Celebrate 2013 with little ones!

Time seems to fly by and 2013 is already upon us! There are so many fun ways to celebrate the New Year with your little ones. We have some great ideas for your family to ring in 2013!

Create festive New Year’s Eve decorations with one thing kids love- glitter! Cover plain party hats with glue and let your kids cover them with glitter. Have them decorate a frame and then you can use it to display a picture from the night.

Host a New Year’s Eve pj bash with other families. Have everyone come over in their pajamas and with sleeping bags for little ones who can’t stay up any longer. Have it be a potluck where everyone brings their favorite yummy snack to share. It’ll be a great way to celebrate with fellow families.

Check out what New Year’s Eve events local towns are offering. Many towns and cities offer family centered celebrations with fun activities and events for kids. This can be a fun and safe way for your whole family to ring in 2013.

Create a 2013 jar where everyone in your family writes what they hope will happen in the coming year. Have everyone keep it simple so kids can feel like they can accomplish these goals.

Make the night special and go out for a nice dinner as a family. Have reservations and go early so you can enjoy your time together.

If you don’t think your kids can stay up past their bedtimes skip the countdown to midnight and plan something fun to do on New Year’s Day.

We hope you and yours have an amazing new year!

Children’s Holiday Traditions

Holiday traditions are the best, and it’s amazing how many different ones you can find around the world! Here are some global traditions you can share with your kids:

In Austria the feast of St. Nicholas begins Christmas. The saint travels around with the devil and asks children for all their good and bad deeds. If a child was good they get sweets or toys. The song Silent Night was first sung in Austria in 1818. Baked carp is the food of choice for Christmas dinner.

You can tell Brazilians celebrate Christmas in warm weather because of their traditions. Father Noel visits children while wearing silk clothing to ward off the heat. Legend has it he lives in Greenland most of the year. People decorate for the holidays with fresh flowers and large Christmas “trees” made from electric lights. Fireworks are set off in the cities during Christmas. The festivities continue all the way until January 6th, or Three Kings Day.

Chinese children decorate their trees with ornaments made from colorful paper. Dun Che Loa Ren visits their homes and fills stockings hung on the tree with gifts and treats. Families who don’t celebrate Christmas still have a special tradition during this time. It’s the Spring Festival where they get to honor their ancestors.

The Irish celebrate Christmas from Christmas Eve until January 6th, which they call Little Christmas. You can see red candles in windows on Christmas Eve, which are a guide for Joseph and Mary as they look for shelter. Children don’t leave cookies and milk for Santa, instead it’s mince pies and a pint of Guinness to refresh him. The day after Christmas is St. Stephen’s Day, on this day boys go from door to door during the Wren Boys Procession. They carry a fake wren and sing and play music while asking for money “for the starving wren” (really, it’s for them!)

If you visit Spain for Christmas make sure you learn how to dance the Jota. It’s a special Christmas dance that’s been done for hundreds of years. After Midnight Mass and Christmas Dinner neighbors flock to the streets to dance. Instead of Santa, it’s the Three Wise Men who bring gifts for good little girls and boys. They come on January 6th, the day the Wise Men came to Jesus. Children fill their shoes with straw for the tired camels and in the morning the straw is replaced with presents!

Talking to your kids after a tragedy

When a national tragedy occurs it’s important you talk to your children about what has happened so they don’t hear the news from other sources. There are ways you can reassure and help your child cope with any feelings they might have.

Children take their cue from adults about how to act when given serious information. Make sure you have your emotions in control before you talk to your children. It’s ok to show that adults can be sad and upset. But make sure you’re able to speak clearly and act calmly.

Minimize access to TV and the Internet where they might experience an overwhelming load of scary information that their young minds can’t process.

Let your child know it’s ok to talk about their feelings. The world can be a confusing and scary place, even for adults. But children can become very confused and it’s important to help them put things into perspective.

