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Featured, Healthy Living

Warm Kids?!

May 13, 2015

Are your kids warm enough? It’s kind of a nutty question in May, right? Well, maybe not. There seems to be some lively weather happening these days!

In Michigan we tend to have a big, “Whew!” as June draws near, pulling out the summer gear for at least a few months. Yet here at Indigo Forest we’re still getting a steady stream of customers with sore throats, coughs & colds as the weather rapidly shifts between the low 40’s & mid-80’s F in just the last week alone.

Old midwives from England once shared that if you kept your neck warm, it almost didn’t matter about wearing a hat.   Spring in Michigan is exactly what they were talking about! How about a cool bandana, a favorite scarf, the ‘turtle’ cut off an old turtleneck for the hard-playing kiddos, or even thin wool balacalva’s that cover those sensitive lymph nodes, ears & necks?

The last couple of years have brought extreme weather throughout the country and around the world; locally we’ve had extended power outages right at the coldest part of the year. Summer is EXACTLY the time of year to creatively outfit your family with warm layers for all season!   Look for thin base first layers to the heavier warmer outer layers at your local church sales, rummage sales, garage sales and mom-to-mom sales.  Mix silk, wool, fleece & synthetic.  Cotton is great for summer, but can be dangerous in the winter when it doesn’t insulate if damp and takes too long to dry.   ALWAYS pick up the soft European wool/silk long johns if you’re lucky enough to find them anywhere, anytime! We sell it new, and it’s worth the $30-50 a piece, but we never pass up the chance to also keep kids cozy with used versions these priceless items too. We’ve found that warm hats on infants seem to cure the hiccups, warm bellies seem to have less constipation, and warm bodies bring pink healthy cheeks. It’s hard to have too many mittens, wool socks or rain gear!

And for the creative among you – WHAT about the bunny soft cashmere sweater for $5 at the Salvation Army, a weird cowl neck in that crazy peach color? Cut off the arms, run it through the hot cycle of your washer to mildly felt it up just a bit, and you have the basis of a fabulous sleep bag for your infant or toddler! Or a man’s old wool sweater with elbow patches, could those long arms become the base of your preschooler’s wool trousers over tights?

Word all over is that climate change is going to bringing us ever more extreme weather in coming years. Now’s the time to stock up for great outdoor fun year round (1000hoursoutside) and family safety regardless of what the weather might throw at us!

Featured, Healthy Living, Playful Families

An Authentic Gift Giving Season

December 12, 2014

What does an ‘Authentic Gift Giving’ season look like?   Indigo Forest recently found the words for our vision – “The Learning Center for Authentic Living,”, and sustainable gift-giving was our topic last week at our “Natural Health Club Class.”  When we recently started feeling bullied (and financially stressed) by our usually-thoughtful kids’ expectations, here are some of the ideas we started exploring:

Give experiences over stuff.  One year we received a family gift of tickets to the traveling Broadway “Mary Poppins” play, allowing us to dress-up, snack in the city, and text pictures of ourselves next to the fancy gold gilt of the Theatre.  A lifetime memory!   Experiences could range from taking them out to eat, the elderly might especially appreciate time with you as much as the meal, to a ‘movie date night.’  I took my theater-enchanted teen to a Les Miserable showing at 10 pm on Christmas Day – it was immediate, personal, and felt ‘Very Important.’

Family adventures that bring year-long pleasures – Depending on your budget, giving a day or annual family pass to the local Children’s Museum can be a treat for cash-strapped families, especially as many museums have reciprocal admittance to other museums all over the country,stretching summer vacation fun.   Our kids think that going swimming in the winter is a hoot (since it has to be indoors here in Michigan), so in the past they’ve loved presents of swimming lessons, Rec center passes, and an overnight at the near-by indoor water-park.

Family Gifts – make family gifts of larger items such as wood block sets, hammocks and board games .  One Easter an Indigo Forest customer made a Basket for her entire family consisting of seeds, little shovels, and spring oriented items.

Minimize electronics & short-lived plastic toys and give toys that encourage exploring and learning –  wooden toys (especially for the younger set) can become family heirlooms, and look for items that can share their value over years or lifetimes.   Things like quality books, pocket knives, puzzles, craft sets, or handheld looms might hold their place longer.   How about a scavenger hunt poem – one that takes the kids all over the house or property, maybe takes them to a relative with a historical family question, makes them find a gift from last year, an item to share and give, or a photo of someone they love?  The list is endless – just think – “What memory do I want to create?  What gift of history or love or interaction do I want them to have?   Or how much time do I want them to be busy?  Just kidding.

Make gifts – scented lotions, essential oil sprays, handmade items that are knit or sewn, or simple home-made food like granola in a mason jar with a bow. It’s easy to adapt Resale Shop finds for the kids’ dress-up trunk!  Our boys (yes boys) gave knitted book marks years ago that are still being used, but most popular with Grandma were the felt hearts sewn by preschoolers with bright embroidery floss & stuffed with wool.

Coupons –   One of THE most popular traditions at our house for years!  Our coupons have included a ‘No thank you chore’, a massage for back, feet, etc (usually for bedtime), parent date, “I’ll do your dishes”, one piece of chocolate at the downtown chocolate shop,  ‘have your friends over’,  ‘I’ll play whatever game you want all afternoon’, laser tag with friends, movie night, house-cleaning, the stay up all night New Year’s Eve date (10 yr olds), and once I gave the 9 year enamored with avocado sushi a home ‘sushi night’ every Tuesday for 3 months!  Don’t be afraid to add in rules, at our house they have to be in ‘good standing’ to go get chocolates, and give a half hour notice so we can fit in the bedtime back rubs.

One year we gave their auntie a ‘Date-a-Month’ for the coming year, which included bowling, swimming, games & chili, sledding fest, summer hike & picnic, monopoly Saturday, and downtown explore with ice cream.

Something to wear, something to read, something to play with, something they need.  This just about covers it, doesn’t it?  I’m trying to get up the nerve to scale back to this simple approach.

Don’t be afraid to buck the ‘Amazon List’ trend with your kids and the relatives- the swimming lessons worked because we got the relatives to each contribute the value of one lesson instead buying a ‘thing’, so the kids got a full series of classes (& we then used free Family passes each Friday), stretching the whole experience throughout the winter.  Kids had fun, got safer from their gained skills, and there was nothing to store!

How do you celebrate your family, or your religious expression, in this season, and is your spirit of giving reflecting your spiritual intent, whatever that might be?