday! Do they know what they’re exposing their children to? I tried to figure out what to do. Take a chance that the Azalea is safe? Jump ship? Abandon the Marathon?

I decided to start researching from scratch. In the process of starting over I stumbled upon this article which states that Britax and Orbit, whose seats are known for high levels of toxic chemicals, are eliminating the use of hazardous flame retardants containing bromine and chlorine by the end of 2012! Hallelujah! That is awesome!

So, guess who just ordered her Britax Marathon? This girl! What a roller coaster of an experience. The moral of the story fellow parents, treehugger or not… do your research! There is no way that I would knowingly subject my little girl to high levels of toxic chemicals for any reason. We should seriously all take the time to research anything and everything that our babies are exposed to. In a world where unexplainable diseases and disorders are running rampant, we need to be the first line of defense for our children. It may not seem like a big deal now, but who knows what effect this type of exposure could lead to years down the road. I’m not paranoid, just cautious. I’ll save the paranoia for the teenage years!

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journey to a chemical free home – part two

We are still on our mission to rid our home of chemicals.  Unfortunately, our inspiration for this mission is super active and getting into everything these days, which generally consumes most of our time!  And this is EXACTLY why it is so important that we make this happen.  While we all do our best to keep our little ones safe, sometimes accidents happen.  I heard someone say recently that if it can’t be ingested, it shouldn’t be in the home.  It seems daunting when I look at all of the bottles under our kitchen sink.

Is it really possible to replace all of these things with effective natural alternatives?  Yes.  Today our journey continues with [simple] homemade toilet bowl cleaner and disinfectant.

You will need just three ingredients. That’s right. Three!

  • 1 c. baking soda
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • 10 – 12 drops of tea tree oil
  • other essential oils (optional)
  • mixing bowl
  • spatula or popsicle stick to stir concoction with

Amazing.  This “recipe” has been derived from various sources online.  This mixture worked extremely well for us!

You’ll want to do this in close proximity to the toilet to be cleaned… In a mixing bowl, combine one cup of baking soda and 10 – 12 drops of tea tree oil. I had a wooden popsicle stick handy to stir with. Next add your vinegar, stir quickly into baking soda and pour into toilet bowl. Let sit for a minute or two and scrub with toilet brush.  Sparkly!

This worked just as well as any toilet bowl cleaner that we have ever purchased!  And to be honest, it smelled much better too.  The acidity of the vinegar is an effective solvent, deodorizes and effectively kills germs while the baking soda acts as a mild abrasive.  Tea tree oil has natural anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. You can refer to journey to a chemical free home – part one for a list of other effective oils.  This cleaning method is also great for septic systems, which we currently have.  And of course, there are no harmful fumes for you and your family to breathe in.  Mom approved!

You can safely use this natural cleaner on all surfaces of the bathroom including the outside of the toilet bowl, sink and other surfaces.  I seriously can’t believe that it took us this long to use this method.  It is so easy, inexpensive and most importantly, safe for your family!

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Stay tuned for a really great green product review in part three!

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