Category Archives: Family

Get Your Kids Interested in the Environment

Remember the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax? We may have had no idea what it was about when we read it on our own, but if you had a parent who read the book to you and explained that it was about the steadily decreasing environment or you figured it out as you got older. I still love that book and it is now more than ever before where we really need to pay more attention to the world around us. More importantly, as we become more and more passionate about the environment, we will want to instill those same priorities in our children and the most exciting and fun way to do that is to share the love of books.

Children learn a great deal from books, including books that are read to them when they are younger. There are a great deal of books written specifically for children about the environment.

First and foremost, we have The Lorax:
Definitely inspired by the “save the planet” mindset of the 1960s, The Lorax is a warning of ecological deterioration of clear-cutting, pollution and the complete disregard humans have for the environment.

A Walk in the Rainforest:
An ABC book that presents ecological information for young audiences featuring animals and plants found in the rain forest accompanied by a paragraph of each with warnings about endangered species, deforestation and the harm to native people.

I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle:
A book all about how children can do their part in saving the planet by being more eco-friendly featuring a little monster named Max who, after being an environmental nightmare, learns how he can make a difference in the world around him.

Planet Earth Gets Well:
A book that encourages kids to think about the world around them and pinpoints how to initiative meaningful change in order to make the planet a healthier place.

Follow the Line Around the World:
This book follows the line through the Sahara Desert, Greenland, Kenya, Australia’s Outback and many other places to take young children around the world and see animals in their natural habitats with a subtle environmental message.

Eco Babies Wear Green:
A book specially for babies and preschoolers about babies going the extra mile to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The Economy May be Hurting Your Pets

cat dog USA Today has reported that animal shelters are experiencing an increase in pet intakes. As we’ve seen throughout the past handful of months, home foreclosures are affecting middle-class Americans everywhere. In addition to home foreclosures, money in general has been dwindling for average families which could have a negative effect on your pets.

Many families are finding that their income is hardly covering basic necessities, leaving more and more pets unable to be given the care that they need and deserve. It is very heartbreaking to have to give up a pet, especially a pet that has been such a beloved part of your family and even more heartbreaking is the fact that animal shelters can only have so many pets and as more animals are being given up, animal shelters are becoming overcrowded and pets, again, are not given the care and especially the attention that they need.

It is important that we, as middle-class Americans take precautions in order to ward off our homes being foreclosed or finding ourselves even deeper in debt than we are already. There are also a set of precautions a family must take in order to ensure that your pet is given the care that they need and also to ensure that you are not faced with having to give your pet up. We know that the cost of living is increasing while our salaries are diminishing and anyone who has pets knows that the cost of pet ownership can also become a bit harder on our budgets as jobs are lost and salaries are cut. Just as we look for frugal living tips, it is possible and sometimes necessary to cut costs when it comes to taking care of our pets.

While I especially know how compelling pet toys can be, especially considering every time I’m at the store I find myself in the pet aisle looking at toys and knick-knacks that I am positive my cat will be delighted over, your pet can be just as happy with less expensive toys and even homemade toys. Veterinarian bills are prone to stack up over the years and fast if you have a cat or dog that roams freely outside. Keep your pets safe by keeping them on a leash while walking outside so they are less prone to accidents. You can also consult your veterinarian and tell them that you are on a low budget, that way if your pet needs medication, they can prescribe a medication that will work for your pet that also costs less. Just like humans have health insurance so if we do become ill and have to go to the hospital, we know that we don’t have to foot the entire bill ourselves, it is also beneficial to look into pet health insurance to minimize costs in cases of unexpected illness or injury.

These are just starting points, of course. You can also cut pet costs by buying cheaper pet food and other supplies and I am sure that there are cheaper options available for just about anything that you find yourself purchasing for you pet, such as treats. In the economy we are living in now, it is important to cut back when we can and to also ensure that our families, pets included, are getting what they need.

Barbie & The Diamond Castle DVD & Princess Dolls

Barbie and the Diamond Castle Barbie has entertained us all for years, she has been around for most of our childhoods and is continuing to bring joy to our children.

