Archive | October, 2013

Treating

Just a super quick post tell you about how TREATING went…

It was awesome!

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The balloons were the perfect craft for this crew.

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I think everyone had a total blast!

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IMG_4621 A definite repeat! The pictures don’t do it justice. Sorry! I forgot my good camera and the lighting was weird, but you can get the idea!

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Happy Halloween! Hope yours is full of TREATS!!

xoxo

 

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Halloween – Creating New Traditions

Halloween is just around the corner and we are excited!  Re-thinking Halloween has turned out to be an awesome experience.  We are finding that there are so many great things about the season and so many ways to celebrate that aren’t scary, haunted, mean-spirited or involve sugar highs! Read on for some of our latest ideas:

We were BOO-ed!!!

This is definitely one of our new and favorite traditions! On Sunday night we were settling in for books and bed when someone rang our door bell.  We opened the door to find a mysterious car speeding off and an orange pumpkin full of prizes sitting on our doorstep. H was ecstatic that a mystery friend would leave such an awesome pot of loot on our doorstep just for him.  He couldn’t stop thinking about who it could be and he couldn’t wait to go Booing for himself.

Boo-ed

My favorite part about the experience was that it made H so excited about giving.

The first thing he wanted to do when he woke up in the morning, was go to the store to pick out things to give to his friends when we went Boo-ing.  I, also loved this part because I was in the driver seat and could steer him aware from the typical Halloween treats and toward options that I liked better such as fruit snacks, apple cider, crackers, and other non-edible surprises! Driving around to friend’s houses to go Boo-ing also provided for some good old fashion family bonding time.

If you haven’t gone Boo-ing yet, do it soon.  You can print off the above printable or click here for the official site and full story. It really is fun!

Forget Trick or Treating, TREATING is where it is at:

This year we are going to forgo Trick or Treating and just go “treating”.  We haven’t actually done this yet, so I will let you know how it goes but here is the plan:  On Halloween morning we are getting together with a few friends to make some Halloween/fall crafts to give to people.  I am going ask our Pastor to help us identity a few people in the community who might need a little Halloween lovin’.  People who wouldn’t normally be engaged in the Halloween festivities; people who live alone,  people who don’t have  kids or family in town, older people who don’t live in a group settings, and anyone who  might not have many social interactions that day.  Then, instead of going Trick or Treating, we are going to go TREATING – bringing them our hand-made crafts (and hopefully a smile or two) .

I think this will become more and more fun as our kids get older and can contribute their own ideas and crafting skills to the experience, but for now most of our kids are young (5 and under) with short attention spans so here are the two crafts we were thinking about doing:

pumpkinsI love this one because it is very fall-ish and can stay on display after Halloween.  Click here for the tutorial.

msd104470_hal09_pumpkinfaces_vertI admit that this one is not super crafty or unique and probably not something that someone will treasure for long…but it is realistic!!  A bunch of 3 year old boys might each be able to make one and enjoy doing it!  And honestly who wouldn’t love seeing this face holding a balloon on their doorstep?

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In a few years, we will be able to tackle more elaborate projects like these:

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What are some of your non-traditional Halloween traditions?  Please share them with us!

Happy Halloween!

 

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Confessions of a Chocoholic

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend who mentioned that she read this blog.  While she said that she enjoyed reading it, later in the conversation she admitted that she didn’t always enjoy reading it and that sometimes she felt judged.  My heart sank.  I couldn’t believe that I had  made her or anyone  feel that way.

So, I want to start by apologizing, if this blog has ever, in any way made you feel judged or discouraged – I am  sorry as that has never been my intention. More than anything I want this to be a place of encouragement and inspiration. We sincerely just want to share the journey that God has taken our family on, how we feel that we have been able to make some positive impacts in the world through our purchases and how we have found deeper purpose in these simple everyday actions –  a bit of holiness in our everyday humdrum.

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It’s definitely not easy and we are far from perfect.

I know that God calls us all in different ways, at different times, to different things.

