We walked to school today. To some of you that may not sound like a big deal. Walking or biking to school may be a part of your daily routine. But for us it’s not a regular occurrence. Today was walk or bike to school day in our community, a day where the big yellow bus didn’t take our kids to school.
Way back when someone had the not-so-brilliant idea to create little pockets of housing around town without sidewalks. We happen to live in an area where there are sidewalks, but once you reach the tip of the neighborhood you’re dumped onto a main thoroughfare without sidewalks and without a safe way to school. Big bummer.
So today we joined together with a few neighbors and met up with kids from all over to walk and bike to school together.
My oldest decided to bike to school. I walked to school with my younger two.
Why walk or bike to school?
It’s fun. And that it was. I had a chance to walk and talk with my kids and others for a mile walk. Usually we’re rushing around trying to get out in the morning so this was a great way to start the day.
We used our feet instead of a car or bus. When families decide to lace up their sneakers or strap on their bike helmets to get to school instead of riding in a car or bus, they help reduce the amount of air pollutants emitted.
In 2009, 203,000 children ages 15 and younger were injured in motor vehicles crashes; 15,000 of those injured were pedestrians (NHTSA, 2011). Teaching children how to look both ways and walk or bike with caution was a big component of the walk. We had our own police escort with flashing lights. Very fancy.
We clearly weren’t the only ones who decided to walk or bike to school today.
Why we should ride or walk to school more often
A Danish study this past year looked at nearly 20,000 Danish kids between the ages of 5 and 19. It found that kids who cycled or walked to school, rather than traveling by car or public transportation, performed measurably better on tasks demanding concentration, such as solving puzzles, and that the effects lasted for up to four hours after they got to school.
And then there’s the benefit of physical fitness. Being active before sitting in a classroom all day is priceless. Learning to incorporate fitness into your daily routine is a precious life skill.
We are active as a family, but I’m determined to make walking or biking to school happen more often. Logistically it’s not that easy, but it’s doable and it’s a necessity.
Packing a lunchbox can be a challenging task for anyone, especially when your lunch needs to be gluten-free. Usually this time of year my kids start to ask for new lunch choices and complain that their school lunch box selections are boring. As a parent it’s a constant struggle to find healthy foods that your children will eat and enjoy. When a food allergy, gluten intolerance or celiac disease is added to the mix the task of finding nutritious foods can feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to.
Udi’s Gluten Free sent me a sampling of their gluten free products to help inspire creativity for gluten free delicious lunch choices. We are not a gluten free family, but we do incorporate gluten free products into our diet. We have plenty of people in our lives that are gluten free so I always try to have safe products around.
Tackling Back-to-School Gluten-Free
I thought I would share a few ways we have tried out Udi’s gluten-free products in our lunch boxes since going back-to-school.
Udi’s Millet-Chia Bread
After reading a lot about the health benefits of chia seeds I finally added them to my diet-and I love them. I was very excited to see that Udi’s has a Millet-Chia Bread. We used it this week to make my son’s famous lox sandwich, which he takes to school most days. I find most gluten-free breads to be very dry. Udi’s wasn’t as dry as others I’ve tried, but it was still a little to dry for my kids. They liked the White Sandwhich Bread better than the Millet-Chia Bread.
Gluten-Free Granola Mix
Some form of granola makes it into our lunch boxes a few days of the week. My kids love granola and they add all sorts of mix-ins to it to make it unique. Some days it’s raisins and other days it’s cereal. Udi’s has an Au Naturel Granola that’s gluten-free and worked perfectly for the mix-ins. My kids love to use Kids Konserve Stainless Steel Mini Food Containers to pack a trail mix in their lunch.
Veggie and Fruit Combos
We love using our LunchBots stainless steel containers for lunch side dishes. Some of the LunchBots come with dividers so it’s easy to incorporate two snacks into one container. Here are a few of our favorites:
Raspberries and Glutino gluten-free pretzels
Organic carrots (unpeeled), celery and Glutino pretzels
Not every lunch comes with a dessert, but once in a while a cookie or special treat makes its way into our lunch box. Udi’s Snickerdoodle and Chocolate Chip cookies are a great gluten-free alternative.
How do you make your lunch gluten-free? I would love to hear your suggestions.
Disclosure: Udi’s generously provided me with their products for review. The opinions are my very own.
