Earth Friendly and Minimalist Easter Practices for Kids

Happy 2019! I hope this blog post finds you, reader, in good spirits.

So let’s get right to it. Easter stuff is already everywhere you look. I purposefully tried to avoid all small holidays in the USA the first few years of Thandiwe’s life because it just seems like a giant excuse to ply kids with candy. But now, as my little one is getting older and has shown interest in things like birds, bees, bunnies, and mushrooms, I see an opportunity to use Easter to teach her about rest, renewal, and the beauty of transformation.

Christian Easter will be celebrated on April 21st, but we are tying our Easter celebration to the Spring Equinox which will be on March 20. Whatever beliefs you have, I hope you find time to find the beauty in the green blooms that will be coming out to say hello.

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The Easter Basket

Reuse a basket/box you already own or go to a local thrift store and get a wicker one for cheap.

This is the perfect time to get your child spring and summer items they may have outgrown. Each season I go through Thandiwe’s wardrobe to find out what she has outgrown or needs repaired. In her case, she had outgrown her swimsuit and water shoes.

Other ideas include

  1. Raincoat
  2. Rainboots
  3. Hat
  4. Umbrella

Since she has an obsession with mushrooms (like her mama!) I reached out to my IG friends who recommended so many good books, but I liked this one the best. Our lesson this Easter will be around the life cycle of mushrooms.

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Instead of Easter grass, I will be using a playsilk that I plan on dyeing with blackberries. Really any scarf will do. Scarves are great open ended toys because they can become a cape, bandana, tutu, or baby sling. I have a post about toys here.   You could also use newspaper or craft paper to make your own compostable easter grass.

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Play silks I made her last year
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If I had any crocheting skills, I would make these myself, but instead I pay my lovely talented friends instead.  Here is a link to the Etsy store pattern for these . You don’t have to add toys to the basket, but Easter isn’t only about bunnies and chicks, there is ample opportunity to chat about nature in general. 

The Easter Egg hunt

I got a bag of the plastic eggs from the thrift store to use. I spent some time researching biodegradable and recyclable ones (there are not many options) before decided to just buy some second hand and take care of them so we can use them for many years to come. Luckily, the ones I found were slightly bigger than a standard size, so if I chose to fill them with something bigger in the future I am set.

Ditch the candy if you can. Instead use

  1. Coins or cash (kids love money)
  2. Crackers
  3. Yogurt bites, or yogurt covered nuts/ fruit
  4. Gummies that aren’t full of gross stuff
  5. Marbles
  6. Lip balm/Nail polish/Lip stick for the makeup loving kiddo in your life
  7. Rings/ Beads and string to make jewelry
  8. Homemade playdough
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I hope this gives anyone searching, some ideas. At the end of the day all our babes want is to connect with us.  I look forward to restart our walks in the neighborhood where we point out all the cool flora and fauna that is local to us. She recognizes spots from last spring/summer where the bunnies hid and where mushrooms sprouted and she searches for them whenever we do make it outside. I love this graphic from Little Oak Learning. 

Peace,

Farai

A Word on Thanksgiving – Stop the Candy Coating

I am reading There’s no such thing as bad weather to prepare myself for outdoor activities with my little one as winter approaches. In the book, the author talks about how in Sweden and other Nordic countries, that educators are honest with the students about the human impact on climate change. Fearing that the information is too scary for children to hear, parents in the U.S. often complain when American educators try to follow suit. However, in Sweden- these practices have produced little environmentalists who are adamant about composting and other eco-friendly practices. In essence, these children know the truth and strive to make a better world for themselves and the Earth.

How can we do better if we do not know better? I look forward to homeschooling my child because she won’t have to unlearn the candy coated history of America when the time comes for her to study it.

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Image from Pixabay

The country of my birth gained independence from Britain 1965 and still has not recovered from the greed and decimation of colonial rule. My people were rounded up, murdered, and had western Christianity and ideals forced upon them. Their way of life was destroyed. I often think to what Zimbabwe would have been like if it had never been colonized. My people are brilliant, educated, funny, and innovative. And it fucking sucks that its such a hard place to live if you aren’t rich.

I can’t imagine the pain and anguish of First Nations people today. And for us to not have honest conversations about the genocide that this holiday is built on is a travesty. How can our children not do better if they don’t know any better?

Harvest season is great time to be grateful for the amazing blessings you have in your life. But we must not forget how we got here. The people who helped us, the bridges we burned, the people we hurt, and how we can do better. No more candy coating.

Peace,

Farai

Minimalist Holiday Shopping for Kids

It is quite hard to not get caught up in the buying frenzy that is in the air during the holiday season. My spouse and I take full advantage of the fact that our two year old is none the wiser and choose not to buy into the hype. However, we want to build meaningful tradition and ritual for our family and that includes thinking about what we want this time of year to look like for our family.