That is why I love learning from and sharing experiences with other people.  The best, most profound, and precious lessons I have learned aren’t from famous teachers or preachers but are from the real people in my life, doing the real things they have been called to do…Like my friend who was brave enough to share her real feelings with me!  I am so thankful to have friends who are truthful and transparent. Her honesty was a good reminder that is the type of person I want to be; someone who is open, honest, real and transparent. So, today I’ll start with a little honesty.

On Wednesday, I posted about how we are re-thinking certain aspects of Halloween and that this year we would only be buying and consuming ethical chocolate.  This post was definitely not intended to make anyone feel judged about their Halloween candy choices but rather share information about an issue we care about and to be faithful in an area that we know God is calling us to respond to, but that doesn’t mean we always respond with the right heart attitude or even right away.  Change can be slow in this household and attitudes can be stinky.

Photo from MindThis

Photo from MindThis

The chocolate issue is actually something that our family has worked on for a while now. I wish I could say that our experience with ethical chocolate has been all smiles, laughter and fair trade chocolate chip cookies, but that wouldn’t be honest.  A more accurate description would be that it has been full of unintentional and intentional slip ups.  I admit that I over the past year I loved seeing a  candy jar at doctor offices because it offered a bit of anonymity as no one knew about my commitment to fair trade chocolate so I didn’t feel as guilty about having a piece…or 5.  In addition, a few tears have been shed, there have been a few arguments and there might have been one incident that involved a 30-year-old woman throwing temper tantrum at Dairy Queen on a family vacation when her husband kindly mention that the Chocolate Extreme Blizzard she just ordered probably had chocolate in it.  Let’s just say it was not my finest hour.

Many times we wonder if it even matters, making small decisions like this that we never may see an impact from…but once God has brought light to the darkness, or knowledge where there was ignorance, the worst thing one can do is go on pretending it never happened.

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We are trying and often failing.  But we aren’t giving up because we know that God is not demanding perfection, rather sincerity of heart, mind, and action.

Surprisingly, that has been the hardest part; not  how often we fail but how often the state of my heart and the motives behind my actions fall far short of bringing Him glory.

So, what am I doing with this? Well, since I can’t be perfect, I decided that I can at least be joyfully imperfect.

Meaning, I will strive to follow God’s prompting to make personal decisions that show a love for His people across this world. I will rejoice when I do make a decision that I know in my heart is the right one.

I sincerely believe that every good choice I make matters and will have a positive impact – so why not celebrate and focus on these?

A wise friend recently said –

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I am pretty sure she is right.

Every time we choose to buy ethical chocolate, support an organization that does meaningful work, buy the fair trade latte even though it costs a little more, forgo buying new shoes and donating to the homeless shelter instead, it makes a difference and is worth noting and celebrating.   The more joy we find in these choices the more we will want to choose them.

And the next thing we know we will be  growing a fair trade, ethically produced, slavery free, sustainable garden!

Will you join me celebrating like this?  I hope so!

 

 

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Halloween – How bitter-sweet it can be…

Last week, I shared with you all about how we are re-thinking Halloween around here.  I wasn’t worried about finding a costume for Hudson, but now all I have to do is decide between the three super-cute (and gently used) Halloween costumes that were given to us. Sweet! Thanks Cindy, Dan, and Rosemary for sharing the Halloween love!

Costume

So, that leads us to our next Halloween re-thinking:

Candy and The Bitter side of Chocolate

Those of you who read our family’s first blog know that I have written about chocolate before and that  a little over a year ago our family started making some changes and embraced what we affectionately (and sometimes not so affectionately) call the Chocolate Challenge. I will actually be sharing more about my personal experiences with this later this week in my Confessions of a Chocolate Craving Activist. But today I am  going to just stick to the facts.

It is no coincidence that I am sharing this post today, as it is actually National Blog Action Day and this year’s theme is Human Rights.

