The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

cloud dough!

Winter has already got me stir crazy so I’ve been trying to come up with creative ways to keep us both sane during the day. (Not that reading the same book over and over isn’t my idea of a good time…) We are just starting to get into arts and crafts, you know… eating crayons, crumpling paper, etc. so we have more options these days.

Today we did a hands-on activity which was really fun. It’s called cloud dough! This is all over Pinterest so I can’t really credit one person. It took me all of five minutes (ok, maybe 10) to make and kept us entertained for a half hour or so! The mess is minimal and super easy to clean up.

Here’s what you need:

All purpose flour
Baby oil
Shallow plastic container, preferably with lid
Measuring cup

The recipe for the cloud dough is 8 parts flour to one part baby oil. I used 8 cups : 1 cup for ours. Simply measure the 8 cups of flour into your container, followed by one cup of baby oil. Knead with hands until lumps are mostly worked out and everything is well incorporated. It will feel like very soft sand which is moldable. VoilĂ ! Cloud dough!

I completely zoned out while I was kneading our dough. It was so soft and relaxing that it was almost meditative. This would account for the extra five minutes of prep time! We had a great time playing, molding and digging in it. The mess was easily cleaned up with a small broom and dustpan. I bought a shallow container with a snap-on lid from target ($5) so it is easily stored for next time. I’m not sure what the shelf life is or if it’ll dry out over time. I’ll keep you posted. My guess is we’ll definitely get our money’s worth of fun out of it!

Here are some pics from our fun with cloud dough. Enjoy!





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26 acts of kindness for Newtown

I know that many of us, especially parents, have really been struggling with Friday’s tragic event. I myself have been on an emotional roller coaster, just trying to take in and process all of the details of the horrific event. Add to that the ongoing battle over “the solution” to preventing similar occurrences in future. Gun control. Mental health care. Armed teachers. It’s enough to make your head spin.

While I do agree that we should let the tears dry, I also believe that there is no better time to discuss these issues. This can’t happen again. It just can’t. And we owe it to those innocent, beautiful children, brave teachers and their families to see that it doesn’t.

I’ll admit, I lost a bit of faith in humanity on Friday. I cried and asked why and held my baby tight. I questioned whether there was any good left in this world and how I could ever protect my child from the demons that continue to commit these unthinkable acts of hatred. I was nervous going to Target and thought about where I could hide to keep her safe if a crazed gunman were to storm the store. Paranoid? Maybe. Ridiculous? I think not. Not now. These things are real and a part of life now. I know that I’m not the only one thinking about them.

So how do we conquer this way of thinking? How do we begin the healing process? How do we move on and still grieve and honor the lives of those lost? Until today my answer was ‘I just don’t know.’

There is an amazing movement taking place now, inspired by a tweet by Ann Curry. “Imagine if everyone went out and committed 20 acts of kindness for every child lost in Newtown.” 20 quickly became 26 to include the heroic teachers that were lost as well. This is such a fantastic challenge. It is a beautiful way to honor each individual lost on that day and to also restore some faith in humanity.

Are you up for the challenge? Can you wake up each day for the next 26 days, hold one of the Sandy Hook victims in your heart and perform an act of kindness in their honor? What a beautiful thing to share with your friends on facebook, twitter, blogging or even just to keep for yourself. Help spread the kindness for these angels. I will be sharing my acts of kindness with you and I hope you’ll join in the movement. If you choose to share yours, be sure to use the hash tag #26acts.

I am totally up for any challenge that helps to make the world a better place. Let these precious lives inspire you to be better, kinder and more gracious.
What do you say?



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for December 12th


Julie Marling

Blog // Facebook // Twitter

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day 23: 30 days of thanks

Today I am thankful for my family-in-law. And there are many of them! My husband is one of 9 (yes, NINE) children, plus three older half-siblings. Most of them are now married and/or having children and the family is growing pretty rapidly. Each one of them is very unique.
Right now I am especially thankful for them being there and supporting my husband through a difficult situation. I’m so grateful that they are able to pull together for one another in their greatest times of need. Sometimes it’s not easy to have so many different ideas and opinions but they make it work.
If any of you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your support means everything right now.


day 18: 30 days of thanks

Sooooo, yeah, today I’m choosing to be thankful for alcohol. Not the rubbing kind. The drinking kind. Sometimes there is just nothing like a cold beer or a glass of wine at the end of a long day (or in the middle. I’m not here to judge.). Just when you think you may be on the brink of insanity, your buddy Sam Adams is there to calm your nerves and lift your spirits! My days of college style drinking and partying are long over, but I still enjoy a cocktail, whether out with friends or sipping scotch with the husband on a cold, snowy night.
Being a mom makes that drink even more rewarding. It’s one thing that makes me feel like an adult, like my own person, if only for a few minutes. Enjoying a glass of wine after the little one’s bedtime is so relaxing, especially after those tough tantrum-y teething days. Today just happened to be one of those.
Tonight I raise my glass and give thanks to the cocktail for keeping us all a little more sane. Cheers!