If you are feeling the pressure this holiday season with all the marketing and ads coming your way, Let me remind you that what your children want most is your time. Toys come and go, clothes are outgrown, but memories last much longer. If you must make purchases, here is a graphic to keep you in check.

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This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

With winter approaching we have been focused on getting our babe some open ended toys. What are open-ended toys you ask? Basically any toy that doesn’t have a fixed use and can be played with in a variety of ways. I thought i’d share some of the open ended toys that have been on our horizon for months now.

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Image from Sarah Playsilks

Play silks can become tutus, capes, headscarfs, doll slings, dresses, forts, and much more. The soft biodegradable material feels good on little hands too.

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Image from kickstarter

EarthTiles are made from sustainably sourced wood and these magnetic tiles are a beautiful way for babes to engage in STEM play.

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Image from urbanbaby.com

A kinderboard can be a balance board, a reading nook, slide, bridge, booster seat, and much more. I am probably the most excited to see all the ways she will play with this. Much like most open ended toys, it is an investment and will probably be in our family for a long time.

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Image from google search

Rainbow stackers are not only beautiful but are a lesson in math, science, art, and fun in general.

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My two year old unicorn ladybug

As for books, thrift stores and thriftbooks.com are still my favorite place to search for titles. Right now my wishlist is full of books about eating and enjoying food as I try to encourage her to eat more.

At the end of the day, my daughter is most happiest when both of us are playing hands on with her. No toy can match that. Our favorite thing to do right now is play with homemade play-dough and cookie cutters.

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Turmeric play-dough

I hope this holiday season gifts you with time to spend with those you love.

Peace,

Farai

My Green Beauty Basics

If you have been following me along on instagram, then you know our home renovation took a lot of steam out of my eco friendly engine. I just did not have the spoons (or a kitchen or bathroom) to stay as green as I would have liked. However, because my beauty regime is pretty minimal, I had no troubles in this department. I thought I would share my basics in case someone is looking for some inspiration.

Apple Cider Vinegar – In a glass bottle, this powerhouse can act as a skin toner, hair rinse and much more. It works great to balance out my low porosity hair, and added to a bath, it is incredibly soft and moisturizing for those with dry skin issues. I never go without.

Bar soap – Whether its for my body, or specifically formulated for my face. Unpackaged bar soap is what my family enjoys using.

Lip Balm – I have a compulsion to never ever have dry lips. Lip balm or lip stick  in a compostable or recyclable container make my heart and the earth sing.

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Lip balm in a compostable container

Rose hip oil – Not too long ago I realized that I needed to start taking better care of my skin. I tried to be a multi-product girl with the serums and the acids (all in glass bottles of course), but its just not me. Rose hip oil rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants which are essential in tissue and cell regeneration in the skin. After I cleanse my skin, I just throw this on at night and move on about my day. PS. It will stain your skin a bright orange, but it goes away as your skin absorbs it.

Almond oil – The least eco-friendly of basics, because I have only found it in plastic bottles (I buy the biggest size to make up for it). Almond oil can be used as a face, body, and hair moisturizer. It is my go-to make-up remover and probably the product I have used the longest.

Konjac sponge – New to me, this compostable face scrubby comes in clutch when I need to exfoliate my face.

Thats it folks! When I am scrubbed clean, and well moisturized I feel my most beautiful. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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Stanley and my naked, moisturized face

This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

Peace.

Farai.

Building Ritual and Traditions

Being a third culture kid has its pros and cons. On one hand, I am adaptive, can pick up languages very easily and love being a citizen of the world. On the other hand, I suffer from some sort of identity crisis sometimes. I used to wish I had one culture. A set of rules and rituals I could lean into during life’s moments. Practices that are set in stone and were practiced by my people and their people before them. Instead, I have a mix of Setswana, Shona, British, and Kansan culture and traditions in my head.

Colonialism took away a lot of culture and tradition for some African tribes and I mourn the loss of our traditions that were demonized by western Christianity. I’ve tried hunting down records of how my people lived before colonization but the information is scarce.

As my toddler gets older, my spouse and I are questioning everything we know. Will we celebrate Christmas? Yule? Easter? Birthdays? If we do, how can we do it in a way thats authentic to us and our values. Its important to us to engage in rituals and traditions that are meaningful and bring true joy to us. Not just because they are the norm.

She is only two though, so for now, having these conversations looks like singing rhymes and lullabies. Going on walks and exploring nature as it changes before our eyes. Jumping in rain puddles, picking up dandelions, acorns, pumpkins, and sticks.

