It’s Date Night: 20 Questions to Reflect and Dream

Love these ideas for our next date night!

I’m over at The Creative Mama today sharing one of my favorite date nights. From the post:

When my husband and I are able to slip away alone for a few hours, we often spend time reflecting on the past and dreaming about the future.

We’ve examined what’s working in our life and what’s not. We’ve designed our life lists and planned how to cross each one off. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend our time over a glass of wine and dessert.

Please join me there to download a free printable for your next date night!

 

2014 Guide to Safer Bath Toys – PVC Free, Phthalate Free, BPA Free

Safer Bath Toys : Your 2014 Guide to BPA free, PVC free and Phthalate free Bath Toys

While I’m no expert, I do avoid PVC, phthalate and BPA when I purchase bath toys for my own children or as gifts for others. Over four years ago, I had a hard time finding such products so I researched and published one of my most popular posts on safe bath toys.

I still get emails asking whether a specific bath toy is considered safe and sadly, I find a lot of bath toys still do not meet this criteria. I’ve finally updated our list of safer bath toys so we can all shop smarter, enjoy.

BOON – One of my favorite brands because all of their bath toys are PVC, phthalate and BPA free.  I particularly love the Boon Water Bugs.

B.Toys (Battat) – All of their toys are both BPA free and phthalate free. The squishy toys do have non-phthalate PVC in them, they are softened with a food-safe citroflex.

Green Sprouts – The Stacking Cups, Stacking Ducks and Sea Friends are all PVC free, phthalate free and BPA free. The bath mitts are also a good option.

Green Toys – Another of my favorite brands because everything is created with recycled milk jugs. The submarine, tugboat, ferry boat and sea plane are PVC, phthalate and BPA free and also get great Amazon reviews.

Hevea – Their toys are made from natural rubber which is free of BPA, PVC and phthalates. Their toys are also biodegradable.

Milliwik – These clever bath-friendly playing cards are BPA, PVC and phthalate free. Super fun.

Munchkin – The only product from Munchkin that meets the test is the Caterpillar Spiller.

2014 Favorite Safe Bath Toys

sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Nuby – Customer relations told me that “all Nuby product including bath products are BPA Free and PVC/Phthalates Free.”

Rich Frogs - Their bath toys are BPA free, phthalates free and use phthalate-free PVC. I particularly like their terry towel mitts and tub puppets.

Sassy – All bath toys are BPA, PVC and phthalate free except the Snap & Squirt Sea Creatures and they are non-phthalate PVC.

Skip Hop – The only bath toy that meets all 3 conditions are the Stacking Toys. Their other bath toys are phthalate free and BPA free but not PVC free.

Sprig – All toys are made from recycled materials and do not contain BPA, PVC or phthalates.

Zoe b Organic – This biodegradable and made in the USA bath and beach toy set is one of my favorites. Also free of BPA, PVC and phthalates.

tip iconWant to save this list for future shopping? Save it to Evernote or Pin the post to your Pinterest boards or Save to Pocket!

 

What I’m Reading: Books That are Changing Me

What I'm Reading: Books That Are Changing Me

Today I’m sharing several books that are changing me over at The Creative Mama. Come on over and say hello. From the post:

There are those books that get under my skin… the books that I dog ear, make notes in or constantly quote to my husband… the ones so meaty that I have to digest before continuing. Those are the books that shape me.

You can get the whole list over on the post, but here’s a couple that make the list: Zero Waste Home, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and  Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally.

 

 

On Slowing Down in Our Busy World

Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider

When we started chasing our own dreams , I quit my job, we sold our house, and drove one car while we started the baby steps. Life slowed down to 20mph instead of the 50 we had been living.

Over three years later, we’ve picked things up a bit but I’d say we are still clocking in at half the speed of the busy world around us.

We’ve been intentional in the way we spend our time: my husband has chosen not take a more lucrative career path (working more hours), I run our business part-time from home, we limit after school activities and our own commitments to groups, committees and other activities that we don’t highly value.

We’ve chosen to spend money on quality food and healthcare, educating our children, charities, outdoor recreation and traveling experiences: our top priorities.

Living according to your values isn’t inherent in our culture. We are told to do more, have more and be more every day. But we can live differently.

It’s a risky ride, but it’s worth it—living your life according to who you really are simply takes a little intention.  – Tsh Oxenreider

If you need a little inspiration and practical ideas for slowing down your own life, please read Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. It’s the newest book from my friend, Tsh, the founder of The Art of Simple, formerly known as Simple Mom.

