Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to go plastic-free with kids!

So I'm not a total paranoid freak, I promise. I just don't love plastic. I know that a few years ago, BPA came out as a culprit in plastic that is potentially linked to cancer. I know there are many BPA-free plastic options out there. But I just prefer to avoid it for several reasons: (1) who knows what else may be in there that we just don't know is harmful yet?; (2) it's not super durable when it comes to many dishwasher sessions; (3) it eventually begins to scratch and and stain, no matter what kind it is! Sooo . . . we have been slowly eliminating plastic over the past few years. I know it seems like a tough thing to do if you have kids, as most kid-marketed things are plastic, but we've found some products we love!

First, our LunchBots stainless steel bento boxes. I love them because they are durable, affordable, and they don't require little containers within containers, so there's only one thing to throw into the dishwasher at the end of the day! They fit easily into a standard-sized zipper lunch bag with a plenty of room left for a drink. I think they're superior to the planet box bentos for several reasons: (1) they are far more affordable; (2) they are deeper so you can put larger fruit like strawberries in there without having to cut them up; (3) they have a compartment large enough for a full-sized sandwich. 
 Klean Kanteen stainless steel sports bottles with a silicone top. They make big ones--enough to hold plenty of ice and water for outdoor sports and camps. They have a sling available so you can carry them over your shoulder. They come in all sorts of great colors! They are leak-proof (truly.) My only minor knocks: they haven't yet come out with an insulated bottle that works with the sports spout. They have an insulated bottle, but the sports spout doesn't fit with it, but they swear they are working on that (I called to ask!) Also, the paint will eventually begin to chip a bit in the dishwasher, but still well worth it to be able to not have to wash them by hand! :)
I also love the Zulu glass sports bottles with the flip-top lids. No straw--yay! They lock tightly so they won't accidentally spring open, and they don't leak. They are fairly shatter-proof (Zane actually did break one in his t-ball dugout, but it came into pretty fierce contact with the metal bench.) :)  Given the fact that we broke one, I prefer to use them for my husband and myself, but would be great for older kids as well. The Zulu bottles are available at Target!
As for day-to-day drinking and eating ware for the kids, we all drink out of glass jelly jars, which you can get in the canning section of your grocery store. In the three or so years that we have all been drinking out of them (starting when my daughter was four and my son was one), we have only broken one! :) Our kids just eat on our regular ceramic plates and eat with regular metal silverware. The reason for all of this is actually twofold: (1) no plastic; (2) it teaches them to be careful and responsible with their stuff!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to change the way you think about food.

I grew up in the 80's. Our pantry was always chock-full of spaghetti-o's, little debbies, cheetos, you name it. If it was processed and full of sugar, artificial colors and saturated fat, we ate it. I was a naturally very slender kid, so it wasn't until my mid 20's that it all started to catch up with me. So I did what any body-conscious woman of the early 2000's did--I went on a low-fat diet. I mean, I became the queen of diet soda, "light" and "fat-free" foods. My pantry didn't look much different--same brands, but the diet version! I was one walking low-fat carbohydrate. And you know what? It worked. I lost a lot of weight--about 20 lbs, to be exact, and I kept it up for over a decade.  Then my body began to slowly break down. I got joint pain, chronic foot pain and generally felt crummy. But I sure looked good in a swimsuit! ;)

The truth is, I kind of buried my head in the sand about what was slowly becoming common knowledge about the importance of whole foods, and the chemical shit storm that was processed--espeically fat-free processed-foods. As long as it was fat free, it was for me! Then I began to do some reading about nutrition. And began to realize that no matter how skinny I was, if I didn't feel good, it didn't mean I was healthy.

So began the great pantry evolution of 2013. We slowly began to buy more whole foods to replace the baked cheetos, low-fat cookies, crackers, sweets, etc. We began to slowly edge out artificial colors and sweeteners--even my BELOVED Coke Zeros had to go. I drank those things like it was going out of style.

I changed my snacks to almonds, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, guacamole, fruits, etc. I had avoided many of those things for so many years because I was afraid of gaining weight. I began to cook more--much more. I used olive oil (another once-dreaded-by-me fat). I made healthy meals with lean meats, veggies and fruits, some from my own garden.  I replaced Coke Zero with water or sparkling pomegranate juice. Our pantry lost a lot of its color. It gained a lot of real foods that actually required a little effort to cook them. Our freezer is now devoid of the frozen diet meals that I lived on many nights.

In short, we began to eat "real food." I transitioned from my 30-minute elliptical workouts to actual strength training classes.  I built muscle. I put on fat. I gained weight. I am no longer rocking a size two. I am a size six. And I have some cellulite. But you know what? I feel a whole lot better. My feet don't hurt. My joints don't ache. I am a whole lot stronger. And what does a 36-year-old mother of two need to look like a bikini model for anyway?! (Not to imply that I did!)

I want to teach my daughter (who is a very solidly-built, muscular little girl) that healthy is beautiful. I want her to love her body for what it DOES more than what it looks like. I want her to find her value in her character more than her waist measurement. Is it hard sometimes to live in a city like Dallas and be bombarded with size zero, fake-boobed, bikini-model types all around? Yes, honestly it sometimes is. And if they are truly eating and living a healthy life and get to look like that, then power to them. But my guess (from my personal experience and the experience from others I know who have struggled with body image in the past) is that many of them are denying their bodies some pretty important things to look like that. Or are pushing their bodies beyond healthy. I know I was.

So now I'm the girl who drinks the (non-skinny) margarita sometimes. I eat dessert when it is served to me. I dig into guacamole.  I even on occasion eat a cheeseburger. And I don't feel guilty about any of that anymore. I feel healthy. And I still recognize that I am in good shape and am proud of my body--much more for what it can do than for what it looks like.  So I've changed the way I think about food. It is not the enemy. It is not the savior. It is not the pacifier. It is nourishment for the cells of my body so that my body can be healthy and strong for myself and my family. It may have taken me 36 years to gain this perspective, but I am very grateful to have it. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Solo Cup Dispenser!

I'm not a fan of plastic cups (or plastic period) but my darling husband insists on buying them. No matter how carefully I stack them, they inevitably wind up strewn all over the pantry by mid-week, so I decided to get a dispenser to hang on the wall of the pantry! I LOVE it. Here's a link to it on Amazon:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Displaying Kids' Art!

When it comes to trying to display our babies' art, we've tried it all--shadow boxes, frames, tape to a wall, etc. But anything that requires too much effort results in the art never getting switched out to show off the latest and greatest. So after surfing around on some minimalist blogs for art display, I combined a few things I'd seen and came up with our art wall! I went to Michael's and found letters, some great, large, funky clothespins and some thin rope. I went to Target and found the perfect paint color for us. Then it was time to get to work!  Steps:

  • painted the wall our turquoise color
  • painted our "art" letters with white paint then polka dotted them in espresso paint by dipping a hot glue stick in the paint and dotting it on the letters, let them dry, then hung them in the center of the wall with hot glue
  • nailed two nails into opposite corners of the wall
  • looped the rope through the coils of the clothes pins and then tied the rope to the nails.  
  • clipped up my favorite pieces!
the beauty of this approach is that the clothespins can accommodate any size art--and you can freely move them around along the rope to fit your favorite masterpieces.  It also makes you choose the best of the best--and inspires your kiddos to do their best so their latest work can "make the wall." :)