Family

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We recently spent some fun family time at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California. There is something so sweet and nostalgic about beach boardwalks. One of my favorite dating-my-now-husband memories was a trip we took to Ocean City’s Boardwalk in New Jersey early in our relationship. We also lived as a newly married couple in Rye, New York where we had our own beach boardwalk and Rye Playland. Rye Playland was the amusement park featured at the end of the movie Big starring Tom Hanks.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk | photo: Christopher Gabriel

While we were enjoying the sun and sand at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, I was impressed with the commitment that was shown to the environment. From well placed recycling bins to prohibiting Styrofoam from all the food venues, the thoughtfulness that they put into keeping their environmental impact small was evident.

To read my article about HOW THE SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK PRESERVES THE ENVIRONMENT, visit http://earth911.com/living-well-being/travel-living/santa-cruz-beach-boardwalk/.

Plinko at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk | photo: Wendy Gabriel

The Sky Glider at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk | photo: Wendy Gabriel

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During summer vacation I’m always looking for fun, healthy ways to get outdoors with my family. We all enjoy hiking, walks to get frozen yogurt and trips to the beach.

On one of our hikes,we thought it would be fun to create a Nature Scavenger Hunt. Here’s what I came up with:

Click on link to print: Nature Scavenger Hunt

What you’ll need:

  • Print out the Nature Scavenger Hunt or make your own
  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • Bucket or bag (in case you find some nature “collectibles”)

Be sure to customize your scavenger hunt to your local surroundings. Especially for younger children who will get tired quicker, suggest ideas of items that you know will be easy to find in your area. For older kids, to increase the difficultly, have a timed scavenger hunt.

Now get outdoors and have some fun!

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I’m always looking for practical ways for my family to reduce waste – especially plastic waste. Looking at the big picture and stepping outside what’s convenient is important when trying to reduce our family’s impact on the environment.

The Girls

From Earth911.com:

“Traveling from land to sea in the wind or through waterways, plastic pollution is causing extensive damage to our marine life and giving life to one of the greatest ecological disasters of our times.”

I send my girls to school each day with a homemade lunch. They have reusable lunch bags and reusable containers in multiple sizes. Now, thanks to the amazing folks at StrawSleeves, we have some new additions to the lunchbox.

 StrawSleeves Multi-utensil Pack

This multi-utensil pack is not just handy for tucking in a lunchbox, it can be popped into your purse or tucked in the car for road trips. Bottom line, it’s a convenient way to carry reusable utensils so you don’t have to accept disposable plastic ones.

Lunchbox essentials

StrawSleeves Straw Sleeve

This handy reusable straw holder is made from reclaimed denim. Pictured below with a bamboo and a reed straw from StrawSleeves.

StrawSleeves with lunchbox

From StrawSleeves:

“Bring your own reusable straw in this Cloth Sleeve made to hold and carry almost any design of reusable straws in 8 to 9 inch length. This light denim straw sleeve is made of reclaimed denim in a cotton blend. The design is self lined and triple stitched to ensure durability and stand up to frequent washings. It is machine washable and can also be hand washed. The invisible ‘inner cuff’ holds the straw securely and requires no fasteners. You can easily access and replace your straw in the pocket with each use allowing you to refuse disposable options when offered a single use plastic straw.”

The StrawSleeves site also carries reusable straws, straw cleaning brushes and stainless steel spoon straws. To find out more and purchase your own StrawSleeves products, visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/StrawSleeves/.

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I love making to-do lists. Mostly because if I don’t write it down, it usually doesn’t happen. My sister joked recently that her boys call her notebook her “brain.” Maybe it’s hereditary. And since I relish writing things down, I really enjoy a good list of New Year’s Resolutions.

Here’s one of mine for 2017:

Limit screen time for myself and the girls (for real this time)

I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to limit screen time but it always seems to end up back where we started… waaay too much screen time. And, since it seems like all my oldest daughter’s friends have the latest iPhone and all of them participate on all the social media platforms they possibly can, limiting her screen time has gotten harder and harder. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that our kids “are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices.” Yikes!

There are plenty of studies showing a link between too much screen time or poor quality screen time and:

  • Obesity
  • Irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep
  • Behavioral problems
  • Loss of social skills
  • Violence
  • Less time for play

And while researching an article I’m writing for Earth911, I learned a lot of disturbing information about those volatile rechargeable lithium ion batteries that are inside those devices that provide all that screen time…

According to Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, lead author of the “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report” and assistant professor at UCLA, an average day includes “school, homework time, at least one hour of physical activity, social contact and sleep — which is anywhere from eight to 12 hours for kids. Whatever’s left over can be screen time.” Source: CNN.com

Instead of taking away screen time, I’m going to try to make ways to encourage non-screen time activities. For example, instead of interacting with a screen, we are going to find more outside activities to do as a family.

