Two of my three boys left for sleepaway camp this week. It was challenging on many levels for all of us. This is the third summer for my oldest and he was excited to go. Not so for the middle guy. He was anxious and unsure. He’s heard us talking about summer camp for years and it was finally his turn. But not knowing what to expect is scary, especially when you’re 11. His brother and 5 cousins joined him on his journey, which provided some comfort, but there was still ambivalence. Not to mention I was a mess, but tried desperately not to let them know.
Both boys put their best foot forward and traveled by car, plane and bus to camp. Now in the arms of the camp, the same camp I trusted as a camper and staff member, they’re off to create their own adventures and memories. I finally have a smile on my face knowing that they’re safe and hopefully having as much fun at sleepaway camp as I did.
In hindsight there are a few things which were helpful in our sleepaway camp preparations.
Whether your child is headed away for the first time or is a veteran hopefully these tips will help them prepare for their own sleepaway camp experience.
Have a sleepover or two. Nothing like a practice run before sending your children off for a few weeks away from home. A sleepover is a simple way to get them used to being away from home overnight.
Before camp starts get in touch with other campers. This was incredibly helpful. We participated in a conference call that the camp organized with campers from all over the country. The campers had an opportunity to ask questions and have them answered immediately. Just by seeing the faces of other first-time campers my son realized that he wasn’t the only one.
Involve your child in thepacking.Packing for camp is a big job and at times it would probably be easier to do it all on your own without child involvement. Having your child participate in the packing is crucial. They begin to come to terms with going to camp. It becomes real. They also need to know what they’re bringing with them. My sons were very excited while we were packing together once they saw all of the ‘fun’ equipment being packed into the bag. We packed a fancy flashlight, a fan with a water mister, an organizer to hang on the bunk and other camp necessities.
Get ready to be unplugged.Many camps have ‘no technology’ policy in place. Our camp just implemented a “Interactive Screen-Free” policy this year. That means no screen time while at camp. Personally I love this. My kids don’t get a lot of screen time at home, but it’s nice to think that they’re going to a place where everyone will be in the same boat and they actually have to talk to each other! Imagine that. Make sure your child is aware of this policy.
Talk about feelings. About a month before camp we started checking in with the kids about how they were feeling. Our goal was to open a door for an opportunity to share their feelings about being away from home. There were times when the discussions didn’t lead anywhere and other times when the floodgates opened.
What advice would you give to someone headed to sleepaway camp for the first time?
People ARE all different. Such a simple phrase, but one that says so much.
Over the years I’ve witnessed children doing unsolicited random acts of kindness. Something so sweet that it takes your breath away leaving you with just a smile. Many times there aren’t words to explain the tremendous impact of their actions. Often times they’re too little to understand why what they’ve done is so powerful.
Do you know that feeling? Maybe your child or someone else’s held a door for a disabled person in a wheelchair without being asked or maybe that same child stood up for someone being bullied on the playground just because it was the right thing to do.
My nine year old drew me this picture a few days ago and when he handed it to me I just smiled. I asked if it would be OK to share and he looked a bit surprised then said “yes”.
After the artwork had been handed over I gave some thought as to why this particular picture made me smile. I think it was the realization that my child actually noticed that people are all different, yet they can all stand united together hand-in-hand. I then took it a step further and inferred from his picture that he meant to say people are all different, but we can all get along.
What’s your favorite proud kid moment as a parent, aunt, uncle or friend?
For those of you who are registered voters please take the time on Tuesday to vote. Your vote will make a difference.
When I launched this site few years ago I made a conscious decision not to take a political stance on my blog. I wanted this to be a safe space for all and have always welcomed differing opinions. If you know me well you know that I have very strong political views and share them freely and openly with friends, family and those who ask. But for the most part I’ve kept my political opinions out of this space and will continue to do so, although I have to tell you I’m having a very difficult time holding back during this election.
Big issues at stake
Many of the issues I have chosen to write about over the years have been what I consider nonpartisan issues-these issues cross party lines and I view them as more important than politics. Most of the issues that I cover have something in common- protecting our children and giving them a voice. Over the past year I’ve asked Procter & Gamble to remove a toxic chemical from their Tide Free & Gentle laundry detergent, I’ve marched in Washington DC to ask our Senators to vote in favor of the Safe Chemicals Act and I started a petition asking Disney to take harmful chemicals out of their princess and Spiderman lunch boxes marketed to children. I’ve written a lot about GMOs and our right to know what’s in our food. These issues are issues that I would hope all of us care about, regardless of political parties and party allegiances. I’ve aligned myself with organizations that care about these issues. I’m a blogger for Moms Clean Air Force- an organization that is fighting for our kids health-all of our kids regardless of party preference. I’m a Parent Ambassador for Healthy Child Healthy World, an organization that ignites the movement that empowers parents to protect children from harmful chemicals. Through all of these channels it is my hope to give children a voice to be heard and protected.
