Category Archives: cost of kids

Healthy Eating & Living

In honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Obamas spent time yesterday volunteering at Stuart Hobson Middle School in the District of Columbia painting apples in support of Michele Obama’s initiative to create healthy eating and living habits.

Creating healthy eating habits for your kids (and yourself) is not only good for your health, but also good for your wallet.  Some quick tips on how healthy eating can help your bottom line.

  • Eat in, rather than out, is almost always healthier and cheaper
  • Veggie snacks, i.e. carrot sticks or ants on log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)
  • Hot cereal! This is a great and healthy alternative to expensive cereals, add in apples, raisins and nuts for an added bonus. Yum! 
  • Make your own applesauce with kids instead of cookies, they will remember the activity
  • Buy in bulk, you’ll save more than you think on good whole foods than you think you can
  • Make a list and stick to it.  Good intentions can go out the window to grocery marketing.  Better yet, shop at spud! (mention SFF and we get a referral)
  • Drink only tap water and you’ll save a bundle and be much healthier
  • Don’t buy junk food.  Not only is it bad for you, but it’s bad for your wallet
  • Buy in season and on sale, it is amazing how much you can save when you shop smart
  • Visit a farm and see where your food comes from, great cheap activity that reconnects

Help build happy, healthy, and smart kids.  Here is a great resource for kids volunteering , on a site called Compassionate Kids.

Another quick shout out to a great blog post on MLK, Jr. from the folks over at The Story of Stuff, entitled Honoring the Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Through Action.

Did you volunteer yesterday?  It not too late, the volunteer spirit lasts all year!
What are your tips for healthy eating?

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

Kids’ Carols

Our Big Guy adores Christmas carols, and loves singing them with all his heart. Last year he stood in front of Hubby’s entire family (around 25 relatives he sees once a year) and belted out Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He’s been practicing some new songs I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, and  Frosty the Snowman this season.

So, my homemade present to him this year is going to be a booklet of his favorite carols. LyricsMania has tons of lyrics. I also bought the kiddos a double CD of kids singing carols that has been a big hit for our holiday errands.

Growing up in a small town, we would go caroling every year and I loved it. My favorites are the 12 days of Christmas, Oh Christmas Tree, and Deck the Halls.

Frosty the Snowman is his new favorite:

Do you sing carols as a family?
What traditions do you have for free holiday entertainment?

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

Homemade Kids’ Kitchen

When we moved into our “new” house two years ago, we wanted our first Christmas to be special. But we couldn’t afford to spend a fortune…so-called eco-friendly play kitchens can cost over $300! So, my Twin Sis and I teamed up to create a built-in kids’ kitchen in the end of one counter. She took the lead and did lots of research on creating home made kitchens, and did a fantastic job.

She made a colorful laminated back-splash from old Body & Soul magazines, then she made a cook-top from recycled CDs and brads. She even included knobs and a clock, plus hooks and magnets, not to mention the touch light that helps to put a light on the subject and is oh so fun.  Then she went above and beyond by making homemade felted vegetables. The entire kitchen cost practically nothing, and was made of mostly reused materials. 

“Auntie” also bought him a pot set, and baskets for the all the veggies. My mom also sewed an apron, mitts and a chef’s hat. Hubby’s mom, Gram, bought a fun  Melissa & Doug Pizza Party set . I bought lots of utensils, and in retrospect I would have bought more that could actually be used to cook.

Alas, as it turns out, the kitchen didn’t hold Big Guy’s attention much (he was almost 3) and initially he only really played with it when other kids came over. It did inspire him to cook for real though, and he loves using the bigger utensils. But Girly has grown up with it and loves playing in her little kitchen (this pick was taken at 10 months last fall…hard to believe she has so many curls now!).

Lastly, I know not everyone has a spare open cabinet, but after seeing our kitchen a friend made one from a standard kitchen rack. The best part is that the rack is still useful and costs about as much as some play kitchens!

Here are some resources if you’re interested in designing a kids’ kitchen:

Eco-friendly Kitchen Accessories:

We’ve also shared a close-up for inspiration.  
Do you have a homemade play kitchen?

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

Zulily Shoppping

OK, so I may not be a Black Friday shopper, but the lure of so-called Cyber Monday caught me. Recently I signed up for Zulily for “Daily Deals for Moms, Babies and Kids.” I was curious about what kind of deals they have, and the only way to find out it to sign up to  Zulily .

We had already decided that our gift for Big Guy should be tag along bike, since he has clearly outgrown his $10 second hand bike but isn’t ready to ride long urban trips yet. Plus he loves bike commuting, but takes up 2/3 of the space and is a 56 pound lead weight.

But I hadn’t figured out what could be equally appealing for our Girly. So, when Zulily had a 40% off sale on Smart Gear toddler bikes for $50, I couldn’t help but get one. She loves the walking tricycles at her school and over the weekend had a blast trying out a borrowed tricycle. The problem is that her hand-me-down trike of Big Guy’s ready never worked that great…either too small for it or suddenly too big! Plus, on our last trip to REI, we had to coerce her off the display bike! Plus, I’m pretty sure that once Big Guy is on the ridealong we’ll be able to fit the push bike in the trailer for some special trips and she can ride on safer paths and parks once she’s ready.

Zulily has lots of other eco-oriented toys on sale right now:

  • Green Toys – trucks, teacups, planting sets and more…(on the kids’ wish list!)
  • Wooden and cloth toys by Wonderworld, include a mini-ecocar
  • Le Toy Van wooden creative play toys
  • SIGG stainless water bottles for kids
The deal with Zulily is that products are on sale for only 72 hours (usually 30-60% of retail), so you have to buy when the sale strikes.

Are you signed up for Zulily?

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

Save the Season

I hope your holiday weekend was as relaxing as ours. It reminded me of how laid back I want our entire holiday season to be. Less stress, more fun.

I read a great article on our drive that sums up how important it is to simplify the season. Just like the story they share of the overwhelmed toddler, I remember a similar event and I keep that imagine in my mind when I get tempted to buy too many gifts. We’ve already adopted many of the ideas they discuss:

  • We did a gift exchange in my family growing up, I loved giving/getting one special present. Hubby’s family also did one, and now the cousins do a “Pollyanna”. It’s such much more fun for kids to be a part of the gift giving and too many gifts for a child can be really overwhelming.
  • Send a “wish list” to family members that includes experiential gift like a family membership. Also list items that are off limits, like video games or toy guns. If you don’t send some guidelines there a much greater chance of having a misunderstanding and hurt feelings.
  • Make gifts. We often made some gifts growing up. I definitely plan on making more gifts as the kiddos grow up. So far, I’ve been giving away my homemade jam as hostess/dog-sitter presents.
  • Adopt a family. My mom’s group is adopting a family for the third year. We buy gifts, clothes, and food for two families in need. By pooling our resources we’re about to do a lot more together. Last year I remember buying hats/gloves/scarfs for the family members. My kiddos were also in need, and I just couldn’t imagine not being able to just go to the store and buy them cozy essentials.
  • Support a toy drive. Sock drive. Food drive. We support as many giving efforts as we can during the holiday season. Last year I was so proud of our Big Guy picking out a Thomas train to give to a child in need that just the year before he had coveted for himself. This year he really seems to understand why it’s so important that we share during the holiday season.
  • Throw a party! We’ve thrown a Danish “julefrokost” for the past decade to share the festive traditions of Denmark with our closest friends. I cook a ton of Danish foods, and enjoy sharing some the culture that I love so much.

How do you plan to simplify and “save” this season?

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