mr & mrs smith blog & nonchalant mom

We recently posted a blog about Global Parents Tamara and James from Mr & Mrs Smith (which is an outstanding travel service!). They had some great things to say about traveling, eating and napping with kids and so much more... So today, on the blog for Mr & Mrs Smith they have posted a conversation that I had with them (although more slanted twords traveling). So take a look and see what you think... my husband chose the pictures... hhrumph (the above is one that I chose!)... but otherwise it's fun reading!

We have started a fun partnership with Mr & Mrs Smith where we will share some great travel stories and exciting information with them... I am really looking forward to some fun blogs!

thank you Mr & Mrs Smith!


indoor and outdoor air quality

Today I received a chart from the American Lung Association in which you can see the outdoor air quality of most cities in the USA, click here to see how your city rates. I think the chart is a little complicated to understand, but you get the idea. But it did also give good indoor tips on bringing up your indoor air quality. Some of them are the following:

1. Avoid cleaning products with ammonia and chlorine –Some household chemicals may be irritants to the respiratory tract in people who are sensitive to these chemicals. They can cause watery eyes and sore throats and even can trigger coughing and shortness of breath. Choose milder yet effective cleaning aids like those that use baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and citrus oils.
2. Houseplants...a clean air ally – Some common indoor houseplants, such as bamboo plants, English ivy and peace lily, can provide a natural way to help fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution by absorbing some potentially harmful gases . A six-inch potted green plant can clean a room of excess carbon dioxide in eight hours .
3. Lay area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting – Wall-to-wall carpeting can attract and hold indoor dirt, pollen, pet hair and mold spores and many contain chemicals. Vacuuming can remove some surface dirt, but often, the vacuum can actually push pollutants deeper into carpet fibers. Area rugs are best since they can be picked up and cleaned thoroughly.
4. Use high performance air filters – Use a high performance filter, like the Filtrete 1” Advanced Allergen Reduction Filter from 3M, to help capture particles such as pollen, smoke, dust mite debris and pet dander from the air that passes through the filter. Be sure to change your filter at the start of every season.
5. Restrict your furry friends – People who are allergic to cats and dogs are actually allergic to the dander that pets shed. To help minimize exposure to pet dander, keep pets out of the bedroom and especially off the bed.

6. Turn up the air conditioning – Air conditioners not only cool the air in your home, they can also help reduce humidity levels. During the warm months of the year, turn up the air conditioner to help keep humidity levels lower, which can help keep mold from growing.

7. Turn off the humidifier – Room air humidifiers are moisture-generating sources that can spread bacteria, mold spores and chemical deposits into the air in your home. Keep relative humidity between 30% and 50% to help prevent mold growth.

8. Leave shoes outside – Avoid bringing outdoor pollutants indoors by removing your shoes before entering the home. Wearing shoes indoors can track particles that can become airborne, including animal dander, mold spores, pollen and bacteria.

I thought these were really good tips, it took us such a long time to get plants into our house... I suppose it's the lack of my green thumb, but now we have multiple in each room and beautiful and helpful to clean the air.

I don't really agree with the air conditioners, I am really anti-air conditioners and we built our home to ensure good cross ventilation. A couple of years ago when I was visiting my friends in Italy in the summer I noticed how comfortably cool their very old house always was, they had worked with a series of shades on the terraces that really kept the entire house really cool (its also built out of stone which keeps things cool too). So when we got home I used this same technique with our house and it worked perfectly! All you have to do is figure out how the sun moves through your house, closing sades when you need to, we even had cotton blankets hanging from our doors and windows where we had no shades and then taking them down when the sun moved out of target. Our house stayed beautifully cool throughout the day and night it was wonderful and NO air conditioner. If we needed to cut down the humidity we used fans at night to move the air around sufficiently.

I think that if you put your mind to it everyone can figure out how to make their home more comfortable, use less energy and make sure that the air quality is good in your home. But it is important to remember that your indoor air quality can be very poor if you are not careful to keep it clean. In the survey by the American Lung Association that I quoted above to find how the air quality rates in your town they stated the following statistics:

- Three out of four homeowners believe the air outside their home is more polluted than the air inside their home.

-More than 50 percent of homeowners are not concerned about indoor air pollution; however, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) are concerned about outdoor air pollution.

It's important to keep your eye on the ball and stay aware of your indoor air quality health!

If you have more idea please send us a comment so that we can all have healthier homes!

bikes and biking

I think that biking is quite the craze these days and maybe its always been if you live in Amsterdam! My hope is that here in America we get closer to that mode of transportation in the coming years and it somehow gets more accessible for everyone. The funny thing about it is that I see more people bicycling as a sport and very few using it as a mode of transportation, just seems a bit silly me... why not bike to work? bike to the store? bike to the beach? bike to the gym? instead people walk/drive to the gym get on a bike and cycle inside for a few hours... drive their car to work, hurry home and get on their bike gear and ride for a few hours... why not just keep it simple and bike as a mode of transportation?

I know it wouldn't seem so, but New York City is very bike friendly... the 'thought' of it sometimes seems scary but when you are actually 'in' the traffic you can almost feel how the traffic is moving and very rarely is it moving faster than you are on your bike! Then there are the West Side Highway paths... wonderful! When we lived in New York we went everywhere on our bikes, but at that time it was very easy, we lived Downtown (way.. down, by Wall Street) and on the weekends it would totally clear out, it was strictly a 9-5 Monday - Friday area, and otherwise it was a ghost town, and we LOVED it, we biked everywhere!

Living here in Rhode Island it's nice and flat, perfect biking territory! We bike to the beach, our oldest son who is 7 years old now, he loves riding down to the beach. People say that we are crazy because cars drive on that road, but I think the cars can see us, I can see them we can both watch out for each other and heck the kids can't just bike in the driveway all day long! My son thinks it's really exciting and he knows that he can only do it when we are with him, we all love it! ...Now, this is the year that I am going to start biking to work!

