Monthly Archives: December 2013

New Year’s Resolutions: 2014

New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day are quite possibly my two favorite days — the excitement of the evening, the opportunity for reflection and reminiscing and the promise and possibility of a new year. Every year for the past six years my husband and I have made a big deal out of preparing our resolutions on January 1st, each year seems to bring a different kind of format.


One year we did vision boards, a vision of our entire year. Things we wanted to remember each day, things we wanted to accomplish, things to look forward to, mantras, new skills to master, etc. We got to cutting out of magazines, printing pictures & sayings off line, arranging and glueing. We hung the boards in our office where we could see them every day. This was a particularly fun one, I don’t know how much accountability this year had though — the boards had ALOT on them, probably enough for a lifetime, rather than just one year. Super fun nonetheless and I would really like to recreate this activity when our little T can participate.

Another year was more SMART goal oriented, very specific with specific plans in place to quantify, measure, access & evaluate and hopefully accomplish. These are great and my husband and I both LOVE checking things off of to-do lists but as we grew we became more focused on making the journey count, rather than just the feeling of completion.

The next year we focused on themes or sayings for the year, did we want this year to be about growth, or appreciation, kindness, calmness? Sometimes it was just a word, sometimes a year long mantra that could be placed on the refrigerator or other high visibility area.

At the end of 2011 I was expecting our little bundle of joy and knew I had BIG changes ahead of me in 2012. I was not returning to my job outside of the house and life as I knew it was going to be 100% different. This time I made “tasks” or reminders for each month, I knew this year was going to be about survival and necessary adaptation I would be ebbing, flowing, and changing all over the place and thought it would be nice to have little things that I could look forward to and accomplish. They included things like:

January – go to 4 prenatal yoga classes

March – write in baby blog each week

April  – don’t stress!

May – practice sewing

September – plant a garden

I really liked this format too, it wasn’t too overwhelming and I actually crossed off a lot of items! It made the coming and going of each month kind of fun too (:

Last year I came down with the worst case of the flu the day before New Year’s Eve. We had reservations at our favorite restaurant to have a much needed date night out while baby stayed at Granny’s and we had to cancel. I was throwing up for two days and finally just turning a corner on New Year’s Day. We were staying with family and hoping to relocate soon and I am not sure if we actually made any concrete resolutions, this year turned out to be one heck of a crazy ride though and I could not possibly be one bit happier with where we are now!

I am not exactly sure how our “resolutions” are going to manifest this year — I saw this on Facebook yesterday though and we are definitely going to make these jars!  If we can keep it up over the next couple of years I think it will be so awesome to help T with a jar of his own.

I do know that I want to be more present this year, appreciate more of what is happening around me right then, find a way to help our toddler (& us!!) sleep more, learn to & practice sewing (this has been on the list for years, is 2014 the year!?), meditate more and a lot of other things I need to think on // regardless, it is going to be a great year welcomed in with champagne and some hoppin’ john, collards and cornbread!

What are your resolutions for 2014? Do you have any New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day traditions? How do you include your sweet peas? Happy New Year!!! <3



Happy Holidays

First of all, let me start by wishing you a very happy holiday.  This year has been an adventure for us, including the decision to start a new blog.  We appreciate all of you who are reading, commenting, and sharing your journey with us, and allowing us to share with you.  You inspire us to do more and to be better.  Life on the green path is not always easy, it sure is worth it, though!!

We may be posting sporadically over the next two weeks.  Our husbands are going to be off of work, so we will be spending most of our time with them and our kiddos, instead of on the computer.  We will be posting pics over on Instagram, please feel free to follow @sweetpeafamilies and see how we are spending our holidays.  You can also follow us on twitter (I tweet early in the am before the Sweet Peas are awake) if you want to see green living – family related info we share.  Our twitter handle is @SweetPeaFams

I want to close out this year’s “official” posts with these tips to stay safe over the holiday season.  Here is an excerpt from an article entitled, “Be aware of latest product safety measures, recalls when shopping for toys, AG advises”:

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s, there were an estimated 265,000 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2012. Of those injured, more than 70 percent were children younger than 15 years of age. [emphasis mine]

You can read the whole article at  The article lists several recently recalled children’s items, including a lamp that was sold at IKEA from 1999-2013.