Hiking at Shaver Lake

 

Make more trips to our local library… we have one so close, we can walk to it which is an added bonus.

Visiting the library with cousins

To find out more about Media and Young Minds, visit http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162591. You can also make a Family Media Use Plan with this helpful tool at www.healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan.

 

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Giving Tuesday is an international day of giving that takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving which falls on November 29th this year. It’s a day where people across the world come together to make gifts to organizations that mean something to them. The great thing about Giving Tuesday is that anyone can participate—whether you give $1 or $100 or $1000, your donations support organizations that make an impact. This means that YOU are making a direct impact on the causes that matter to you.

#givingtuesday

How Can You Participate?

1.  Give a donation to a worth cause or charity. Here are a few if you need some ideas:

Healthy Schools Campaign is an amazing organization who’s mission is to ensure that all children have access to healthy school environments where they can learn and thrive.

To find out more about Healthy Schools Campaign, visit https://healthyschoolscampaign.org/.

gt-facebook

The Daughter Project is a sustainable and asset-based approach to the prevention of girl child trafficking and systematic abuse that specifically targets cultural values driving abuse, neglect and exploitation. “Trafficking in humans is considered one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world today. It is now estimated to be a $32 billion industry, affecting 161 countries worldwide.” It’s heartbreaking that our children are being exploited in this manner. The Daughter Project is making a difference but they need the funds to keep extending the help these sweet girls need.

To find out more about The Daughter Project, visit http://www.daughterproject.org/.

No Kid Hungry is a campaign working to end childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. One in 5 children in the US struggles with hunger, your donation would help No Kid Hungry surround kids with healthy food where they live, learn and play.

For more information about No Kid Hungry, visit https://www.nokidhungry.org/.

There are many local, national and international organizations that help children, families, the environment… if you’re able, plan to help one of them this year during Giving Tuesday. We are stronger when we work together and when all of us are healthy, happy and safe.

2.  Give by buying gifts that give back. There are many companies that give back when a purchase is made. Tom’s, for example, helps a person in need each time one of their products is sold. Take a look at your holiday shopping list and see if you could help others while buying your gifts this year.

3.  Give of your time. Many times, giving of yourself is even more helpful than money for some organizations. Look around your local community and sign up to volunteer at your local school, church, charity or food bank. Or call your local blood bank and set up a time to give blood. Rake a neighbor’s yard. Shovel snow down the sidewalk of your entire block. Bake cookies for your mailman.

Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.  ~Roy T. Bennett

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GREEN TIP: When the little trick-or-treaters knock on your door this Halloween, give them healthy treats that also treat the environment kindly.

Before you head out the door with your own little trick-or-treaters, make sure you’ve feed them a healthy and hearty dinner. This way, they’ll be less likely to fill up on sugary treats during your walk around the neighborhood.

Eco-friendly Candy

There are a number of different eco-friendly candies now available at your local grocery stop, health food stores or co-ops. These organic candies can provide Halloween treats that are a little friendlier for your trick-or-treaters and are produced using methods that are gentler on the environment.

My favorite find: Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop. Not only are they a Minnesota company and the official kettle corn (just one of their awesome flavors) of the Minnesota Vikings, the products are whole grain, vegan, Og trans fats, non-GMO, certified Kosher and certified gluten-free. This is one of my girls’ favorite snacks and a great Halloween treat option.

Non-GMO candy

Or Avoid Candy Altogether

Another option is to avoid candy altogether and to give your trick-or-treaters useful treats, such as colorful pencils, small boxes of crayons, or erasers in fun shapes.

Other ideas:

  • Fun magnets
  • Seed paper/bookmarks for planting or reading
  • Wash off tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Craft kits (Michael’s has fun craft kits for $1.00)
  • Adhesive bandages with fun themes
  • Barrettes or other hair things
  • Mini pumpkins or gourds
  • Fun toothbrushes
  • Unfinished wood items
  • Decorated pencils
  • Polished stones

Be Sure to Reuse and Recycle

If you don’t already compost, Halloween is a great time to start. You can add post-Halloween jack-o-lanterns to your compost bin, along with fallen leaves, food scraps, and other organic, biodegradable yard and household waste.

Compost creates excellent soil for your garden. You might even use the compost from your backyard bin to help grow the pumpkins that will become next year’s jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pies.

If you are interested in composting, your local hardware store, garden center, county extension service, or waste disposal agency should be able to help you get started.

