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Pros and Cons of Nursing a Toddler



My second child is nearly 2 and starting to wean.  I weaned my first child around 20 months (when I was 4 months pregnant). In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, here is my honest discussion of what it’s like to nurse a toddler.

Homemade Popsicles, the Cheap Way

Leftover smoothie + hot weather + ice cube tray =



We only recently acquired this lovely silicone ice cube mold so we can occasionally have some ice, and these past couple of weeks I have been enjoying using it to make mini popsicles.  I have been thinking of buying popsicle molds for about 2+ years now.  Can't 100% decide if I'll use them enough to justify the purchase or what material I want it to be made of (BPA-free plastic? stainless steel? silicone?).  There is also the issue of size.  My kids are little, and most popsicle molds seem too big for them and liable to result in waste.  It's amazing how I can deliberate endlessly about such a small purchase, isn't it?



So.... for now, it's popsicles in the shape of an ice cube with a small something stuck in the middle.  In my case, the small something is play utensils from IKEA (stainless steel and food-safe according to IKEA).  My smoothie is nothing fancy either: TJ/Straus whole plain organic yogurt + frozen bananas + frozen/fresh berries.


This is definitely not the tidiest way to have a popsicle.  But it might be the cheapest way. And they do inevitably fall off the "handle" and fall apart before they are finished.  I actually make some cubes with no handle because my 4-year-old sometimes prefers eating them that way with a regular spoon from a bowl.  Crushed up, they are a lot like sorbet.



What is your favorite popsicle recipe or mold?


P.S. Don't forget to enter the kidsstore giveaway for an item of your choice!


This post is part of

Baby-to-Child Flannel Blanket: Giveaway and Review

43" square 100% cotton flannel blanket in Pink ABC print by kidsstore ($28  +  $4 shipping).

Baby items often have a very limited period of usefulness: newborn hats, 3-6 month onesies, tiny washcloths, soft rattles, crib mobiles, Baby Bjorn, receiving blankets.  Looking back, I wish I had purchased and received fewer items with such limited usefulness and sought out alternatives that would grow with my child.  For example, instead of having 15 receiving blankets, I wish I had just a handful of larger blankets.  Receiving blankets truly are useful for a time, but after a few months, they are just too small.

So when kidsstore (who also makes the Best Bib Ever, which I reviewed just last month) asked if I would like to try one of her baby-to-child flannel blankets, of course I said, Yes!  My 2-year-old and 4-year-old have been helping me test it out for a few months now, and I'm pleased to share with you our findings.

Upcycled Toys: Frozen OJ Lids

OJ Lids can be used for a dump-and-fill game,
as pretend cookies, for spinning, or a memory game.

I'm not that crafty, but I am cheap, and I've noticed that kids love to play with many things that are not toys.  Some of my kids' favorite play items, in fact, have not been store-bought toys, but disposable items (often packaging) that was destined for the recycling bin or trash before discovered by the preschooler or toddler.  In the next few weeks, I'll feature some of our favorite toys made from free stuff that would otherwise have been discarded.  Stay tuned for more ideas!

We drink a lot of orange juice from frozen concentrate at my house.  We like to save the metal lids for all kinds of fun.

Green Moms Carnival: Food Preservation



Well, folks, I'm back from my unplanned blogging hiatus.  Everything is fine here -- no tragedies or major crises.  Just everyday life with small children, as well as hot days with no a/c and some hip pain that make sitting in front of the computer highly unattractive.

July's Green Moms Carnival is all about food preservation.  Food preservation is something I really want to attempt this summer and fall.  I wanted to try freezer jam and write about it for the carnival, but haven't managed to do it yet, so instead my food preservation is limited to freezing baked goods:

My Love Affair with the Farmers' Market


What I purchased last Saturday at my local farmers' market:
strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, plums,  red onions, green onions, cilantro,
baby greens, and baby spinach (plus the tomatoes pictured below) -- all organic ($40).

If you have a garden, congratulations.  Seriously, I admire and envy you.  I would love to have a large, gorgeous garden full of herbs, tomatoes, zucchini, onions, carrots, peppers, lettuce as well as several fruit trees in my backyard, but that seems to be a few years into my future.  I do have a short-term goal of planting something.

My favorite summer salad: organic spinach and strawberries
from my farmers' market plus toasted walnuts and parmesan cheese.

But while I don't have my own garden, I do have the farmers' market.  Right now with strawberries in season we are loving our whole grain pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream (see this post for details).  I am also now making lots of my favorite summer salad: spinach, sliced strawberries, toasted walnuts, and freshly grated parmesan cheese with red wine vinegar dressing (see photo above).  I buy the organic spinach and organic strawberries at my farmers' market every week, and can get organic walnuts through my CSA.  Now that tomatoes are in season, I will be eating tomatoes on and in everything, including in the delicious caprese salad (slices of tomatoes layered with slices of fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a little freshly grated salt and pepper).

There are so many benefits that come from this direct producer-to-consumer arrangement.  Here are some of the things I love most about the farmers' market.  

Upcycled Toys: Tissue Box Car City

Empty tissue box turned into car garage

I'm not that crafty, but I am cheap, and I've noticed that kids love to play with many things that are not toys.  Some of my kids' favorite play items, in fact, have not been store-bought toys, but disposable items (often packaging) that was destined for the recycling bin or trash before discovered by the preschooler or toddler.  In the next few weeks, I'll feature some of our favorite toys made from free stuff that would otherwise have been discarded.  Stay tuned for more ideas!


Our newest favorite toy at my house are some pretend play structures created from empty tissue boxes (from Target, if you must know).  I told my husband about the idea, and he ran with it.

What's the Big Deal About Fracking?



This post is part of a Green Moms Carnival about fracking (hydraulic fracturing). Read more posts exploring this timely and important topic over at Big Green Purse.

Like most of you, I don't know that much about fracking.  But I do know that despite the promise of job creation, greater energy independence, and lower carbon emissions through the domestic extraction of natural gas, plenty of folks are worried. That is because hydraulic fracking involves drilling a well, and then blasting chemical-laced water (including toxins like benzene or 2-Butoxyethanol, commonly called 2-BE, a toxic solvent) and sand underground to break apart rock and release gas (source). Fracking also produces millions of gallons of toxic wastewater, which creates the possibility of above-ground spills that result in surface-water contamination (this has already happened).  The process has repeatedly been linked to water contamination and other environmental problems.  I hope to learn even more about the issue soon by watching Gasland.

June Etsy Giveaway WINNERS!




Winners
Gallon-size reusable waterproof food-safe bag:  #68 Autumn K
Set of stainless steel straws: #129 helenlam

Thank you to all who entered these contests.  Winners have 48 hours to respond to my email before I pick someone else, so check your inboxes please!

These two Etsy stores have very reasonable prices.  I am planning to buy more bags and more straws myself.
Check them out:
Celeste Blake Designs (reusable bags)
The Mulled Mind (stainless steel straws)



There is still time to enter to win the Best Bib Ever by Etsy store kidsstore.  Click HERE to enter.

Happy 4th of July!

Weekend Links (U.S. Food Regulation)



Food for Thought:  U.S. Regulation of Food
Schwan Food Company and Tyson Foods race to create "healthier" pizzas and nuggets.  Since watching my low-income students eat the school cafeteria's fare daily for both breakfast and lunch (usually food I would never eat nor serve to my own children), I have had an interest in the school lunch program and wish so much that it were better: