Wednesday, June 30, 2010


When I had my son, there were several Mommy and Me yoga classes around for new moms and infants.  But, as he got older - it became impossible to find a yoga class for 3 year olds.  Until, one day, I happened upon Next Generation Yoga and its owner/founder, Jodi Komitor.  Founded in 1998, Jodi, a pioneer in the kids’ yoga movement, created the first yoga studio (in the world) just for kids!  Jodi's take on yoga for kids:  "The mission of Next Generation Yoga: joyful, playful self-expression for children."  Her classes are incredible!  She has family classes, which are a wonderful bonding experience to do with your kids.  She sometimes even does classes on the beach.  After my boy's first class, he said, in the car ride home, "I felt such peace while I was there."  He was 3!  So, if you are in the San Diego area, I would consider this a MUST!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


It is our job as parents to not only protect and guide our children, but to inspire their senses of curiosity, adventure, and creativity.  So, as parents, we ourselves must be curious, adventurous, and creative.  

What are ways in which you are curious, adventurous, and creative?

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Summer rolls around and many parents are left to wonder - "What can I do to entertain my kids?" Well, no worries, parents - your options are endless! Here are 50 low-cost or no-cost things to do during the summer:

1. Get dirty - make mud pies!
2. Make an outdoor obstacle course in your backyard.
3. Put on a family magic show, puppet show, comedy show, or talent show.
4. Play dress up.
5. Moms, let your kids style your hair. Give them all sorts of ribbons and do-dads! If you dare, you can wear your new "do" out!
6. Make bird feeders. Spread peanut butter on a pine cone and roll it in bird seeds. Hang on a tree and watch the birds gobble it up!
7. Hang a hummingbird feeder in the yard so you can watch the hummingbirds from a window.
8. Create a potted vegetable and herb garden. This is easy to do organically, since it is easier to control pests in a potted garden.
9. Plant a fruit tree.
10. Build a tree house or fort outside.
11. Build a temporary fort inside out of sofa cushions, blankets, and pillows.
12. Camp outside.
13. Make s'mores.
14. Make homemade ice cream.
15. Buy a solar shower (about $25 at a camping store) and shower outside.
16. Blow bubbles! Make bubble wands out of string, coat hangers, etc. See how creative you can get!
17. Play ball.
18. Play tag.
19. Color, paint, and draw.
20. Make clay pots.
21. Cut flowers from the garden and make flower arrangements. Deliver the arrangements to loved ones.
22. Make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (individually packed) for your local homeless shelter.
23. Go bike riding. (Wear helmets!)
24. Go on a nature walk or hike.
25. If you live near the ocean, go tidepooling!
26. Go fishing.
27. Get out on the water in a canoe, kayak, or rowboat. (Wear life vests!)
28. Visit a local farm.
29. Go to the local farmer's market.
30. Make homemade pizza.
31. Volunteer at the local animal shelter.
32. Eat breakfast for dinner.
33. Wear p.j.s all day.
34. Write a bedtime story with your kids. Take your creation to the local copy store, and have the book bound. (Should cost around $5 for spiral binding.)
35. Go to the beach and build sandcastles.
36. Collect twigs, stones, and other natural findings and make a "fairy house" in your backyard.
37. Give the car a break. If your market is not too far away, take your wagon and walk to the market.
38. Go swimming at a nearby pool, beach, or lake.
39. Invite friends over (young and not-so-young) and have a summertime potluck!
40. Join a reading club at the library.
41. Cook a meal from another culture.
42. Go to Home Depot or Lowe's for a children's woodworking day. (Normally on Saturdays - check their schedule.)
43. Research local backyard wildlife. Learn about the creatures that call your backyard "home."
44. Line your patio with newspaper. Lay an old sheet on top. Get out the paint and dip your hands and feet in the colors and paint away!
45. Research constellations and go outside at night to discover the wonders in the sky.
46. Have a dance party. Crank up the music and dance, dance, dance!
47. Take a picnic to one of your local symphony's Summer Pops Concerts.
48. Go wild at the zoo!
49. Find a festival! Check out the newspaper for Greek festivals, Scottish festivals, Japanese festivals, etc...
50. Spend a day at a Children's Museum.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Summertime means spending more time outdoors.  It also is a big season for movies.  Why not bring the movies outdoors?  We hang a white sheet on our laundry line and use a projector and computer to watch all sorts of things.  Our son's friends come over and they eat pizza, as they watch anything from animated movies to Discovery Channel programs.  When the kids go to bed, my husband and I hang out in the hammock and get caught up on t.v. shows on Hulu.  Lots of fun.  With tiki torches lit, the garden in full bloom, and the moon out - it doesn't get better than this!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Green Parent - Great Magazine!