The Barbie entertainment collection has sold more than 48 million copies to date and are thrilled to introduce Barbie and Teresa in a DVD all about best friends, a magic mirror, a love of music and working together in Barbie & The Diamond Castle.

Barbie & The Diamond Castle begins with the two best friends practicing a guitar duet when a young girl runs in after having a fight with her best friend. Barbie starts to tell her a story about two friends who were put in danger because they had both thought that her friend had betrayed her, but of course, their friendship won out in the end. The friends, Liana (played by Barbie) and Alexa (played by Teresa) were one day given a magic mirror and found another girl, Melody, hiding inside of it.

Melody works with the three muses who use the magical Diamond Castle to spread music throughout the land, but one of the muses wants to be the sole ruler of music. With her magical flute and an evil serpent named Slider, the muse turns the other two muses into stone. Alexa and Liana’s mission is to help Melody rescue the muses and overthrow the muse’s reign as the sole ruler of music; but like all stories, the two friends face danger and deception along their way.

What I especially like about this movie is that it teaches young girls all about the power of friendship and how important it is, rather than romance. Although Ken does make an appearance, he does so to provide comic relief in the movie and plays two characters, Ian and Jeremy, who are traveling musicians on the road with their two puppies, Sparkles and Lily. What is also great about the traveling musicians is that they provide witty dialogue that is meant to keep parents who are watching the movie with their children interested, so if you do decide to make this movie the focal point of a family night or something fun to do to wind your children down before bed, it shouldn’t be too torturous for you.

Barbie This movie will be adored by young girls up to the age of 8. It is a modern fairy tale, one of the more realistic tales to be told by Mattel as far as fairy tales go, and was conjured up by a person with a true appreciation for music.

To complete the experience of Barbie & The Diamond Castle, your children will also love the Princess Liana and Princess Alexa dolls.

Princess Liana and Princess Alexa dolls are true princesses equipped with sparkly dresses that turn from simple dresses into magnificent ballgowns with a turn of a knob, they both have jeweled tiaras and pendants that light up. What I especially loved about the dolls is that they sing songs from the Barbie & The Diamond Castle movie and when they hold hands, they sing a duet together.

The dolls are both very durable, so you won’t have to worry about them breaking. The only thing that I did notice that may be a little problem with the dolls is that when you turn the knob to transform their dresses, you need to help the dress itself to turn over, the knob itself will not transform the dress completely.

Barbie These dolls are absolutely perfect for young girls, the only thing that I urge you to keep in mind, and I’m sure we all remember this from our own time playing with Barbies, is that their shoes are very tiny and very easy to choke on and of course, will most likely get lost within minutes of opening the packages. Besides the few qualms I had with the dolls, they were most definitely an immediate hit with my stepdaughters who are ages 3 and 4 and I am positive they will also be instantly adored by any young girl. If your children have not seen the Barbie & The Diamond Castle movie, they will still have a ball with these dolls, especially if you have children who are close in age where they can play with the dolls together and if they have seen the movie, they will love their dolls even more!

Ditch those Nasty Nappies

Did you know that babies go through about 6,700 diaper changes? Did you also know that for every 10,000 babies who use disposable diapers, we are filling up 113 dump trucks by the time those babies are potty trained? And all of those dump trucks have one destination–Landfills. Depositing 6,700 diapers per baby into landfills and letting Mother Earth become rich in waste and disease is horrible for the planet we all live in.

In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency gathered information and statistics on disposable diapers and found that diapers alone made up 3.4 million tons of waste and makes up 2.1% of the United States’ garbage. That is a whole lot of dirty diapers! While those statistics were taken over 10 years ago, the recent baby boom we have experienced within the last three years will prove to be even more hazardous to the planet, making up an even higher percentage of waste. Even worse, each diaper takes approximately 500 years to decompose. While I’m sure none of us would like 6,700 dirty diapers (per child in our household) sitting in our back yard for the next 500 years, why do we see nothing wrong with letting it sit in the same Earth we get our food and water from? Just because we can’t see it and don’t have to look or smell it every day, someone out there does and neighborhoods with a landfill near by also see a rise in disease, the most prominent and life-threatening being a myriad of types of cancer. Disposable diapers are also made with harsh chemicals that can harm your baby’s sensitive skin and because of its synthetic texture, disposable diapers are not comfortable, and babies are prone to develop rashes or allergies and we don’t want that!