I work with a company called Areaware, they are the ones that bring us Salvor, coming soon are wonderful Kuma bears, and some fine other little things. They have been instrumental in bringing some great bikes to reality here in the USA and I love them! Some of them are pictured here, and if you are interested you can actually buy them (for a pretty large chunk of change) right here at Nonchalant Mom (you'll have to send me an email I don't stock them!), but if you want to be the most styling cyclist on the block then perhaps this is just up your alley!

IF Mode Designed by Mark Sanders - IF Mode avoids oily chains, complex tubes with hidden dirt traps, and the clutter of traditional bike features. Meant for city commuters rather than bicycle warriors, it looks at home folded up on a subway or in an office, like other well designed accessories in your life. It also performs on the street like any lightweight, well-balanced full size bike. (32 lbs. and retails for: $2,250)

The Strida - also designed by Mark Sanders is the first completely new bicycle geometry in 95 years. Inside a triangular frame of lightweight aluminum, power is transferred to the rear wheel via a silent clean Kevlar belt. Handlebars are mounted horizontally so the rider can sit comfortably upright with an excellent view of the road. The genius of the triangular frame is that it can quickly fold. In five seconds, you have a light, compact form that you can easily wheel, stow in a closet, load in your car or take on the train. (22 lbs. and retails for: $800)

MOOF - This is probably the bike that I would like to have! Designed in Amsterdam by Sjoerd Smit, MOOF’s unique aluminum construction houses two solar powered lamps for dual visibility. This single speed sleek and smooth urban cruiser is both smart and conscientious. (28.5 lbs and retails for: $600)

Like I said you can buy all of these bikes from Nonchalant Mom if this is what you really need/want (ha!) or just go for that version that's sitting on someones lawn for $20 at the garage sale... any way you put it... Have fun and get on your bike!!!


Global Parents: Tamara and James

Tamara and Tom

We shift back over to London for the next segment of Global Parents. In fact, we wanted to introduce you to the real 'Mr and Mrs' behind the chic boutique and luxury hotel website known as Mr and Mrs Smith. Having been together for 12 years, Tamara and James (both co-founders of the business) now reside in what Tamara calls the 'leafy London suburb of Chiswick...' with their son Tom - who will be happily turning 2 years old at the end of May. Of course, there's always more than meets the eye when trying to operate a growing and successful business such as theirs, and raise an energetic 2 year old! So, naturally we had some questions for Tamara:

Where in the world did you get the idea to open your own hotel website?
We started Mr & Mrs Smith before James and I married, and, of course before we had children. It was born of the frustration of not being able to find decent places for our weekend escapes from the city. We both ran our own businesses at the time, which we eventually gave up to run Smith. In the first few years we travelled enormously – that's why we moved to Chiswick, to be near Heathrow airport. Back then, I could never have coped with having children. Now the business is more established and we have teams of people who can visit hotels, so we don’t need to travel as much and can therefore spend more time with Tom.

You say that you don't travel as much now that things are more established with the business. However, do you still do any hotel visits - with Tom in tow perhaps? We did alot of travelling with our son within his first 3 years and we are curious as to whether you've embraced it, or if you'd rather not mix business with pleasure.
I still travel for work and I do take Tom if I'm going to be away for more than a couple of days – I can’t bear to be away from him for longer. I’ve taken him on work trips to Spain, New York and the Caribbean in the past year, but, if it's a short trip, it's easier and less disruptive for him if I go on my own. I have a big trip to Australia coming up which I’ve decided not to take him on – I'm not sure a 24-hour plane trip is something a two-year-old, or his mother, could cope with just yet!

Mum and Tom in St Lucia

What's the average morning ritual like at your home?
My son is an early riser – usually 5.30 (he has too much energy!). So we get up and make some tea and milk. Then we usually sit in bed watching the news on television and then make our way down to breakfast. Tom and I always sit down to have breakfast together – he gets upset if ever he does happen to sleep in and misses the opportunity. He always chooses his own breakfast and lays the table. Tom will usually choose muesli – he especially loves picking out the dried fruit. Our favourite is a brand called Dorset Cereals, but he likes them all. His second favourite is Marmite on toast – a very British thing that people tend to love or loathe. James doesn't have breakfast with us usually because he is showering (he entertains Tom while I’m in the shower), so he’s a little behind us in the morning!! I shower whilst James brushes Tom's teeth and then our nanny arrives at 8 so I can go to work.

So, Tom doesn't leave home to go to any kind of pre-school, etc?
Our nanny lives just up the road. Tom will be starting at nursery in a couple of months – I know he will love being with other children as he enjoys having them round to his house when we have playdates.

It must be very difficult to be the mother and father also running a thriving business, especially where you always have to be on the go. How do you both pull this off?

Getting the nanny right is crucial – being able to leave every morning in the knowledge your child is happy and having a great time is the best thing. It wasn't always like that; the first nanny I had was terrible – when I left for work I had a sinking feeling, I worried alot and in the three weeks she worked for me I would have to go back home more often than not because Tom was so unhappy. It was a tough time because I was just starting to go back to work, but I was also determined to continue breastfeeding so I used to have to rush back home at feeding times or spend ages pumping and freezing batches of milk.

I'm strict about leaving work on time and getting quality time with Tom before he goes to bed. I'm lucky he doesn't need much sleep so he's usually up until 8.00pm. I also have two great grandmothers who adore him and love to spend time with him so I have fantastic support. Because it was my own business, I had to go back to work when Tom was three months old; it was really tough and I don't think I could have done it without my mum. If I had my time again, I wouldn't have gone back to work so early. It was too early for him and for me.