I love magazines!  I am a sucker for anything related to gardening (esp. organic gardening), travel (esp. adventure travel), and parenting.  But, the selection of "green" parenting magazines is rather slim.  Until, one day, my mother-in-law brought over this amazing find from the UK.  The Green Parent is a wonderful resource for us sorta-crunchy mamas out there!  Here is a recent feature from their online site:

24 MAY 2010

Make recycled boats

In this project from the latest edition of The Green Parent you can learn how to make these great boats that are fun for all ages and encourage resourcefulness. Boats can be made out of anything that floats, from a simple piece of bark or twigs, to bits and pieces from the recycling bin.

For wooden rafts and boats: small straight branches or twigs, raffia (or string or twine), fabric scraps, needle and thread
For recycled boats: juice or milk carton washing up bottle (any item that floats) discarded paper, twigs, modeling clay

1 The simplest wooden vessel to make is a raft; add a sail and it not only looks more like a boat but the sail will push it across the water. Collect an assortment of small, fallen branches and twigs and look out for straighter wood. Decide how large you want your boat to be, trim the branches to that length and line them up to check the overall size. When you have the size you like, take a long piece of raffia and tie the centre of the length of raffia around the end of one of the trimmed branches. Note: Do not pull the raffia too tight or it might break, it’s okay if the branches are a little loose. Take the ends of the raffia and tie another branch the same way around the end right next to the other one. Keep adding branches and tying them until you’ve tied all of the branches together. Then tie the opposite ends of the branches together with raffia in the same way.

2 Make the boat more stable by tying a support branch across each end of the branches where you tied the raffia. Secure these branches by tying one end with raffia, then thread the raffia around the top branch and down around the lower branches. Continue threading until you reach the end and tie it off. Repeat on the other side of the raft. Make a sail for your boat by cutting a scrap of cloth into a triangle with a 90-degree angle. You may want to cut the triangle out of a piece of paper first and hold it up to the boat to determine the size sail you want; then use the paper sail for a pattern to cut out the cloth. At this stage >
> you may want to decorate the sailcloth with embroidery or patches.

3 Lay a straight twig over the cloth edge opposite the 90-degree angle and fold the cloth over the twig. Using a needle and thread, stitch the twig to the cloth. Add a twig to the bottom of the sail to create a “boom” and attach it with a needle and thread in a few places. Next take a long twig for a mast. Measure it against the boat to determine the height you’d like it to be and add about 5cm to its base (extra length is needed when you attach the sail to the boat). Stitch the remaining edge of the sail to the mast in a few places and leave a little room at the top for a flag. Stitch a small flag to the top of the mast if you wish. Wedge the sail between two of the twigs of the boat. If the mast is loose, tighten it at the base by tieing raffia tightly around the mast base and the twigs of the boat or wedge in a little modelling clay to tighten it. Set it to sail on a pond, stream, a bowl or the bath.

4 Make boats from recycled materials.
Position a juice carton flat on its side so the triangular part of its top points up and cut off one side. The triangle will form the bow of the boat. Take a piece of paper and cut out two pirate ship style sails, one slightly smaller than the other.

5 Trim a stick to the right length to form a mast and thread the sails on to the twig, the largest first. A flag can be attached to the top of the mast.

6 Roll a ball of modelling clay in your hands and centre it in the bottom of the carton and stick it down; then push the mast into the ball of clay.

Note: Boat making is a great summertime activity for a group of children, just provide a pile of parts and see what they build. After the building, hold a regatta. In addition to the boats, small sailors and pirates can be made using materials that float, like clothes pegs or empty thread spools with wooden beads for heads.
Download a template for the sails here

Joan Gorman is a full-time mum, part-time art teacher and contributes the fantastic crafts pages inside every edition of The Green Parent magazine. Visit her lovely blog for inspiration.

