5 Ways to Incorporate Clean Living into Family Life During the Holidays

Teaching children to take care of the planet is always important... and the holidays are no exception. And, given that Christmas can be a time of abundance and waste, it is a perfect time to revisit the principles of giving and clean living with kids. Today, I am sharing 5 ideas for incorporating clean education principles into family life (even during the holidays), and I am sharing some information about a fun "Giving Tuesday" event. 

1) Teach and Empower - If you empower kids to make a difference in the world, they will rise to the occasion... especially if you make it fun. The Clean Foundation* is teaching kids via their famous super hero cat puppet "Eddie".

And this year, the Clean Foundation is inviting kids to join the #TeamEddie challenge. Eddie and his friends will be on Facebook Live on Giving Tuesday (November 28) waiting to say thank you to every kid who donates their recycling money that day to Clean's EnviroEd program to help kids become environmental super heroes... just like Eddie. Don't forget to check out the Clean Foundation's Facebook page at 1pm and 6pm (Atlantic time) on November 28th!

2) Reduce Waste - Kids need to be taught the value of reducing waste in their daily lives and in their homes. In our house, we always use reusable containers in lunches, and my boys take refillable water bottles to school and all their athletic practices and games. I hope that my boys are forming habits that they will carry into their adult lives.

3) Recycle - Most kids are good to recycle, as it has become the norm in most homes and schools. However, it is important to continue to encourage kids to be diligent with regard to their recycling efforts. You might also want to consider donating your recycling rebates to an environmental education program. A donation of $250 is enough to send Eddie (the super hero cat puppet) to a classroom, and it comes with a super adorable plush Eddie! (You can find more details about EnviroEd programs here.)

4) Reuse - Utilizing the second hand market is an important way to take care of the planet, and this time of year is a perfect time to de-clutter. Children should learn to buy/sell/donate used clothes and toys that still have a lot of life left in them. I encourage my boys to sell unwanted/ unused items, save the proceeds, and use the money to buy other things they need.

5) Reduce Consumption - We live in a time where consumerism and waste are rampant, so I really try to limit the amount of "stuff" that comes into our home. One trick I have used is "hosting toonie parties".... that is, when my boys had birthday parties, each guest brought a two dollar coin instead of a gift. Then, rather than having a mountain of toys, my boys had some money to buy one thing they really wanted. 

Also, during the holidays, my boys write a letter to Santa and ask for ONLY three things... in the hopes that they will get one of them. Often, they will get one from Santa, one from my husband and I, and one from another family member. Gifting "experiences" instead of "stuff" is another way to minimize waste.

So, this Christmas season, remind your kids to NOT take a holiday from clean living. As parents, we need to inspire kids and teens of all ages to become advocates for a sustainable future -- a future that will be in their hands.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I have partnered with Clean Foundation and have received compensation for this post. All opinions in the post are my own.

A Birthday Letter to My Oldest Son on his 12th Birthday

In keeping with family tradition, today I am sharing a birthday letter to my oldest son on his 12th birthday. Each year (on my boys' birthdays), I write them letters in an attempt to capture a little bit of their personalities on paper. It's a tradition that is very special to me, and I am happy to have the opportunity to share it with you. Here is this year's letter to my first born son.

My kind and driven son,

I can't believe that you are only one year away from being a teenager. I feel like girlfriends and a driver's licence are just around the corner... and I am not ready! It makes me a bit sad to see my little boy slipping away, but I couldn't be more proud to be the mother of the wonderful young man you are becoming.

