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Teach your Children Well…

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
April 9, 2009
File under: Family Time, Food, holidays

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Earth Day reminds me of Valentine’s Day, which is as good a reason as any to promote the consumption of chocolate. It’s just that you want the people you love to know you cherish them—through words and heartfelt actions—every day. Otherwise, the holiday starts to feel hollow, fast. Well, Mother Earth deserves nothing less.

True stewardship requires good habits. Lucky for me, good habits can be learned—and bad ones broken.

In my own adventures in parenting, imitation trumps all. That has its drawbacks: I no longer swear, which I used to enjoy. And my boys notice my every foible. But it also forces me to be a better person, someone worthy of imitation.

Come Earth Day, we can show our kids what it means to cherish healthy soil, fresh water, clear breezes …read more of Teach your Children Well… here

 
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Earth Day 101

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
April 2, 2009
File under: Family Time, holidays

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We’ve been enjoying life on earth for a while now. Given our growing impact, it’s been but a blink since we devoted one day to reminding us to cherish and protect it every day. Earth Day was born in 1970. Now, imagine the world we can leave our little ones if we teach them what it means.

There are countless simple ways to dive in. For all children, “doing” will stay with them far longer than “learning.” That’s especially true for young ones, for whom the idea of a threatened planet and dwindling life-giving resources may be overwhelming, at best, and frightening, at its worst. Instead, focus on what good they can do.

Then, just DO something green: Drop off donations at a community center or food pantry, plant trees or garden in your town, even clean up your local beach. …read more of Earth Day 101 here

 
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A Homegrown Garden For Us All

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
March 25, 2009
File under: Family Time, Food, Health

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The days are longer. The sunshine’s stronger. And shoots and buds are wrestling their way through the dark, warming earth.

Spring is here, and it holds special promise this year. Whether you’re a steward of the land or a seed-starting gardener, we need look no further than the White House for inspiration: The Obama family is planting a vegetable garden in their new lawn.

Victory Gardens took root during World War I and World War II as a way for millions of citizens to support the war effort during lean times. In 1943, Americans planted more than 20 million Victory Gardens.

And, by some estimates, they harvested nearly a third of all the vegetables consumed in the country that year. Gardening was good for the family, the community, the country. …read more of A Homegrown Garden For Us All here

 
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Free Play for Healthy Kids

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
March 15, 2009
File under: Family Time, Health, Toys

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It didn’t take much to persuade me that letting kids play is one of the great joys of parenthood. I’ve been known to send mine outside to “shovel” snow to earn their hot cocoa.

Most days, our living room couch forms the walls of a space shuttle or bear cave or restaurant I am privileged to patronize.

Then I stumbled upon a wonderful story in Scientific American that linked several studies that support the simple, retro child-rearing theory: Kids NEED to play freely. …read more of Free Play for Healthy Kids here

 
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A Plug for Inconvenience

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
February 12, 2009
File under: exercise, Family Time, Health

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why, when we visited family in suburban Cleveland over the holidays, my family and I were as sedentary as hibernating bears.

We’d leave the house for periods of play—like pulling the new Radio Flyer wagon, heavy with little ones, around the yard. We’d walk to the car to drive somewhere to buy something we probably didn’t need. And we watched far more TV than usual. As much as I love them, I couldn’t wait to come home.

Most winter days here, we’re up before the sun (I’d love to change that, boys). We collect eggs and feed the chickens. We haul, split and stack firewood. We feed the woodstove three times a day. Ditto for our hungry bellies; we (sometimes grudgingly) cook all of our meals, mostly from simple, natural foods.

And it’s at this time of year, when snowstorm after snowstorm lays lovely layers of winter’s cloak down all around us, that we snow blow, shovel and rake our roof to keep the ice at bay.

I realize that this work, the work that we’ve taken on by choice so we could feel …read more of A Plug for Inconvenience here

 
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