Friday, June 18, 2010


So, I don't have a "conventional" career.  But, these days, what is "conventional?"  I am a working actor, director, and teacher.  It can be a crazy life, in some ways...auditions popping up at the last minute, late nights at the theatre...but it's my life.  And, I am so glad to be able to share what I do with my little boy.
Several years ago, while performing in the musical, "Wicked," my son would hang out backstage with me in the dressing room.  He loved meeting all my wacky theatre pals.  Seeing the costumes and sets backstage was really "cool!"  He loved knowing how all the "tricks" worked in the show, like how the broom flies, or how the lift, that makes the witch fly, works.  He even was able to "help" the scarecrow put on his scarecrow makeup.
My husband also has a wonderful profession.  He is a music director for a high school, as well as a percussionist.  One of my boy's favorite things to do is to go to school with daddy, after hours (when he has to get some extra work done).  He has the band room to himself and can bang on the timpani, the marimbas, the snares, and more!  
Being that hubby and I are both in the arts, we have had some press in the local newspapers, for various events and projects we work on.  Now, my son thinks that is the coolest thing ever.  He thinks his mommy and daddy are "famous" - because he says"if you are in the paper, you are famous!"  So, what a treat for him the other day when an article came out in the local paper about a show I am currently working on, and the reporter mentioned my son at the top of the article.  His face lit up, because now he is "famous!"  His teacher even put the article on the bulletin board at school not because of me, but because of him.  
Now, I could care less about this whole "famous" thing, although I do think it is very cute.  But what does touch my heart is that even though I have to go out there and earn my money - which means I sometimes have to be away from my boy while at rehearsals or performances, I can share this thing I do with him.  And, he feels important and loved.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Classics For Kids

Hey, everybody!  A friend of mine (who is a home school mom) sent me this link.  It is a weekly on-line radio program (only 6 minutes long) for kids that exposes them to different classical composers.  There are activity pages that accompany each program, as well as music games and an online music dictionary.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Do you have a problem in your organic garden with those pesky earwigs?  
Here is a trick I use to get rid of them without the use of pesticides.  

Pour some vegetable oil in a shallow container. I use the bottom half of a plastic cup - I just cut the top few inches off. Place the container at the base of your plants that are getting eaten by earwigs. These critters really come out at night and devour a small plant in a few hours. By morning, you will notice tons of earwigs have collected in the container.  

Thursday, June 10, 2010


So, as we are trying to conserve water, I recently taught my son the old addage, "If it's yellow, let it mellow.  If it's brown, flush it down."  

My son passed this important info on to my mom - but he added one thing, "When we have company, my mom says I have to flush the toilet."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


We love to travel - especially to Central America.  And, being a parent living with all the modern conveniences and inconveniences we have here in the States, I am always so interested in how other parents raise their children in other countries.  Especially ex pats and folks who have moved from American suburbs to the jungles of, let's say, Costa Rica or an island in Belize.

We always pack a little bag of small toys, cards, and crayons for the plane trip - but once we arrive at our destination, our son barely ever opens this bag.  That is because there are too many other wonderful things to do!

Once, while staying in the north part of Ambergris Caye, Belize, our son and the kids of the family we stayed with found a piece of styrofoam and a baggie that had washed ashore.  They added a stick and turned the trash into a sailboat.  They played with that boat for days, tweaking it here and there 'til it was balanced just right.  There were no toy stores for those kids to buy toys at - or no stores at all, for that matter.  They had to create their own fun.  And they had a blast.

In Costa Rica, we met a family from Belgium who was on a year long, round-the-world trip with their 10 year old daughter.  They did home swaps to be able to afford the trip.  What an education that little girl got!  

In the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, we hung out with an ex pat family - they live in an area with very few inhabitants.  But there are other ex pats nearby, so they have created their own little community of friends.  Throughout the day, the kids convene at someone's house and balloon fights, games of tag, and bicycle races on the dirt walkways are bound to ensue.  The kids can get dirty.  They can be loud.  They can run around in their underwear!

What I have noticed is that these kids stay KIDS longer.  They don't grow up too fast.  Sure, they have experiences that many adults don't even have.  But, they can be 12, 13, 14 years old and still PLAY.  I have taken home this knowledge as a souvenir from our trips, and I know it is one of the most valuable things I can give to my son.

Check out this site for more info:

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Cracking coconuts
Making hermit crab houses
Digging for earthworms
Collecting roly-polies
Eating watermelon
Burying your feet in the sand
Letting a dip in the ocean suffice for a bath
Taking a mid-afternoon nap in your swimsuit
Having no agenda
Putting boring stuff off 'til tomorrow
Giving the dogs a bath, for them to roll in the mud one hour later
Staying outside past dark
Smelling of campfires and roasted marshmallows
Building forts

What is your summer?

