Healthy Child Healthy World

I wake up every day feeling blessed by my family, and I couldn’t imagine ever facing the impact of environmental threats in our home. While the video below is indeed a wake up call, I find it to be a vivid reminder of why I’m moved to act and why I care so much.



A Wake-Up Story from Healthy Child Healthy World on Vimeo.


For more information, check out Collete’s story.

For more resources, buy the comprehensive resource: Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home
Do environmental health concerns move you to action?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

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Get Growing

“In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Marget Atwood

My kiddos agree. Spring is such a glorious season, and my favorite part is getting out in the garden! I love when it’s finally warm enough to spend the majority of our family time outdoors.  It’s also exciting to teach them as the plants begin to grow with our favorite kids’ garden books.


Growing your own food is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint, as the average produce has traveled 1500-2500 food miles to reach your plate. Plus, it really helps you eat what’s in season and growing organic food is a great way to connect with the environment. 


It also a very cost effective way to feed your family healthy food. As you can see from my harvest of tomatoes last year, a few productive plants can provide an abundant harvest. If you can harvest for just a few weeks you’ll easily reap a return on your investment. Although I’ve never actually tried to quantify my “garden investment,” and hope this season to track it better.


Including soil amendment, this past weekend I spent $65 to get my garden started: tomatoes, basil, eggplant, celery, onions, leeks, potatoes, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, green beans, and dill. I had previously planted broccoli, cauliflower, shallots and garlic. I also have an herb garden with marjoram, oregano, curry, parsley, thyme, sage, peppermint, lemon-balm and lavender. We also have blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb and apples. The best advice that I’ve ever gotten is to plant what you love to eat!


You can make your garden even really budget friendly by starting from seed. Although I have to admit that I’m choosing mostly starts this season, since last year I ended up loosing almost all of my seedlings after getting sick. Until my kiddos get a little older and can truly help out with the seed process, I need to stick with the instant gratification of getting beautiful starts in the fresh Earth.


Gardening does have a steep learning curve, but don’t be intimidated. I learn more every year; last year my leeks didn’t produce much and I just realized that I didn’t plant them deep enough. My gardening “bible” is Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening The “companion” workbook is also very helpful, as it provides a handy place to plan your space, log your planting dates, and make garden dreams a reality Maria Rodale’s Organic Gardening Companion.
















Are you planning a veggie garden for your family?
Have you been successful in trimming your grocery bill?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Taxing Priorities

If you divvied up your household spending into a single dollar, what would your pennies be spent on? 

I’m guessing that the bulk would go toward housing and feeding your family, with transportation and child care requirements taking up another chunk of your “dollar.” Ideally you’d have enough money left to “play” with and that spending would reflect your unique values and interests. Yet, I’d be shocked to find any family I know spending significant portions on a security system or theft insurance.

So, it still stuns me that the majority of federal taxes, our hard earned money, goes toward military spending. In 2009, U.S. taxes spent more on past military debt than education and energy/environment policies combined. Here’s a great graphic that shows where your money was spend, you can check out a full report from the National Priorities Project.

Think about it for a moment, where are our priorities as a nation?  I respect service to your country, but is military indebtedness going to make our children safer?

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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

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College vs. Retirement

Which should you choose to invest in first, college savings or retirement? How do you evaluate the perks and pitfalls?


Like many parents we’ve wanted to open college saving accounts since our kiddos were born, but it just hasn’t happened yet. Our two biggest reasons have been the fact that I’m still paying on my own college loans, and our expensive child care tab.

So, we’ve been telling ourselves that as soon as our child care costs go down we’ll open accounts, and this month our tuition was reduced by $120 when our BigGuy moved up to the Older Preschool class. So I’ve been researching my options (the first month of “savings” is going to dance and swim classes).

Most states have 529 plans, and the beauty of the Oregon College Savings Plan is that you can start with as little as $25 and contribute as little as $15 per pay period per account. There are also 15 different investment funds to chose from and plenty of other tax perks. The calculator is pretty nifty, but also scary to see how much its going to cost.

But like most financial decisions, life really isn’t that simple. With Obama’s new student loan policy offering more tax benefits to parents, I’ve been wondering whether it even makes since to save for college. According to my employer calculations, for every $100 I contribute to my retirement it will only draw about $60 from my paycheck. While there are many tax benefits for college savings, it’s not clear to me if they can actually match that rate. Plus, whether retirement or college savings, there’s risk of loosing out like many have in the recession. We can just hope that once the economy has recovered it will be more sustainable all the way around.


So, back to the question, would it pay off to put more into our retirement and let that fund grow so that we have more of income available once college time arrives? I’ve heard multiple times that you can’t get a loan for your retirement, but it also feels kind of selfish to talk myself out investing in our kiddos’ future. I haven’t made my mind up about which path to take (or both) and would love your comments.

Do you have a college savings plan? 
Or are you maxing your retirement first?



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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

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Small Loans = Big Impact

I’ve been intrigued by micro-lending since I first heard of the Grameen Bank‘s innovative social entrepreneurial work. The concept is pretty simple, small loans can make the difference between poverty and prosperity for people around the world, especially women. Micro-loans typically have low default rates, as recipients respect that this is a business venture and not a charity. When I first learned about how they worked, I immediately wanted to invest in hard working families across the globe.


So, I was really excited to learn that a couple from San Fransisco figured out how to make small lender-to-recipient loans possible. Kiva’s web site is very straightforward and explains the whole process, but the best part is that they share stories of the people seeking loans and you are able to connect with them via the web and track their progress and repayment. You can choose projects in almost any field and any country. Check the video out for yourself:


Literally little by little small loans are making a big impact around the world.

Will your family consider investing in a micro-loan? Please share your story!
Use this link to lend your first $25 through Kiva for free!

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

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