So what can we do about it the 3.4 tons of waste and counting while also giving our children a healthier diaper that won’t harm their skin? Give reusable diapers a chance!

While it is easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about switching from disposable to reusable diapers, gDiapers offers a great starter kit idle for easing you into the transition due to the fact that they are flushable, decomposable diapers. There are many other options out there for your reusable diapering needs such as Fuzzi Bunz, Under the Nile and Nature BabyCare. Whatever brand you choose, you cannot go wrong when making the decision to give your baby a healthier, safer diaper choice and take a little pressure off Mother Nature.

Sniff Dogs: The Ultimate in Invasion of Privacy

sniff dogs Do you have a teenage child you suspect is doing drugs? Are you too scared of confrontation to say something to them about it? Sniff Dogs has the perfect solution: For only $200 an hour, you can now rent a retired drug sniffing dog to scout out the drugs in your home!

According to Sniff Dogs, a company founded by a mother who was surprised to learn her oldest son smokes marijuana, “half of American school children have tried marijuana and and most drug taking takes place when they get home from school.”

The company is confident in the animals’ ability to smell marijuana from up to 15 feet away and residue on clothing from drugs smoked two days earlier. When the dogs detect the drugs, they sit down, leaving the actual inspection to the parents.

Sniff Dogs claims their service is discreet, due to the fact that the search can be completed without the knowledge of your children. Critics claim the service may break down family trust.

Pat Winterstein, a New Jersey mother of three, used the Sniff Dogs service to search her childrens’ bedrooms and stated, “I trust my kids, but you can only trust them so far. They’re kids, young adults, they’re going to make a mistake.”

Talk about invasion of privacy and lack of trust… If you have kids that you suspect are doing drugs, my suggestion would be to TALK TO THEM! If they find out you brought a sniffer dog into your home to search them, the fact that they’re toking up is going to be the least of your worries.

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Ally is a girl from New York who writes Sweet Leaf Tribune, an informational blog about marijuana law reform and cannabis culture, as well as medical marijuana, recipes for ‘baked’ goods, stoner how-to’s, and a lot more.

Have a Safe Halloween: Don’t Forget to Check Your Candy

trick or treating I can still remember back when I was of trick-or-treating age–I would come home from school, immediately put on my Halloween costume and then pace the house badgering my parents about if it was time to go trick-or-treating yet. After an hour or two and the sun started to go down, it would be time and I would have a blast going from house to house, collecting candy and growing more and more anxious to get the most candy I could, go home and devour it all. Once returning home I would pour all of my candy out on the floor of the living room and dive in; but I also remember that every year I would be sitting on the living room floor in a huff because I was being forced to wait even more while my parents went through all of my candy. At the time, I did not know why my parents were being so cruel to me–Why did they like making me wait, couldn’t they see that I needed that insane amount of sugar in my body at that exact moment? Was my father stealing all of my peanut butter-filled candy? Well yeah, he was, but what I didn’t know is that kids going door to door, collecting candy and immediately going home to start eating it could potentially turn into a murderer’s playground.

As the years go by, crime rates continue to rise throughout the country. I know now that it was not safe to let your child dive into their Halloween candy as soon as returning home and now, it proves to be an even greater risk, going by the crime rate in the country alone.

In the past five years I have noticed that the houses who participate in handing out candy have declined quite a bit; last year I remember thinking that Halloween just didn’t feel like Halloween anymore–There were very few children running around outside, going up the walk to houses and leaving with broad smiles covering their faces as their guardian slowly followed behind them. There were no orange and purple lights gleaming from the houses on my street and looking around the town I moved to last February as Halloween inches closer and closer by, it looks like it is going to be an even more silent Halloween this year.