It's not an easy decision for many mothers. Especially the pumping and separation anxieties, right?
I tried not to pump at work but I did have a room I could go into so I could be private. It’s my own business so I was never made to feel bad about doing this. I think the thing that most stressed me out was the rushing from home to work and back again constantly – babies can’t wait for their food and so I felt I was in a constant rush. I was lucky I was close to home so I could actually get back to a breastfeed. I do regret not being there more in his 3rd, 4th and 5th months when I was going back to work – I feel he sometimes needs to be close to me now because he felt me pull away then. Because my first nanny wasn’t good (Tom just didn’t like her), this just added an extra layer of stress to the day. In the back of my mind I knew he wasn’t happy with her. She didn’t last long, but I remember leaving work every day she was there with a sinking feeling – and when I found out she was a moody person who was on medication, I felt more guilty for not listening to my instincts sooner.

What happens around lunch time on the average day? Any special concerns around food, or diets, etc?
Tom's going though a very picky phase so meal times can be difficult. He's never really liked anything that is soft or mushy and he is very independent and doesn't let me feed him. As a result, it's hard to be inventive with food. I have to hide vegetables as much as I can.

James and Tom

So, How is Chiswick for raising a child?
Chiswick is very child-friendly. There’s lots of green space to run around, we live near Kew Royal Botanical Gardens which is a stunning park complete with kids’ centre. There are tonnes of kids classes – from music and dancing to football and painting. Our nanny was a nursery teacher so she organises activities at our house for other children too! So, Tom is kept busy.
Having travelled to many cities, I would have to say that London is extremely child-friendly – the parks, restaurants, cafés, city zoos, museums, etc.

How about taking Tom out to restaurants?
Oh yes; he loves going out to restaurants and I find he eats better because there are so many distractions. I try and take him out to eat at least once a week. He also loves picnics with other children, and, with Kew Gardens near our house, we do that as soon as the weather permits. Of course, the restaurant has to be child-friendly, otherwise I find it stressful, Tom picks up on this and then starts to act up. There are some places in London that provide a very welcoming, relaxed atmosphere where nothing is too much trouble and you also feel comfortable as a parent – they are hard to find. My favourite café in London – Coffee and Crayons in Fulham. And, my favourite restaurant chain for taking kids in London is Carluccio’s because the chicken is always good quality and they don’t serve fries! My favourite children’s park in London is the Princess Diana Memorial Playground because it has a full size pirate ship, sand pit, and lots more - as well as a lovely adjoining café. It’s a very special place for children and parents.

How about books or toys?
We devour books in our home. I can hardly keep up. I have heard other mothers say they read the same books over and over but Tom won't allow that. He does have favourites that he will beg for again and again but after about the 10th read he won't want to go back to it and it's on to the next new batch. We love the Mick Inkpen’s Kipper stories because they range from the simple baby stories to more complex and funny tales – Tom’s favourite is The Blue Balloon
. We’re also fans of Bridget Fidget and Dougal Digger, which was a real find. Our local library has been a godsend for keeping a steady flow of new books and for keeping down the cost. In toy terms, I scour the internet for great 'making' toys and love Wikki Stix a great US invention. Tom adores his wheelbarrow too, but far and away the best thing we have ever bought him has been his indoor trampoline, which he bounces on every every morning to work off his excitement at the new day, and at night to drain those last bits of energy (normally just after he's had a full bottle of milk!).

the wheelbarrow!

Anything special you like to do with Tom?
At the weekends, James and I love taking Tom along the river Thames which is near where we live – we feed the ducks and swans and then walk to a nearby park where people take their dogs. Tom loves them so we spend time meeting new dogs and playing 'kickball' before walking home over the railway bridge. We always have to stop and wait for a train to go under and often the drivers toot their horn at Tom waving. It's a Sunday ritual that we all cherish.

What kind of snacks do you like to give him?
I don't tend to give much in terms of snacks – just an apple or some raisins – he doesn't seem to need much.

It sounds like Tom isn't a fan of taking naps?
Tom only has one nap a day for about 45 minutes (did I mention he has far too much energy?). If we’re anywhere but home he doesn’t sleep at all – he gets too excited. It has been limiting over the past two years because we have to make sure we get home for his nap or the end of the day descends into chaos as he gets grumpy and overtired. Now he's not quite as bad if he misses it.

What's the usual for dinner? Any special foods, etc...?
Tom’s a huge fan of pasta and pesto, Bolognese, chicken fingers and roast parsnips – like his father he has an aversion to all things green and healthy. I always try to give him his favourite meals or food I know he will eat happily in the evening and make it more varied and experimental at lunch time . He seems to reject food more easily at night I think it's because he's not as hungry as lunchtime.

And how about bedtime?
Our bedtime routine entails an hour of wind down after the bath. At 7, we have milk and then stories; Tom insists on choosing the books and we have to read at least four or he feels hard done by. Before tucking him up in bed, I always talk to Tom about my day and his day. He's normally in bed by 8 and talks to himself until about 8.15, or 8.30 if he’s in a chatty mood.

Any ideas from the past about parenting that are coming back to haunt you, or instruct you (from your own parents, etc), or help you, or scare the hell out of you now???
I wish I had read fewer 'bringing up baby' guide books in the very early months and gone more by instinct. They made me a bit paranoid that I was doing the wrong thing, that I should instigate a routine. I used to worry about Tom not having enough sleep and not having naps at the right time. I thought I was doing something wrong to not allow him to sleep properly and we battled around nap times – something I regret. It took a while for me to realise he simply did not need as much sleep as other babies. When it came to potty training, I decided I wasn't going to read a single book and just trust my own instinct. About a month ago I bought a potty and Tom now uses it regularly. It's been the most non-stressful, pleasurable experience – we have great fun reading stories on the potty. I don't know whether I am doing it right or not but I don't care – it's working.