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Pumpkin patch 2018

Things that I know for sure are that I want to celebrate and cherish the beginning and ending of each season wherever we are living. Recognizing the growth and harvest time in Summer and Fall, and the rest and renewal of Winter and Spring. Knowing where our food is from and giving thanks to those who grew, picked, and cooked it. Recognizing our role as stewards of the land and the First Nations people who were here before us. Cooking Zimbabwean food for her so she knows her culture even though we are so far away from it. Standing up for her rights and those of others. There is so much I want to show my babe and I am excited to learn it all with her through her eyes.

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Week without Violence walk 2018

For now, i’ll keep her close.

Peace,

Farai.

Sunday Sweetness

Things that brightened up this past week for me.

This garage sale toy high chair (yay for Godparents who know your style)

These two books for keeping her entertained.

New hobbies. I picked up needle felting and made Thandie a few felt toys. So far the ” ‘ushrooms” are a hit and have accompanied a few naps.

This book for being beautifully written by a Kansas native and an insight into Wicca.

Peace,

Farai

Lessons Motherhood Has Taught Me

I am Jon Snow, I know nothing. No amount of books, anecdotes, podcasts, or documentaries prepared me for childbirth or motherhood. I had the birth I had, not the one I wanted. Thats a story for another day though.

I am constantly in awe of the gifts that motherhood has given to me, and the things it has taken away too. I thought i’d share some of the lessons I have learned over the past two years.

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Community is so important because caregiving can be isolating. Reach out.

Being a steward of the earth is important. Maybe you don’t give a heckin heck about animals, or have no interest in growing plants or going vegan. But you can recycle, and buy ethically raised and organically grown foods and meat if your life allows you to. You can teach your kids where their food comes from and how to be ethical consumers because you owe it to them to teach them how to survive on this planet and not trash it.

I have to be gentle and kind to myself.

My body is magnificent. Even though sometimes I am dehydrated and sleep deprived, it continues to show up for me and my grabby toddler each day with minimal complaints.

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I owe it to myself and my kid to follow my own dreams.

Constantly access what is in front of me and be creative.

They are watching you (your kids, that is…not ‘the man’ lol).

You will probably lose friends. Certain friendships are seasonal, and when you enter a new season in your life its ok if they don’t want to join you. Even if it sucks.

Your kid is a product of their environment. They will learn how to cope, manage their emotions, and express themselves from how you do the same.

Your kid will probably lose it in the grocery store.

If someone is acting like they have their shit together, they are lying.

Peace,

Farai

 

Yummy Non-Toxic Room Spray

I’ll let the Environmental Working Group let you know why most room and fabric refreshers are terrible for you and the environment. Instead, I’ll share my non-toxic recipe for a spray that I use to sweeten the smell in a room or freshen a fabric

What you’ll need:

  • A small to medium sized glass or stainless steel spray bottle
  • Unscented witchhazel or alcohol
  • Essential oils of your choice. My go to right now is vanilla and grapefruit
  • Label for your bottle

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Fill your bottle mostly all the way up with your witch-hazel or alcohol. Next add 10-15 drops of your essential oils combinations of your choice. Thats it! You can play with different smells and concentrations of essential oils each time you run out. I love citrus scents in the summer, cinnamon and orange the fall, and wintergreen scents in the cold weather. I also adore plain old vanilla as well.

If you prefer to not use essential oils all together, consider using a hydrosol of your fav smelling plants/herbs instead as a room spray or refresher instead. They are easy to make (I spy a future blogpost) or can be purchased on Etsy.

A note on essential oils – Make sure you are using oils from reputable, RESPONSIBLE companies that are harvesting the oils ethically. I’m gonna be bold and state the unpopular opinion that is avoid MLM’s like Doterra and Young Living altogether. This is coming from someone who sold Doterra and has tried all kinds of oils. Dr Aviva Romm has an excellent podcast with Mindy Green, a clinical aromatherapist on proper usage and sustainability of essential oils. The podcast is worth a listen and the show notes page has an excellent resource list I will be referencing for a long time. 

Peace and yummy smells,

Farai

Minimalism, 3 years in

Fourscore and about three years ago, I got tired and overwhelmed by all the stuff in my life and began my journey into minimalism. Here is what I have learned so far:

It’s work – Once you get past all the decluttering, and figure out how you want whatever you minimized to look, you have to do regular maintenance to keep it that way. Things pile up, and if you don’t take stock regularly then you can slip back in to old habits. This was true for me with our home renovation. My home was a mess, everything was boxed up and stacked away and so I would find myself buying doubles of things, and making purchases I didn’t truly need or even like. The Target runs to escape the noise of the renovation waylaid all the work I did to disconnect myself from using retail therapy as a way to feel good. Luckily, I was able to check myself constantly because I know my goals and what I needed in my life because of minimalism.

