29 April 2008

DISD Raises Water Conservation Awareness

The importance of water conservation in Dallas — especially during summer — is on the minds of many city residents (Can I wash my car? Water my lawn?). Children, however, aren't always conscious of their water use. But, in an effort to broaden the scope of water conservation awareness, the City of Dallas Water Utilities is posing a challenge to area middle school students.

The "It's All in a Drop" video contest kicked off April 23 at Billy Earl Dade Middle Learning Center, Atwell Middle School, Thomas A. Edison Middle Learning Center and Harold Wendell Lang Sr. Middle School with a series of pep-rallies (as shown in photo).

Seventh grade students at the schools listed above are encouraged to write, cast, direct and film their own Water-Wise videos and then upload them to YouTube (a technologically-advanced challenge for seventh graders, if I do say so). Winners will be determined by the most peer views of their videos, in addition to judging by DWU experts.

The winning video will be announced on May 30 at a final pep rally, where the filmmaker will receive an Apple iPod Touch and the chance to announce the Water-Wise Tip of the Day on Channel 8 with Chief Meteorologist Pete Delkus. Three runners-up will receive Apple iPod Shuffles. All finalists will have their videos posted on Channel 8's Web site.

Want to read more information on water conservation? Look here. And, while you're at it, check out the student's Water-Wise films posted on YouTube (videos will be available for viewing late next week).


28 April 2008

In the Mix

You’ve heard of Mommy Mixers by now, right? If you’re in the market for a great new babysitter (new to North Texas, perhaps), you’ll want to register now with Mommy Mixer.

MM aims to bring families and college-student babysitters together through fun, social mixers at high-end retail boutiques. Interested yet?

Although you won’t find a new nanny here, you will meet quality, young childcare providers with plenty of time on their hands. (Remember all the spare time you had with only 12 credit hours on your schedule? A distant memory, I know).

Moms are responsible for screening potential hires, but if you don’t meet a sitter you like (which is highly unlikely), you’ve at least got a guaranteed hour of boutique shopping.

Mixers are coming up this Thursday, May 1 at A. Hooper in Fort Worth; Tuesday, May 13 at Paper & Chocolate in Dallas; and Tuesday, June 3 at Calypso in Highland Park.

Register now, and you’ll be set for all the summer date nights you can handle.


17 April 2008

Hit the Road

If you’ve got a teen driver in your household, or younger siblings, cousins or in-laws about to take to the roads for the first time, here’s an event you’ll want to be aware of.

The Tire Rack Street Survival teen-driving program returns this Saturday to LaGrave Field in Fort Worth. The Tire Rack program is unique because it takes the basic skills kids learn drivers’ ed classes a few steps further by presenting them with hands-on experiences in real-life driving situations. Just bring your own vehicle, and trained instructors will help new drivers get real about staying safe behind the wheel. Example: how to react if your brakes lock up.

The program costs $60, but the experience could be life saving.

Register online at www.streetsurvival.org


16 April 2008

Country Tunes Fit for Baby

Have you ever caught yourself singing your favorite Reba song to calm your little one at bedtime? Texas mamas enjoy country music tunes almost as much as classic lullabies, and now they can enjoy the combination of both with the new Hushabye Baby CDs.

The Hushabye Baby disks (four volumes total) spin lullaby renditions of country music favorites — classics like The Judd's "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days)" and newbies like Carrie Underwood's "So Small." Moms will tear up to songs by Lee Ann Womack ("I Hope You Dance") and Rascal Flatts ("My Wish").

The CDs are lullaby renditions, not original artist recordings (but I think they sound just as good!).

You can bring the Grand Ole Opry to your nursery on April 22 — the disks will be available at Wal-Mart stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area — but you can order Volume 2 now on Amazon for $11 (and listen to all 10 tracks for free).


15 April 2008

Batter Up!

Baseball is widely accepted as America's favorite past time — especially during the summer months! Boys and girls of all ages try their swing at the plate, whether it's in an organized tee-ball league or a competitive softball club.

Xavier Polisetty, a Grapevine 7-year-old, has a deep love for the game of baseball — a love that led him to enter into the Diamonds in the Rough youth baseball contest sponsored by Briggs & Stratton, an international producer of gasoline engines. The contest will award $100,000 to youth winners across the country, specifically aimed to help maintain the child's chosen ball park.