Ah, nice, another Nonchalant Mom! Hey, any special remedies or foods in your home life that you might like to share?
I was tipped off by an organic cook that hemp seeds were a fantastic addition to a child's diet. We call them mummy's special nuts and Tom's only allowed them on special occasions! He loves them and I feel great every time he eats them. Other than that I'm pretty relaxed, I try and buy organic where I can, Luckily I have a nanny who loves to cook so all his meals are home-cooked. I try to stay away from chips and biscuits but I do give them to him occasionally because I don't want him to crave them.


Where Are We Going With All Of This Science?

Consider the cow and how very important it is as a food source and income to millions and millions of people all over the world. Now, consider how incredible, and important it is, when hundreds of scientists working in different parts of the world combine their knowledge and research into a recently published acknowledgment that they have successfully discovered and sequenced the entire DNA (or genome) of a single cow in Montana. We say: WELL DONE. That was not easy!

But, along with our congratulations comes some good old fashioned motherly/fatherly suspicion. We're just a little concerned about what it means when scientists start talking enthusiastically about genomes and mass gene mapping, not to mention gene sequencing - not only with cows, but cats, rats, and HUMANS. Nor does it sound very reassuring when then President Clinton announced in 2000 that "We are beginning to learn the language in which God created life..." (The Era of Personalized Medicine Awaits). The idea of scientifically figuring out something as utterly complex as our DNA is simply astounding and it's implications can, or will be, overwhelmingly important - no doubt! But when you start hearing things like: "If we can see precisely what genes cause the differences between each animal, there is an opportunity to enhance selective breeding," (see the story that contains this quote) then naturally we should wonder about several things.... most importantly things such as scientifically controlled breeding. (Read more about this latest development in the Washington Post Online)

Nobody really wants to put a sour face on potential progress, especially when it could mean improved food sources for huge populations or much better medicines. But, nobody wants to see something strange like out of Star Trek, or the story behind such films as the Omega Man (or I Am Legend) and Soylent Green (Remember those cult Sci Fi films???). What do you think... we'd like to hear your opinions. Should we all be a bit worried or are we over-reacting?

I Love The New Baby At Our House...Most of the Time

Our new friend Blair over at Wise Craft wanted to share a new book coming out. We think it will be of particular interest to parents who are about to add to their nest! Or, it will be interesting to anyone who has more than one child! Anyway - Blair says:

When I got an advance copy of this book in the mail a couple weeks ago, my first thought was, "Where was this when I needed it?". I Love The New Baby At Our House...Most Of The Time, by Leslie Kimmelman, is a picture book/story/personal journal for those still little, big brothers or sisters who are suddenly presented with a younger sibling in their house.

As many of us know, as charming as the idea of mom having a baby or the family adopting a baby can sometimes be, the reality can very often be quite different. This book is a wonderful way for those big siblings to not only personalize to make their own, with drawings, doodles, and scribbles, it can be a lovely way for mom or dad to spend some quality time with their child, as everyone adjusts to a new baby. A great whole family gift for when baby comes, the added bonus is that those important little details get recorded too! How sweet it will be to read and remember things like what the weather was like the day baby came home...or the first thing baby did at home...

The release date for this book is June 9th, but you can pre-order the book at the link above!


happy earth day!!

I hope that everyone will take a moment to talk to your kids about our earth and how we need to take care of it... kids always have great things to say about the earth! I love the fact that there IS an Earth Day a visionary idea started by Senator Gaylord Nelson 40 years ago to try to involve politics in the environment. If you watched the Frontline: Poisoned Waters you learned more than that... if you didn't please try to watch it!

We like to pretend that every day is Earth Day around here, but I think that most of you do the same as well! Try to find your way to live in harmony with the planet and live in a more simple way. You don't have to do it perfect of be any kind of advocate just start somewhere and it will feel good to you and then keep going from there, hang out your laundry to dry, plant some herbs with those flowers you like to grow, and the list goes on and on.

When I was young and working for Esprit, they used to make a big deal about earth day and we did loads of things.. it was so much fun, building and fixing houses for people that needed help and children's shelters, cleaning up the beaches of San Francisco, and Planting trees. There were lectures by amazing people and it started me on a path to environmental awareness! Thank you Esprit!

So get out and do what you can today, even if its just cleaning up the garbage on the street... make it out of the ordinary so that your kids ask you what the heck you are doing!! Then you get a chance to explain.... Earth Day!

healthy eating - where do you begin....

I recently received a comment on a blog from a reader who wanted to start to cook in a more healthy way and how should she go about starting that whole process. I was thinking that Earth Day is a good time to start! It will forever remind you of why you are doing it in the first place! (okay and a healthy family is a good reason too!). Like just about everything in our lives today eating healthy shouldn't be taken on as a black or white kind of thing, there certainly are grey areas and especially when you are just starting out you don't want to make this a chore or a burden so take this project on with curiosity and an open mind and you will certainly have good results.

Some of these suggestions may sound a bit extreme but I think that it's important to just start over, otherwise unhealthy things can creep back into your diet. So, for instance, if you clean out your refrigerator of all the processed foods you won't feel inclined to go back to them. And certainly there are exceptions like ketchup, the next time you buy some reach for the organic instead of heinz, just look at how much sugar is in heinz... this is true for most of the processed foods in your refrigerator.

So here are a few tips I think are good way start on a healthy path:

1) Clean out your refrigerator and toss anything that you don't recognize the ingredients to, if the names have more than three syllables toss it! I know that this is a difficult economy and waste is bad, but just start a-new! (and recycle all of those jars and containers!)

2) If your kids are with you shopping start to shop at Whole Foods or the equivalent, if you don't your kids will just load up in the sugar isle like usual. Get them used to looking at good things. I know it's expensive, but to get you started this is an easy way and you won't need to read EVERY label, the store has done it for you.