You may be asking what do Halloween, Chocolate, and Human Rights have to do with each other? Well, let’s find out…

The National Confectioners Association reports that Americans will buy more than 600 million pounds of candy this year for Halloween (about $2.4 billion).  The most popular Halloween candies contain chocolate.  Even though chocolate tastes so good going down, the production and harvesting of cocoa beans is not nearly as sweet, as you’ll gather from some of the stats below.

 Most Chocolate is a product of child labor.

Photo from MindThis

Photo from MindThis

~ West Africa produces around  75% of the world’s cocoa.

~ UNICEF estimates that nearly a half-million children work on farms across Ivory Coast.

~ According to the British Broadcasting Company hundreds of thousands of  these children are purchased or stolen from their parents by traffickers and brought to work as slaves in the cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast.

~ The International Labor Rights Forum, reports that these child slaves will endure hard manual labour, averaging about 80-100 hours of work per week.

“Cote d’Ivoire’s child laborers are robbed not only of their freedom but of the right to a basic education.”

International Labor Rights Forum

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Photo from Food Empowerment Project

Urgh. The facts really are heart wrenching. If you have 45 minutes watch this documentary:

Beginning in 2001 there have been several national and international efforts to try to stop the use of child labor and slavery in the cocoa production but due to the scope of the problem and the complexity of implementation and regulation, these efforts have not seen much success and the problem persists. But that doesn’t mean that we have to be part of the problem.  As consumers we have power and we can be part of the solution. We have the power to say – “Sorry Hershey,  but as long as you support child slavery we don’t support you!”  Sooner or later they will start to listen.

So this Halloween we will be putting our money where our hearts are and only buying and consuming chocolates from companies that are selling ethically made chocolate.

Here are some examples of the awesome products available:

Halloween Treats

1 Mama Ganache Chocolate 2 Equal Exchange Halloween Kit 3 Divine Dark Chocolate 4 Endangered Species Chocolate 5 Newman’s Own Chocolate 6 Sjaak’s Halloween Bite Bag

I will be the first to admit that the consumption part will be easier for us as H has never been Trick or Treating and doesn’t know what he will be missing (but I will – oh how I love Twix bars!).  However, I am pretty sure that whatever Halloween activity we decide to take part in there will chocolate treats all around.  To help resist the temptation, I will definitely be bringing my chocolate treats with me!

If you want for more information on chocolate, check out these links –

CNN -The Freedom Project ,   Simple Mom – Chocolate – The Industry’s hidden Truth,

Food Empowerment Project – Chocolate,  World Cocoa Foundation,

 

 

 

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Striving for a Happy Halloween –

Oh how I love fall! The change in weather, the changing leaves, the change in wardrobe (I ♥ COZY!), the food, and the overall mood and feel of the season.  As much as I hate to admit it, there is one part of fall that I am just not that crazy about – Halloween. This may surprise you considering how much I LOVE PARTIES and really any reason to dress up, be silly, and have fun.  But Halloween has never done it for me and as a parent my lack of passion for the holiday has increased :/.  Something about my kiddos running around, knocking on people’s door, demanding candy, combined with the environmental impacts and over consumption associated with the holiday, makes it seem so contrary to the values I want to instil in my kids.

In addition, as a family we are striving to glorify God in all that we do and Halloween always makes me ponder the question “How can we be in the world but not of the world?”

I find this question hard because, I really do want to celebrate and make special Halloween memories with my kids but I know I need to stay true to what God has been working on in my life right now.  So, I have been reflecting on different ways to make our Halloween celebrations align a little better with our beliefs and how God is calling us to live right now…a little bit more bought beautifully, if you will!  The three main things I am re-thinking are costumes, candy, and our traditions.

The scary side of costumes~

I have to admit that I never really thought much about Halloween costumes and their impacts until this year.  A little research revealed a few things I had never thought of:

1. The environmental impacts resulting from the mass product of Halloween costumes are huge!

Last year Americans spent 2.2 billion dollars on Halloween costumes, most costumes were only worn once, not created in sustainable manners and not made of recyclable materials.