Xavier penned an essay for the contest, saying that he would use the $5,000 regional prize to "help Grapevine to improve the Oak Grove ballfield. We have so many teams. The ballfield is too small. We need more batting cages, more restrooms. Also, we need a better water drainage system. When it rains, we can’t play and I miss it a lot."

His essay and obvious dedication to the game won him the $5,000 prize — and now he's batting for the national grand prize: an additional $5,000 for his chosen field (the Oak Grove Park) and a trip for four to New York City to see a game in the final season of Yankee Stadium!

But Xavier needs your help! Go to the Diamonds in the Rough contest Web site and vote (he is competing against 19 other regional winners across the nation).

Online voting ends at at midnight on April 20 — so click and vote for a good cause!


14 April 2008

Business 101

Are your kids budding entrepreneurs? Some kids seem like born business-owners, and if yours have graduated from the traditional lemonade stand, there are bigger and better things in store for them.

FranChild bills itself as the lemonade stand for the “next generation.” When father Ralph Williams helped his sons on a quest to earn a little extra cash by making hand-made candles and soaps, the project snowballed into an opportunity to help kids nationwide realize their dreams of early-business ownership.

Whether your kids are as serious about their first ‘biz, or just interested in a fun summer diversion, FranChild offers a great opportunity. With a little initial investment from mom and dad (don’t worry, we’re talking $25), kids get a start-up certificate, personalized business cards, ideas for marketing and selling, and more.

Just ask most of the occupants of the Forbes Richest People lists: Sometimes all it takes for success is just one good idea and a little hard work. We’re not saying it’ll pay for Stanford, but it could be an ambitious way to start off your summer!


What Does “Natural” Mean?

Now that it’s Earth Month, retailers are pelting us with “natural” versions of their products. But what does the term “natural” really mean? Is it a regulated term that implies certain standards? In a word: no. According to Consumer Reports’ Greener Choices, “There is no government or official definition for this term except on meat and poultry products as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meat and poultry carrying the ‘natural’ claim must not contain any artificial flavoring, color ingredients, chemical preservatives or artificial or synthetic ingredients and are only ‘minimally processed,’ defined by USDA as a process that does not fundamentally alter the raw product.” A “natural” body care product could be made from organic ingredients -- or it could be completely based on synthetic chemicals, topped off with a little herbal infusion.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) continues to balk at regulating the term “natural,” so for now, consumers are left to sleuth out the contents of “natural” products for themselves. Greener Choices offers an Eco-Labels web page where consumers can look up what specific labels on different types of products actually mean.

A few retailers, such as industry leader Whole Foods, have set their own standards. Whole Foods has created a new Premium Body Care seal of approval for body care products:

• No formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, including diazolidinyl urea and DMDM hydantoin. Potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate are allowed under the new seal.
• No parabens.
• Only physical sunscreens such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide; no chemical sunscreens such as oxybenzone and octyl methoxycinnamate.
• Only naturally-derived fragrances.

~ Lisa

10 April 2008

Gallop Into Family Fitness

Running events are best left to your whippet-lean neighbor who runs every morning, rain or shine, right? Not this one – the Market, Set, Go! Fun Run and Garden Gallop, slated for Saturday, April 19, at the Dallas Farmer’s Market (1010 S. Pearl St., Dallas), is aimed at the whole family. Brought to you by the folks at the Dallas Dietetic Association (DDA) and Fit-For-Me Foundation, the event promotes good nutrition and family fitness.

“Childhood obesity continues to be a serious problem in the United States, and Dallas area kids are no exception,” says Fit-For-Me’s Don Miguel. “In the state of Texas, 25% of children 6-18 years of age are either overweight or obese. Dallas residents need more fun events that promote good nutrition and physical activity for the entire family.”

Proceeds of Market, Set, Go! Fun Run and Garden Gallop benefit Fit-For-Me, a non-profit organization committed to reducing childhood obesity rates in our area.

Register now for openings for runners and walkers from ages 10 through 75, as well as special registrations for teams of 25 and families of four. Your whippet-lean neighbor will appreciate the USATF-certified course and champion chip timing. You’ll enjoy a stroll around the Farmer’s Market on a shiny spring morning. Sounds like a painless way to inject a little more fitness into your family’s weekend, no?