And here is a safety list from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital:

Doctors at the Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center at Cincinnati Children’s and theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics give the following tips on toy safety this holiday season:

  • Parents are encouraged to read all warning labels carefully before purchasing any item.
  • Consider a child’s age, interests, and skill levels when purchasing toys.
  • Look for toys with sturdy construction and avoid items with sharp edges and points.
  • Choking is one of the leading causes of toy-related death. Most of these deaths are attributed to toy balls, latex balloons and small magnets.
  • Small items can be risky for young children. For children under age three, choose toys that are at least 1 inch in diameter and 2 inches long, so they will not lodge in a child’s mouth or throat.
  • Beware of toy jewelry that may contain lead or cadmium. Both substances can be harmful to children who put items containing these chemicals into their mouths.
  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
  • Parents should store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy chest, and keep older kids’ toys away from young children.
  • Be extra cautious about toys that are handed down from friends and relatives that may not have warning labels. Inspect these toys carefully and use your best judgment.
  • Be careful with button batteries found in toys. If ingested they can become lodged in the esophagus causing serious injury and even death.
  • High power magnets can be found in some toys and if a child ingests more than one they can attract to one another and result in serious injury or even death. Seek medical attention if your child ingests one or more magnets.
  • Once the gifts are opened, it’s important to quickly discard plastic wrapping.

Read the whole article, Toy Safety Advice for Children During the Holidays at The Global Dispatch

Remember the little tip that anything that fits through an empty toilet paper tube is a choking hazard.  Also be aware of staples, plastic fasteners, and stiff paper – all can scratch, puncture or cut your child.  We run the vacuum early and often when we are all together!

One last reminder that they don’t mention in either article: be sure to watch your children in the kitchen.  We have a “no play” expectation in our home.  They know that the kitchen is “HOT”, and that they need to walk and move slowly when they are in there.  We encourage you to designate someone in the group as the “kiddo wrangler”, and make sure that the Sweet Peas are clear while the stove is on, and the oven is opening and closing.  Make sure all knife handles are out of reach, and that there is nothing dangling on the edges that they will be curious about, or try to use to pull themselves up.

That being said, enjoy the holiday season with your Sweet Peas!  We will definitely be kicking off the New Year with a Holiday Wordless Wednesday – take your fun pics, and send your shares to sweetpeafamilies{at}gmail{dot}com.

Do you have any holiday safety tips to share?


Tidbits & Soundbytes: Asking for help

We are this family on a journey to “green” our lives.  The constant inspiration and motivation to live for wellness is our children.  We want them to have the best opportunity to live long, healthy, lives, so we feel like their best opportunity begins by building healthy habits.

Recently, I wrote about wanting to “green” our household cleaners.  Within the week of stating that goal publicly, we had an episode where one of the conventional cleaners our housekeeper used literally made Night Owl throw up – twice in the same day.  After airing out the house, he felt better.  That event definitely kicked me in the butt to make my desire to find greener cleaners into high gear, and turn it into a reality.

I will admit – I am a little afraid of our housekeeper.  She is a no-nonsense type of gal, and she is very particular about the way things are done.  On top of that, I don’t want to add more to her workload of cleaning for our family of six.

After fretting about it for a week, I finally came up with a solution.  I printed up different recipes that I gleaned from our Learning to be Green Pinterest Board.  I approached her with them the next time she cleaned for us.  I asked her to look them over and share her thoughts.  I told her I only wanted her to experiment with whatever appealed to her in the bathroom which we use the most.  Almost all the surfaces are represented there: tile, wood, glass, and definitely areas that need disinfecting.

As it turns out, by honoring her area of expertise, explaining my concern, and asking for help, we got a win-win for everyone.  She shared an idea that wasn’t on my list and will require no extra cleaners…just water and a good steamer.  She also told me that if Night Owl was getting sick, she was not going to bother with the bathroom.  She said she would do the whole house for us using the different recipes on the list I printed up.

I could have cried!!

So, in about the same amount of time that it usually takes her and her partner to clean the house, we got a “green” clean, the house smelled of refreshing peppermint from the Dr. Bronner’s castille soap, and no one threw up later on.

Lessons I am adding to the Tidbits & Soundbytes page:

  • Being humble and asking for help can yield surprising and positive results.
  • If you ask nicely, you can achieve the goal you want without having to tell someone what to do, and sometimes you get a better idea than the one you started with.

Has asking for help yielded positive results in your corner of the world?

Wordless Wednesday: Sights of the Season

We have so many families celebrating first holidays with their Sweet Peas…so fun to share one of those pics with you!  And here are some pics from life with our Sweet Peas this month.  The energy level here is bigger than the walls of our home right now!

