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Filtering by Category: Kids Corner

Inspirational Wooden Toys

Bart Munro

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 by Bart Munro

I first met the founders of Tegu, Chris & Will Haughey, about 2 years ago on brisk fall evening in upstate New York.  Seated at a hefty oak table near a roaring fire in the lodge’s great room, Will pulled out a box and said “would you like to see our newest product?”.  

What a perfect setting to be introduced to Tegu.  The company’s flagship products are wooden building blocks with embedded rare earth magnets.  Delivered in refreshing color combinations like jungle, mahogany (yes, real mahogany), and pastel tints, Tegu delivers on its vision to build toys which inspire adults and kids alike and last for generations.

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Beyond inspiring with beautiful, well-designed and unique products, though, a core part of Tegu’s mission is to provide sustainable work, living wages, and life development for the people of Honduras.  The company’s factory (where all the wooden blocks are made by hand) is located in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where co-founder Chris Haughey relocated to Honduras with his family to lead the operations.

In addition to its factory, Tegu partners with local schools in Honduras and donates a portion of its revenue to re-forestation of the area.

If you're looking for a safe, durable toy for the little ones in your life, or looking for a great gift for a colleague, these are a great option.  

Tegu’s products can be ordered from Amazon or directly from their website.  Their pocket pouch makes a great gift for business associates, and the 4-packs are perfect stocking stuffers!

 

 

 

Last-Minute Halloween Ideas

Fay Johnson

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By Aimee Oberndorfer Le

At our house, we're last-minute Halloween people. Week before, or night before, really. I always envy our friends who have their costumes and decorations planned six months ahead of time, but realistically, that's not us. However, we do try to be deliberate people, and this year -- our first with a toddler -- we find that to be more important than ever.

Tonight, we'll go with our little Space Robot to 2-3 houses on our block to say "trick or treat", and head to a neighbor's home for pie, cider, costumes and play. Our son will get to see his friends dressed up and we'll get to hang out with adults, too. Most importantly, we'll be celebrating and having fun with our community.

There are many issues that you may grapple with around Halloween: feeding small children so much sugar, the slave labor that produces so much of our mass-market chocolate, nut allergies, safety, the cost of costumes and treats. But even if you are a last-minute Halloween person like me, it's still possible to deliberately address the issues that are important to you and your family, and have fun!

Here's how we're doing it (and how we've seen friends and neighbors do it, too):

  • Candy alternatives: In our town, many of our neighbors are handing out pencils, stickers, glow sticks, beads, temporary tattoos. One neighbor even does a sweep of her home the night before and collects small toys and trinkets that have gone unused, and puts these in a bag to give away. It's a huge hit!


  • Fair-trade chocolate: If you only have a few trick-or-treaters, this may be a feasible option for you. You can read more about great, options here.


  • Costumes: This year, it was important that we not spend any money on costumes. Search your house for things you can re-purpose! Talk to neighbors and friends and see if they have costumes from previous years that no longer fit their children, or things that you could borrow for yourself. Here are a few creative and fun ideas!
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We put our son's costume together a few days ago with a cereal box, duck tape, water bottles, paint chips, stickers, a tupperware bowl, a borrowed headband, and his favorite boots. It's far from glossy-magazine-worthy, but he helped color and glue and stick, and is now counting the minutes until he can put it on and go outside. Success. Bonus: he will definitely play with it for months to come! 

However you decide to deliberately celebrate, we wish you a wonderful, safe and happy Halloween.

Green Smoothies for the Little Ones

Jessica Stackowicz

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By Jessica Stackowicz

Smoothies are currently our favorite summer snack – They are a great way to get my daughter to eat loads of fruits and green veggies, and they make for a fun activity. The following recipes are great for kids of all ages and can be modified as the harvest changes.

We like our smoothies thick with frozen fruit so they’re almost like ice cream. Here are a few of our favorite recipes:

Green Hydrater

  • 2 cups Coconut water
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2 cups frozen pineapple
  • 1 avocado
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Green Ginger Peach

  • 1 ¼ cup filtered water
  • 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • 2 cups frozen peeled and sliced peaches
  • 1 tsp grated ginger (or more if you like it strong)
  • 2 tsp raw local or organic honey

Berry Green

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  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup frozen banana

*The spinach in these recipes can be replaced with any dark leafy green (kale, swiss chard etc)

**Always blend your greens with the liquid before adding the rest of the fruit

 

Green Milkshake

  • 1 ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 ½ cup frozen sliced bananas*
  • 1 scoop Amazing Grass Green Superfood Original

 

*Tip: To freeze bananas easily, slice them into ½” pieces and lay them out on a cookie sheet and place in freezer until frozen. Store them in an airtight container in the freezer. 