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where Halloween hasn’t dwindled to just another day of the week and you take your children out trick-or-treating, don’t forget to check their candy before they indulge in their loot. The top things to keep an eye out for are opened or partially opened pieces of candy and prepared candy or food without wrapping. It is important to make sure your holiday is the safest it can be and while the dangers of Halloween have changed cities to the point where Halloween hardly exists, we can still try to preserve the holiday for our children and be the safest we can be about it.

FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin Pup

All kids love animals. Whether you have a boy or a girl, at least several times during their childhood they are probably going to ask for a pet of some kind. As a woman who was raised with a German Shepard through childhood and then a purebred Rottweiler and Siberian Husky throughout adolescence, I know that dogs are great pets for boys and for girls alike. However, most children want a pet and will ask for one incessantly until you cave in and say okay. Give it a month or so and most children will get bored and start asking for something else or (and I’m willing to bet this has happened in most families with pets) the children will not have any part in the feeding or cleaning up after the pet. They may love to play with them, think of them as part of the family and love them to death but after that pet needs someone to clean up after it, that kid doesn’t want anything to do with the pet–They suddenly don’t even know who it was who insisted on bringing that animal into the house.

Well, that’s where FurReal Friends comes in.

There have been many different variations of cats and dogs that felt, acted and sounded like real pets for children who want pets as part of the household but don’t want to be told to feed or clean up after them. However, FurReal Friends offer the best animal-like toys for children. In 2002 they came out with the FurReal Cat that purred and sounded like a real cat and in a very short amount of time it became the very best toy you could purchase for a child who wanted a pet of their own. FurReal friends went on to offer not only a cat, but a horse, a parrot, a duck and even a few small dogs. A few years later and they have finally come out with the next best animal toy for children–A 2 foot Golden Retriever named Biscuit.

FurReal Friends FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin Pup is a soft, cuddly and fully trained dog that comes with an adoption certificate that your child can go online with so they can say that they truly own Biscuit.

In a very short amount of time Biscuit can understand your child’s voice and also comes knowing six commands, including “sit”, “lay down”, and “speak.” Each time your child speaks to Biscuit he will reply with either a bark or a whine–A whine if he’s hungry, wants attention or a treat and a bark if he’s happy. Biscuit will also obey his commands just like a fully trained dog and bark with joy every time you tell him to speak or give him a toy biscuit. Biscuit is most definitely the best alternative to a real dog when your child gets to the age of wanting to add a pet to the household.

If you think Biscuit would be a great addition to your household, read FurReal Friends Biscuit review. The best thing about this toy is that he does not have to be plugged into the computer or anything to get him to recognize your voice; after speaking to him a few times, Biscuit has the technology to understand your voice no matter where it is coming from. Biscuit is a widely talked about toy and great for young children, children allergic to pets or for those of you who live in an apartment where pets are not welcome.

Say Goodbye to Couch & Kitchen Chair Forts

When I was young, I remember going to a friend’s house after school nearly every day and of course, we didn’t have all the cool technological toys that are out now for children’s amusement and so we made due with normal, everyday, household objects that may have looked completely ordinary to our parents, but to a child, a couch, a couple kitchen chairs and a few bedsheets were paradise. In our heads, we were anywhere we wanted to be and we could do whatever we pleased; it was very Narnia-like.

Crazy Forts The times really haven’t changed for children too young to care about what video game system is out or what “must have” toys are out on the market; young children still have that magical essence about them where they believe that a couch, a couple kitchen chairs and a few bedsheets mean creating their very own, personal haven. While we absolutely love the creative minds and imaginations children have, putting the couch and kitchen chairs back can certainly be a pain in the butt, especially if you find yourself doing it nearly every day. The makers of Crazy Forts thought the same thing!

