Teaching Old-Fashioned Values in a Modern World

September 21, 2009 by · 1 Comment 


Teaching Old-Fashioned Values in a Modern World

from the publication Parents

There’s no doubt that children are becoming more disrespectful at a young age. And the reason is, well duh: With smart mouthed cartoon characters, obnoxious reality shows, and constant cell phone interruptions, it’s crystal clear that society has become ruder and it’s rubbing off on families. Some moms and dads are settling for behavior that’s barely acceptable rather than holding their kids to the higher standards they grew up with. For instance, parents are happy if their kid simply doesn’t roll his eyes when he meets someone new rather than expecting him/her to greet the person nicely.
Given all the outside influences, it may seem practically impossible to instill good, old fashioned values in a young child. While the wagging finger or scare tactics your parents may have used probably won’t work, these modern approaches from leading experts will. Try them and your kids will get noticed – for their good manners.The Old Fashioned Rule:
{ 1 } Don’t interrupt adults in the middle of a conversation.
You’re trying to talk to a friend and your kid screams over and over again: “Mommy Mommy Mommy MOMMY!” Is there anything more exasperating? Young kids not only have little impulse control and patience, but they also translate your inattention as “Mommy is being taken away from me; I need to get her back.”
We inadvertently feed the problem by telling our children to say ‘excuse me’ as if that’s the magic word. “They say excuse me and we go ahead and answer them. Well, that’s still interruption.” A better way: Explain what’s expected up front: “I’m talking to Mrs. Jones right now. I’m going to be talking for a few minutes, and I don’t want to be interrupted.” If your child is waiting quietly, stop to tell him/her how much you appreciate it and that you’re almost done. If he/she’s not, hold up a finger as a signal to wait. If he/she keeps on, no matter how hard it is to tolerate – don’t give in or she’ll learn that badgering eventually does work to get your attention. Most importantly, hold up your end of the bargain and in a few minutes tend to her needs: “Now it’s your turn.  Thank you for waiting.”
{ 2 } Say “Thank you” without being prodded.
Your kids probably get a lot of gifts and treats. Why can’t they learn to say thank you automatically? “When parents remind their kids in front of a person who gave the gift, the acknowledgement seems so insincere.
Reword your reminders. Instead of asking your kid to say thank you, say, “It’s the right time to show how much you appreciate your gift.” Then kids aren’t repeating your words. They get used to giving the acknowledgement on their own.
Also get your child in the habit of helping you write thank-you notes. Toddlers can draw a picture, preschoolers may be able to print their name or the first letter of it. How much they can do isn’t important.  The point is to re-enforce that it’s polite to thank someone for a gift.
{ 3 } Greet Adults with “Hello” and a proper name.
When most kids do say something to welcome an adult, they look at the ground and mumble or ignore.
Role-play it at home. Pretend you’re Aunt Sally or your child’s teacher and have him practice saying hello to you. Encourage him to smile or wave and clearly and pleasantly greet the person. If he’s reluctant to look up, challenge him to find the color of her eyes. Once he feels comfortable with the process around the house, chances are he’ll try it out in public. But it’ll work better if you let it be his idea rather than yours.

{ 4 } Hold the door.
Many kids barge through a door, barely noticing the person who opened it or worse still, whether it’s going to slam in someone’s face. They don’t automatically think that they should get the door; you have to explain to them that it’s the kind thing to do.
Practice at every opportunity. Once introduced to the concept, young kids love to hold doors because they feel like big strong helpers doing a very important job. Start at home: “Mommy’s carrying a lot of groceries. Who can hold the door for me?” At the store or at school, where doors may be heavy for a young child to hold on their own, ask them to help you: “Here comes Mrs. Roberts and Brian. Let’s hold the door for them because that’s the polite thing to do.” Begin very low-key and then one day – because you’re not requiring it or demanding it – you’ll be amazed to hear your child say, “Mommy, I can do it myself.”

{ 5 } If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. (My personal favorite!)
Young kids learn from watching TV today that it’s okay – even sometimes funny – when people say rude things to each other. Add that to the fact that a young child’s sense of empathy isn’t fully developed, and it’s a recipe for a humiliating situation.
First, resist watching inappropriate TV shows – or, at least discuss the problem behavior with your child. For instance say, “Do you think that was mean of Simon to talk to the singer like that?” Then let your child know what she says has the power to hurt the feelings of another kid or adult. See whether she can recall an example of a time when her feelings were hurt so that you can be sure she grasps the concept. It’s also worth making up scenarios and asking her whether the person in the story said a good or bad thing. The more concrete you can make it for her, the better she’ll understand it.

{ 6 } Give up your seat.
It usually doesn’t cross a young kid’s mind that giving up a seat to an older person on the train or at a party is the polite thing to do. The chances he’ll actually do it are even slimmer.
Lead by example. The next time you’re riding a crowded bus or train, ask your child to sit with you. Say: “Would you come sit here on my lap so this nice man can have a seat? I think he would really appreciate it.” The more often children see you do it, the more liable they are to come up with the idea themselves.