Here are a few reasons that you are the most special 12 year old I have ever met:

  • You continue to mature and take on more responsibilities. I never even need to ask if you have homework because I know you have it under control.
  • You are getting older, but I can still sneak a cuddle on movie night when you are distracted by popcorn and treats.
  • Hockey is your passion. Even though you are young and small, you always work hard, and you play with a lot of heart. Dad and I really admire your determination and work ethic.
  • You love playing mini sticks and collecting Tim Hortons hockey cards. Your favourite show is Sports Centre, and you love the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • Your brothers continue to be your best buddies. You are always "taking shots" on each other, playing catch, and running around together.
  • You are continuing to learn to play the guitar, and you love learning new songs.
  • Your confidence is impressive, and I hope it continues to grow in the years to come. (This year, you read at your Great Grampie's funeral, and I was proud of your poise and heartfelt delivery.)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches are still your favourite snack... especially when Nanny treats you to white rolls.
  • Your favourite colour is blue, your hockey number is 11, and your sport's hero is Auston Matthews.

Happy birthday, my angelic boy. You may almost be a teenager, but you will always be my baby. I love you to the moon and back!


10 Gift Ideas for DADS (under $100)

Let's be honest, Dads are incredibly special... AND incredibly hard to buy gifts for. But don't worry, today I am sharing 10 fantastic gifts ideas for DADS, and you are guaranteed to find something perfect for the special man in your life!

Note: I was NOT paid to include any items in this list. All 10 gift ideas for DADS are items that I thought would make wonderful presents. However, I have included a few affiliate links, so if you decide to buy a product using one of my affiliate links, I will receive a few cents from the sale. Thanks for helping support all the free content I provide via this blog.

1) For the Dad who can never find his keys - If your Dad has ever uttered the words "Have you seen my .......?", this is the perfect gift. These tiles are great for locating keys, wallets, phones, etc..., and you can buy them here.

2) For the Dad who loves to read - A good book always makes a wonderful gift. I'm sure you know the genre that is best for your special guy, but I think "Christmas at the Vinyl Cafe" is a great choice. The funny and heartwarming stories are perfect for the holidays.

3) For the Dad who can't live without his phone - Don't let your "always needs to be connected" father end up with a dead phone. This portable charger will ensure that you can always reach your special guy when you need him.
4) For the Dad who loves to grill - If your father is the king of the grill in your neighbourhood, check out this BBQ temperature thermometer. Your gadget-loving Dad will be a grill master with this handy tool.

5) For the Dad who is always cheering on his team - If your father is a big sports fan, you can never go wrong with sports apparel. In our house, it's all hockey all the time, so I know this Auston Matthews jersey would be a big hit.

6) For the Dad who loves a sweet treat - This gift is simple to make, and couldn't be more inexpensive. Find the simple "how to" here.

7) For the Dad who cares about his grooming - If your father enjoys having every hair and whisker in place, this grooming kit would make a perfect gift. Your good looking dad will be even more handsome with the help of this multi purpose tool. 

8) For the Dad who likes to play - If your Dad is always up for a game of cards, this lovely wooden cribbage board would make a wonderful gift. I love that there is a spot for cards and pegs inside. 

9) For the Dad that is hard to buy for - If you have a "difficult to buy for" father, why not get him a gift card? He'll be guaranteed to get exactly what he wants... and it will definitely be the right size and colour. 

10) For the Dad that likes a well stocked bar - This electric wine opener combines form and function. If your father likes a nice bottle of wine, he'll love this useful gadget.

Is there something on this list that would work for the special man in your life? What's your "go to" gift for Dad?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

10 Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids (UNDER $10)

There is nothing better than a cute, unique, and inexpensive stocking stuffer idea... and today I am sharing TEN stocking stuffer ideas for kids that are all under $10. 
Note: I was NOT paid to include any items in this list. All 10 stocking stuffer ideas are items that I thought were cute. However, I have included a few affiliate links, so if you decide to buy a product using one of my affiliate links, I will receive a few cents from the sale. Thanks for helping support all the free content I provide via this blog.

1) Snowman Gum - These cute treat cost less than a dollar and only takes a few minutes to put together. Cute, right? Find the details here.

2) Christmas Crayons - These unique crayons are easy to make from old broken crayons and a dollar store muffin tin. Find the full "how to" here

3) Bedtime Coupons - What's better than staying up late... by order of Santa? These bedtime pass coupons are adorable, and you can download them for FREE here.