Crazy Forts is a genius idea to allow your child’s imagination to soar and to allow a little freedom for parents from having to pick up the house all over again at the end of play time. They aren’t battery operated and they aren’t something that your child will play with for a day and be done with; they are kits containing plastic building materials–25 geometrically precise balls and 44 sticks that connect to create countless structures for play time. By simply tossing a few bedsheets or light blankets,

Crazy Forts building Crazy Forts are one of the very, very few toys out there that promote collaborative play between boys and girls, just as long as your children aren’t in their “No boys allowed” clubhouse phases. While Crazy Forts are meant to be an assembly-by-child toy and are very easy to build into a variety of different structures, especially when the kits are combined, their website also has convenient design ideas and downloadable building plans for a castle, house, igloo, rocket and tunnel, which may be a great way to start warming your child up to creating their own forts if they’re not sure of the toy at first.

Crazy Forts are great kits, especially if you have more than one child who are close in age; this is a phenomenal way to get all of your kids to stay in one room, out of your hair and actually get along–If you’re lucky. It can also be educational, giving children a grasp on rudimentary engineering and physics concepts in a strictly fun way.

The Parents’ Guide to the Best Kids Toys

Parents seem to constantly be battling their children over what toys they absolutely need to have. After several attempts on their child’s part that likely go to the tune of “But Mommmmmmm! I need [insert toy here]! So-and-so’s mom let them have it and I need it, too. Neeeeeeed!!!” A lot of parents cave in, go out and buy this really awesome toy that without, their child would surely drop dead at the dinner table upon hearing that it would not soon be theirs.

Another problem parents deal with quite frequently, especially when their children start to get older, is thinking a video game their child can’t live without this week is simply just a video game or that a toy or item their children wants is just a toy. In reality, Some toys and even more so, video games that have been coming out recently that children just have to have are getting obscene reviews from even adults, so thinking about what kind of effect these means for entertainment could have on your child are frightening to even think about. It is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to keep up and shield their children from what the mainstream media is trying to tell and sell to their kids. Because of this, more and more parents are opting to join online parenting groups and websites to share tips and tricks on how to shield their children from the big, scary media monster. With more and more resources becoming available to parents, it is now easier than ever to make sure you know exactly what your children are being subject to when they are playing with a toy or video game.

Because of the lifestyles and schedules we lead today, for parents who don’t have time to sift through the archives of parenting groups, communities and websites, wouldn’t it be ideal to be able to go to a website that is specifically for children’s toys alone?

The Best Toys Guide is a website dedicated specifically for children’s toys and what toys are ideal for children to have and play with. This site has done all of the work for you and is ideal to consult the next time your child is screaming about a toy that they have to have or right before holiday or birthday present shopping. The website is split into categories making it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. As a new site, they specialize in best toys 2008, giving parents a resource to consult for all of the best toys over the entire year. They have also compiled a list of the absolute best online toy stores. Because of our hectic schedules, it isn’t always a possibility to make a trip to the mall or the nearest toy stores and online shopping has gained so much attention for its accessibility and your ability to shop when you have the time to, all from the convenience of your own home.

The Best Toys Guide is definitely a handy resource to have at your fingertips when toy shopping for any child in your life.

Kitty Tested: Greenies Dental Treats

I received Greenies dental treats for cats as a free sample from their website. I have been interested in introducing natural and organic products to me and the boyfriend’s life and after seeing their website, I realized that people aren’t the only ones who can get a little greener.

Devin Greenies treats Greenies, like most companies, started off as most other great ideas do–Trying to find a solution to a problem–The problem being animals with bad breath. Greenies make their dog and cat treats with nothing but their health in mind and when they were put to the ultimate test by participating in a third party dental test, it showed that using Greenies dental treats and chews once a day resulted in a 69% reduction in tartar and a 10.5% reduction in plaque versus pets who ate the same food as they did all the time, but did not have the Greenies dental chews.

Greenies are also the makers of the Pill Pockets we posted about last month.

Devin Greenies treats I received the feline dental treats in the ocean fish flavor and at first glance, I was a little put off by their color. I’m traditionally used to the Pounce cat treats with cute colors and even multi-colored snacks, but Greenies doesn’t use any artificial coloring or flavors and the color didn’t put my cat Devin off one bit, she loved them and even eats them up faster than she does the Pounce treats I’ve been giving her since I got her. In fact, Greenies are kitty tested and approved!

To get your own free sample of Greenies dental treats, head on over to their website and request yours!