Give Children a Voice. Vote.
This election I’m having a very hard time holding back. There are so many issues at stake that are near and dear to my heart and I’m frightened. Please don’t take your right to vote for granted. Take the time on Tuesday to head to the polls and exercise your voice and your right to vote in favor of those issues that matter most. Think of it as using your voice to speak for those who can’t-whether it’s a child or someone who is unable to catch a ride to the polls. I’m voting on Tuesday for my children and all of yours. Won’t you join me?
I’m heading to the polls nice and early with all three of my boys. What’s your plan for Tuesday?
Please head on over to Big Green Purse to see why others are heading out to vote.
On April 22, 2012 more than one billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day 2012. Earth Day is a day earmarked for action; a chance to show how important the environment is to you. The message of Earth Day can expand far beyond this one day-it can be a theme carried over into our everyday actions and efforts.
In celebration of Earth Day Cascadian Farm sent me an Earth Day Celebration Kit. It arrived in an awesome picnic basket and included Cascadian Farm products, VIP coupons for free products and recipe ideas, along with an extra kit for a giveaway to one lucky reader of Groovy Green Livin!
It’s baseball season for two of my sons, which translates to being out on a baseball field most nights of the week. Trying to squeeze in a decent meal is somewhat tricky, but with a little planning we are able to stick with our healthy eating habits. In keeping with the tradition of celebrating Earth Day every day, we decided to pick a random night and prepare an organic feast together.
My kids love to cook, so it was relatively easy to get them involved in the process. I’ve learned over the years that when they help out they are more likely to eat the final product. We picked out a few recipes from the recipe booklet that was sent along in the kit. Each recipe used some of the great products from Cascadian Farm.
Buying organic is always the better option. Organic food is free of pesticides and other toxins commonly found in conventional products. It’s not always possible and can be cost prohibitive, but we try to buy organic as much as possible. It’s also important to remember that organic doesn’t always mean healthy. It’s important to read the ingredients in every product, organic or conventional.
We started off with roasted vegetable pizza
Added Spa Smoothies for dessert
If you want to join in the fun and create your own organic feast in celebration of Earth day hop on over to the Cascadian Farm Facebook page. You’ll find great recipes, including the pizza and smoothie recipes used in our feast.
Now’s your chance to try out Cascadian Farm products! One lucky Groovy Green Livin reader will receive their very own picnic basket from Cascadian Farm filled with all sorts of goodies (Value $60!).
The giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Christopher S. and thank you to all who entered!
For another opportunity to win this kit, Tiffany at Nature Moms is also giving one away. Check that out HERE.
A few weeks ago my 11 year old son woke up not feeling well. He stayed home from school that day and ended up missing part one of ‘The 5th Grade Video’. You know which video I’m talking about-most of us have seen it (or some variation of it) during our own childhood. The movie is a rite of passage for 5th graders and the kickoff into the world of puberty.
My son was pretty disappointed that he missed ‘The Video’. The disappointment quickly turned to horror when he realized the DVD would be sent home and we would watch it TOGETHER. For those of you who don’t have children, this is the WORST possible scenario for a 5th grade boy: mom, son, popcorn and the puberty video. No giggling allowed.
We sat down with my laptop and plugged in our headphones. I’m pretty much an open book when it comes to this stuff, so the video was no big deal to me. Not so for him. We were instructed only to watch the ‘boy’ segment. After 18 minutes of watching him squirm we turned it off and I asked if there was any new info. He proudly exclaimed “nope”.
Deodorant and antiperspirant for 5th graders
Then came the amazing part: we launched into a very interesting discussion about deodorant. The video stressed over and over that the boys should start wearing deodorant. There was also mention of antiperspirant.
My son walked away from that 18 minute video with one piece of new information. He needs to buy deodorant and he needs to wear it NOW.
I walked away from the video with very mixed feelings. Not every 5th grader needs deodorant. No 5th grader should be wearing antiperspirant. As we all know, kids develop at different rates. There might be some kids out there who have begun puberty and are offensively smelly. Yep-deodorant might help them out in the social scene. But it really comes down to personal choice, not a video mandating that they wear it.
We need to provide education about deodorant and antiperspirant
Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants contain controversial aluminum and their ingredient list is long and filled with other suspicious chemicals that I don’t want on my body and I certainly don’t want on my 11 year old’s body. The video didn’t mention any of that.
We are a culture obsessed with smelling pretty. Take a stroll down the deodorant isle at any supermarket and the options are endless. A recent poll of over 500 parents revealed that approximately 50% of children ages 4 to 11 are using deodorant by age 11.
Say no to antiperspirants
Aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredients in antiperspirants and they block the sweat glands to keep sweat from getting to the skin’s surface. Some scientists have claimed that using the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer and/or Alzheimer’s. If you are determined to use a product use deodorant (not antiperspirant).
