All posts by Maria

Tips for co-exisitng with coyotes in your area

[Coyote photo by: unsplash-logoBan Yido ]

You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
– Colors of the Wind song

Recently I saw a post on the NextDoor about a coyote sighting in the area. Some people were scared for their pets, others argued whether or not hunting and trapping was legal within city limit. It is always very sad to see these discussions. Surely we can do better than that. Especially considering that it is us who came to their turf and destroyed their habitat, in which they’ve lived for thousands of years, to build our homes.

Most of us living in urban areas are rather detached from wildlife, knowing very little about it. And to make things worse the news channels only love airing things that are shocking and terrifying (ideally both) while Hollywood specilizes in creating ridiculous and most unscientific concoctions about wildlife such as ‘The Grey’. In all of these the wildlife is always presented as a canning beasts always searching for its next victim and eating anything that moves or breathes, humans included. [Big sigh…]

As a result of these misconception peddled from the TV screens people are scared and seek the ‘removal’ of the wildlife to safeguard their beloved pets. Co-existence doesn’t seem an option. And at the end of the day the coyote, one of the most native animals of America, is killed in astronomical numbers. It is estimated that about 500,000 of these animals are killed annually. A half a million of beautiful native sentient creatures who lived here and served this land well long before us.

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Learning about ants

children books about ants

With so much time spent outside during our most beloved summer months you can’t help but to observe all the different little creatures living alongside with us. In any case, I try to encourage boys to observe and teach them what I know. In general we try to never give boys a negative opinion about a living thing. I tell them that everything has a role to play to keep all that surrounds us healthy and thriving. Even flies, whom I personally really dislike… 🙂 Although to be perfectly honest there are few bugs that boys don’t view so positively (mostly those destroying plants in then garden) and that’s of course due to our own attitudes to them.

Recently we’ve discovered a new serious of beautiful children’s books about insects. Each book has great little bits of information about the respected creature and the illustrations are just most beautiful and realistic. And so I was going to do a post about this series. But it turned out that on some of the insects we’ve already accumulated a little bit of a collection of other good books and even little plastic insect models. So, to give them proper spotlight, I’m doing a post on some of these books separately and then will share all of the other books together.

So here is our little ants collection. Each of these little books is quite different from the other ones and together they give great overview about these industrious little creatures.

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Animated film: The little fox named Vuk

Vuk

Here is the next post in my series on children’s animated films. This beautiful film is another favorite from my own childhood and something my children love as well. It was created in Hungary in 1981. And in Hungary it is called just Vuk and is based on the novel by István Fekete. I was happy to find it with English translation, so I could share it here with you. I hope you and your children enjoy it very much.

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A space for little monkeys to be monkeys :)

toddler gym

This post is something I’ve been meaning to write for a long time, as I feel it is of utmost importance. It is about letting children be children. Or rather, creating an environment for them where they can do so.

One of the things I feel our modern society really lacks is the environment for children to explore the world on their own — to go off to places of their choosing, to run, to climb, get muddy and so on! Yes, there are special children’s gyms and classes and playgrounds. Some more fun than others, but neither is something a child can have access to on their own whenever they feel like it. I think it is sad that our children can’t freely go on exploring the world around them, leaving house after breakfast and coming back at dark as many of us and our parents did growing up.

On the other side, I’ve been seeing a number of educators expressing their concerns that more and more parents are very interested in getting their children some early academic development which implies sit-down classes, structured actives, etc. I’m not saying I’m against academic development, by any means. But I believe that a lot of it is best achieved in an environment where children can be free to explore, where they reach and withdraw on their own from objects, subjects and activities.

This is a vast topic of course and I don’t intend to cover it all in one post 🙂 … Instead I wanted to share with you some of my inspiration and a few practical things we’ve implemented that enriched lives of our children right here at home and I hope it can help your family as well.

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Simple sandbox DIY

outdoor kids play sandbox diy
In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air. — Charlotte Mason

The very first outdoor play spot we added was this sandbox back when Ale was just 1 year old. And it has been continuously a popular play space for both boys. As Ale has grown his games around the sandbox have changed, but he still loves it. And of course, anything that Ale is interested in Eleon is there as well!

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Best summer sandals for the little feet

pololo children leather sandals nontoxic children footwear

With the long awaited summer being upon us I wanted to do this little post about children’s sandals that are so loved in our family. One of the main reasons for this blog was to share the products for children that are non-toxic, comfortable and sustainably made. I found such items hard to find in US, unfortunately. I think it is sad that craftsmen and boutiques have hard time staying in business due to competition with big corporations that flood the market with cheap, low quality merchandise which is often toxic and was produced at great cost to our environment and people making them. So when I find yet another brand, store, maker who offers us a different choice — I’m particularly excited to get it for my children and to share it with others.

This is not a sponsored post in any way. Just sharing the good things, since they aren’t easy to find in the ocean of the internet.