4) Personalized MyMojis Pins - These personal buttons are super-cute and only $9.99 for THREE! Here is the personal pin I created for myself. Cute, right???

Shop Oliver’s Labels

5) Book - I love giving books at Christmas, and this is a fun book/game for Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans. Check it out here

6) Game - Card games make perfect stocking stuffers, and Uno is classic. Check it out here

7) Toothbrush - Christmas is a great time to get a new toothbrush, and my boys would love this Star Wars model. The fun design will encourage kids to brush a little longer too! Check it out here.

8) Craft Supplies - Craft kits and supplies make great stocking stuffers, and this Shrinky Dinks kit is inexpensive and adorable. Check it out here

9) Tiny Toys - Tiny toys and trinkets make great stocking stuffers, and what could be more classic than a slinky? Check it out here

10) LEGO - LEGO is always a hit with little ones, and small kits and minifigures fit perfectly in stockings. Check out the cute, new Ninjago minifigures here.

What's your idea of the perfect stocking stuffer? What do you think of the items on my list? Happy shopping!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS (This one is a little over the $10 mark, but I am in love with this LEGO compatible tape. The possibilities for this are endless!)

7 Healthy Life HACKS for Kids

A big part of being a parent is making sure you do everything you can to raise healthy and happy kids. It's not always easy to get kids to eat right and exercise, but today, I am sharing 7 healthy life hacks that are guaranteed to help make this job a little easier for parents.

1) Feed kids breakfast everyday - Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it is no surprise that growing kids need to start the day with a healthy breakfast. In my house, scrambled egg wraps (a whole wheat tortilla filled with scrambled eggs and cheese) and homemade "instant" oatmeal are popular choices. Note: Using a chip clip from the dollar store to secure the bottom of a wrap is a hack that will make you wonder... "Why didn't I think of that?"

2) Always pack a lunch or a cooler - My boys are always on the go, so for after school activities and weekend trips, I always pack healthy food options. Having a few simple food choices and healthy snacks on hand eliminates the temptation to grab items from vending machines and fast food restaurants.

3) Keep kids active - In this age of technology, it is more important than ever for parents to encourage their kids to get active. Signing kids up for organized sports is great, but it is also important to get kids to run around outside, organize their own games, and ride their bikes. Make exercise fun for kids, play with them, and be their biggest cheerleader!

4) Encourage kids to drink water - Drinking water and keeping hydrated is important for kid. And, as an added bonus, drinking more water means drinking less sugar and caffeine-laden drinks. I always stick water in my boys' lunches and sports bags, and it has become their beverage of choice!

5) Ensure kids get enough sleep - Getting enough sleep is critical for growing kids. There are a lot of sleep recommendation charts online, but I have found that kids will tell you how much sleep they require. Use online suggestions as a guide, but if your kids are cranky and don't have a lot of energy... they probably need more sleep.

6) Take care of kids' teeth - Good oral hygiene is very important for children. If you teach them good habits when they are young, they are more likely to continue to brush, floss and visit the dentist regularly as adults. To make sure kids spend enough time brushing, you can use a timer, or get them to brush for the duration of their favourite song.

7) Give your kids supplements - Fussy eaters (like my boys) may not always get the nutrients they need from the foods they eat. Adding supplements can be the solution to this problem. For example, Nature's Way OmegaSea* is a great tasting, ultra-pure Omega-3 supplement available in chocolate and lemon flavours for families and bubblegum banana for kids (and you won't be left with fish burps!)

One tasty teaspoon a day will give each member of your family a healthy dose of liquid Omega-3 and vitamin D which maintain good health, cardiovascular health, and brain functionality. Additionally, OmegaSea kids helps support brain, eyes, and nerve development in children up to 12 years of age.

OmegaSea is in liquid form, so it is easier to take than capsules, and it can be added to shakes and smoothies.

