The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

new for 2013: RIE parenting

The new year has me thinking about goals and perhaps changes for the big green parenting experiment. As a new-ish blogger, it can be challenging to find that perfect niche.

I love writing about sustainable living and parenting in a green way. These are both very important to me and I plan to continue to include those topics. I have plenty more ideas, information and fresh Friday recipes to share when CSA season starts back up again.

For 2013, however, I plan to dive into a parenting concept that is relatively new to me. It’s called RIE (resources for infant educarers). The approach is based on ‘honoring infants and young children as equal members in relationships.’ (RIE.org)

I was introduced to the concept by a friend who recommended that I follow Janet Lansbury on Facebook. After reading some of Janet’s work, I am ready to dive in and put these ideas into action. When my daughter was born I hadn’t really considered what ‘type’ of parent I would be. I stumbled upon attachment parenting after we discovered that Schy had reflux and was sleeping in our bed, on one of our chests at night. From there I started researching co-sleeping and naturally, discovered attachment parenting. This parenting style seemed natural for us and we agreed with most of the prominent ideals involved: co-sleeping, breastfeeding, not wanting her to cry and generally meeting her every need in order to create a loving, trusting bond.

I do still believe in certain aspects of attachment parenting but am coming to resent others. Perhaps it’s just because the principles aren’t working anymore. And maybe they never truly worked and we are just realizing this now that Schy is old enough to start expressing herself. I am falling in love with this RIE approach and am excited to shift my focus from being a slave to my baby to meeting both of our needs.

I’ve just ordered the book ‘Dear Parent: Caring For Infants with Respect’ by Magda Gerber, founder of RIE. I am so looking forward to further understanding her concepts and putting them to use. I feel this is exactly what the big green parenting experiment needs and I am SO excited to share what I learn, what works and what doesn’t. I’ll be starting off with an outline and some basics of RIE so you can familiarize yourself with the principles involved. As always, feedback, advice and experiences are welcomed as I embark on this new parenting journey!

Stay tuned for this exciting addition!

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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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day 28: 30 days of thanks

I am so thankful that my family and I have always had access to health care when we’ve needed it. I know that there are plenty of people in the world who have not been so lucky. Tomorrow is Schy’s 15 month appointment and I am thankful that she is able to see her pediatrician regularly. It gives me comfort as an overly paranoid first time mom that her doctor is just a phone call away, no matter the time of day or night. I’m thankful that this is something that my parents were always able to provide for me and that we can now provide for our little one. Here’s hoping we’ll only ever need routine visits.

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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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day 24: 30 days of thanks

Sleep.

I am so very thankful for sleep! Although I don’t get nearly as much as I did before Schy was born, I still really value the sleep that I do get. It’s amazing how your body learns to adjust to the amount of sleep you’re presently getting. I’ve been pretty sleep deprived for quite some time and some how I still manage to function. I love to lay down and close my eyes and wake up feeling refreshed. I look forward to having that feeling every day again someday. But for now I’ll just be thankful for the sleep that I do manage to get.
Good night all.

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day 20: 30 days of thanks

Today I am thankful for water. There is nothing more refreshing than a tall glass of water. It’s one of those things that we often take for granted. Sometimes I forget how fortunate we are to have clean, safe water to drink, whenever we want it. Or how wonderful it is to take a nice hot shower on a cold day. Or to jump into a big refreshing pool on a hot summer day.
I love water. I love to drink it. I love to splash around in it. I’m so thankful that it is always there when I need it and that I live in a place where it is not considered a luxury.

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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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day 13: 30 days of thanks

Today I am thankful for the internet! What an unbelievably amazing source of anything and everything you never cared about! We are so lucky to have so much information at our fingertips. I remember, loooong ago, we had these giant sets of dusty books to use as references. How inefficient was that? There are so many things that have been improved thanks to our glorious internet. I’m able to share pictures, shop, look up recipes and research any current obsession in minutes. And all at the same time if I like. It’s such an incredible wealth of knowledge and I truly do not know what I would do without it. It is such a wonderful, powerful tool. I use it all day, every day and am always discovering new ways to use it. I am thankful for all of the things that the internet allows me to do and I look forward to what’s still to come.

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day 9: 30 days of thanks

Good health.

I am super thankful that my family and I are healthy. I am truly thankful for this. Every day we read horror stories of children battling rare diseases and statistics of people who have lost their battles. It is completely heartbreaking. There is so much illness and suffering today and I am so thankful that we have our health.
This is one of the many reasons that we are so committed to awareness of what we put into our bodies. Trying to focus on a clean, organic diet helps to limit the amount of harmful chemicals, hormones and pesticides that we ingest. Many of these chemicals are known to harshly and negatively impact the body and immune system, while others still have yet to be tested. Fear of the unknown is enough for me to avoid them!
It’s so important for all of us to do our best to care for our health and bodies. Even if we can’t control our genetics, we can help steer them in a more positive direction. Just remember how lucky you are every day for your health. You only get one chance at this. Take care of yourself.
I vow to always appreciate and be thankful for my health and the health of my family. I will do whatever it takes to protect that and to never take it for granted.
So here’s to our health!

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