Usually around October my kids start to complain that their school lunch box selections are boring. The back-to-school thrill has died down and our search for snacks to spice up our lunch routine is on. Then the begging for hot lunch begins. I really don’t get it. Hot lunch at school looks completely unappetizing to me. Quite frankly, I’d rather not eat lunch. Knowing that the complaining and begging is just around the corner (maybe it is for you too?) I thought I’d be proactive and take this opportunity to share a few snacks that may or may not work in your children’s lunch boxes.
NatureBox is a monthly subscription service that costs $19.95/month. Each month a variety of beautifully packaged snacks arrives at your doorstep. The snacks are handpicked by NatureBox and abide by their strict quality standards:
No high fructose corn syrup
No partially hydrogenated oils
No artificial colors or flavors
No trans fats
If you’re looking for variety this is a great option. Just so there are no surprises-most of the NatureBox snacks I received did contain some form of sugar-agave, evaporated cane juice, but no HFCS.
You won’t find any GMOs, artificial colors or preservatives or trans fats
The company donates 10% of their profits to summer camp scholarships
Water in a reusable Klean Kanteen goes into our lunch boxes daily. An Honest Tea drink would only be included as a special treat.
My kids steer clear of any drinks that are caffeinated and thankfully there are plenty of decaffeinated Honest Tea choices. I was a bit disappointed that all of their decaffeinated drinks contained some form of added sugar. Not ideal for three boys with a lot of energy.
My husband loves the organic Honest Tea selections. This selection of tea doesn’t have any added sugar and come in a glass bottle. Keep in mind that they are caffeinated.
Have you seen this candy? I recently spotted it in Staples and CVS as I was about to checkout. UNREAL is a new type of candy with a mission to “unjunk” the world. UNREAL candies contain no artificial flavors, preservatives or hormones; no GMO’s (genetically modified organisms); no hydrogenated oils; and no corn syrup. Instead, they use real sugar, natural oils, and real milk. They make their candy available only where junk food is available.
Candy never makes it into our lunch boxes-our elementary school prohibits sending in any candy for lunch. However, this type of candy does have a place. If there’s a child reaching for a candy bar at the checkout counter no candy is the best option, but UNREAL candy would be a better option.
What are your favorite snacks to spice up your lunch box?
It’s been a very exciting week here are Groovy Green Livin. The Disney petition has really taken off thanks to all of you. At last check we have over 56,000 signatures demanding that Disney take toxic chemicals out of their children’s lunch boxes.
If you haven’t signed the petition you can find it HERE.
As many of you know, about a week or so ago I had television cameras in my kitchenagain! This time they were from CBS Boston. I was very happy to see how the piece turned out. I truly appreciate the time the producer Jessi and the cameraman Terry spent with me and my family talking about the Disney petition. I’m grateful for their willingness to spread the word about the toxic chemicals that were found in children’s vinyl back-to-school supplies including Disney lunch boxes. Here’s the clip so you can see for yourself!
Big thank you to Lylah M. Alphonse, Senior Editor at Yahoo! Shine and founder of the blog Write. Edit. Repeat who wrote a wonderful article after interviewing me about the Disney petition. Click HERE for a link to her article which appeared on Yahoo! Shine and Yahoo.com’s home page.
This week has been far from ordinary and yesterday was no exception. The back-to-school transition is challenging for all on so many different levels. I decided that I wanted to complicate my life even more and add to it the launch of my petition asking Disney to get toxic chemicals out of princess and Spiderman lunch boxes. So let’s just say all ‘you-know-what’ broke loose at once this week. I probably have a few more gray hairs, but I’ve lived to tell the tale.
My kids seem to have pulled through the first week of school and my petition has taken off, with over 46,000 51,000 signatures at last check! And still no word from Disney. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hearing from some pretty incredible people during the past few days who feel strongly that Disney needs to do something to clean up their act. NOW.
Why yesterday was far from ordinary
Around 2 pm yesterday a cameraman (Terry) and producer (Jessi) from CBS Boston pulled up to my house for an interview about the petition. It was amazing. We ended up spending an hour and 1/2 talking about the petition, it’s importance and the amazing outpouring of support from the public. They were also able to catch some footage of my kids getting off of the big yellow school bus.
My 12 year old really wanted no part of the limelight. My 10 and 8 year old boys were pretty into it.
They had so many questions about the camera and microphones. Terry, the cameraman, was incredibly patient and kind and answered approximately 500 questions about his camera equipment.
