A More Sustainable Lunches Continues… the HORROR of ziplock bagsOct. 15th

ziplocksI have a confession to make: I use ziplock bags, a lot of them. Before my son started kindergarten, it would take at least 6 months to go through the box of ziplock bags, but suddenly, with packing school lunches for a picky eater, I have been going through 1 box every month. I hate to think that I’m contributing to the giant trash gyre of the pacific, or to my family’s exposure to endocrine disruptors released by plastics. Plastic, a ubiquitous part of modern life, is very hard to eliminate from the household. I remember one playdate I went to where the house was pretty much plastic free. I was so envious of the amount of jars and pretty ceramic containers that they had. So, I’ve tried to start, with one container at a time, one less processed food at a time. After all, my cupboard used to be full of Teflon non-stick pans  and one by one I replaced them with safer (and more expensive) options. One step at a time, I CAN do this!! I’m not much of a seamstress, so luckily there’s Etsy with lots of options for hand-made reusable bags.handmade bags When choosing fabrics, you want to look for BPA and phthalate free material as the liner, as some are made with cheaper PVC plastic that is not safe for packaging food. When I googled “do it yourself sandwich bags”, the first link was to a better homes and garden article which says to use the PVC fabric because it is easier to sew than ripstop nylon. If you are handier at sewing than I am, you can look at do it yourself materials on the internet like this. Your kids will enjoy picking their own fabrics and you can teach them how to sew with this really easy first project. You can even sell them for your PTA fundraiser instead of candy or other junk food popularly used as fundraiser fare. So, who’s with me in dumping plastic ziplock bags?

Guest Blogger: Rebecca Wolthers, parent educator and aspiring green mom

Parenting with Awareness: less turmoil + more cooperation, with Julie NevisonOct. 30th

We love to meet and support creative and inspiring people in our community. This description fits the owners of a local yoga studio, Peter and Tawny Sterios perfectly. We (Bryan and Karen) recently had the opportunity to meet them, and what a true pleasure it was!

We wanted to let you know about an upcoming series of classes that Peter and Tawny are making possible! You don’t want to miss this opportunity, friends! Julie Nevison will be teaching Parenting with Awareness, a series of six classes focused on children ages 1 to 10, giving parents the insight and understanding it takes to encourage cooperation in young children without all the turmoil! Julie is a gifted and certified Parent Educator and Consultant with many years of experience. 

Please check out m*Body’s website for all the details. These classes are available in San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, OR by tele-class! 

Check out Peter Sterios yoga DVDs, Gravity and Grace: Yoga for Longevity 1 & 2 



Creating Your Family CultureJan. 1st

Thank you to Jenny Bischoff from my children’s school blog for this great post~ I hope it inspires you as well. And please share with us your family’s traditions!   Happy New Year!

As we begin another year (can it really be 2014 already?!? It sounds so futuristic…), many people are drawn to making resolutions of one kind or another. Making healthy changes is certainly worthwhile, but rather than talk about resolutions per se, today I (Jenny) want to share in a more personal voice some ideas I’ve been encouraged by lately.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about family traditions, and creating an inviting family culture. Just as we desire to captivate our children through a rich, classical education, we also want to capture their hearts and strengthen family bonds through a rich and connected home life. You are probably doing this now in many ways, so let today’s post affirm the family culture you are already creating. Your family is incredible in many unique ways!

I recently read a blog post that addressed this topic. The article is written by Sally Clarkson and contains Christian content, but many of her ideas are universal and inspiring for all families. Regarding keeping kids connected to the family as they grow, she writes:

“We make our own family culture and traditions and community and home pleasure stronger, more powerful and more fun, and more satisfying, than that of the world culture that is calling out to them. Personal relationship must be cultivated through all the traditions–not dependency on time-filling media at the center, but focused, deep relationships that say, “I love you. I know you. I validate you. I am listening to you and I care for your thoughts and dreams… “

Sally talks about how a family culture is comprised of all the little rhythms of life that make up our days and years together. Here are a few examples of elements from her family culture that might resonate with you, inspire you to start a new tradition, or just make you smile:

  • daily afternoon tea, coffee or hot chocolate
  • candlelight dinners together 

  • piles of book baskets and magazine everywhere
  • loud daily discussions on every topic
  • back scratches
  • homemade treats for kids and their friends
  • saturday night pizza and movie
  • sunday morning feast
  • reading aloud in the evenings
  • game nights
  • seasonal parties and treasure hunts (car and scavenger hunts for teens)
  • birthday morning cinnamon rolls

  • pouring words of life and appreciation on birthdays
  • family hikes every month
  • whole family support for recitals, tournaments, awards ceremonies, sports activities
  • rite of passage teen dinner

We all have these special “things we do in our family.” In our home we do some of the above as well as silly things like Daddy Playground, where the younger kids climb and play on dad almost every night, or Family Roll Call which we do when we all get in the car together and usually someone answers “not here” or “in Hawaii” or they make up additional members of our family, etc.

As Sally put it, all of these elements of family culture create “invisible threads from our hearts to our children’s.” I love that. 

– See more at: http://sloclassicalacademy.com/downhome/post/li/FamilyCulture#sthash.pHiGDHWW.dpuf

Grateful Monday: Grateful for SupportOct. 7th

It is so important in life to have support of people. Family, friends, loved ones, really anyone around you that can lift you up. I remember as a child having support of teachers was invaluable. 

In children’s lives there are so many kinds of support that are important and that later in life they realize they are grateful for. 

1. Support from teachers/coaches and those at school: The ones they are with all day everyday. The ones that shape who they will become. The ones that make those bad days better and teach them things that stay with them forever. I know for me I wouldn’t know the alphabetical order of the United States if it hadn’t been engrained in my head in 2nd grade. I wouldn’t know that I had a problem with math in 3rd grade if it wasn’t for a very sweet teach making me realize that I see numbers a little mixed up. Teachers form a great amount of support. 

2. Parents: Parents are the biggest amount of support. They are with us from day 1. They support us through good times and bad. They stay up all night helping with those science projects. They see us off to college and stay on the phone when we get homesick. They help move us into that first apartment and make sure we aren’t only eating Ramen noodles. They are there on wedding days, the day you give birth etc. 

3. Friends: You always have friends you can turn to for different kinds of support. There are the ones you go to for laughter, tears, the ones that you go to just to take your mind off things. The ones that will run a marathon with you. The ones that will come over and craft with you. The ones that will let you cry on their shoulder over and over. The ones that will listen to you rant and rant. The ones that you grew up with and know about the time in 4th grade where you spilled a snack pack all over yourself during lunch. 

Support comes in all shapes and sizes and today I am grateful for the many kinds of support in my life. 

What kinds of support are you grateful for?

A New BeginningJan. 6th

We here at Playful Planet hope your year is off to a great start! We have been taking time to spend time with our families and make plans for this year and Playful Planet! We hope you will join us on our journey this year as we hope to bring you new and exciting things as well as share with you resources that will help with your family lifestyle towards a greener, and wiser planet!

Join us on facebook and twitter and be sure to catch our weekly Simple as ABC updates, along with our library of Playful Tube Videos that will open your mind and heart and propel you to take action! Be sure to come over to Playful Planet often as we enjoy all our guests!!!

May your year be filled with new journey and new ways of looking at the world!
Forever Stay Playful!

Grateful Monday: What Brings You Joy?Aug. 21st

What Brings You Joy?

Okay, so this is predictable, but it’s honest and it’s in my heart right now, so… reflecting on the summer months with my family and friends brings me great joy!  I look back on all the little trips we have done, and all the friends we have shared trips with and all the growing up our Lily has done, and I have to say, my cup ‘overfloweth.’  

I spent a bunch of time tonight creating a slideshow of the above images, but couldn’t figure out how to get them out of iDVD and into this blog, so for now, just the images of a VERY full summer of friends, family, fun and love.  Oh yes, and JOY!

Stay Playful, Playful Karen

What Brings You Joy?

 *Questions provided by Cafe Gratitude and their daily ‘Question of the Day’ program that helps facilitate ‘clear and present’ employees at their amazing Cafes.

Healthy Family Project – The RebootJun. 8th

We are officially in ‘Reboot’ phase now.  For anyone that hasn’t heard that term yet, it originated in the film Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, which is an inspiring documentary that follows one Australian on his quest for a return to health and the subsequent mentorship he provides for an American he meets on the road who was suffering from similar ailments (obesity, and an auto-immune disease.) The Reboot is a plan of eating macro-nutrients for the purpose of cleansing the body, releasing toxins and losing weight, if that is something your body needs to do too.  The website, Join the Reboot is for people that are wanting to take on this program, whether to boost their health, or hopefully, in our case, make a change for the future.