Cheap & Free Summer Activities for Kids

Jessica Stackowicz

Long summer days mean lots of outdoor fun, but it can sometimes be a bit of a task to keep children entertained, and not spend a lot along the way. 

Here are 10 ideas for free or cheap fun for kids this summer:

1. Backyard Fun- Start with what you have! Simplify your idea of fun and get creative. Build a cardboard box castle, create an obstacle course, pitch a tent and spend the night camping in you backyard.  There are endless possibilities.

2. Garden- Plant seeds together!  It could be in a few pots on your patio or getting involved in your local community garden. There is nothing like the joy of a child who watches a seed grow.

3. State Parks- Walk nature paths, go for long hikes, and maybe even camp for a few days.  Bring along a magnifying glass, jars to catch fireflies, and journals to make it an interactive experience. There is so much to learn through nature.

4. Berry Picking- Support local farms that have u-pick produce by picking your own fruit. I can’t think of anything better than farm fresh organic blueberries warm from the sun.

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6.  The Beach- Pack your sunscreen and towels and head to the nearest beach!  What better summer fun then playing in the sand and waves? 

5. Public Pools- Look into local public pools in your area. With slides, fountains and kiddie pools, there’s fun to be had for big kids and little ones too. 

7. New Parks and Splash Pads- Venture out to new parks and splash pads that you have never been to for a change of play equipment and scenery.

 
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8. Playgroups- Get involved in a local playgroup.  It’s a great way to meet new people and for your children to make new friends. 

9. Picnics- Take your breakfast, lunch or dinner outside!  Bring some card games or a Frisbee along to play with after.

10. Discover your city- Explore what your city has to offer.  Try museums, zoos, outdoor music venues, fairs and cultural events. Find things you’ve never done before.

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deliberate:Parenting articles by Jessica Stackowicz. Photos cannot be used without written permission.

Popsicles

Jessica Stackowicz

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What better summertime treat than popsicles?  Homemade popsicles are easy to make and a fun activity to involve your children in.  Choosing local organic ingredients can also make them quite healthy!

We thought we’d share a few of our favorite recipes with you:

Fudgesicles

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • ½ cup organic fair-trade cocoa powder
  • ½ cup agave

Combine all in saucepan on low heat until cocoa is melted.  Pour into molds, add sticks and freeze at least 4 hours.

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Strawberry Popsicles

  • 3 cups fresh organic strawberries, tops cut off and halved
  • ½ cup agave

Combine all in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour puree into molds and put freeze at least 4 hours.

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Coconut

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ¼ cup agave

Blend both in a blender or food processor, pour into molds and freeze at least 4 hours.

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To make striped or multi-flavored popsicles, let each flavor freeze for 1 hour before adding the next. Don’t forget to add your stick! 

We used Tovolo’s groovy popsicle molds, they’re BPA free, eliminate the waste of throwing away popsicle sticks and have a drip catcher.

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Article and Images by Jessica Stackowicz

Parenting: Living By Example

Jessica Stackowicz

By Jessica Stackowicz

It’s no secret that parenting is a big responsibility. How does one raise a ‘good’ human being? No matter what our parenting philosophy is, I think it’s safe to say that one thing is for certain: we all aim to raise well mannered, bright, compassionate and ultimately “good” individuals.

The other day I was sitting at the dinner table with my 2 year old daughter, Zahra. She colored quietly in her coloring book while I studied, and after about 20 minutes of silence she looked up and said, “Good job mama! Good reading! Good job!”.  I was struck by her sweet words of encouragement. My heart was warmed by the thought that she has received this affirmation from us and is mirroring it back. It was not a lesson I had intentionally set out to teach her, but one that she had learned through experience. A proud moment for sure.

Then there are the other moments, like when she ran away from me, during a recent visit to Target. I calmly asked her to stop and come back but she yelled over her shoulder as she ran “I’m busy!” Ouch. Not always easy to hear some of those things.  

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What I am slowly starting to realize, over the brief 2 years I have been a parent, is that no matter what parenting strategy we have for our children, our actions and words have the biggest impact.

The lifestyle choices we make on a daily basis form our children’s perceptions of the world.  From the food we choose to eat to what we make a priority in our life, we create an environment from which they learn.  Simply put, the way we are living is shaping our children.

If living by example is how Zahra will learn, then I want to live well, live deliberately even.  My hope is that she grows up knowing what it means to live like it matters. Investing in our children and how they view their role in the world is an investment in our future. And I don’t want to be too busy for that.