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.

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

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

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

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

 

Curly Kids and their Fro’s

I am often accosted in Target by exasperated well meaning white caregiver’s with multi-racial children who have curly hair. They need tips, and I have lots, but not always while i’m shopping. The internet has a smorgasbord of awesome content for just how to maintain a thriving curly mane but sometimes you need just the basics. If I could keep this infographic on me to pass around I totally would.

This is my introductory advice on how to get thriving curls:

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For the love of shoes

What if I told you that you could wear a pair of shoes all day and after an active day, experience no foot pain? What if I told you that a majority of the shoes we wear and buy are trash for your feet?

We all know about bunions, corns, and callouses on feet but many of us don’t know that they are typically caused by prolonged wear of uncomfortable and improperly-sized shoes. Wearing tight or unsupportive shoes can damage the feet over time as they cause the many different bones, muscles, and ligaments in our feet to atrophy.

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Image from Ali-express.com

I love a cute shoe. Before I discovered minimalism, every time Old Navy had their $1 flip flop sale or Charlotte Russe was having their $20 boot sale you would find me there spending my hard earned money. It never occurred to me that the poorly made items lasted me less than a year and even though they hurt my feet a few hours into the day, I never made the connection between comfort and quality because I was trying to be cute.

In the beginning of my pregnancy, I was working full time and going to school full-time. I was interested in finding comfortable shoes that would support me and my hectic schedule. I also knew that once my kid was born, I wanted to be active with her, playing, hiking, going on walks, and I needed shoes that wouldn’t have my feet aching at the end of the day.

After some trial and error and research, I found that the best shoes are:

Flexible -They should move with your feet. Your foot shouldn’t be doing extra work to keep them attached to your feet like the action you make when walking with a flip flop. Not great.

Zero-toe drop – In a nutshell that means there should be no heel in the back of the shoe. The sole of the shoe should all be the same height so that your feet aren’t putting all the weight on your toes because of the height difference.

Wide-toe box – Give those toes room to breathe and flex in the shoe. This is especially important for kids as their little feet are still developing.

I slowly built up my comfortable game over the past two years and phased out my uncomfortable shoes and wanted to share some of my favorites brands, tips, and tricks below.


THIS POST CONTAINS SOME AFFILIATE LINKS MEANING THAT AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, I WILL EARN A COMMISSION IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND MAKE A PURCHASE. 

Flip-Flop/Water shoe

During summer, I am try to spend as much time in/near water as possible and I was looking for an easy on and off shoe that works well at the pool/splash park with Thandie and that is perfect for running errands in the Kansas humid weather. I found that Teva makes an amazing strappy, flexible, flip flop that changed my life. I am NEVER going back. NEVER.

Walking Sandal

I visited a local Browns shoe fit and got measured for some walking sandals. My favorite thing about visiting stores that focus on ONE thing (as opposed to big box stores that sell many things) is that  even though their employees main goal is to sell you something, they typically are knowledgable about the shoes, materials the shoes are made of, the company and what works best for your feet.  I tried on several sandals and ended up leaving with a pair of Chacos that ended up seeing me through a few 5 mile walks while 32 weeks pregnant in Texas during our baby moon. Side note: Chacos are definitely a try on in-store shoe.

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Babywearing and good shoes are a must

 

Tip: Shoe sizes vary per style/cut of shoe as well as company. Go to a professional shoe store and have your feet measured properly. Also try shoes on and don’t assume based on size and if ordering online make sure to order from places that allow free returns. 

Sneakers

I had to kiss my cute, beloved and old ass adidas trainers that did nothing but leave my feet aching and sore after a workout to the curb. I went to a different small store that focused on shoes for runners and athletes called Gary’s Gribbles Running Store. I invested the most I have ever spent on a sneaker on the comfiest Saucony shoes that really support my feet through workouts.

Winter shoe

I mentioned my Keen Boots in my January favorites post but I have to shout them out again because it’s seriously like walking on a cloud.

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Cute shoes

My latest challenge has been finding cute sandals. A lot of the brands like Keen and Teva that make ergonomic, wide toe box shoes typically make fugly sandals but as they try to reach out to a younger audience their styles are improving. Jhene Aiko recently had a campaign for Teva that resulted in some cute “flatforms” that I have been searching for second-hand on eBay too.

Kids

It is imperative for children to wear shoes that make room for their feet to grow. So far for Thandiwe I have purchased or been given pairs of See Kai Runs , Roobeez, and Tevas all of which I am comfortable with because they are flexible and allow her feet to move and flex within the shoe. If they are going to be in flip-flops, make sure they have a back strap.