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Perfect days just happen.  You can't make them happen.  Take, for instance, Mother's Day this year.  My son was playing at his grandmother's that morning and the last thing he wanted to do was be torn away from his playtime there to spend time with mommy.  I was devastated!  "It's Mother's Day, d*** it!"  I thought, "How could you not WANT to spend time with your loving mother!!!"  Anyway, he finally acquiesced.  We went ocean kayaking (one of my favorite things).  The weather was a bit gloomy - but it didn't look too choppy out there - that is, until we hit the water.  I swear, it was like the perfect storm.  For those of you who haven't been ocean kayaking, you have to take your kayak directly out.  If there is a wave cresting towards you, you HAVE to paddle hard - right into it - and hope you ride over the top of it.  "Oh my god," I thought "What was I thinking!?!"  My son was at the front of the kayak, the perfect view for the 6 foot swells that appeared out of nowhere.  Well, needless to say, we made it!  But, that day was not the perfect day I had hope for.
But take this morning, for example.  Hubby had to work this morning, so after brewing a pot of Roger's Family Organic Fair Trade coffee, my son and I went out into the backyard in our p.j.'s and gardened.  The doggies watched intently and stayed by or side the whole time.  Kitty was inside, jealous, I think!  My boy helped to spread organic fertilizer and seed.  Then, he dug holes to make his own "golf course."  We, sadly, found a dead rat - victim, probably of a crow, and buried it.  He offered a sweet eulogy that the rat come back one day as a baby rat.  Then, we hopped inside to clean up and I made yummy buckwheat pancakes (chocolate chip for him, blueberry for me).  As I cooked, I lit some Nag Champa incense and had Souad Massi blaring on the iHome.  Next, we will go on a "date" - a children's fair whose proceeds go towards pediatric cancer research.   Later, we will come back - more yard work.  Then, I have to learn my lines for a play which starts rehearsals in two days (I am an actor - hey, and I have a job!  Yeah!)  And then, dinner with family tonight!  Doesn't get much better than this.  A perfect day....

Friday, June 4, 2010


You will need:
Acrylic paint in red, yellow, and blue
A few paint brushes
A cup half-filled with water
Paper towel
Large piece of paper

Step one:

Squirt a bit of red, yellow, and blue paints on a paper plate.  Let your child mix a little red paint with a little yellow paint to create orange.  Then, blue with yellow to create green.  Next, red with blue to create purple.  They can experiment with different tones (a bit more red here, a bit less yellow there...)

Step two:
Next, let them paint their color creations on a color wheel on a large piece of paper.  After the paint dries, you can play scavenger hunt in the house to find small objects that mirror the colors on the color wheel.  Place the objects on the color wheel, so that the colors correspond.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Yesterday, we went to visit Archie's Acres, a hydroponic farm in Escondido, CA.  We have seen them at our local farmer's market and at Earth Fair this year in Balboa Park.  And when the opportunity came up to put a garden in at the school my son will be attending next year, I immediately thought of them.  We are basically turning a parking lot into a beautiful outdoor space, complete with an organic, hydroponic farm, a lovely picnic area, an activity area, and a playground.  The hydro garden will work well, since we have no soil to dig into.  It will require much less space than a traditional garden.  Plus, it is sustainable.  A hydroponic garden requires much less water than a traditional garden and is virtually pest free!

But I had no idea how cool it would be until I visited the farm for myself.  


So, we hope to garner lots of support at my son's future school for this project.  The growing tables will be kid-height, so it will be easy to reach.  Also, an added bonus is that people who are in wheelchairs could easily access this type of garden.  That is a beautiful thing!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Story Time From Around The World

Years ago, when I lived in Japan, I used to frequent Kamakura, near Tokyo - a small village full of artists' studios and lots of beautiful shrines, temples, and awe-inspiring nature.  I happened upon the studio of Shomei Yoh and purchased one of his illustrated books, "Little Buddha."  This was YEARS before I ever thought of having children - I just thought the book was beautiful, so I bought it.  Well, "Little Buddha" has made it's way into our lives as a family.  My son loves the book - it immediately brings him peace when we read it.  

We have since added to our collection of books from around the world.  Here are a few that I highly recommend:

"The Prince Who Ran Away" by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Fahimeh Amiri
"The Monkey Bridge" by Rafe Martin, illustrated by Fahimeh Amiri
"Bringing the Rain to Kapiti" by Verna Aardema, pictures by Beatriz Vidal
"Art From Her Heart" by Kathy Whitehead and Shane W. Evans
"And The Kangaroo Played His Digeridoo" by Nigel Gray, illustrated by Glen Singleton
"The Little Red Fish" by Taeeun Yoo
"Flotsam" by David Wiesner
"Indian Tales - A Barefoot Collection" by Shenaaz Nanji and Christopher Corr
"Tripper's Travels - An International Scrapbook" by Nancy Chapman, illustrated by Lee Chapman
"The Pet Dragon" by Christoph Niemann
"Hamish the Highland Cow" by Natalie Russell
"A is for Africa" by Ifeoma Oneyefulu
"The Usborne Book of People of the World" published by Usborne
"Children Just Like Me" published by DK for Unicef

I would love it if you would post your favorite kid's books - preferably those having to do with cultures from around the world.  Can't wait to explore more books!!