day 17: 30 days of thanks

I am totally thankful to have a sense of humor. Life is too short to be taken so seriously. And sarcasm? What the heck would my life be without that little gem?? I’ve been pretty lucky to always be surrounded by people that have a dry, sarcastic sense of humor as well.
My husband? Hilarious. I don’t give him nearly enough credit these days but I blame the 14 month sleep deprivation. When I’m well rested, I really notice how funny he [still] is.
When times are a bit difficult, which they have been lately, I am most thankful to have a sense of humor. If you can’t make light of things they become more difficult to get through. We always try to remember to laugh. Laugh at each other. Laugh at ourselves. Always laugh at the baby! She is the funniest. And always just laugh at the moment. This too shall pass so make the most of it. Laughter is, without a doubt, the best medicine.


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day 14: 30 days of thanks

Our beloved CSA.


Oh, how I miss you already. We’ve been buying supermarket vegetables for the past two weeks and I am already desperate for growing season to begin again. I am so thankful to have found such a wonderful CSA to be a part of. Our farmers are such warm, hard working, down to earth people who are truly passionate about growing outstanding organic vegetables for their members. They create 100% of their own energy, completely off the grid, which is incredible in and of itself. The produce that they provide all season long is amazing and I am so thankful for the fruits (and vegetables!) of their labor.
We are actually fortunate enough to host a pick up site for our CSA at our house. This has been such a wonderful experience for our family. It has allowed us to develop a real relationship with our farmer and the other members. It has also been great for Schy. She really enjoys seeing everyone every week and they’ve enjoyed watching her grow. She’s made friends and so have we. I know that I can speak for all three of us when I say that we are so thankful for the experiences that being part of a CSA has provided.
I have been meaning to write about how awesome it is to belong to a CSA and why everyone should, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Maybe reflecting on how thankful I am to belong to one will inspire me to finally do so!
For now I’ll just count down the days until the first harvest and be thankful that I don’t have to eat supermarket veggies all year round.



day 12: 30 days of thanks

Oh my! Is it really November 12 already???

Today I am thankful for my creativity. I don’t use it as much as I used to, not nearly enough. One of the most wonderful things about being a mom is seeing things in a different light. My daughter brings out my creative side and reminds me that it is still alive. I love to use my creativity to make her laugh and to teach her new things. It’s such a gift and an outlet and is so freeing. Being able to create art, in its many forms, is really my true passion and I hope to spend more time on it again in the future. I have a feeling that as Schy gets older we’ll only find more ways to bring it out and use it more. I can’t wait! The thought of finger-paints is unbelievably exciting!!
I’m truly thankful for the gift of creativity that I’ve been given and even more thankful to have someone new to share it with!


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day 10: 30 days of thanks

Today I am thankful for weekends! The weekend generally means at least some family time. It means that the husband has some time off from work and it means that we all get to wake up together! Weekend mornings are the best… waking up, cuddling in bed, being quizzed on every visable body part and enjoying the morning together. Schy is always completely delighted when she wakes up and sees that her daddy is home. It’s the sweetest thing!
Even though the weekend involves a lot of catching up around the house, at least we get to do it together. There is always something to clean or yard work to do. We spent this afternoon raking and playing in leaves and it was a blast! Just having a little time to ourselves, just the three of us, is so very important. We get to bond and connect as a family and most of all, laugh and have fun together. These are the things that memories are made of!
I hope everyone enjoys their weekend. Don’t forget to spend time with the ones you love. Better yet, don’t forget to appreciate that time.
As short and busy as they may seem, I am always thankful for the weekend with my loves.


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day 6: 30 days of thanks

Alright, I give in. I am thankful to be an American and for my right to vote. I seriously contemplated waiting for the outcome of this race before deciding whether or not I am truly thankful…
But all joking aside, I feel thankful to live in a country that allows us the freedom of choice. I’m thankful for having a voice in deciding the leader of our great country. I am thankful for the many different [rational] points of view that I have encountered in the months leading up to this election. These differences are what make America great an a true melting pot. I am thankful for the freedom to choose based on what I feel is best for our society as a whole. And while I probably agree with (hopefully more than) half of you, we should all be thankful for this right that so many in the world aren’t afforded. In the end, we are all in this together and no one person’s opinion is better or more right than the next. So while I am thankful for this glorious right, I will also be thankful when this election is over because damn! Election 2012 is making me tense!


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