Peace and Happy Feet,

Farai

My Cloth Diapering MVP’s

I was cloth diapered, and I always knew that if I had a kid I would cloth diaper too. I wanted to do it because of how much cheaper it was, but also because of how better for the environment it was. Disposable diaper waste accounts for 30% of our landfill waste and as I attempt to minimize my carbon footprint I knew that this was one way I could do my part.

Read more about just how crappy *lol* disposable diapers are here.

Now that I have been cloth diapering for 18 months, I feel like a pro who has been through it all. I have tried all the decently priced cloth diapering systems (pockets, covers, AIO’s),dealt with diaper rash, and figured out our perfect wash routine. I have a system now that works great for us and thought this might save anyone looking to get into cloth diapering the trouble.

This post contains some affiliate links meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

The cheapest and most eco friendly option for cloth that worked out for my family is using a diaper cover and  inserts. Inserts can be anything from an old cotton tshirt, receiving blankets, flour sack towel, or pre-fold inserts that many cloth diaper company’s sell. These inserts can be cheaply bought new, made, or purchased second hand.

Covers

The waterproof layer of the diaper that traps the waste is known as a cover. They come in a few different styles with limitless prints. The great thing about covers is that unless they get any poop on them, they can be used for multiple diaper changes since the only thing that you change out is the diaper insert. My favorite cover style is the very affordable happy flute diaper cover (butterfly diaper pictured below). My friend Alyson (another WOC mama blogger) sent me the cover and I have loved it ever since.

Pink Posy: Buttons diapers. White diaper with trees: Thirsties diapers and Butterfly diaper: Happy Flute Diapers

Prefolds

We use medium and large pre-folds on Thandiwe. A little bit on the bulkier side but very absorbent. All mine we either hand me downs from friends or purchased second hand.

Medium pre-fold

A note about second hand cloth diapers, always give them a simple bleach soak to clean them before using them on your kid. 

Inserts

Available in many blends, from cotton, to hemp, bamboo, and much more, inserts are a trim, buildable and easy way to add absorbency to diapers. My favorites are the alva bamboo inserts pictured below.

Alva charcoal bamboo insert

Flour sack towels and Receiving Blankets

My favorite and the cheapest way to cloth diaper by far. Receiving blankets are incredibly absorbent and we had several to spare from Thandiwe’s infancy. FST’s are also great. A 4-pack typically costs anywhere from $3-4 and they work great. They are simply folded into a long rectangle and used a prefold or insert would in the diaper.

Folded receiving blanket

Folded flour sack towel

Poop and Pee

A common question: Breastfeed poop is water soluble and can go straight into the wash with other diapers.  Formula fed and food eating baby’s poop should be rinsed off into the toilet and toddler solid poop can simply be tossed into the toilet. We store her diapers in a sealable wet bag next to her changing table and wash her diapers 1-2 times a week.

Left: Button Diaper with charcoal bamboo insert Right: Happy Flute diaper with receiving blanket

 

Happy flute cover stuffed with receiving blanket and charcoal bamboo insert for extra absorbency

 

Washing routine

Each machine is different . I suggest visiting Fluff Love University to figure out a system that works for your machine as well as picking out a good detergent to clean the diapers with.

Peace, Love, and fluffy butts.

Farai

 

MY 2017 FAVES

I love a good list, I love any chance to reflect, and I love beginnings and endings. I also love learning about peoples favorite things because it is always a good chance to learn something new or be reminded of something you had forgotten. So here it is : My 2017 favorite things, some are products, some are concepts, some are new habits that I kept up at. All of these things served me well and brought me joy.

Making my bed – I have loathed this task probably since birth, but the entire year of 2017, I made the effort to make my bed shortly after I woke up. It made me appreciate and love my bedroom space a bit more and I will probably do this for the rest of my life. It made my room more inviting which is exactly what I wanted from the space.

Bijou Babywearing – If you have followed me a while you know how much a I love babywearing. I got my first woven wrap from Bijou for Thandiwe’s first birthday and found a whole new love and appreciation for wrapping from the community and the company. I have the Westy Windmills and Arcadia Goldie wraps and love wearing Thandiwe with them.