3) You will find that if you start to cook healthier you won't need as much 'stuff' when you cook and you will slowly build up the things that your family likes to eat... but you should also slowly introduce things that they may not like and after time and a few try's you will find what works for them and you! If your diet has been filled with processed foods your family is surely not going to look at a plate for veggies and brown rice and say YUM! so be prepared for this to take some time and talk to your family about why you are doing it, let them know its good for them (and eventually everyone will warm up to your new way of cooking)

4) When you are at Whole Foods get a cook book that appeals to you and read it like a book, you will find tips and ideas throughout the book that will help you cook better. I also like Martha Stewarts Everyday Food, it's a small monthly magazine that has great recipes that are easy, delicious and don't have a giant ingredients list (I hate those kind of recipes!) and since it's a monthly magazine it reminds you about eating seasonally because they focus on seasonal vegetables.

5) I think that many Americans get stuck in buying pre-made food and frozen prepared foods, if you hate cooking it's going to be difficult, but I think that everyone has their way of cooking that they like and once you get into it you will like it better and better... but it's important to cook your food for you and your family, that is where the energy is in your food, if you always use prepared foods any nutrients are pretty much worked over and lessened if not dead.

6) Look into finding a local CSA (community supported agriculture) ask at your local co-op or community board and if you can't get on one this year, sign up for next year and you will be all set! This also forces you to eat seasonally and it gets you to eat vegetables that you wouldn't normally buy. This way you can try things out and see what works for you.

7) Start with small things, things you already know how to cook, like lasanga or something and just use other ingredients like broccoli, leeks and tofu instead of meat etc. You probably don't need to eat meat more than once a week... if that! If you are eating whole foods (not the store but the food) you are getting all that you need. Many nights our dinner looks like brown rice, steamed vegies, chicken, fish, beans or tofu and thats it! You can learn to add condiments that flavor food instead of salt (like gomasio--which is sesame and salt so you use less salt).

8) You may see that you eat more food but it's cleaner and runs through you better. (like a machine). Try to cook using each of the methods of cooking on your plate; steaming something, cooking/boiling something, sauteing something, roasting, and last but not least frying in oil from time to time (croquettes made with grain are great). Not all of these all the time but when you are cooking make sure that you don't saute everything you are eating for example, instead boil rice, steam veggies, and roast a chicken... you get the idea. And don't forget about raw foods (I always forget!) but this is the most nutritional, I can usually get my kids to eat carrots or celery as a snack...but they whole raw food movement is full of delicious meals that are raw!

9) If you want to learn more about eating well and healthy I would suggest to attend the Kushi Institute Summer Conference in Palisades, NY - July 9-12. This is such a great opportunity to learn more about healthy cooking, you can take cooking classes each day and also learn more healing techniques, it's very stimulating and you will use this information in your daily life, just about every day!

The important thing is that you have fun with it, your food will taste better if you have fun while you are cooking! But don't expect that it will all come easy and you will make lots of mistakes...

This is a little like me trying this gardening thing... I'm sure I will make loads of mistakes but the fun part is trying it! --good luck!

I invite everyone to share their ideas about healthy food and what good cooking means to you!


Global Parents: Blair and Peter

Doing some research for something else, I stumbled upon a wonderful blog called Wisecraft recently. Nonchalant Mom decided that Wisecraft's creator, Blair, would be a wonderful Global Parent for this month! It is all helped by the fact that she lives in Seattle, Washington--a place that I have never had the pleasure of visiting but throughout my life I have loved the people I have met that live there. Blair will be joining Nonchalant Mom periodically to check in and share with us some of her Wisecrafting ideas and opinions for kids... I love her ideas, her style, and her enthusiasm for wholesome pleasures - her unique interest is something I hope you will come to love just as much!

Blair, and her husband of 15 years, Peter, live in Seattle, Washington (USA) with their daughter Emma (11) and son Ian (7). We have asked a few questions which Blair has delightfully answered, and you tell me... but I certainly learned some tricks! I hope you do too...

Emma and Ian

So, you own your own business right? Was this something you started before having kids, or was it related to having kids.....
I have a background in apparel design, but became an at-home mom when Emma was born. Peter has a background in brand design and marketing. He's had the idea that he could make a go on his own for a while, and once both kids were in school full time, about 2 years ago, I thought I'd like to do something in the working world, and we decided to give it a try being co-owners of a retail brand consulting company. That's how Story Trading
began. Its now been a year and a half and we're going strong. We combine our talents and each of us brings a little something different to the table, which we are finding is quite valuable.

kids morning charts

So, your kids are bit older than some of our recent interviewees - what's the average morning ritual like at your home?
Emma rises with the birds (I would argue even before), Ian tends to get up at a more civilized time. On school mornings, I have to wake them both up to get ready. They stumble down to the kitchen for breakfast (usually I make fruit smoothies, and put lots of sneaky things in there that are...shhhh...good for them. I also make biscuits and freeze them for mornings when there is no time to bake (I'm from North Carolina, we like biscuits!). We really try and slow down for all meal times, sit together and spend a few minutes talking. Although for summer and weekend breakfasts, we have introduced the concept of mom leaving the cereal boxes out so you can serve yourself, its great and they love to feel they are getting their own breakfasts, and mom and dad get a few extra minutes of quiet.

From there, they get dressed (with random guidance from me when they need it, just so no one wears shorts when its snowing), attempt to tidy their beds (this is a work in progress) and they are off. We are looking forward to the upcoming summer mornings, when school is out, to have more time to slow down in the mornings even more.

Do the kids go to school, are they home schooled, etc?
They go to elementary school, Emma is in the 4th grade and Ian is in 1st.

How do the kids get to school, etc..?
We drive ourselves to school, carpool when we can. Always hoping we can one day live close enough to our school to be able to walk to it.