Overall ‘The Video’ was filled with the perfect amount of information for a 5th grade mind. Thankfully, for the moment my son has forgotten about deodorant. I’m sure we’ll be revisiting this discussion soon.
How would you handle the 5th grade deodorant debate?
When my kids were really small, we had a lot of fun with the pronunciation (or mispronunciation) of these three foods. Edamame was called “ate-a –mommy” for many years. Quinoa was pronounced “king-wop” and Tempeh was “that stuff”. We have come a long way and I think we finally have the pronunciations down pat. While working through the correct food speak, we also worked hard to incorporate these three foods into our eclectic and healthy diet.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)
As much as quinoa looks like a grain, it isn’t actually a grain. It is a seed from a broad-leafed plant that is closely related to beets and spinach. Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain. It’s also perfect for those on a gluten free diet. It’s high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, and is a source of calcium, B vitamins and fiber. It can be prepared in many different ways. The most simple is preparing it in a similar fashion to rice.
The taste and texture of quinoa is a bit like brown rice crossed with oatmeal and a hint of nuts.
Tempeh is relatively new to those of us in the west, but it’s been a staple for hundreds of years for many living in Asia. Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and formed into a rectangular patty. The consistency is similar to that of a veggie burger. Many use it as a meat substitute in dishes. I’ve used it in chili, stir-fry and on the grill. As with any soy product, it should be eaten in moderation.
Tempeh has a textured and nutty flavor. I like to add tempeh to my favorite marinade and stir fry them together.
Edamame is by far one of my kid’s top side dishes-probably because they are so much fun to eat. Edamame is just a fancy name for boiled soybeans. They technically aren’t considered a vegetable, they’re a legume. The beans are boiled in their thick pods and a little coarse salt is sprinkled on top. After they are cooked the green edamame are popped out to eat. Sometimes they can fly pretty high-depending upon who’s doing the popping. Edamame are chock-full of protein, fiber and Vitamin A and C.
The soybeans are crunchy and delicious. Add a little coarse salt to taste and you won’t be able to stop eating them. As with any soy product, edamame should be eaten in moderation.
Have you tried edamame, tempeh or quinoa? What’s your favorite way to eat them?
Disclaimer: Before adding any soy to your diet please check with your physician to make sure it’s appropriate for you.
It’s very rare these days to find a morning when we have no plans. This past Sunday was one of those mornings when we were all home with nothing to do. We decided it would be the perfect time for our much anticipated eggsperiment.
What’s an eggsperiment?
We have been part of a CSA for many years and recently opted in to receive half a dozen organic fresh eggs each week directly from the farm. Prior to our CSA we were buying organic eggs mainly from our local Whole Foods Market. We have quite a few friends and family members who have chickens and have been raving about their delicious farm fresh eggs. Chickens are not in our future so our CSA was the way to go if we wanted fresh eggs. It was time to put the eggs to the test and have a family taste off.
Which eggs were better: CSA or organic store bought eggs?
We whipped up two batches of scrambled eggs-each in a separate stainless steel pan. One was chock-full of organic eggs from the farm and the other filled with organic store bought eggs.
Our three boys eagerly sat down at the table to begin the taste test. We suggested blindfolds-that didn’t go over too well. They promised to close their eyes with no peeking.
We started with the oldest. The first scoop of egg went into his mouth with his eyes shut tight. His two brothers watched him begin to chew-waiting for a comment. He methodically chewed, savoring every bite. Nothing-no comments, no nothing. He rinsed his mouth with a little water (we decided ahead of time this would make it very official). Then he took his next bite. Again, chewing slowly and swallowing. He opened his big brown eyes and out came a few words in his deceptively deep voice: “These are the farm share eggs” as he pointed to one side of the plate. He was right. We decided to pry a little to see if he had made an educated guess or just a plain old guess. He reasoned that they tasted “fresher and juicier”. Juicier: an interesting choice of words to describe scrambled eggs. He also noted the farm share eggs were brighter in color, had more white specks and were smaller.
Our youngest son repeated the process and made many of the same comments. We probably should have put them in separate rooms to keep the eggsperiment official, but that wouldn’t have been any fun.
The middle guy had no interest in closing his eyes at all. He just wanted to eat the eggs-and he did. No comment.
We all voted and the farm share eggs won.
The farm share eggs were quite a bit smaller than store bought eggs.
The farm eggs were a bit brighter in color than the store bought eggs.
The farm share eggs tasted fresher-I’m not sure how to describe this. I think you will have to have a taste test yourself.
Overall it was a fun and different way to eat eggs together on a Sunday morning.
Why buy organic eggs? To learn more about the non-toxic and great green reasons to buy organic eggs head on over to Practically Green.
Have you done an eggsperiment? Do you buy organic eggs?
I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I continue on my journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I just might stop to make some noise about issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I fight for a safer world for all of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes in your life can lead to a non-toxic, healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.