An SPB family enjoying first Christmas with their Sweet Pea

An SPB family enjoying first Christmas with their Sweet Pea

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T. enjoying time with Grandma

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The Sweet Pea Kids made this year’s teacher baskets in under an hour – all four pitched in and we were done! Now to load them into the sleigh…

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Night Owl enjoying some shopping time with his uncle…has barely left his side since he arrived for his holiday visit 🙂

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Best non-drug “green” cold remedy? Garlic! Drove the bad spirits away in a hurry.

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Part of our luggage for the Christmas show

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The three older Sweet Peas dressed and waiting to perform on show day

Tuesday Tips: Shopping Local

I discovered two more amazing local stores that I wanted to share with you.  If you are not in the Phoenix area, you can still #shopsmall because both of these stores have on-line shopping options.

Here are two toy stores that carry a huge variety of imaginative play, learning toys and books. Both offer  gift wrapping, and parking and getting in and out of their respective shopping centers was pretty easy.

The Doll House & Toy Store
Promenade Shopping Center
16447 N. Scottsdale Road D115
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
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6990 East Shea Blvd.
Suite #103
Scottsdale, AZ 85254-5208
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Here is a find from a babywearing event I attended in Phoenix.  I started by buying her shaving “zoap” – another personal product we wanted to  “green”.  Totally addicted!!  If you want to give the gift of natural, vegan  cleanliness, check out

Totally addicted to the shaving zoap! Excited to try out the facial green tea zoap :)

Totally addicted to the shaving zoap! Excited to try out the facial green tea zoap

And another local favorite that is running a 20% off your whole order promotion for at least one more day:
Coupon Code: Wei2Share20

Image from their site - click to jump over there.

Image from their site – click to jump over there.

Need more ideas for gifting?  Check out our #shopsmall #shoplocal list HERE

I hope you and your Sweet Pea(s) are enjoying the days of December!  Be sure to check out our listing on Sweet Pea Births for upcoming events throughout the month!  Lots of holiday ideas – many of them free or low-cost.

Real Life With Baby: First Christmas

This idea was shared by one of our Fall 2012 Sweet Pea Births alumni students.  Her son is now nine months old and starting to pull up on objects.  This blockade would be ideal for a pre-walker or pre-climber.

Here are her three easy steps to a baby-proof Christmas tree…

Christmas Box Blockade:

1.) All I did was take large rocks or cinder blocks and put them in heavy-duty boxes. Produce boxes or boxes gallons of water come in work well – they are double walled.

Double-wall means:
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This is what she used:
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2.) I taped up the box with packing tape and wrapped them in foil paper so it wouldn’t tear, and I wouldn’t have to rewrap them!

3.) I placed them around the bottom of the tree and voila! Instant baby fence.

BLOG cbb.4 madden.2If your kiddo is already climbing, this may not be what you want next to your Christmas tree.  This collection of grounded boxes provides them with a perfect wall to climb…not a bad thing – just probably not something you want next to your treasured holiday decorations.

What are your holiday baby-proofing tips?

Thoughtful Thursday: Taking Time

As you may have gathered if you have been following the blog for a while, our AZ Sweet Pea Family consists of four children.  Our holiday calendar is as full as yours probably is.  How do we make time to connect with each child individually through this busy season?

There is only one way:  take the time.  There is no such thing as “extra time” when it’s a regular time of year, even less so during the holiday season.

The first suggestion is a freebie: share a hug with your children every day.  Not just a little pat on the back.  I mean the kind of hug you have to be grounded for so you are not knocked down.  Then look them in the eye, tell them that you love some, and maybe even something you appreciate about them or noticed that they are doing well today.  It is not a lot, however, that moment of connection every day can be enough to keep everyone connected when you are all pulled in many directions.

I would go far as to suggest that it would be a great idea to do the same with your partner.  One of the hallmarks of giving is spending.  The kind of spending that goes on around these particular holidays can be very stressful on a couple with the best of relationships.  So, also take time every day to connect with your best friend, and keep the lines of communication open.

The next five suggestions can take as much or as little out of your wallet as you deem appropriate.

Shopping date – One of the ways we make time to connect with each Sweet Pea individually is to take them out to shop for their siblings.  We get to talk about the family, evaluate what a good gift is for that particular person, encourage giving, and talk about a budget all while enjoying time with one kiddo.

Craft date – Another way to carve out individual time or family time is to craft together.  You can take a trip to the craft store to pick their craft, and then take time to make it together – even a few minutes a day.  You could pick a craft to decorate the house, to use as gifts, or just something fun to use as a stress relief through the season.  Some toddler friendly crafts if you are going for a family craft night are projects that involve glue with pom poms or buttons, stickers, or markers (think the wood crafts that come with the pens).