Instead of throwing away your Halloween decorations each year, store and reuse them year after year, just as you do decorations for many other holidays. Source: About.com, Environmental Issues

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As part of my partnership with Ecocentric Mom, I receive one of their monthly subscription boxes for review. Ecocentric Mom Box for October 2015

This is how it works: 

Ecocentric Mom is a natural/green health/home/beauty product discovery subscription service that gives you three different box options: Mom-to-be, Baby Box, or Mom Box. Boxes ship monthly. Ecocentric Mom works hard to pack the very best of the best in each and every box… and they deliver (pun intended)!

The October Mom Discovery Box is full of products I would never have discovered on my own. It’s a great service to learn about healthier products that can reduce the amount of toxins in your household.

Here’s a look at the great products I received this month and I’ve included some discount codes that you can use also:

EccoBella Cocoa Soft Eyeliner Pencil (full size $17.95) I love this company’s philosophy – as an “activist” company, they source ingredients from ethical suppliers of organic materials and stay away from ingredients that may cause harm to people or the environment. They speak out on behalf of animals and the environment at every opportunity. Just my kind of company AND they have a plethora of amazing products. Check them all out at http://www.eccobella.com/

Silk Therapeutics Silk Therapeutics Nourishing Moisturizer / Silk Therapeutics Intensive C Serum (moisturizer $45, serum $60) Silk Therapeutics is dedicated to providing skincare products that deliver immediate benefits and are free of harsh preservatives and harmful chemicals. The Silk products are ideal for all skin types, including those with the most sensitive skin. “Silk protein surrounds, protects and delivers the full benefits of our active ingredients.”

Go to http://silktherapeutics.com/ to take a look at the wonderful Silk products and use promo code “ECOMOM” to save 20% on your order.

Birtsy’s Brainfood Smart Cookies (5 oz. resealable bag $4.99) OH MY GOODNESS! These cookies Bitsy's Brainfood Smart Cookieswere delicious! At Bitsy’s, they’re on a mission to make great food that starts with a simple belief – healthy bodies and healthy minds are connected, and learning to eat smart should be fun. Every day, they work to make mega-delicious, ultra-nutritious foods for your kids and their own, to nurture their bodies, minds and imaginations and to inspire them to learn and grow. Check out their website at http://www.bitsysbrainfood.com/, it’s adorable.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts (8 oz. $8.99) Manitoba Harvest is the largest hemp food manufacturer to sell, make and grow their own line of hemp food (including Hemp Hearts, hemp protein powder and their brand new Hemp Heart Bites). As a B-Corp certified company, they are also passionate about promoting health and wellness and fostering positive change for the community and the environment. I have been using the Hemp Hearts in salads to give my family the healthy Omega 3s and 6s and a ton of protein.

Take a look at their products at http://manitobaharvest.com/ and get 20% off Hemp Hearts with promo code “ecochhh1115.”

Lasting Smiles Organic Lip Balm (.15 oz. $4.99) I am LOVING this product! It smells amazing, it really work and the company is incredible! Lasting Smiles lip balms are organic and Fair Trade Certified (yay!) with pure and moisturizing ingredients sourced from small scale global farming cooperatives. Not only will your Organic Lip Balm keep your lips feeling great but it will help to fund a cleft lip surgery – transforming a child’s life forever! Visit http://lastingsmilescare.com/ to find out more.

Ellovi ButterEllovi Mint Chocolate Butter Minis (3.5 oz. $26) Every Ellovi product is made with six wildly harvested ingredients so pure you can eat them which is good because my 8 year old is in love with this product. She slathers it all over and keeps telling me it smells good enough to eat. Ellovi promises that the butter will soak in deep and keep your skin intensely hydrated and nourished for days. 

Go to http://www.ellovi.com/ to get some of your own and use promo code “Ecocentricmom” for a 15% discount, maybe I’ll see you there.

People Towels Logo a Go Go Towel ($3.99) People Towels are an on-the-go, sustainable alternative to paper towels. It comes with a convenient hangtag so I can clip it to a backpack, picnic basket or purse. AND it’s made of 100% organic Fair Trade Cotton! I will be getting more of these, they are a perfect addition to my girls’ lunch boxes.

Go to http://peopletowels.com/ to see their adorable designs which are printed with earth friendly dyes. Use promo code “ecomom15″for a 10% discount.

Disclosure: I am a part of the Ecocentric Mom Blogger Team and receive monthly subscription boxes for review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Affiliate links appear in this post.

Ecocentric Mom Box

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I was extremely honored to be asked recently to be a part of Sheaffer Pen’s #LifeStories campaign. Sheaffer Pen’s and I go way back. In middle school, I really became interested in calligraphy and hand lettering. My uncle, an amazing artist, gave me a Sheaffer Calligraphy Set to get me started. He was such an inspiration and I miss him dearly (he died when he was only 38 years old). So Sheaffer Pen has since been a reminder to me of him and his talent.