2. The materials that many of the commercial costumes are made of are not eco-friendly or safe.

I was surprised to learn that many costumes contain PVC  (a soft vinyl material).  PVC is hazardous and creates and releases dioxin during its use and breakdown. Dioxin is the main ingredient in Agent Orange and is thought to cause cancer, reproductive problems, and immune system damage.  Gross, there’s no way I want to be dressing my kids up in that!

A Bought.Beautifully Costume Philosophy~

1. Avoid buying new commercially produced costumes. Buy used costumes or swap with friends.

In all honesty, I think this should be really easy for everyone to do!  Think about all  your friends with kids and the kids in your community there has to be tons of costumes that can be passed on or shared, instead of thrown away.  This year I am going to pay attention to costumes that I think are cute and that Hudson or the little lady would like, and them I am just going to ask the owner if I can buy or swap with them when they are done!  Easy-peasy, right?

If asking your friends and family isn’t your thing you can check out used clothing stores or if you live in a bigger city, you are in luck, because – National Costume Swap Day   is gaining popularity and is TOMORROW!!! Click here to see if there is a swap near you.

2. Make our own costumes!

I must be honest, I am no seemstress, so this idea seems a little bit daunting to me and there are many other things I would rather be doing during this season: apple and pumpkin picking, baking, walking in leaves, than trying to navigate my way through sewing and creating a costume.   However, after spending a little time on the web I found tons of great options that could be pulled together with minimal or no sewing and using mostly items that can already be found in our closets or house.  Check out these cute ideas –

Halloween Costumes For more ideas and Halloween inspiration check out my pinterest board ~

Stay tuned or subscribe below, on Monday when we will be discussing the not so sweet side of candy….

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The Final Garage Sale Challenge

Want to look this good? You don’t have to go to The Gap or Old Navy all you have to do is go to GARAGE SALES!!!!

GraysonWell, to look this good, it might help to have good genes in addition to your garage sale jeans :)

Here is our final post on the Garage Sale Challenge and hopefully, a little inspiration for you to get out, find some deals (hurry garage sale season is coming to close!) and then give back.

Today, we are featuring my dear friend Elizabeth and her darling 3 boys.  For those of you who don’t know Elizabeth, you should get to know her, she rocks.  She is an amazing mother, friend and athlete. I think my favorite part about writing this post is the mental image, I have of Elizabeth out garage saling.   I picture a tall beautiful brunette pushing a triple stroller from sale to sale, piling her finds on top of the stroller, running up and down hills, not even breaking a sweat and her kids smiling the entire way. Oh how I wish I had a real picture – you would all be inspired!

Camping gearElizabeth had an extremely successful garage sale summer, finding all sorts of treasures for her family.  Some of the items she was most excited about was this camping equipment. All this items were in mint condition, had never been or hardly been used. Living in Wyoming with 3 sons,  she is definitely going to get her money’s worth out of these items!

IMG_4323 Camp gearDon’t you just love these plates and cups? Any one who has bought outdoor/camping equipment lately knows how expensive these things can be!

A few of her other finds include this sweet chair and lots of toys-

chair Toys

One thing that Elizabeth excels at is getting her kids out and active around town. I admire this in her so much, especially with three young boys! Her family’s presence in the community is definitely something I want to model.  Sometimes, I feel that being in the “young kid” phase makes it so easy to get stuck in routines and interacting with the same demographic of people most of the time.  I know I need to be purposeful about breaking this mold and providing opportunities for my kids to know, interact with and relate to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations.

So we decided to try giving time instead of money for the challenge and attempt something a little different –  a trip to one of the Senior Living homes in town for a little story time…

Boys listeningI wish I had more pictures to share but I didn’t do a great job documenting the outing as I had my hands full with my sweet energetic 3-year-old.  He was in more of a dance party mood :/

IMG_4330It was a very fun outing, a little awkward for me at times trying to reign in H’s excitement and energy…but well worth it in the end.

Elizabeth and boys- thanks for sharing your garage sale finds and the afternoon with us!

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