The plan we chose is a 15-day program, whereby you eat only fruit and vegetable for 5 days, followed by days of juice only, followed by 5 more days of fruit and vegetables.  The recommendation is that you do a week of Prep prior to any of the plans, which gives your body an adjustment period.  I got off of sugar and processed foods right away (Bryan straggled behind a little bit on the sugar,) and then weaned off of meat and dairy throughout the week.

Today is our 11th day into the 15-day part — which for me means 18 days off sugar (!) which is a big deal for me.  And, I have a birthday coming up next week, which is the last of the 15 days, and honestly, I can’t imagine that I will even be tempted to have cake, but I will let you know!

In the meantime, I have been preparing fairly regular meals for Lily throughout this process –I did request one sleepover at her friends house and one with her big sister to get a little break — but she has been enjoying some of the new veggie dishes we have had, and she loves to help with the juicing!  She even wanted to try this Tabouleh Juice recipe that we are particularly fond of.

I’m not saying it’s been easy, but after a year of talking about wanting to make a change, I am thrilled  actually be doing it!

We Don’t Have to Know HowMar. 24th

Last week, Karen and I went away for a much-needed holiday-retreat.  It’s been over a year since we’ve gone away as a couple. March 15th was the 12th anniversary of our first date and our plan was to commemorate and celebrate that auspicious meeting with a peaceful getaway, during the following mid-week.  Karen made one request for our mini-vacation – that we agree not to talk about work – which is not always easy for me.

It had been an intense year with building a new website for Playful Planet, preparing our busines1and1_invoice_7_2011s plan for pitching to investors, developing new media projects and finding time to just be a family, not to mention a couple.  My super-wife, super-woman, super-mom and super-entrepeneur, Karen, had begun to show signs of needing a break from it all … and, I guess I did too.    It was definitely time to regenerate our energies and re-group before going further with our dreams for Playful Planet.   With the busy-ness and intensity of my working and traveling, Karen growing the new business and raising our daughter, we suddenly realized it was time to step back, re-connect and relax for a moment.  After all, we’re Playful Planet, aren’t we?  Remember —  ‘organic time’ and ‘lingering’, ‘connecting’ and with getting into nature – had we forgotten?outside

So…we decided to make the short drive up the Pacific Highway to Big Sur.  It’s only an hour and a half drive from our home on the Central Coast.  Our destination was Treebones Resort, which is a grouping of yurts on a hill, sitting on some of the most spectacularly beautiful  coastline in America.  I’m going to share pictures here, but the feeling of this place is impossible to convey in words or images.  Their tagline is “nature with a little nurture,” and from the moment we steppeinside_looking_outd into the lodge, a large circular structure with windows facing the Pacific, we could feel the magic of nature and nurture.  Everywhere you look is pleasing because the design is rooted in nature and expressed in creativity – natural, balanced, simple, aesthetic and peaceful.    It’s hard to describe, but everything about the space was comforting – from home-spun quilt to the wide-board, pine floors to the roundness and views – especially the huge skylight above for watching the stars.

We had two days of letting one moment inform the next. We hiked through towering redwmenuoods along the Mill Creek Trail and had lunch to the sound of birds and water rushing over rocks below us.  We walked down a path to Sand Dollar Beach and lingered along the shoreline to collect pieces of jade for our daughter.  We explored the organic food garden that supplies the Wild Coast Restaurant at Treebones… and ate  delicious, fresh meals while watching the spouts of a family of  migrating orca whales,  swimming close to the shore as they traveled north for the summer.  I even witnessed a lover, kneeling, silhouetted against the red-oranged sunset sky, high above the ocean, as he placed a ring on his beloved’s hand.


At the end of the day,  we sat in two perfectly placed Adirondack chairs, drinking in the beauty of a peaceful day’s end.   Wrapped in our fleece blankets, our hearts full, and our souls renewed, we were ready to receive a new energy for our shared dreams.  In a moment of insight, we both realized that we can envision and have we want without having to know  “how” to get it.   We can be responsible for taking each step, but we are not responsible for taking care of the outcome.


Stay Playful,