It's almost always difficult to be the mother also running a thriving business - our readers will be curious to see if you have any good tidbits relating to how you balance this difficult task - do you have strong family support, a team of specialists, a nanny, a great assistant, good partner or patient mother, etc etc....?
You're right, its not easy to balance it all. Especially because it all happens at our house, we don't have an outside office. Once I drop the kids off at school, I come back home and usually get right to work in my office on the main floor of our house (Peter's office is in our basement.) When the kids are home from school, that's when the real balancing act begins. Making a schedule and sticking to it is really crucial, and I'm still trying to get better at this, but its really what works. Summer days are usually me working in the morning, and doing something with the kids in the afternoon, or vice versa. And usually fitting in late night work here and there when we are faced with big deadlines. Last year we had a great relationship with a teenager down the street who came over a couple afternoons a week to play with the kids, go on hikes with them around the neighborhood, etc., which was a huge help. Other than that, its really Peter and me (no family nearby). We have no cleaning lady (I wish!), no nanny, its all us. We realize that even in the chaos, it is a gift we have given our family...to be able to do our work here at home, have a flexible schedule that allows us to spend more time with the kids.

Lunch Time!!!

What happens around lunch time on the average day? Any special concerns around food, or diets, etc? Anything about the food or daily ritual that may be different or unique to readers elsewhere in the world?
Lunch is the most freeform meal of our day. Meaning sometimes it actually doesn't happen at all if we have a big snack. (Ian seems to eat all day anyway, so stopping for lunch can seem redundant.) When I do make lunch for the kids, my emphasis is on nutritious choices, and I find that they will pretty much eat whatever I put out, so I try to make it look pretty and be healthy (this really works for them!). Carrots with the green tops might be a bigger hit that simply sliced carrots...Sandwiches cut with a cookie cutter seem more fun, that sort of thing. Emma is enjoying herbal tea these days, so maybe I'll make some and put it in her favorite tea cup (the fancier ones, of course). The same sort of idea works for their packed school lunches as well.

Ian at the Olympic Sculpture Park

Is there lots to do with kids in Seattle - anything special other readers might like to know about that you do with your own kids?
Seattle is a great place to raise kids, there's never a shortage of activities for all ages around town. We have a fantastic zoo, and newly remodeled aquarium, children's museum, there's tons of beaches to explore, snow skiing and mountains are just a short drive away. I plan to take my kids to the Central Library, designed by Rem Koohhaus, and to the newly remodeled Seattle Art Museum this summer. Currently, one of our favorite places to go is the Olympic Sculpture Park, a free, open-to-the-public outdoor space.

Any special toys or books, etc that your kids love that other parents might not know about or have at their disposal?
My kids adore books, and I'm quite happy about that. They are voracious readers and I believe it has everything to do with how much reading we all did as a family when they were toddling around. Ian is obsessed with Legos, and Emma loves American Girl dolls and everything that goes with them. We are also big big fans of audio books, and have the entire collection of Boomerang Audio Episodes for Kids, my kids are addicted to them (so am I). The creator of Boomerang became a client of ours after reading about how much we loved the programs on my blog, weird how the world works.

What's the afternoon ritual like around your house on an average day? Anything different in the way you handle things that other parents might find interesting or useful?
Afternoons are anything goes when we are all at home. We believe that the kids definitely need downtime, or just time to do their own thing, and I think they have come to really enjoy this in the afternoon. They will go to their rooms on their own, to read, play, draw, whatever. Sometimes they just play together, there are some elaborate pretend games that get created in those afternoon hours. We started the idea of "quiet time" when the napping season stopped around age 3 or so, and were firm about it. It stuck, and now I believe we all benefit from a little "me" time after lunch.

Two Green Stuffed Peas!

Days seem to be busy, even when we try to keep them from being overscheduled with activities. Kids have busy lives, and frenetic energy to live those lives. I have always been insistent that at the end of the day, we have our dinner together, at the table, as a family. I believe it is very important to reconnect as a family, talk about our day. We have a ritual that we do whenever we have trouble thinking of what happened in our day (as kids often do). We go around the table, and each person says answers "What was my Rose today?" and "What was my Thistle?" I learned this little trick from a friend, years ago, and its definitely a keeper. It gets everyone thinking, and I love calling the "bad thing" a Thistle instead of a thorn, the lesson being, even with the bad things, good things can result, and we can learn from them.

Anything special or different about your afternoon snack routine, etc?
On school days, the kids come home absolutely starving. I have found that if I have a healthy snack in the car, waiting for them, they will eat it without any complaints (this was a very happy discovery). In Seattle, there is a coffee shop on every corner, and the temptation is always there to stop in there if we have a few minutes to kill. We're trying very hard to get creative about bringing our own snacks, maybe choosing to run around at the park for a few minutes instead, or heading home and making "afternoon tea" (or hot cocoa). During the summer months, afternoon snacks usually happen outside, in the treehouse, with stuffed animals.
Evening meal? What's that like - any special circumstances on average, any special foods, etc...?
I plan a week's worth of meals on Sunday, go to the market and buy the items I'll need for all those meals. Looking at our calendar for the week, there will be nights we will have a quick meal ready to go (pre-made pizza crust, that the kids can add toppings to), and once or twice a week I'll have something new for the kids to try (these don't always go over well, but my emphasis is on trying). Meal planning has been great for our family, it keeps us from falling back on less healthy, fast food meal choices, and saves money on eating out.

What's the night time like around your home? Any special routines for the kids or you in preparing homework, getting the kids ready for bed, etc?
My kids are really good about getting ready for bed, and they go to bed early by comparison (shhh...don't tell them that), usually 8:30. We did early bedtimes when Peter was working outside the home so he and I could have some time in the evening. They read for a half an hour or so before bed, often to each other or alone. The bedtime hour is pretty calm around here. Again, I think its because that's the way its alway been for them, we established their routine and stuck to it.