Make the time to talk, even to you’re very young children. Adjust your conversation according to the age. This might mean letting your child draw or act out imaginative play while you have your conversation. Let them know you are always available to talk.

For early elementary school children keep all the information brief and consistently reassure them that their school and home are safe. Remind them of all the things they practice in school for safety, like fire drills.

For upper elementary and early middle school students they might develop more and more questions as the day’s progress and they hear more information.  These children are transitioning from a world based on fantasy to one with more reality. This can make it hard for them to separate truth from their fears. It’s your job to help them do that.

High school students might be reluctant to talk at all to you but consistently remind them that you’re available anytime. They also have probably developed their own thoughts about violence and society and might want to share those thoughts. Give them ways to help keep their home and school safe, like not letting in strangers, it’ll let them feel like they’re contributing to a solution.

Have your kids identify an adult in their school that they feel they can go to if they feel unsafe. This can help them feel like they have an anchor outside of home.

Watch your child’s emotions and notice any changes in appetite or sleep patterns. These could be signs that their anxiety levels are at high levels. If you’re concerned don’t hesitate to seek a mental health professional to help your child work through their feelings.

Keep your routine normal, children rely on having a regular schedule and it helps them feel like their world isn’t chaotic.

It’s crucial we help our children work through their feelings as we work through our own.

Organic Baby Food

Every parent wants to give their baby the best but organic baby food can be expensive and hard to find. If you struggle to find organic baby food that your little one loves… consider making your own!
It can be very reassuring to know what’s in your baby’s food. The best way to do this is by making it yourself. You have full control over what your baby is being exposed to.  Food on the grocery shelf has to be over processed so it maintains a shelf life. Making food yourself is a way to avoid this standard supermarket practice.

There are plenty of books out there that talk about making baby food. Find the one that suits your lifestyle, even if isn’t about making organic baby food. You can tailor the recipes to your lifestyle.

Making baby food does take a little time so it’s always good to make a large amount and freeze some for later. That way you save time later. You can store extra servings in an ice cube tray and pop them out as needed. For parents who prefer avoiding plastic, try small glass jars. You can use them to carry the food when you take it out of the fridge so they do double duty!

Don’t feel like you have to run out and buy new equipment for making baby food. A regular blender works just fine to puree food into a tasty consistency for your little one. All you need to do is steam your ingredients to soften them for blender use.

Making your own organic baby food can be a great experience for you and your baby. Bon Appetit!

Creative ways to wrap your gifts!

You can buy the most eco-friendly gift in the world but finding a green way to wrap it can be a challenge. Half the paper used in the U.S. every year is wrapping paper. You can get creative and reduce your use, while making your gifts look unique!

There are plenty of companies that sell wrapping paper made from recycled paper. Check the label before you buy a roll and make sure it’s from recycled materials.

If you’re wrapping a kids gift, use the comic book pages from the newspaper so they get a laugh before opening their present!

For the graphic designer in your life wrap a gift in newspaper using only the print section Use pages that don’t have any ads or pictures for a mature look.

Reusable gift bags are also a good idea because they can be used over and over again, long after you’ve given your gift.

Cut open a paper shopping bag and have your kids decorate the plain side with crayons, glitter, stickers, the works! Use that extra personal paper to wrap your gift. Grandma will love it!

Instead of buying boxes to use for your gifts consider using what you already have in your house. Try empty plastic containers, or boxes you don’t use. You’ll also save yourself money when you don’t buy boxes!

If you have a lot of printer paper use that as wrapping paper. Again, let your children decorate it for a work of art that comes with the gift!

Kids grow out of their clothing so fast, cut up a pair of jeans or a colorful shirt and use it as wrapping paper. It’ll be totally unexpected and stand out from everything else under the tree!

Do you have empty baby food containers lying around? You can use them for small gifts. Wash the container out and peel off the label. Have your kids create their own labels, they could write something like: “To the World’s Best Aunt” or draw a picture that hints at what’s inside.

