The Vagabond Studio

http://www.thevagabondstudio.com

The number 7 blog in 2012, The Vagabond Studio is an eco-friendly lifestyle blog aimed at inspiring others to live sustainably, creatively, and peacefully.

Shai is a winner of Top 25 Eco-Friendly Moms - 2013

What's a fun way to repurpose household items into toys or crafts?

Do you know any great children's books that teach kids about being eco-friendly?

What organic or healthy snacks do your kids love? Please share a link to a recipe if you have one.

What's an easy, eco-friendly habit that could help families save money?

Shai Smith

Reduce waste and reuse as often as possible! Getting rid of anything disposable would be a great first step, and was one of the first big steps my household made. First, we got rid of paper towels, napkins, plates, and silverware - we use cloth everything, and all of our cleaning cloths are made from repurposed old t-shirts! Most of our household uses family cloth instead of toilet paper as well, but that's not something I enforce as I don't want to leave a bad vibe regarding eco-friendliness on an unwilling husband or children. After getting rid of the obvious, start looking for other things you can stop wasting. For example, purchase an eco-friendly water bottle and refill it with your choice of beverage instead of buying it in small plastic bottles . Use Pinterest and your own creative juices to reuse or perk up old household items instead of purchasing new ones. The key, in our house, is to not buy as much stuff that can be tossed and don't toss as much stuff that can be reused. We reduce and reuse just about everything we can get our hands on!
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What's the best way to introduce someone you're dating to your children?

Shai Smith

Like the previous blogger, I made it as casual as possible - she knew mommy had a friend, and I talked about him ever so often. When they finally met, it was during a shopping trip. We needed groceries, and he came along for the experience. I felt like it was a good idea to introduce him to a bit of our normal daily life (he had a toddler and a preschooler, but my daughter was in 1st grade and my son was an infant), and it also took the pressure off of her to perform. Several weeks later, we introduced our children through a playground play-date. They had a blast but, again, they didn't feel pressured to play with each other as there were many different things for each of them to do. They wound up grouping together on their own rather than being stuck together. Whatever we did worked - we're married now and our blended family of six gets along great!
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What's on your bucket list of things to do with your kids this summer?

Shai Smith

Absolutely, without a doubt, bubbles, sprinklers, and sidewalk chalk. Their grandparents live close by, so we see them all the time and will continue to do so throughout the break. But, getting 'back to the basics' and having good, dirty fun means a lot to us.
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What's a great theme you've done for your child's birthday? Please share a link with a photo.

Shai Smith

My son's very first birthday had a 'rainbow colors' theme. Without using actual rainbows, we simply decorated everything that would hold still with a different color of the rainbow, and then made rainbow-colored foods. We had gluten and diary-free rainbow cake in a jar, rainbow layered fudge, rainbow layered jello and yogurt, picture frames painted all seven colors of the rainbow and filled with pictures of him over the last year. It was very simple, and cheap, but looked really put together! http://www.thevagabondstudio.com/2012/03/ninja-in-training-is-turning-one.html
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At what age did you (or would you) give your child a cell phone? (Please include any contracts or conditions you gave your child with this use)

Shai Smith

I am a divorced mom, and would love to give my 8 year old one of the simple 'kid' cell-phones if I felt she was responsible enough to take care of it. They only have few programmable buttons - mom, dad, 911, etc. I think these would be useful for kids to be able to get in touch with either parent in a split-home situation. Other than that, my child can have a cell phone when two things happen: 1) She has to be responsible enough to keep up with it and 2) She has to have a need for it. For example, an after-school practice that doesn't always end at the same time. Or, an after-school job from which I would need to pick her up. I received my first cell phone at 15, when I started my first job, so I could call my parents and let them know when to pick me up (I closed a restaurant, which could take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour). I plan to follow something similar with my kids.
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Would you let your child dye his or her hair?

Shai Smith

I believe this is an absolute personal decision based upon the parent's feelings regarding hair dye as well as the relationship and maturity of the child - not to mention the reasoning for the child wanting to dye his or her hair in the first place. If a child is brunette and wants to be blonde and beautiful, for example, I would personally make them wait until they are 14 or 15 - changing yourself to 'be beautiful' is never really acceptable. At such a young age, we should be helping our children learn that they are beautiful and to find the positive aspects of themselves rather than helping them change them. As an eco-friendly mom, I'm also fairly against using chemicals on my child's head. I say 'fairly' because I actually do dye my hair (back to it's former bright shade, as it grows in a darker auburn now) and I am not a 'do as I say, not as I do' type of person. That being said, if the child simply wants to dye their hair for the fun of it - spirit day or bright streaks for the summer, etc. - there are many healthy stains available that can be used in place of hair dye. My daughter went through a phase where she loved pink so much she even wanted pink hair, so I allowed her to have a pink streak on each side of her face. The 'dye' was natural, but lasted 6-8 weeks, and was in a location where it could either be seen or covered up. She was ecstatic - her hair matched everything she owned. It was done just for the fun of it. We also naturally lightened her hair this summer using honey and lemon while she was out in the sun. It took her natural shade of dark blonde and brought out her already natural streaks a bit, much like the sun itself can do if you don't mind being in the sun too much. I pick my battles. Hair is not a battle I'm willing to fight - she can have her hair cut how she likes and I'm accepting of her wanting to play around with the color. So long as she does it in a safe, fun way and not to make herself 'pretty', and doesn't use nasty chemicals in the process, I'm fairly approving.
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What are you most looking forward to as a mom in 2013? Please include a link to a picture if it's relevant.

Shai Smith

My daughter and I brought the New Year in by watching fireworks over the ocean in Tybee Island, Georgia. It was spectacular, and celebrating with her overwhelmed me so much that i decided to make 2013 a year of celebration. My family and I shall celebrate everything: Potty training (hopefully), good grades, successes in my business...and then little things like happy songs on the radio, first somersaults, and random dancing in the living room together. We're alive - we have every reason to be happy and celebrating life itself.
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