Any ideas from the past about parenting that are coming back to haunt you, or instruct you (from your own parents, etc), or help you, or scare the hell out of you now, etc?
Hmmm. Well, I am the more submissive parent, and Peter is far more strict. We often clash as the kids get older and things come up (like should we let Emma get her ears pierced, I say sure, he says no, he won). I think I had submissive parents, and in many ways I see the advantages of that, but I also see how effective clearly stated rules and intentions have been for them. Our household mantra is "Behavior has consequences", meaning its all really quite simple. Good and bad behavior have natural outcomes. The kids have understood (and tested) that many times, but I hope it is something they will carry with them always. The one thing that scares the hell out of me would have to be the idea of raising teenages. I see lots of sleepless nights in my future!

Any special natural remedies or foods in your home that you might like to share with other readers? Anything you learned from your culture or family, etc.?
We have always been open to natural remedies, but also use modern medicine as well. Luckily, our kids have been pretty healthy throughout their lives, so no big worries. They swear by their rice pillows for tummyaches and it usually does the trick. For Emma's seasonal allergies, we buy locally pollinated honey for our toast and it has probably helped us all. I am a firm believer in supplements like omega-3's (especially for boys, I read somewhere that they can't store it the same way girls do, but don't hold me to that) and add it to smoothies, along with probotics, wheat germ, all kinds of stuff they would spit out if they knew!

Anything else you might like to add that we didn't touch in our questions, or that you feel other parents might like to know about your family - could be informative, funny, a little tidbit, etc etc?
Well, I was once given a tip by my good friend that if you needed a moment from your child, ask them to go look for a book or toy in another room that...well...is most likely not there. Weird? You tell me. Those 5 minutes of them looking...and you taking a deep breath could be the best spent 5 minutes of your day.

Another trick is...whenever you're closing the car doors, tell the kids to touch their nose (to get those little fingers out of the way). It works every time.

And lastly...hugs speak volumes. Give lots of them!

Thank YOU Blair! We look forward to working with you!

poisoned waters

Leave it to Frontline to celebrate earth day but bringing to light the polluted waters of America, this year is the 30th anniversary of the 'clean water act' and it looks like our water is more polluted than ever. Frontline examines the newest health hazards in our nation's contaminated waterways, in FRONTLINE’s Poisoned Waters, airing Tuesday, April 21, 2009, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith examines the growing hazards to human health and the ecosystem. Why frogs have six legs, females with male parts and males with female parts, and in this special 2 hour Frontline we will hopefully see suggestions on why this is happening.

In our house, my husband and I love Frontline and rarely miss a show but if you are new to it be prepared for some very serious and upfront issues and some very straight talk. In Poisoned Waters Hedrick Smith looks are who, what, where and why, and we learn that “The ’70s were a lot about, ‘We’re the good guys; we’re the environmentalists; we’re going to go after the polluters,’ and it’s not really about that anymore,” Jay Manning, director of ecology for Washington state, tells FRONTLINE. “It’s about the way we all live. And unfortunately, we are all polluters. I am; you are; all of us are.”

Through interviews with scientists, environmental activists, corporate executives and average citizens impacted by the burgeoning pollution problem, Smith reveals startling new evidence that today’s growing environmental threat comes not from the giant industrial polluters of old, but from chemicals in consumers’ face creams, deodorants, prescription medicines and household cleaners that find their way into sewers, storm drains, and eventually into America’s waterways and drinking water.

Click here for more information and if you miss the episode that is running
Tuesday, April 21, 2009, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings) then you can see it online as well... just don't miss it!


antik batik on sale for a week!

For one week only we have put the Antik Batik collection on sale - the new collection as well as the already on sale collections... I really love Antik Batik and we would like to pass on some savings to you. You may have noticed that their collection was priced higher this season that in the past, it's a little hard to explain and has to do with international shipping, duties, etc... but in the end I felt it was higher than it has in the past so I wanted to offer 20% off so that it wasn't so out of reach.

We will take the 20% off when we process and ship your order, so you will not see the discount when you receive your email confirmation, but you will see it reflected on your receipt with your package (sorry we are a bit behind the times with the discount codes and such!). This offer is only for one week, April 16th - April 24th... at midnight on the 24th the sale will end.

This is a bit out of the ordinary for Nonchalant Mom to offer an in-season sale but I wanted to pass some savings onto you after tax time... uff Da!

Antik Batik - Spring 2009 collection (click here)
Antik Batik - already on sale... (click here)


vampire energy

Like I said in my previous post, lately I am a bit concerned about the 'energy' that races through our house! Have you ever gotten up in the middle of the night to get your kids a drink of water and noticed how your house is 'lit up' with the various on-lights, electrical equipment, and clocks in your home? My favorite is when I hear a low 'humming' and notice that the TV is off, but the VCR is still rolling away through the movie--ever wonder how much energy that takes! yikes!!

Well the wonderful people at Good Magazine have posted a very simple graph on the Vampire energy swiping that may be going on in your home and how it can save you up to $270 a year on your energy bills, now you may not think this is much (although I DO!) but if you put together all of the homes throughout our country alone it comes up to just about $3 billion dollars of waste a year! geeze!

I would like to also talk about the wireless in your home, these are a huge part of the light's that blink late at night in our home and why the heck do we need that on all night! Besides the energy used the possibilities of what is pulsing through our home is alarming, so we are turning ours off at night. It may just be me but I also think that wireless has something to do with Colony Collapse Disorder (click here for the wikipedia page on CCD), it somehow makes sense to me so I am going to watch out and turn things off--what's to loose! and I'll be saving a few bucks on my energy bill!

I hate to be the scary voice when you visit my blog, I like to combine the good with the bad but this is something I have thought of quite a bit lately and it all really makes sense--let's try not to be so wasteful!