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Holiday Cards – These are a fun project – add in some popcorn and hot chocolate to enjoy after the project is complete for holiday bliss!!  Taking an evening to sit around the table together to sign cards (with actual names or their drawings if they aren’t writing yet), decorate the envelopes with stickers, affix the address labels (if you use them) stick the stamps on the corner over the “x marks the spot” – there are lots of ways to make an assembly line and involve all the Sweet Peas.  They may not be the prettiest cards you have ever sent, however, they will definitely stand out from all the “perfect” cards, and be an awesome memory for your children that they will look forward to next year.

Holiday Event Date – We are so lucky in the Phoenix area that we have lots of Nutcracker productions to choose from.  This year, I took the older Sweet Peas to the Ballet Arizona production (because I *love* the ballet), and it was a treat for them to get out for their own “Big Kid” night.  Conversely, we take the littles out for a Mommy/Daddy date during the day when the nanny is there to watch over the older Sweet Peas.  It is a so easy to go out with two kiddos at a time – overall time spent getting in the car/traveling is less and we get a lot more face time with the set we are with.  We also do “girl trips” and “boy trips” – lots of ways to combine them for a 1-to-2 outing 🙂

Party Date – Another way to take pressure off the season is to only attend parties with the non-nappers.  That way you don’t have to wait for nap times, you don’t have to worry (as much) about meltdowns, and again, you get one-on-one or less-on-one time to talk in the car and listen to them as you drive.

I would love to hear what you do to carve out time to spend with your little Sweet Peas throughout the busy holiday season.

Wordless Wednesday: This and That

Here are some of the highlights from our last couple of weeks.  Since I am a day late, I won’t worry about being wordless – LOL.

Our church did “A Walk Through Bethlehem” that was a great hands-on experience.  We got to see pictures from Palestine and learned about the manger, we learned about pottery, baking, spices, woodworking, cooking, weaving, wine-making, games, and music that were contemporary to Jesus’ birth.  My two favorites were the spices, because it was neat to see that we still use many of them that are mentioned in the bible; and the donkeys because it really brought a vivid picture of Mary to mind.  I have traveled in the last week of pregnancy – can’t imagine making that journey on a donkey.

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Here are some other scenes:

Stretching out toes after flamenco class

Stretching out toes after flamenco class

BLOG ww spf 1212.2Hand-in-hand with Daddy


BLOG ww spf 1212.1Green start for the day

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Morning smoothie brought to you via the Kitchen-Aid, the Champion juicer, and the Ninja blender 🙂 So delish – it was worth it!!

Tuesday Tip: Holiday Gift Edition + Toddlers

Despite my husband and me being very anti “stuff” and rarely buying new toys for the toddler in our life, he somehow ends up accumulating things nonetheless – with the help of friends, grandparents, etc. I know this is the case with most people I know and with the help of my own toddler I recently discovered the perfect low key, not-going-to-break-the-bank, “non stuff” gift for toddlers this holiday season… the gift of song.


My almost 21 month old has been obsessed with his songs lately, in the car, in the stroller, during evening dance parties and I found myself playing the same Raffi songs over and over (all available here). I looked to my trusty group of Arizona mama friends for some toddler music inspiration and have compiled all of their answers below! CD’s, digital downloads, or a Spotify gift card are all awesome ways to spread some toddler entertainment this year 🙂

Elizabeth Mitchell

You Are My Flower

You Are My Sunshine

You Are My Little Bird

Sunny Day

Little Seed

Blue Clouds

Dan Zanes & Friends

Rocket Ship Beach

Family Dance

Catch That Train!

Little Nut Tree

Renee & Jeremy

A Little Love


It’s A Big World



If I Were A Song

Caspar Babypants

Baby Beatles!

I Found You!

Hot Dog!

Sing Along!

This Is Fun!

More Please!

Here I Am!

Kimya Dawson


They Might Be Giants


Here Come the ABC’s

Here Come the 123’s

Barenaked Ladies


Trout Fishing in America

See all of their CD’s here

Various Artists

For The Kids

For The Kids Too!

For The Kids Three!

Are there any other children’s artists or CD’s that you and your kids love?? Let us know!







Tidbits & Soundbytes

Hi – it has been a little rowdier than usual over here today.  Naps were in order, and boy, did I have a good one!!

I have had a page rumbling around in my mind for a while – here it is:

You can check over there to find the little bits of wisdom that Cassandra and I are learning along our way as mamas and parents…I hope you will glean some wisdom, and share your own so we can make a nice list of lessons for parents who need encouragement on the journey!!