Switch Witch Saves Family from Candy Overload

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Every Halloween parents everywhere face a daunting problem: what to do with all that candy???

Here's how we handle Halloween in our family.

Our children collect obscene amounts of candy trick-or-treating. When they return home, they may eat 3 or 5 (there are often negotiations) pieces of candy right then. I am aware that they snitch candies while trick-or-treating or even back at home. I am just trying to contain the deluge. I also try to steer them away from what I consider to be the most disgusting candy because it pains me to watch them eat it.

All the rest of the candy gets left near the fireplace for the Switch Witch, usually right in their trick-or-treat bags.

What I Use Now: Non-toxic Household Cleaners & Personal Products

Knowing my propensity to over-research consumer products, sometimes a friend or family member will call me to ask my advice about a particular non-toxic cleaner, lawn treatment, or mattress. But recently my neighbor decided to completely overhaul all her household cleaners and personal products and asked me to share with her what I use. And as I pulled up some old blog posts to share with her on these topics, I noticed that while much of the information and reasoning behind my choices was still up-to-date, many of the products were not. Some products have been discontinued. Some have been replaced with less toxic or more effective ones.

So I decided to make an exhaustive online list of our household cleaners and personal products to share with her and others that I intend to continually update. This list shares what I am actually using now in my own home and with my own family, 10+ years into the eco-friendly journey. The page also includes links to posts on the category (laundry, kitchen, teeth, hair, etc.) and where to find more information about your own cleaners or my cleaners

I would also like to note that there are a lot of great green cleaners out there now (or you could make your own non-toxic cleaners, although I never have), but for certain categories, it took a lot of trial-and-error to find something that worked for us: in particular, dishwasher detergent and hair products (our family has thick curly hair). I hope my painful experiences will spare you some.

You will find the continually updated list here:
What I Use Now: Eco-friendly Household Cleaners & Personal Products

Did I leave something off that you'd like to see? Let me know in the comments below. 

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6 Fabulous Christmas Picture Books about the Joy of Giving

One of our family's very favorite Christmas traditions is a children's book advent countdown. Each night in December, we unwrap and read a beloved children's book about Christmas each night, some from the library and some from our own collection. Several years ago I shared a post with 15 of our all-time favorite Christmas picture books. This list includes new favorites that have found a special place in my collection because of their focus on the spirit of giving, and the joy we get from trying to make others happy.

9 Ways to Help Your Child Connect with Nature (no matter where you live!)

Do you want to encourage your child to connect the natural world but aren't sure where to start? You don't need to plan an all-day hike or trip to the beach to help inspire a love of nature. Whether you live in suburbia or a downtown apartment highrise, you can raise a wild child right now right where you are. Here are 9 ideas to get you started.

10 Fabulous Picture Books about Birds to Read-aloud

This past year we have spent a lot of time learning about animals through picture books. Most young kids are fascinated by animals, and learning about animals (and observing them in person) is a wonderful way to help kids to care about and fall in love with the natural world.

Birds are so fun to learn about because they are everywhere. Whether you live in the city, country, or suburbia, you will usually have opportunities to observe birds right where you live. When we began studying birds together this year through read-alouds, I was amazed by the number of wonderful picture books we found just browsing the shelves of the library. We read one or more picture birds about birds for nearly a month this year. These ten were our very favorites. I have listed them in order from least text (youngest listeners) to most text (for multiple read-aloud sessions and/or older kids). My kids are 6, 8, and 10, and these ten titles were big hits with all three!

How Green Is Your Hair? Non-toxic Hair Care for the Entire Family

We are a family of very thick, very curly hair. I am particular about hair products (I never use whatever happens to be in the shower when I stay at hotels or with family), and it always takes me a while to find non-toxic products that I like and that work for me and my family. I go through a period of mourning when a product I love is discontinued.

I last wrote about my favorite non-toxic hair products in 2013. Most of those products have been discontinued (sadly), or in some cases I have found something better. So here is an update. This post addresses the hair products my entire family uses.

If you are interested in the nitty gritty of my approach to choosing personal care products and the reasoning behind it, check out this post.

Our Favorite Wooden Block Sets: Open-ended Play for All Ages

Wooden blocks are well-used and well-loved at my house. We use them to build towers, houses, words, villages, roads, skyscrapers, boats, dollhouses and animal villages. We use them to count, weigh, build, balance, measure, and spell. Wooden blocks are never outgrown and never go out of style. They allow adults and all ages of kids to create and play together. My children (now 10, 8, and 6) still play with ours blocks constantly. These are the sets I plan to save and pass down to the grandchildren.

Give Thanks! 10 Favorite Children's Books about Gratitude and Thanksgiving

At my house, we get out Halloween picture books in October, Thanksgiving books in November, and Christmas books in December. But this year, I decided to get out the Halloween and Thanksgiving books together, to give us more time to enjoy the books that celebrate one of my very favorite holidays. I love most everything about Thanksgiving. These children's books, with their stories of gathering, gratitude, and family are some of our favorites.

Simple Kid-friendly Fall Leaf Banner for the Non-crafty

Fall is here!

On a walk around the neighborhood last week, my kids and I spontaneously started collecting a few leaves here and there. I am especially fond of red fall leaves and couldn't resist gathering a couple. By the end of our walk, we had quite a collection and decided to make a leaf banner. We went for another walk a few days later on different streets to look for a few more varieties of leaves and colors.


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