Monthly Archives: May 2009

May 18, 2009

clean and green

Living on a large creek that is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed has made me very conscious of how my activities and choices impact the water we absolutely cannot live without. When I take my son on walks, I often pass right by the very sewage treatment plant that is used the treat the waste water from my own house before it is returned to a small stream just downstream from our house. I cannot pretend that what goes into our drains disappears and is magically replaced by pure, clean water.

I started making my own laundry soap so I would know exactly what ingredients I was dumping in my local waterways. It’s easier on our clothes, easy to make, and very affordable. Do a Google search and you will find a lot of different recipes out there, but this is the one I use because I can always find the ingredients and it is easy to remember.

Laundry Soap

1 bar Kirk’s Castile Soap

1 cup Washing Soda

1 cup Borax

Grate the bar of castile soap to make little beads of soap. You can also use a food processor to grate the soap, but slice the bar of soap into thin strips before you put it in the processor. I’ve also heard that a salad shooter works well. Mix the soap beads with the washing soda and borax, and store in an air proof container. Use 2-4 Tablespoons a load depending on the size of the load. You can also use Oxyclean Free or any bleach-free alternative in place of the Castile Soap, and this would be a better choice if you are washing diapers. This recipe is perfume-free, dye-free, phosphate-free, and biodegradable. It is also the perfect choice if you or your child has chemical sensitivities.

For stains, I use a 50/50 mix of regular Dawn and Dr. Bronners liquid Pure Castile Soap. This works really well on oily stains. I like Biokleen’s Bac-Out for food or organic stains.

And of course, hanging your clothes to dry keeps them from fading and is generally, much easier on them and a much greener choice than drying them in a clothes dryer. I have an indoor clothes drying rack that I use in the winter, and a retractable clothes line that I use when the weather is suitable for outdoor drying.

At 3, my son loves helping with the laundry. I think getting our children involved at an early age observing and participating in our green choices will make for a greener future and a healthier planet.

playdate goes global

What do you get when you combine 14 crazy mommas, over 30 children, some ingenious passports and loads of sugar?

Playdate Goes Global, that’s what!

In a community where diversity is NOT a large part of our children’s day-to-day experiences, two of my friends and I decided that a cultural lesson was in order.

All invited moms were instructed to choose a country, research with their children (admittedly most of us did the work on our own), plan a craft and provide a snack – all that correlated to their chosen country.

We gathered yesterday afternoon for the result and boy was it crazy!

After each mom and kid team set up their tables (some with flags, some with appropriate fabrics, some with music and some with books or reading materials), we started the process of “clearing customs” with each family.

Handcrafted passports were handed out to each child, along with a Country Itinerary (their checklist to be sure they made it to each country).

With all of these countries to visit – Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Poland and Russia – can you believe we made it to all of those locations in just under two hours?

Whether it was sampling mango chutney, eating with chopsticks, tasting eclairs or dipping melons in grecian yogurt, the children were given a fantastic example of what food might taste like in a different country.

No hotdogs, mac-n-cheese or pizza here! What was incredible was that most of the kids responded to their taste testing with a resounding “Mom! That was really GOOD!”

The crafts were equally as educational. Chinese lanterns, german pretzels (made from playdough), coloring boomerangs, Indian rangoli, Faberge eggs or pasta art from Italy, these kiddos exercised their creativity!

When we planned this event, we envisioned a very brief introduction to various countries and how people live on these far away places, with playtime taking up the majority of the time. What surprised us was how “into it” everyone got.

We watched kids run up to other kids and ask “Have you been to China yet?” or “Oooh, go make the craft in Germany!”

We as parents have a responsibility to teach our children not only about manners and their ABCs, but also to be more culturally aware. We owe it to our kiddos to help them understand that there is an entire world out there.

Just across the ocean, just across our borders … lies a completely different way of living. Whether it be the standard dress of a country, varied religious practices or general ways of life … it can be incredibly rewarding to watch your little ones soak up this new information.

Many schools host international/cultural fairs when children are in 3rd or 4th grade. However, you don’t have to wait until your kids get into elementary school to start expanding their horizons.

Gather some of your friends together, and host a ‘trip around the world’ for the benefit of your kiddos!

May 10, 2009

field of dreams

Take ONE patch of dandelions

Add in TWO stir-crazy kiddos as mom is busy packing up our belongings

Mix in with some dabs of paint

a little bit of creativity

 

BEAUTIFUL!!!

 

I realize that this may be over-kill, but you should SEE the tubs of craft supplies that I have packed and ready for the move.

I am deeply fearful (I call it a bomb shelter mentality) of what we may or may not be able to find when we arrive, and we thrive on random craftiness.

Call me silly, but if our family has craft supplies, we WILL travel!

I encourage you to get crafty with your kids.  All it takes is some dandelions (and whose yard DOESN’T have dandelions right  now?), some paint and a willingness to take some TIME.

Take some time and create!

next stop: japan

In two weeks, we’ll be taking off to Japan to explore Osaka and Kyoto. I’ve been to Japan before but without a baby boy. Even then, the hustle and bustle of a big Japanese city can be intimating. I’m most excited to explore the hot springs culture, eat a bunch of ramen and sushi, and buy things from vending machines. Japan should be a load of fun for baby Kai who will be 11 months when we arrive. I’ll keep you posted on my adventures when I arrive, but in the meantime here are some things that are on the itinerary:

Some of the travel ideas, I found in this cute and insightful book Japan for Kids: The ultimate Guide for Parents and Children

SpaWorld Osaka Japan, I have high expectations for this place. It will be fun for the whole family with three floors of onsens from around the world. On the third level, there is a full water park amusement pool for the kids.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan- It’s known to be the world’s largest aquarium complete with exhibitions of Japanese rain forests, California Coastline marine life , a giant Ferris wheel, and IMAX theater.