The news team asked us to make our school lunches on camera. So all three of my boys made their lunches and snacks in the afternoon, just as they usually do every morning. It was awesome waking up this morning and having lunches already set for the day.
Jessi, the producer, was fantastic. Her questions were very thought provoking and clear. It was truly a pleasure talking with her.
I have to admit, it’s a bit strange opening up my home for a TV crew. I’ve done it before, but it’s still a bit unsettling. They filmed inside my refrigerator, inside my kitchen and caught my very private hellos and hugs with my children after school.
Now the waiting
It’s always interesting to me that I’m a bit anxious and running on adrenaline during the interview, but I’m always much more anxious waiting for the piece to air. What did I say? I honestly have no recollection. I’m hopeful that I covered most things that I wanted to touch upon and my passion about the petition shinned through. We shall see.
The segment will air sometime next week here in Boston. I’ll post a link once I have it.
If you haven’t signed the petition and would like to learn more about it please CLICK HERE.
Have you ever opened up your home in a very public way?
It happened. Remember, I said it was inevitable? Last week was a doozy: we had to combat head lice. I am happy to report that we are now lice free and probably have the cleanest carpets and bedding around. But it wasn’t easy.
There’s no question that lice are creepy and annoying, but they’re not harmful. They also don’t discriminate. They claim the scalps of school age children in the US, just as they do in France. I still managed to slip into full panic mode once the discovery was made. I wasn’t prepared and felt helpless and vulnerable.
Based on my completely irrational reaction I’ve decided to pass along to you what I’ve learned from my lice adventure. Hopefully, this will help you be better prepared for the inevitable.
How do you know when you have lice?
You will know. You might see little bugs. There might be a very itchy scalp, although not everyone itches since itching is actually an allergic reaction to the louses saliva. If you want to know what you are looking for just Google lice!
How do you know if there are nits?
Nits are lice eggs and look like tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots before they hatch. Nits look sort of like dandruff, only they can’t be removed by brushing or shaking them off.
Are you scratching your head yet?
What NOT to do once you discover you have lice
Don’t buy every over–the-counter remedy like I did. I spent a lot of money and they didn’t work.
What you SHOULD do when you have lice
Buy The LiceMeister® Comb. Buy one NOW-before you have lice. When they do decide to show up you will be armed. This comb works.
If you must use products (we didn’t), only use non-toxic and pesticide free products.
Call a nitpicker to help comb through the hair. It’s a big investment so you need to decide if it’s worth it. I was very overwhelmed when we discovered all 5 of us had lice. This was the route we chose since we couldn’t imagine combing through each person’s hair (it literally takes hours).
If you don’t want to make the nitpicker investment, buzz off the hair so that it’s under 1/8th of an inch. We will be choosing this option if there’s a next time.
How to get rid of them
All towels, bedding, stuffed animals, hats and anything else that may have come in contact with our heads was placed in the dryer (on high heat) for 30-40 minutes.
All carpets and upholstered furniture were thoroughly vacuumed.
Scan through the hair with your eyes and look for nits. Pull them out (ewww, but necessary). Use your LiceMeister comb to help pull them out.
After the hair has been combed through and there are no nits or bugs, grab a bottle of olive oil. Using olive oil suffocates and smothers any remaining lice. We applied olive oil to our hair that night and slept with it. We combed our hair out in the morning with The LiceMeister® Comband then washed the out the olive oil.
Continue to comb through everyone’s hair daily and continue to do so for the next few weeks. Use the olive oil treatments every few days and keep checking. My guess is that I will comb thorough our hair every few days throughout the year.
Blow dryer heat isn’t hot enough to kill them.
The pesticide laden treatments filled with toxic chemicals and the all natural treatments probably won’t work.
Lice can’t jump from head to head. They spread by direct contact.
Be diligent and check those heads. Any other tricks for lice removal?
Disclaimer: This is my opinion and this is what worked for us. I am not a medical professional nor do I play one on TV. Please seek medical attention if you discover you have lice.
Disclosure: There is an Amazon Affiliate link in this post. If you use it to buy a product it will place a few pennies in my pocket. Thanks!
Lori Popkewitz Alper, Founder and Editor of Groovy Green Livin, provides eco-wellness consulting for businesses, schools, homes and individuals; and inspiration for a greener lifestyle through her Groovy Green Livin blog and website. Read more….