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Where we shop for natural toys (no plastics!)

natural

Alexandros turned 3 years this weekend! Few weeks before I asked him what he’d like for his birthday. This is how our conversation went:

— Me: “Ale, what would you like for your birthday?”
— Ale: “Garbage track! Yellow one. No, blue. No, white. No, red!”
— Me: “But you already have 2 garbage tracks…three actually.”
— Ale: “I want GARBAGE TRACK!” Big beaming smile! 🙂

So, we got him this big beautiful Fagus wooden garbage track from Wooden Wagon.

wooden tracks Fagus tracks wooden toys
wooden tracks Fagus tracks wooden toys
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Zero-waste and non-toxic baby care

nontoxic baby washing and baby care

These three products, or their variations, are all that we use. No shampoos, no fancy lotions and special baby things…none of it. It saddens me to see all the chemically laden, plastic wrapped so called baby products all over the internet, magazines, not to mention supermaket shelves. Parents are made to believe that they need those to take care of their most loved little ones. But in truth our children need none of that. And with these basic products they could be cared for in a healthy, simple and sustainable way. 🙂

This isn’t a sponsored post. These products are just the ones we are using. You could use other similar ones. There are many small businesses offering great natural care products. You could also make your own.

No shampoo is needed. E.V.E.R.

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Alphabet chart DIY

alphabet chart DIY

A few months ago I came across these charming alphabet cards. I particularly liked them as they introduce both capital and small letters in a very associative and visual way. Ale already knows many Russian and English letters as we often talk about them a bit while reading our bed time stories. But the idea that same letter can have two different versions was rather confusing for him. And while in Montessori approach it is recommended to only introduce small letters at first, I found this to be impractical as all the books have both letters on their covers and naturally the subject of small and capital letters would always come into our discussions when we would start reading our bedtime stories.

So in these cards a small and a big version of the same letter is very nicely tied together through the same animal — the grown up one for the capital letter and a baby one for the small letter.

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How does my garden grow

How does my garden grow by Gerda Muller, children's book

As the spring season is just around the corner I wanted to share this wonderful children’s book. This book was our favorite for many months when Ale was about 1 year old. We love gardening and so it was very relatable to him. And in its turn the book would make gardening activities and garden creatures even more interesting for him and offer him new knowledge about the garden’s goings.

As all Gerda Muller books it is exceptionally beautiful with very charming, realistic and detailed illustrations. And like all her books it is very informative for the little readers. One thing I especially love about Gerda Muller’s books is that due to the wealth of detail and information we can go back to them later again and again, each time discovering something new or re-discovering already known facts in deeper detail.

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Beautiful animated films: Snow Queen

I decided to start a little series about beautiful animated films for children. Although I’m against children spending time in front of a screen and would rather have them running around and exploring the world around, I found myself using the iPad on a regular basis to keep Ale (our 2.5 year old little wildling 🙂 ) quiet when his little brother is asleep. So, it became important to find quality content for him to watch. Fortunately, there are a lot of beautiful children’s animated films from the Soviet era that he can watch and that I don’t object to as they are very artistic and have always a great positive story. Recently I found some of them to be also translated into English and thus this little series of beautiful animated films for children. I hope you enjoy them just as much.

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Zero-waste dog food

zero waste door food

Recently I have discovered a Zero-Waste community over on Instagram. It is inspiring to see people around the world striving to live without leaving a trail of trash behind them. Through this community I’ve learned a number of good tips and merchants where one can buy package-free goods (here is a good one). A blog post on this is coming soon… providing my boys nap at the same time at least couple times this coming week, so I get a chance to get to my computer. 🙂

One thing I noticed people have difficulty with even among the Zero-Waste community is finding a package-free (read trash-free) way to feed our four-legged buddies both canine and feline. So, I wanted to put this little blog post together, because this area is one where one can easily shift away from packaged goods. In fact, in Russia and Kazakhstan where I come from we never bought dog food and always fixed dog food at home, using the same produce we had for our family.

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No-shampoo and zero-waste hair care

no shampoo nopoo zero-waste hair care

It’s been about 4 or 5 years since I last used a shampoo or conditioner on my hair. And it’s been about 2 years since I’ve been using soap nuts exclusively to wash hair.

The reason I started on the no-shampoo path was because my hair was getting dirty so fast that I had to wash it daily and still by the end of the day it was not a pretty sight. I went through many different brands of fancy and expensive shampoos, but the result was more or less the same… or worse. My first no-shampoo experience was with a dry mix of some herbs and clay my mom send me from Russia. It worked remarkably well, but we could never find that particular brand again. So the search for natural ways to care for hair ensued.

It’s been few years now since I’ve been using only natural products to wash my hair. I’ve also successfully replaced various other conventional body care products with clean natural ones (see my post here). And for the past year I’ve been trying to figure out how to bring our household as close to zero-waste life-style as possible. I’m hoping you’ll find my experience and the information I share here helpful.

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