Sheaffer Pen #lifestories

Christopher was also asked to be a feature in the campaign. I’m so proud of him and the way he has completely immersed himself into talk radio for all the right reasons. He opens his heart and mind to his listeners every day and he does it with humor, intelligence and respect.

Sheaffer Pen #lifestories

This was another one of my favorite Sheaffer Pen #LifeStories, Mindy Lockard, The Gracious Girl. Mindy is an amazing woman who lives and breathes gracious living at it’s most authentic.

Sheaffer Pen, #lifestories

For more of Sheaffer Pen’s #LifeStores, check out their site at http://sheaffer.com/, Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/Sheaffer_Page and Instagram at https://instagram.com/sheafferpen/.

 

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It’s been waaay too long since my last post! My life has been turned upside down and I’m still trying to catch my breath.

So here’s a quick update:

Right before Christmas 2014, Christopher (husband of My Green Side) was flown to California for a job interview with a radio station in a market significantly higher than the Fargo radio market. They loved him and, while we were in Wisconsin at my family’s farm for Christmas, the negotiations began.

One of my favorite ornaments. Made by Missy

Christmas 2014

It became very clear, very quickly that the Gabriel Family was going to be making a move. Soon the contract was signed, family and friends were told and arrangements were made. If I missed sending a personal note to anyone, I apologize! In my defense, it was a whirlwind trying to get everything done and moved. I wanted to make sure the girls saw everyone they wanted to see before we left so I am beyond thankful that we were able to spend time with a lot of our extended family during Christmas. And, frankly, I’m still getting used to the idea that we’re actually living in California!

CG studio shot

Christopher’s last day on the air at WDAY AM 970 and the girls last day of school in Fargo was January 9th. We then commenced saying goodbyes to dear friends, neighbors, our favorite babysitter, classmates, teachers, doctors… I have tears in my eyes now as I remember all the people I love and miss in that part of the world.

The Hotel Donaldson, Fargo

The moving truck arrived and, on January 16th, we were on our way from Fargo to Fresno. We drove the 2,000 miles to give the girls a chance to see parts of our beautiful country that they had never seen before. The weather was incredible and our mini-vacation was so much fun. Seeing sights like the Rocky Mountains through their eyes is an experience I will always treasure.

Fargo to Fresno mug

Fargo to Fresno mug in NebraskaA frozen waterfall in the Rocky Mountains

 

 

 

On January 22nd, Christopher was on air for the first broadcast of The Christopher Gabriel Program in Fresno, California. On the following Monday the girls started at their new school. The people at their school are lovely and as an added bonus, we are close enough to walk.

Since we’ve been in California, we’ve made multiple trips to the Sierra Nevada’s and Shaver Lake, Monterey and Carmel, Yosemite, Disneyland and gorgeous areas within our own community. We feel extremely blessed to be here and hope to be a positive addition to this area.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Words can’t express how proud I am of Christopher and how he manages to bring his intelligence, sense of humor and humanity to his program each and every day. I hope that talk radio everywhere looks at his model and learns that anyone can scream and yell but it takes a real professional to let everyone be heard with respect and civility. We will never get anything worthwhile done in our homes, in our school or in our government unless we learn to really listen to each other and be respectful no matter which side of an issue you are on. Didn’t we all learn to treat each other the way we want to be treated?

I continue to write for 1800Recycling.com but will not be on Christopher’s program for a Simple Tips for Green Living segment (at least not until we’re all completely settled into our new normal). I am excited to discover what God has in store for this new chapter in my life.

Our neighbor's palm tree

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

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Porter Family Adoption Sale

My girls with two of the Porter children doing an advertising blitz for the big sale!

The Porters have become very important to our family during the last few years in Fargo. They are neighbors and friends but those descriptive words do not begin to describe what this family means to us. They are on a journey to adopt a special needs baby from China.

They have three children, a dog, they homeschool, they eat a local, organic and mostly vegan diet… they are perfect. But they are perfect in a way that makes you want to do better yourself, not in a way that makes you feel imperfect.

Why am I telling you all of this, you may be asking yourself… well, this beautiful family is having a Garage/Junk Sale this week to raise funds towards the adoption process. If you’re in the Fargo Moorhead Area, please drop by and give them your support! Oh, and Missy Porter is a crafty artist so I know they’ll be some really adorable things to buy. The kids will be selling lemonade, “pony” rides and baked goods.

There will be something for everyone!

The details:

  • Wednesday, August 21st to Friday, August 23rd
  • 8am to 7pm
  • 1518 10th St S, Fargo

If you’d like to make a monetary donation, visit www.mommyslittlepeanuts.blogspot.com and click on the donate button.

 

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