Interesting Fact:
Lose the Excuses!
“He didn’t have his nap today”….”She’s just hungry”…..”He doesn’t usually act like this….”
It’s incredibly tempting to make excuses for your child when he behaves rudely in public. “When you do this, children get the message that they don’t have to answer for their behavior because their parents have done it for them. Instead, apologize for the inappropriate behavior. That sends the message, “I did something wrong, and Mommy and Daddy have to say they’re sorry about it to others.”


Thank you to the magazine Parents for this fantastic article and for Laurie who typed it all up (since it was not available online through Parents) and allowing me to post it here!



Seven Smooches

September 11, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


Seven Smooches is an inviting little shoppe with items created and hand sewn by two mothers who have seven children between them. Their company is inspired by the indulgent natural softness of a child’s kiss. All of their beautiful products are one of a kind, machine washable and made out of 100% recycled wool sweaters.

I love the beautiful astrology blankets they offer.   Each blanket is hand felted and stitched with the constellation of your choice. These would make a perfect little baby gift.


Astrology Blankets $50 each

Seven Smooches also offers many different types of clothing, from kimonos to cardigans – with attention to every detail.


Hollywood has gone crazy over this shoppe, rumor has it that Halle Berry, Laila Ali, Marcia Cross and Courtney Cox Arquette’s daughters wear the clothing. I have fallen for it too.  I just love everything they offer.

Eco-Friendly Dolls

August 31, 2009 by · 4 Comments 


My daughters and niece love their matching Poot & Boogie dolls. They are unique, funky, cuddly, eco-friendly, handmade and colorful. The dolls are individually handcrafted, pre-washed and pre-shrunk, made with 100% cotton and 100% wool materials.  They’re stuffed with eco-friendly fiberfill derived from EcoCraft corn. They are “handcrafted with love and smiles” in a small house on a hobby farm in Aldergrove, BC.


Poot & Boogie accepts requests for custom orders– how fun would it be for your child to have a doll with the same features as her own!


Organic Flower Arrangments

August 26, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


image courtesy of CaliforniaOrganicFlowers.com

We are a family that sends flowers to funerals, mothers in the hospital, for Mothers Day, or just because.  To be honest, I still have not found a great online source for ordering and buying flowers. I haven’t been thrilled with any of them and just now realized I should have been looking for an organic flower source. We strive for everything else to be organic.  Why not the flowers we send as gifts?

I started browsing the web in search of these companies and am excited to share with you the list I put together:

1. Your local Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market might carry organic flower arrangements. Here in Utah, we aren’t lucky enough to have a Trader Joes and the Whole Foods near me does not carry them. But they do in thousands of  other locatinos, so be sure to check that option out.

2. California Organic Flowers is a beautiful and (gasp!) affordable online ordering and delivering service for organic flower arrangements. This is a wonderful company that prides itself on growing and then selling their own organic flowers from their farm. They also go by the motto that, “Flowers are our way of celebrating nature, and celebrating ourselves, so they just have to be grown in a way that cares for the environment or it defeats their whole purpose.”

3. Organic Bouquet is a company that has been around since 2001 and works with their partner farms in providing their customers with organic and beautiful flowers to deliver. The company has played a key role in “the transformation of the floral industry by promoting and living up to the highest social and environmental standards—developing the most eco-friendly floral packaging, initiating the industry’s first carbon offset program, and growing our flowers in a way that is gentle on the earth and that safeguards the ecology and the well-being of wildlife and farm workers”

Be sure to check out these store and online websites the next time you think of sending flowers. Sending flowers is such a beautiful gift, and now you can take it to the next level by sending them in their truest healthiest form.

Simple Shoes for a Happy Planet

August 10, 2009 by · 26 Comments 


Sara Snow from Discovery Channel introduced me to Simple Shoes and we are now huge fans at our house! Simple Shoes is a “nice little shoe company getting in touch with its inner hippie.”


Organic Cotton, I.S.O. 14001 Suede, Hemp, Bamboo, Recycled Car Tires and Recycled Inner Tubes. Simple Shoes are also VEGAN shoes.

Their shoes are made with the above sustainable materials–what could be better than an eco-friendly shoe?


Women’s Toepaz-HempThese are the pair I wear out and about; they are unbelievably comfy and fun!


Toddler’s GT Janie – Little Kid’s–Abby wears these and shows them off to anyone who will listen!


Toddler’s Innertube – Little Kid’s–If I had a little boy this is the pair I would pick!

Nature Play Groups

August 7, 2009 by · 8 Comments 


While reading Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv I decided to start “Nature Days” and invite others to come along. Some of my fondest memories growing up were unstructured “play times” in nature.

When I need to calm down, take a breath or need to get out of a “funk” I find myself thinking of times spent in nature as a child. These events included exploring the woods behind our home in Maryland, walking along the Chesapeake Bay, exploring the tide pools in Maine, hiking the mountains in Utah and impromptu excursions on the side of the road to play in fields of wildflowers. I hope I can teach my children the strength they can take from nature, to allow them to be able to have their own memories involving the outdoors and learn how beautiful everything around them really is.