Ryoan-Ji Temple Kyoto-Here we’ll find one of the most beautiful Zen gardens which will be perfect after a day of sightseeing.

Japanese Supermarkets—I’m excited to find fresh bento boxes and cool baby food at the supermarket. He’s especially fond of rice crackers, and there’s no doubt we’ll find tons to choose from.

Stay tuned for photos and reviews of the places mentioned above.

just what the doctor ordered

Each spring, the world outside our home is invaded. Not by aliens or evil monsters, but they might as well be. This invasion is a thick dusting of yellow pollen which sends innocent victims clamoring for tissues and the safety of the indoors. The simple phrase “in bloom” sends me into a panic. For any seasonal allergy sufferer, there is only one cure – skipping town.While this is not an option for all, Annie P is my current ticket out.  With mandatory school attendance still years away, I book a flight south, to my hometown, to paradise.

Since the railroad made its way through Florida at the end of the 19th century, the allure of the healing properties of a tropical climate became one of its main selling points. The social elite from the northern states found places like Palm Beach a respite from the cold weather and a balm for winter ailments.  For some, they literally came south on doctor’s orders. Those doctors were no fools. Who doesn’t know the benefits of salt water alone? I consider myself fortunate that, as a child, many a cut and scrape were soothed in the healing waters off Miami’s beaches. Have a cold?  No worries. Just take a dip. Or breathe in that dewy air. You’ll feel better in no time.

Annie P and I left home sniffling, sneezing and coughing. To top it off, Annie P had a nasty case of eczema. So we came, gave it the recommended two days necessary for the winds, the sun, the air itself to work its magic. And wouldn’t you know it – by day three the tissues were put away.

As for Annie P, her grandmother’s backyard is a whole new world from the last time she visited. Feeling herself again, eczema clear, our newly walking toddler couldn’t wait to head outside each morning. The flora and fauna of the tropics fascinate and soothe her, just like her mom. Hibiscus and jasmine tempt her to touch them. Birds sing to her from the rooftops. The palm trees, almost whimsical in appearance, elicit giggles from a child who lives surrounded by oak and pine and cherry. Stumbling through her this tropical jungle, I can only describe her demeanor as one of pure delight. The marketing campaign luring people to the Sunshine State all those years ago was spot on. With all it has to offer, South Florida can still soothe the soul.

losing focus

Can you read that? It says “56 in a 35″

Criminy.

$149.00

All because I lost focus.

More importantly, I had quite the humbling moment with my middle kidlet in the car.

At first he panicked and asked …

… if we were going to jail (when he saw the light bar).

Then Tony asked why the policeman was mad at his momma.

I explained that I was going too fast.

(i.e. not paying attention, a million and one things running through my mind, late for the next activity, trying to figure out X, Y and Z, trying to find the right song on the radio, handing Tony his Bakugan that he’d dropped, adjusting my seatbelt … )

The nice officer smiled ever so sweetly and asked for my license and registration. I’ve always had pretty good luck with ‘getting away with warnings’ but today was not that day.

He returned to the car (after what felt like ages while I impatiently drummed my fingers on the steering wheel) and handed me my ticket.

A ticket that equals about 50 McDonalds Happy Meals or 130 RedBox movie rentals (I say 130 because I never return them on time).

That ticket also equaled several relaxing massages or a whole case of nice wine.

That ticket equaled more than that though. It equaled a costly reminder to stay focused. To try a bit harder to leave my to-do list at HOME when I get in the car.

To block out the mental tornado that is currently going on in my head when I’m responsible for other people while behind the wheel.

To keep my phone secured safely in its cute little holster and maybe even stop communicating while I’m driving.

As I was writing the check out to pay the fine, I showed Tony and explained that I was having to pay alot of money for my ticket. Alot of money for not paying attention and for failing to follow the rules.

You wanna know what he said?

“Momma, you should’a told the ociffer that we were moving to India. He would have let you go if you had told him THAT”

I am starting to realize that when I give my all to ONE thing, my efforts are much more magnified than when I multi-task and attempt to spread myself (too thin, most times) across the board. I am writing this post “out loud” as more of a reminder to myself in the coming weeks and months.

If you see me flying down the road in the coming days, or I seem to be losing focus and getting distracted from something you know I want to devote myself to, remind me, ok?

Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets. ~ Nido Qubein

little citizen of the month contest

In March we launched our first Little Citizen of the Month Contest asking our Facebook fans to submit pictures of their children wearing Tea.  We had an overwhelming response with more than 650 entries. Now with two months behind us I can say this contest is truly a treat. What a joy!

Aside from picking a winner, which is no easy task, I have the privilege of going through hundreds of pictures of beautiful children, full of energy and enthusiasm. The icing on the cake, they are all wearing Tea!

When I look through the submissions, I am captivated by their irresistible, little faces. Whether playing at the park, with their friends, at home or traveling the world, these children inspire, warm and delight us by just being themselves… Oh a child’s life.

What could be cuter than a darling little one eating ice cream, comfy and casual in stripes.

Or one traveling the world to find that there are doors her same size, cool as can be in Daily Tea.

And what’s not to love about our favorite Liberdade dress from our winner’s picture (at the beginning of this blog post), layered or worn by itself, styled to a T!

It has been such fun seeing vintage Tea, favorites from the past which I absolutely adored then and still love today! As well as our new spring collections modeled so well by our littlest fans, too cute! I love different collections worn together and girls mixing it up with boy’s pieces. The captions are thoroughly enjoyable. They are insightful, true at heart and many make me laugh out loud.

Thank you so much for sharing with us. And please, please keep submitting, you never know your child could be our next Little Citizen of the Month!!!

Salut!