The Beautiful Truth

I'm not sure how it happened but the movie "The Beautiful Truth" recently showed up in our mailbox from Netflix and it's one of those movies I didn't remember ordering, couldn't remember what it was about when it arrived, but the text on the cover sounded interesting so late one night we plopped it in and watched... I was really amazed at this simply wonderful movie! We had some friends over and so we all watched it together and it was unanimous... The Beautiful Truth is an amazing journey by a young boy and his father through the Gerson Therapy, it's implications, it's applications and so much more! The approach is so very simple in this movie that our kids watched it as well, and while they didn't understand all the details, I think it was great for them to see this young boy doing quite a bit of research to find out more about this most wonderous therapy.

While the Gerson Therapy is the main point of the movie I came away with so much more! ...and I am running out to get a juicer, if you are looking at making your life just a bit more simple you should watch this movie and let it move you to action. If you want to know more about the Gerson Therapy before renting the movie click here to go to their website or click here for more information on the movie.

The move also talks about cell phones, fillings in your teeth, and so much more! If you are wondering what is happening with the Bees... it becomes pretty clear that the colapse has a lot to do with cell phones. We are much more careful about what we leave plugged in at night and our wireless in the home and cell phones (see my next post on the vampire energy), it's not something to be afraid of yet something to be aware of... to help you live your life in a better way, if it doesn't make sense to you just don't do it, but you may surprise yourself when it is presented in such a simple and basic way.


spring gardening!

This seems to be the year I am finally starting a garden... for the past five years I have wanted to do it but have not found the time and we have ended up with a share at the local CSA.. which as been great! and such a nice way to eat locally grown organic vegetables. But I really wanted my kids to experience the garden, I have such fond memories of walking into the garden and eating green beans and carrots right out of the ground! I wanted my kids to have this memory as well, I also want them to see what's growning how long it takes and help work the garden as well (I'll let you know how that goes as well...hhmmm.)

I also noticed this year that just about everyone was doing it... so how could I not!? As I went over to each of my friends houses we oogled over their sprouting seeds. So we dove into the project this weekend, the kids helped me start the seeds with these handy pods and then we will plant them soon enough!

I am also going to start a little 'nonchalant mom garden project' and I will be updating you on the progress of my low-maintenance approach to gardening. We will plant a portion the traditional way but then part of the garden will be an open project because last year when I planted my planters and flower beds I used my compost, which we happily dumped everything into including seeds, so we had wonderful, delicious tomatos and squash growning out of my planters last year. This year I am ready for them and I am going to dump my compost into a square of my garden and just leave it to see what comes up! low-maintenace nonchalant mom style! ...I will let you know how this turns out.

but for now I am happy to say that after two days we are already seeing some sprouts!


handkerchief hat

While traveling I often see these simple little ideas that I really love. In this kind of weather that's not really warm.. yet... but it's too warm for a winter hat, so I love the handkerchief idea! I like to do this myself but when I was in Sweden I saw a lot of people using this for kids and babies and I love it!

It's also a simple and easy way to keep the hot sun off a bald head, and still look cute, in the high summertime!

just one of the multiple idea from a little thing.... handkerchief!


parasites!? --don't be afraid

I know this is a weird subject (and I'm kind of kidding with this image), but I would like to try to un-weird it for you and maybe help you to understand them better. Parasites are pretty darn common and you can go through a lifetime and not know you have them, honestly you don't really ever get rid of them but I think that there can sometimes be a problem when they are 'attacking' you (for lack of a better word). Candida is a form of parasite, just to give you an idea. Now don't go online and google parasites because it will freak you out, and this approach to parasites is not common and so you will see all kinds of craziness if you google them, and I am not talking about tape worm of these kinds of thing... it's more intestinal.

I would like to tell you a little story to get at the heart of what I am trying to communicate about parasites, this happened to me about two years ago and ever since I have wanted to share this story with you... because it was such a relief for me. On a yearly visit that I like to do with Dr. Warren King in Minneapolis two years ago he told me that I had a parasite on/in my colon, so he gave me a homeopathic remedy to get rid of it. When I had taken a few days of the remedy I called Dr. King to ask him what kind of remedy that was because for the past year I had had this kind of 'anger' that was pretty horrible and I couldn't really understand it--he explained that the remedy was for the parasite not for the anger, BUT the parasite was in my colon which would relate to the anger that I was experiencing. Getting rid of the parasite relieved that anger, and it was weird how it just disappeared. I was completely amazed. Now, I'm not telling you that if you are angry you have a parasite in your colon but rather, healing the root of a problem can really bring relief. If you have a chronic issue, that is fairly subtle, a parasite could be your issue.

Drinking certain teas can help you to combat parasites, the first is a tea that you can drink about once or twice a day called Pao D'Arco--I just went to search Pao D'Arco on google to make sure that I had the spelling right and I came upon a wealth of information on this medicinal herb which has links to curing cancer and helping thyroid problems--click here for more information. I don't have any experience with this myself so we are going to stick to the parasites. Another tea is Corsican Seaweed Tea, which tastes horrible! You can buy this tea in most Health food stores or at the Natural Import Company and here are the preparation instructions:

How to Make Corsican Seaweed Tea
Corsican Seaweed Tea is a fox-like plant which grows beneath the warmer waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. To Prepare: Add one-quarter ounce (approx. 12.3 grams) of Corsican Seaweed to 2 Cups of spring water. Cook down slowly until 1 Cup of liquid remains. Drink before breakfast or on an empty stomach and wait at least 2 hours before taking any food.

I also feel that drinking Kombucha is great for building healthy flora in your intestines. Kombucha seems to be taking the world by storm at the moment so you can find it anywhere! It has a crazy taste that you will get used to (and eventually crave), just don't freak out when that 'goo' lands in your mouth, it's all part of the beauty of Kombucha! (I like the original flavor best.. but you need to find your favorite!)

It may be hard to find a local homeopathic practitioner that is into this kind of thing but it's something to talk to people about and you never know when you might find a person, who has seen a person who is great!!! pass it on!! and if you are in Minnesota it is certainly worth a trip to Dr. Warren King, he is amazing!