The options really are endless when it comes to eco-friendly gift-wrap. Why even get boring wrapping paper when you and the kids can have fun getting creative?!?

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month; a great time to celebrate and remember how every family is unique. If your child was adopted and he or she knows use November as a way to honor the special way you became a family. There are some fun activities you can enjoy with your little one. You can also use this month as a chance to spread awareness about adoption options.

This special celebration has been in existence for the past 17 years. It was created to spread the word about children who are awaiting homes.

At bedtime read positive stories about adoption. This can be a great way for your child to identify with characters in a story and see their family on the pages of a book. It can also be a way to introduce the true story of how they became a part of your family.

Remember to use family centric language when you talk about the adoption. If people ask when your child was adopted say, “We became a family last year” instead of “She joined our family last year.” This will enforce the idea that adoption is a family experience.

If you’re interested in adding to your family through adoption or foster care take advantage of National Adoption Month to get informed. Families come in all shapes and sizes and deserve to be celebrated!

Our New 2013 Collection!

We at Funkoos are very excited to announce the release of our new 2013 collection! We’ve worked so hard on this collection, focusing on every detail and making sure our new products live up to our standards. It’s been so exciting to watch these pieces come off paper and onto our website! We’re especially excited that our collection features layette sets that include a cap and bib. We wanted to make shopping easier for you by combining these adorable sets. You can also purchase individual sleepsuits, burp cloths, bibs and caps! Like all our products these new ones are made from 100% organic cotton. For your little man try our King of the Jungle cap for these cold winter days. Try our Castle bib for your little princess during her royal mealtime. We hope you enjoy our 2013 collection as much as we do!

Small Business Saturday!

Black Friday is a chance for us to score great deals from well-known brands. Cyber Monday is the day many people shop for deals online. But there is a special, heartfelt day in between.  Saturday, November 24th is an opportunity to spread the wealth in the community. Today is Small Business Saturday, a day to support the small businesses in your area.

If you’re looking for a personal, special experience while shopping then look no further than Main Street! Small business owners dedicate their lives to their work and are full of enthusiasm for what they do. You can easily find a unique gift for someone by checking out your local shops. Shopping local also means your money stays in your area. You’re helping to sustain your local economy when you shop at your downtown shops. Small businesses are a crucial part of our communities. They’re run by our neighbors and help keep our towns and cities unique and special. Over half of all working Americans own or work for a small business. It can be difficult to run an independent business, especially in this economy. We can show our appreciation for local business owners by celebrating Small Business Saturday. Let’s shop small today and help keep our local shops in business

Kids Activities for Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to get together with the ones you love and care about. Not only do you get to feast on delicious food but you also can make the day about being thankful for the things you have. Kids can get involved with fun activities that show them how to share their appreciation for what they have. It’s a fun way for you to bond!

While you’re preparing your Thanksgiving meal the kids can help out by decorating placemats. Give them large white sheets of paper and crayons and have them write on a placemat for each person at the dinner table. They can write and illustrate why they’re thankful to have that person in their lives. For younger kids they can write or draw why they love that person. Use the placemats as placeholders at the table and let guests bring them home afterwards!

Have a bowl of strips of paper that everyone can reach into throughout the day. On each strip a person can write what they’re thankful for or happy about. Attach the strips of paper to form a link and hang it as a garland. It’s a fun project to work on throughout the day. This is great for younger kids because they can simply write about what they’re thankful for at that very moment, instead of having to remember things.

Have everyone write about what they’re thankful for and put it in a bowl. In between dinner and dessert you can sit around the table and guess what person put what in the bowl. This is a great way to get a discussion going about what everyone appreciates!

If you’re keeping it low key this Thanksgiving consider donating some time at a soup kitchen during the day. Everyone appreciates a warm meal and it’ll be a chance for your family to spread the love and togetherness with others.

Play secret turkey! Have each person pull a name out of a bowl and spend the day doing nice things for that person. Little kids can draw pictures, make crafts, write letters, serve dinner, pull out chairs and do other little acts of kindness for their person. It’s also a great way to enforce good manners! At the end of the night everyone can guess who his or her secret turkey was.