Discover more about OmegaSea products at www.omegasea.ca, and find them in the pharmacy section at your local Walmart, Rexall, Superstore, Fortino's, and more.

What are some simple ways you are helping your children to live a healthy lifestyle? I'd love to read YOUR healthy life HACKS in the comments below.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I have partnered with Nature's Way OmegaSea and have received compensation for this post; however, as always, all opinions in the post are my own.

15 Christmas Gift Ideas for MOMS

Given the success of my last post, "10 Christmas Gifts for Young Hockey Players", I thought I would share another fun holiday gift guide. This time, I am focussing on the special ladies in our lives. Below, you will find 15 Christmas Gift Ideas for MOMS.

Note: I was NOT paid to include any items on this list. All 15 gift ideas are items that I thought were great or that were recommended to me by my readers. However, I have included a few affiliate links. If you decide to buy a product using one of my affiliate links, you won't pay extra, but I will receive a few cents from your purchase. Thanks for helping support all the free content I provide via this blog.

1) Kindle - This is the one I have, and I love it! The soft light makes it easy to read in bed after the kids have gone to sleep.
2) Memory Card - A memory card is a perfect stocking stuffer for the mom that takes a lot of pictures and enjoys documenting her family's adventures. This one is a great deal and an Amazon bestseller.

3) Personalized Jewellery - I love personalized jewellery, and anything with my boys' names on it makes me smile. How sweet is this reasonably-priced sterling silver necklace.

4) Fitbit - This is one of the more pricier items on my list, but if you want to splurge a little on mom this year, this is a good option.
5) Gift Cards - Moms always enjoy gift cards for spa visits, clothes, etc... If you are unsure what mom wants this year, a gift card is always the right size and colour!

6) Blanket Scarf - Clothes are always a good choice for moms, and a blanket scarf is a staple for a mom's winter wardrobe. I am seeing this black and red design everywhere... and it screams "cozy"!

7) Cozy PJs - I love a cozy pair of PJs, and the pink cups and donuts on these jammies are simply adorable! Cozy PJs, sugary treats, and coffee? This is what Mom's sweet dreams are made of.

8) Homemade ornament from the kids - Sometimes the best gifts don't come from a store. Gifts made with little hands are my favourites! Getting kids to craft an ornament and create their own wrapping is a great way to show mom love this holiday season.

9) Books or movies - Books and movies are always wonderful gift choices. I love fiction, and I highly recommend anything by Kate Morton. And Beauty and the Beast is a magical movie that mom can enjoy on her own or with the kids. It's a sweet story and guaranteed to bring on nostalgia. 

10) Cinema light box - This is a fun and whimsical gift that is sure to bring a smile to your mom's face. I ordered one for myself, and I can't wait to give it a try!

11) Coffee - If your mom loves her caffeine almost as much as she loves you, you need to fill her stocking with her favourite brew... and maybe put a fun mug under the tree. I love this funny option.

You could also make your own using the tutorial here.

12) Wine or wine gifts - How cute are these "cozy pink socks"? And what mom couldn't use this fun holiday stocking?

13) Instant pot - Not every mom wants to find an appliance under the tree, but if your mom is always on the lookout for the latest and greatest kitchen gadget -- this is it. I don't have one yet, but I am hearing rave reviews!

14) Subscription - Is there anything more enjoyable than getting something fun in the mail? I love the idea of giving mom a subscription to a magazine, a coffee club, etc... My sister and cousin rave about the FabFitFun box. Maybe it would be a fun thing to find under the tree? (NOTE: If you are interested in this one, check for online codes. I found one coupon code "SUPER" that allows first time buyers to get their first box for only $19.99.)
15) A Break - Gift certificates for house cleaning or car detailing are guaranteed to give mom a break. Or, kids can create a coupon book where the coupons can be redeemed for tasks around the house: laundry, picking up toys, etc... Every mom could use a break during the holidays... am I right?

I hope you love this list as much as I do. I really do think there is something on this list for everyone. What are YOU hoping to find under the tree this year?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)
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