The Nature Days we host with the local community are quite simple and low key. We meet together to explore nature without set activities; we just let the kids play and explore nature. It is a wonderful monthly experience for the children in my local community. Recent studies show that children are smarter, more cooperative, happier and healthier when they have frequent opportunities for free and unstructured play in nature. It gives them the chance to explore, dream, pretend, experiment and come to their own conclusions all at their own pace.

Start a Nature Days with your friends in your community! It will be a great opportunity to let your children enjoy nature along with other children. No playground, no toys, no itinerary. You can meet from anywhere to a fishing hole to a dry patch of desert.

Green Books

July 24, 2009 by · 11 Comments 

Looking for new board book additions to add to your infant’s book collection? I was thrilled to come across these three new (to me) authors and series.


Little Panda by Little Green Books

Meet Little Panda and his friend Little Monkey as they spend their day eating their favorite foods and playing together. Your little ones will enjoy cuddling with this book made out of super soft fleece. The book is machine washable and made from 50% recycled material. It will help you as you start teaching your children about being eco-friendly and covers subjects such as improving the environment, learning about endangered animals, recycling and much more.


Baby Series written by Michelle Sinclair Colman and illustrated by Nathalie Dion

Is your baby a Country Baby, Winter Baby, Urban Baby, Beach Baby, Foodie Baby or Jet Baby? You will find the perfect book to fit your baby’s lifestyle and personality. The illustrations are bright and colorful and the text is so clever. These are my favorite books to give as baby shower presents.


My Friends from Author Taro Gomi

My Friends follows a little girl who thanks all her friends around her: the rooster who taught her to march, the ant who taught her to explore the earth and the teachers who taught her to study.


Spring Is HEre from Author Taro Gomi

Spring is Here is the perfect board pictures book that tells of the changing of the seasons.

What perfect gifts these would be for the little ones in your lives!

Teaching Young Children to Go Green

July 20, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Making correct decisions to help the environment and to be green is a lifetime learning process that can start at a very young age. Setting a good example for your children is the most important step to take in teaching them to reduce their carbon footprint and to love the Earth. The following are some other tips to help you start to teach your young children in their every day lives to be more eco-friendly.

  • Arts & Crafts—Take the time to brainstorm together, check out a book from the library or browse the web to find activities that you can reuse supplies to have fun. Teach them to be careful with the amount of paper they use and to always recycle when possible.
  • Errands—When possible, walk, not only is it helpful to the environment but it encourages a healthy lifestyle and gets their wiggles out! Arrange errands with neighbors and carpool, explain to your children why you are going on errands together.
  • Family/Friend Outings—Plan activities, playgroups, vacations that can give you the opportunity to help the environment, support a charity or visit a place that can teach your children more about being eco-friendly.
  • Snacks—Cut down on packaging by reusing bags, drink containers, etc. Get your children in the kitchen to help you make snacks to use throughout the week together!
  • Meals—While at the grocery store or farmer’s market make shopping more fun by explaining to them why you buy organic and local food items.
  • ChoresInvolve them in the preparation of homemade safe cleaning products, explain to them why you choose to stay away from harmful chemicals. Give them a large part of the recycling job in your home by involving them in collecting, sorting and disbursing recycled goods.
  • Nature—Start young by your example in teaching them how to love the Earth. Make sure they understand how beautiful everything is so you can help develop their care and concern for taking care of their surroundings.

Nature at Night

June 1, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

I grew up with a planetarium in my Elementary School (I know–how cool is that!) and grew to love stargazing, planets, constellations and the stories that went along with them.

Nature at night…what a beautiful art form.


Crépuscule sur le Mauna Kea

My two kids are too young right now to stay up late enough for the drive to find a clear sky far away from a big city and stargaze but I am looking forward to doing it with them someday soon.

Here are some websites to help your star gazing night be even more interesting:

A Perfect Book for Nature Days: “Gus is a Tree”

May 6, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Sometimes people email me asking how they can teach their children to relax in nature when they don’t really get it themselves. I want you all to check out this book because it is the perfect example and explains it in such an amazing way.

Gus is a TreeGus is a Tree by Claire Babin; illustrated by Olivier Tallec

Gus is a Tree is about a boy who, while playing with other children, falls asleep beneath a tree and then dreams of experiencing life as a tree. Gus shares the forest with other trees including birches, oak and beeches. He sees an autumn sunset and a wild boar family search for food. Night falls and he senses other creatures–owls, bats, even a dormouse that lives in a knot in another tree. He experiences a refreshing fall of rain and feels squirrels scamper up and down his bark. Then he is awakened by his friends who tell him it is time to go inside from the rain.


It reminded me a lot of Abby today at Nature Days. She had fun with the other children but after a while I noticed her playing under the trees by herself. I could tell how calm she felt, saw her love for nature and watched as it made her face light up.

This week I have been talking and thinking a lot about the most beautiful place I have been: the Maine seacoast. I remember walking along the coastline for hours–the smells, sights, feel of the air, noises and how I felt inside. Complete bliss. I need to book tickets to Maine now for us all to recharge!

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