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My baby crab and I, 2018

 

Its good for me and the planet – “Do you really need this?” Is a question I never used to ask myself. If I liked it, and I had the means, I got it. That ended up in piles of unused or discarded items. Now, I take into account the story of how the object that I am bringing into my life came to be. This makes for a lot less impulse choices, which is good for everyone.

Its easier – When you have less stuff, its easier to clean, to be honest, to be still, to take stock.

I am not a one handbag kinda gal – I like cute things, but with minimalism, I’ve learned to look at something and imagine how it would work for me through all seasons of my life. If I can’t see it withstanding some wear/tear then I don’t need it, but I am not stopping myself from owning/enjoying beautiful things.  Some minimalists have one utilitarian bag that they use for everything. I have a few vintage, adorable, and gifted bags that I enjoy wearing and switching out often. Not very minimal, but they bring me joy.

Everyone will look different – Living with less looks different for everyone. That’s it. No need/room for judgement.

I make room for beauty more – In a way that I never did before minimalism. Sure I had beautiful stuff before, but it got lost in the noise of clutter. Now I can look at the art on my wall and really see it. It has been great for my creativity too.

You see everything – Clutter does a good job of  hiding dirt. When walls and floors are bare of clutter, you see all the dirt and grime. When you have two scraggly dogs, a messy toddler, and a mechanic for a husband, the floors and walls hide nothing. But that’s just life.  If you come over, I am probably sweeping up dog fur, scrubbing at a grease stain or wiping blueberries from EVERYTHING. Or I am saying this let’s go outside and look at my garden and ignore my filthy house.

It makes me a better person – Clutter makes me anxious. Anxiety makes me controlling, angry, distracted, and unmotivated. That is not fun for me or anyone around me. So, bye bye clutter.

You don’t have to follow the norm – Your life and your space should suit YOUR life, your functional and emotional needs. Play with it and figure out what works for you.

You question everything – I am not quite sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, because it elicits a couple eye rolls from people around me every once in a while. It looks like me cuddling an item and thinking about whether or not it will serve me or bring me joy in the thrift store, or journaling to understand my thoughts and feelings about life’s many questions. Tedious? Maybe. Worth it? Yes.

Learn more about my minimalist journey here: Why Minimalism

An interview with Black Minimalists : Black Minimalists

A 15 minute intro to minimalism I did for my Minimalists of Color facebook groupIntro to Minimalism

Peace,

Farai

Helina Baby Meh Dai Review

In July, I got to go to the International baby-wearing conference that happened in Iowa. It was fun to meet fellow baby-wearers I have been interacting with for the past two years and meet them face to face. I was especially excited to be around fellow Black baby-wearers.

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Internet friends IRL!

It is no secret that I love supporting POC makers, wearers and artists. A few months ago I learned about Helina Baby Inc  , a Canadian based baby wearing company founded by a black woman. Upon my discovery, I slid rather quickly into their DM’s and joined their ambassador program and they so graciously sent it to me to try out.

First off, I feel like Meh Dais don’t get enough love. As an educator, I like that they are very easy to teach and that they are typically super accessible to caregivers of all body types. The Helina Baby Meh Dai is made with organic cotton and low impact dyes. Its super soft and has the most comfortable feel in hand. Unfortunately, Thandiwe has been on a strict back wearing boycott for several months now, and screams bloody murder when I try to wear her on my back so I only got to try this in the front EVERY SINGLE TIME. She is very strong willed. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the uppies we got from it.

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Breastfeeding while plant window shopping

My favorite things :

The feel of the fabric : This was my first time using an organic cotton carrier and it felt really good to the touch. I think tactile folks would enjoy using this carrier. It was easy to nurse in as well.

The length of the straps : The long straps make this carrier accessible for babywearers of all body types.

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The arm straps : In my experience, Meh Dai carriers that don’t have wrap straps or shoulder straps with lots of material typically aren’t my favorite, but the way this one is created made it comfortable on my shoulders.

Toddler wearing : Thandiwe is a solid 26 lbs at 2 years of age and was very comfortable in the carrier. It works from Newborn into Toddlerhood and doesn’t require an insert which is a win in my book.

Easy to wash : It is so simple to wash, it just requires a gentle cold rinse in the machine and then hang it to dry. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. If you are anxious about carrier friendly detergents, just use plain ol’ water.

My least favorite thing : I loved the color of this fabric, but it will get stomped on and dirtied much like any carrier. Light fabrics show dirt quicker. This is easily solved by how simple it is to wash the carrier however. DSC_0504.jpg

 

If you are in the market for a Meh Dai, check www.helinababy.ca out! They even have free shipping!

Peace,

Farai