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Wearing my snugglebunny in our westy windmills wrap

Journaling – I have always struggled with journaling after my journal was stolen and read by some cruel people. I always wanted to journal but lived in fear that someone would find it and share my innermost thoughts, but I really benefit from expressing myself in writing poems, lists, and prayers. This year I made a point to put my feelings on paper whenever I felt the urge to, it wasn’t regularly (I am hoping to get to that point) but it felt really cathartic every single time and I am looking forward to actually complete a journal and start a new one.
Electric Pressure Cooker – Hot product right now, but anything that cooks dry lentils in 12 minutes has my whole ENTIRE heart.
Lush Coalface soap Seriously, one small piece of this soap lasted my partner and I 8 months. I bought my first bar for my birthday in January of 2017 and didn’t to replace it till August. I used to go through bottles of face wash often before. This is package free and works so well for the both of us.
Public library – With apps like hoopla, and overdrive, my public library gave me free access to so many good books this year. Also for providing free indoor play areas, story times and a rotating access to board books for my little one has been indispensable. Go visit your local library.
Wide toe box shoes with good support – So many brands make a good wide toe box shoe. I love a cute shoe as much as the next girl, but as the mom of a toddler, I cannot afford feet pain while I’m out here in these streets chasing my little one. From a summer sandal to a hiking shoe to a winter boot, I made an investments in my shoes that allowed me to be comfortable all year long.
Going outside – This goes without saying, but gardening, going on walks, visiting the splash park with Thandiwe were all so lovely this year. Can’t wait to do it all again next summer
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Audiobooks/podcasts – Audiobooks and podcasts do the work of making me feel smarter, well-read, and like a multi-tasker all at the same time. I listened to a lot of podcasts about homeschooling and parenting as well as just general stories like those on This American Life. I even started my own podcast with Black Minimalists.
Afro Jams – I am gonna sound old AF here but most mainstream music just does not do it for me anymore. The misogyny and violence is too much and I can’t listen to it around my kid. I need music to get stuff done like clean or put the baby to sleep and African music always uplifts and gets me moving. A few folks who always see us getting down on my IG stories asked me to put together a playlist of some of my jams. Which I did, here.
Dutch oven – I love a good one pot meal and my cast iron dutch oven has been a such helpful addition to my kitchen.
Local B/S/T/Free groups – No need to break the bank when what you are looking for can probably be found free, cheap, or for trade. From toys, clothes to our awesome new to us breakfast nook, buying second hand is good for the environment and your pocket.

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Yay for craiglist! 

Bottles with loose tea filter – I stopped buying bagged tea and use bulk loose leaf tea.  My bottle with an infuser is super convenient for this process not only because it reduces waste, but because it has a lid to keep my warm beverage closed to exploring toddler hands and faces.
 Cloth diapers – 18 months into cloth diapering and I am still a fan. The money I have saved makes them so completely worth it to me. And the cute prints are fun too. Ill work on a blog post about my cloth routine soon.

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Community Supported Agriculture – a.k.a. CSA’s is a great way to get involved in your community. You get locally grown (sometimes organic) produce at a discount, support farmers, and meet cool people. Our summer CSA was full of yummy greens and lots of fruits and veggies and grass fed meats.
 Mango Butter – My go to multi-use product. I can make a moisturizing, yummy smelling diaper cream, hair cream, body moisturizer, salves, and lip balm with mango butter. Its a staple in my home.
There’s way more on this list but these are my MVP’s. Happy New Year y’all!
Peace,
Farai

Our babywearing chronicles 

This week is International Baby-wearing Week.  I’ve been wearing Thandiwe since she was a few weeks old and it has been an amazing hands-free way to keep her near. Baby-wearing has also been an awesome way for my partner to bond with the baby when he’s with her. He loves how it easy it is to keep her close and it makes putting her down for a nap much easier.  Thandiwe enjoys being worn too, she often comes running when she sees me grab a woven wrap or stops fussing when she sees me buckle the soft structured carrier to my waist.

Finding a carrier that works for your body type can be a challenge which is why I am a fan of trying before you buy. Buying second-hand is also a good way to be eco-friendly and economical. Seeing everyone share their baby-wearing stories all over the internet this week has made me reflect on our baby-wearing journey as well. We have one soft structured carrier, one woven wrap, and one ring sling. I also enjoy trying different carriers from my local baby-wearing chapter’s lending library since I am training to be an educator and need to be familiar with all kinds.

Scroll down to see some photos of us baby-wearing and an inforgraphic from momlovesbest.com about the benefits of babywearing.

Anthony wearing Thandiwe

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Farai wearing Thandiwe

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Peace and baby snuggles,

Farai