If you have a loved one who lives far away and can’t make it give them a surprise phone call to let them know they’re being thought of. Have the kids sing a Thanksgiving song over the phone to up the enthusiasm.

Thanksgiving food is always a treat but the day can be so much more than turkey and stuffing. You can share the loving spirit with those you care about and help your kids see what’s really important in life: togetherness and caring.

Green Livin with Lori Popkewitz Alper!

Lori Popkewitz Alper is the founder and editor-in-chief of Groovy Green Livin, a site dedicated to sharing simple green living tips and current information on sustainable living. A contributing writer for multiple blogs and websites, Lori speaks, writes and advises on a variety of issues related to creating a greener lifestyle and improving your business reach through social media. Lori has been featured on ABC World News and in the Huffington Post, Forbes, Los Angels Times, Care2 and Blumberg News.

Lori lives in the Greater Boston area with her three sons, chocolate lab and groovy husband. In her free time she can be found practicing yoga, pitching a baseball, running, cycling, skiing, reading, cooking, or trying out a new eco friendly product. We loved learning her groovy green tips!

What led you to start Groovy Green Livin?

My passion for natural, non-toxic living began over 12 years ago after seeing firsthand how living an organic, non- toxic lifestyle can directly affect your health and well being.  My commitment and dedication towards a greener lifestyle was strengthened when two of my children were diagnosed with life threatening food allergies.  I then decided to trade in my lawyer suit and follow my passion- to educate myself and others on how to live as naturally and toxin-free as possible.

Tell us about your in-home personal consulting, it sounds like a fun event for a mom’s group!

I work with individuals, small groups, schools and businesses and we all end up learning from each other. There’s nothing like walking through someone’s home, school or business and answering questions as they arise about living a non-toxic lifestyle. It allows a unique opportunity to apply information directly to your situation.

What is the one thing you wish every parent knew before they went shopping for products that might have dangerous chemicals?

There is a fantastic website available that enables us to check most of our personal care products. The site rates each personal care product with a hazard score. I try to check all of my personal care products on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database before use. As your shampoo runs out think green. Replace the old with something non-toxic and safe I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve returned a product because it had a high hazard score.

Going green can be overwhelming, how can parents make the change without feeling stressed?

The best advice I received when I began this ‘green’ journey was to start slow and only replace things on an as needed basis. That’s truly green.

What are some ways parents can green a nursery?

To begin greening your nursery I would think about what goes into your baby’s body (food, toys etc), on your baby’s body (lotions, shampoos) and what’s in the air he/she breathes. Consider the toys that your baby might put in its mouth, the lotions you use, the food your baby eats and the clothing, sheets and diapers that will come in contact with your baby. Those are the items you want free of toxic chemicals. If you focus on these things when you’re buying items for the nursery you’ll be able to make good choices.

How can parents make going green a family project? How can young children get involved?

The dinner table is a great place to start involving your children. Discuss why you prepared the food that you are all eating. Have your children help with food preparation. Once you begin the conversation the discussions can take on a life of their own.

How do you integrate green choices into your own home?

We try to eat well by eating organic, local foods. We belong to a CSA, which stands for Consumer Supported Agriculture. A farm share is delivered to us weekly — we go and pick up a box filled with fruits and vegetables that are local. We don’t have to travel far for it and it’s seasonal. So that’s creating a connection between where our food came from and how it got to us. We also indulge and don’t deprive ourselves of treats like ice cream. Our belief is everything in moderation. I think that’s really a good rule to follow. You do what you can and also enjoy life.

Have you tried any eco-friendly practices and struggled with them? How did you overcome the challenge?

For a while I was having an extremely hard time remembering to bring my reusable bags to the store. I finally discovered that keeping the bags in the front seat of the car was a simple solution. They were basically staring at me as I got out of the car so it was impossible to leave them behind!

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