20 May 2009

some much needed R&R...

Things have been very stressful lately.... been working on getting Matilda qualified for social security benefits so that the secondary insurance can kick in and relieve some of the medical bills piling up along with setting up a million other appointments and therapy sessions. Loads of other things going on that I am not quite ready to fully discuss... Needless to say that when my Mother proposed a beach getaway with the girls, I was excited. Fortunately, she is being generous and footing the bill as it just isn't feasible any other way. So, I am off to regroup, rejuvenate and hopefully come back better than ever... hold down the fort while I am gone, friends. :)

14 May 2009

what an honour!

A little while back I was asked to become the "green spokesperson" of sorts for my home state, Tennessee. I had joined a great site, The Green Parent, and Jenn Savedge, its founder, asked me to put together some resources for being in Tennessee. I just found out that my information was published to the site. Check it out here. Please spend some time taking a look around the fabulous blog and consider joining the fantastic network of green parents!

13 May 2009

busy bee...

Sorry I have been away from your blogs for so long...I am going to take some "me time" and get caught up soon.

I have had a very excuse though. Over the last week or so, I have been functioning in "Mama Bear" mode. We have been waiting for our lackluster neurologist to notify us of Matilda's MRI and vision test results. After relentless pushing, we received an "official" diagnosis for her - Joubert Syndrome - which is more accurate than her Dandy Walker Syndrome working diagnosis. While it seems odd to say, I am so thrilled and relieved to have a name to put with what we have been going through as a family. Now we are able to fully take advantage of the wonderful support systems and information available to the families of Joubert Syndrome children.

I am currently working on a new blog "Matilda Matters" dedicated just to our journey thus far. It will also share her day to day activities. I thought it appropriate to create a separate blog because the nature of it will be so different from this blog. I hope you will visit this other blog, too.

Until then, take care and have a fabulous week!

04 May 2009

An Eco-Friendly 4th! :)

During my hiatus from blogging, Fiona turned 4! For her birthday, we splurged and went on a family holiday to Disney World with some of our closest friends, The Katzmans (more to come soon). Though we had a blast celebrating, Fiona still really wanted to have a gathering at the park with her friends.

We decided to keep it low key and simple. Fiona's past birthday parties have taken place at a local park and at Ijams Nature Center. This year, she wanted to go to a park we had been frequenting more and more lately, Anchor Park. When asked what "theme" she wanted, she chose one of her favourite things - kitty cats.

As we began planning for the party, we knew we wanted to make it earth friendly. We started with the invitations... rather than purchase the invites, we made them from art supplies that Fiona already had. The invitations became a project for the whole family complete with assembly line precision. While I would really love to get to "present-free parties" (children these days simply have too much!), I didn't think Fiona was quite old enough to understand the concept. So instead, we talked to her about doing a project that would help someone else. After much discussion, we came up with the idea of collecting cat food for the homeless kitties at our local Humane Society. We added to the bottom of the invitation "please bring a bag of Purina brand cat or kitten food to be donated to the Humane Society".

After we distributed the party invites, we began on the "nuts and bolts" of the party. Paper plates, napkins, decorations, etc. create most of the waste at any party. So instead of items that would clutter up the landfill, we worked hard at finding earth-friendly alternatives.

For plates, I found a great option...VerTerra's biodegradable palm-leaf plates! The plates were a great conversation piece and looked beautiful on the tables!

VerTerra's plates:

* can be used in the microwave, oven and refrigerator
* made from 100% renewable plant matter - fallen palm leaves (not even harvested!)
* no chemicals, dyes, or waxes
* completely biodegradable and compostable - they will biodegrade in 20 - 60 days
* are made by a fair labour company that treats its workers with respect

For cups, I purchased Preserve's recycled tumblers... The tumblers are made with 100% recycled plastic, study and reusuable, BPA-free, and able to be recycled wherever #5 plastics are accepted.

For napkins, I bought Seventh Generations's recycled napkins and stamped them with kitty cat faces. We didn't need cutlery as our menu consisted of all finger foods.

The park has pretty strict guidelines about no banners, signs, etc. but we managed to delicately hang up a simple homemade banner. The banner was inspired by Lucie's blog.

The park itself always provides enough entertainment - kids just love being outdoors - but we planned a few activities. First, we decided to give each guest their own birdhouse to decorate and take home. (My friend recently decorated a birdhouse with her daughter and she told me that after they hung it up, they found 11 little eggs in the house!) We thought that the bird - cat relationship tied in loosely with the theme. Next, we created a "pin the tail on the cat" board for each guest to see who could come closest. Both activities were well received as seen in the pictures below. I couldn't believe how dilligent all the guests were with decorating their birdhouses.

The birthday girl

Friend, Olivia, creating a masterpiece

A house any bird would be proud to inhabit

Mid-game - before the victor had been declared

Refreshments consisted of typical kiddie fare - organic fruit & vegetables, cheese & crackers, juice, and pizza. Instead of a store bought cake, Fiona asked me to make her cupcakes again this year. I tinkered with the idea of a kitty cat face, but decided to do a simple paw print made with Cadbury chocolate buttons (from England - one of Fi's favourites) and chocolate chips.

one batch of cupcakes

For goody bags, I ordered reusuable linen drawstring bags I found online. Each guest received a Yummy Earth organic lollipop, a couple of Endangered Species chocolates, a cute little Buzzy Seeds sensitive plant that I found in the $1.00 bin at Target (again, a stretch with the cat theme but a kind of "cat nip") and a reusuable cat-themed cloth napkin, made by Fiona's "Gigi" (my Mom).

the goody bags were a huge hit!

After the festivities were over, the children continued to play together - enjoying the beauty of the day and the park's beautiful environment. The party ended on a high note with a train racing by blowing its whistle.

skipping stones at the lake was a favourite, unplanned, activity!

here are just a few of the guests who loved being close to the water

It was another fabulous birthday celebration for our Fiona. From the beautiful weather, to the outpouring of support for our cat food collection, and sweet compliments on the party being both original and environmentally-friendly - a good time was had by all! I will soon post pictures of Fiona delivering the donations to the Humane Society. Until then, I hope you will consider incorporating earth-friendly ideas and products into your next gathering.

If you would like to learn more about green parties, please visit the links below.

Eco Child's Play blog

Not Quite Crunchy Parent goodie bag ideas

Kiwi Magazine Birthday Party Ideas

03 May 2009

Future Hope Project

Sorry I have been away so long...I will get caught up this week with some great blogs to come - our holiday in Disney, Fiona's eco-friendly 4th birthday, etc. But first, a very important project I MUST share with you.

My friend, GinSpaghetti, is an amazing woman involved in some life saving and awe inspiring projects. I have learned so much and grown by simply reading her blog. She recently shared with her readers a great drive to help mothers in Uganda provide the essentials for their babies, The Future Hope Project. Individuals, schools, and church groups are encouraged to collect care packages.

Items to be collected:

3 cloth diapers
6 diaper pins
2 plastic diaper covers
1 receiving blanket
1 small travel size baby powder
1 pacifier
1 bar of baby soap

All you need to do to participate is the gather the items above and put them in a gallon size zip lock bag, include $5.00 to help with shipping charges. To learn more about the organization please visit their site. I whole-heartedly support their efforts and will be taking both of my girls to purchase items to help.

As if you need any other incentive, both Gin and her friend, Abbie, are running contests to encourage participation. By promoting the project and participating, you can be entered to win a $25.00 Barnes and Noble gift card and/or a wonderful item created by the women in Uganda.

I hope you will participate. What a better way to honour your mother or the fact that you are a mother than by providing for a woman in need?