The book’s trailer gives you a sneak peek:

The book releases on February 4 but if you pre-order now, you’ll score a few freebies:

  • A brand new e-book Tsh wrote called 20 Things I’d Tell My 20-Something Self.

  • Her e-book, One Bite At a Time: 52 Projects To Making Life Simpler. 52 steps with tips, links, and motivation to simplify. This is a great way to start the slowing down process.

  • A downloadable list of extra resources on each topic of the book.

  • A collection of sharable and printable quotes from the book. These are awesome, you are going to love them!

    To get all the freebies, make sure you forward a copy of your order receipt to: notesfromabluebike@gmail.com. (Must forward your receipt by Feb 18).

I think we are all looking to slow down our busy lives, what path are you taking to accomplish it?
 

Exercise for the Busy Mom

How Busy Moms Get Exercise: 5 Tips for Moms to Squeeze in at Least 7 Minutes of Exercise Every Day

Ten years ago I was active. I was an on-again, off-again runner. I snowboarded and then became a skier. I took up cycling.  I swam. Exercise was part of my life.

Then I had kids. You know the familiar equation. Kids + husband + work + housework + social activities = no time for mom.

Last year I had this epiphany that it was time to start doing things for myself. I became a part-time WAHM. I learned how to swim properly. I started exercising regularly. And I feel GREAT.

I won’t be posting any before and after photos but I’m stronger and leaner and all around more fit. There’s no one size fits all exercise routine and frankly, mine varies week to week but I’ve found several methods that are working for me.

Twofer Exercise

When my kids are busy in an activity, I take the time to squeeze in a workout. A few ways I’ve done it:

  • While my son takes swimming lessons, I hit the lap pool for 30 minutes. If my daughter is with me, she does homework or plays on the iPad while watching me swim.
  • My daughter plays softball at a nearby field while I run the loop around the park and my son rides his bike.
  • I drop my kids off for a play date and hit the road for a bike ride.

Jillian

I credit Jillian for hiking up my buns and firming up my jello arms. When I can’t sneak in a twofer workout or get outdoors, I hide in my bedroom for 20-30 minutes and get ripped. This is the video I’m working through now and I used this one in the past.

My sister has 3 kids under 6 and she sneaks in one of these workouts 5-6 days a week during her infant’s nap time or while he’s preoccupied with a toy. She got back to her pre-baby size in a few months, she looks great.

7 Minute Workout Challenge

This clever app is how I’m getting exercise when I travel. The 7 Minute Workout Challenge has 12 exercises, performed for 30 seconds with 10 second rest intervals. No equipment needed.  The reviews are amazing for just 7 minutes a day!

Research says “high-intensity training with little rest results in higher daily metabolism and is the equivalent of working out for over an hour.”

How Busy Moms Get Exercise: 5 Tips for Moms to Squeeze in at Least 7 Minutes of Exercise Every Day

Getting Outside

Breaking a sweat in the outdoors is my preferred method of exercise. It feels more natural to cross country ski through the snowy woods than run on a treadmill next to 10 other people.  That being said, reality is that I get to do that 1-2 times per week.

A woman at my children’s school organized an Adventure Club where (mostly) moms get together on Monday mornings after they have dropped off their children in their classrooms and do an organized outdoor activity together.

Weather dependent, we are hiking, cycling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing or stand up paddle boarding. Beginners and those without equipment are always welcome and we are done by lunch time.

On the weekend, I’m usually accomplishing this with my kids alongside. In the summer, we spend our Saturdays kayaking different lakes. You’ll find us skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

The spring and fall are usually spent riding bikes and hiking. When cycling around town, we tote our kids behind our bikes (talk about getting a workout when pulling 70 pounds behind you!) Both kids (ages 4 and 7) are good for 2-3 miles of hiking.

Other Workout Ideas

The current bundle of the week features 5 ebooks on getting fit for just $7.40 (only available thru 1/19/2014).  Bonus: the 7-Minute Workout Challenge app I mentioned above is included.

  • Thrive90 Fitness Program
  • Healthy Eating the Happy Gal Way
  • 7-Minute Workout Challenge App
  • Bodyweight Overload
  • The Sandbag Solution
How do you squeeze in exercise in your busy life?