~ Lisa

07 April 2008

The Eco-Metroplex

Dallas/Fort Worth may not leap to mind as a haven for green living and eco-resources, but our Metroplex is greener than you think! Fort Worth was recently ranked the 15th Greenest City in the United States by Popular Science magazine (based on renewable source energy, transportation, green living and recycling), and several other cities are leading the way with innovative green web sites and programs that get residents active in protecting their communities.

Several cities are holding green events this month:

Plano’s Live Green Expo 2008 : Empowering North Texans
Saturday, April 12

Colleyville Green Festival
Saturday, April 26

Look no further than your city’s own web site to learn more about green resources. Here are a few links to get you started – go to your own city’s site or call for more details on what’s available in your area:

Live Green in Plano Includes a program that trains volunteer families to teach others about green living -- get the kids involved!

Green Dallas

City of Fort Worth Environmental Management

City of Arlington Green Team

City of Southlake Eco-Friendly Alternatives

Carrollton Environmental Stewardship

~ Lisa

04 April 2008

Here She Comes...

Just had the photo shoot this morning for the winner of the mommy makeover contest we held on our website throughout the month of February. You’ll have to read the May issue to find out who she is and what she looks like now after the stylings of Nancy (clothes), Peg (hair) and Lindsay (makeup). What I can tell you though is that she looks BEAUTIFUL and couldn’t deserve it more!

It was a great shoot – lots of fun! Next one up: the Daddy Do-Over! Be on the lookout later this month for a post about the deserving daddy!

Cheers and have a great weekend!


The Green Issue: Are there life-altering toxins looming in your home?

Lisa's April feature story, Toxic Tots: Altered Lives, recounts the Sethi family's painful journey to discovering the cause of 5-year-old Tej's near-death health problems. This article is a must-read! And if you're left scratching your head (while suspiciously eying the nooks and crannies of your own home), be sure to click on the links to national and local resources listed alongside the article.

You can also read tips for cleaning your home with eco-friendly homemade products in DallasChild's April Green Issue — who would think that vinegar and a box of Arm & Hammer could accomplish so much (and pose so little harm)?

Or if you’re looking for green-minded reading material to sit down with after your kiddo’s bed time (besides our award-winning magazine, that is!) check out this book: Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home. Not only does the book (by Christopher Gavigan, CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World) detail ways for parents to toxin-proof their child's world, it offers up advice from celebrity parents, such as Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brooke Shields, Courtney Cox, Kate Hudson and more. (Did you know that Gwyneth often makes homemade baby food for little Moses? Or that Courtney readily gave up toxic cleaning products, yet she simply can't stop using Windex? Read all about the "green" give and takes that these Hollywood parents make in their own lives.)

Let us know what you find to be the easiest (or most difficult) "greenifying" actions to implement in your home!


03 April 2008

Dip a toe into the green pool

Going green sounds great, in theory – but do you still find the prospect less than tempting? Try it; you’ll like it, says a new EcoPinion study. More than half of Americans queried admitted to not being ready to go green. Reluctant consumers perceive that many forms of green technology (renewable, energy efficient or recycled materials) are cost prohibitive, difficult to understand and maintain, and aesthetically unappealing. On the other hand, the 46% percent of those surveyed who had already made the move to greener homes were considerably more positive about green tech.

The highest percentage of green leanings were found among people age 55 and over, who were most likely to have adopted greener ways and to view green tech in a more positive light.

The take-home here: if you’ve been turning your nose up at green, give it a whirl. Keep an eye right here on our blog, and pick up an April issue of DallasChild or FortWorthChild, for more ways to ease your family into a greener lifestyle.

~ Lisa

02 April 2008

Baldologists Raise Funds for Pediatric Cancer Research

Pediatric oncologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center Dallas went beyond the call of duty Saturday, Mar 29, by shaving their heads in order to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer research.

Drs. Martha Stegner, Mark Hatley, Naomi Winick and Tim McCavit joined the effort of St. Baldrick's Foundation, which is a non-profit charity that raises money primarily through head-shaving events. Bringing laughs to the crowd of children and adult supporters, the doctors, who call themselves the "Baldologists," each took a seat in the barber chair to undergo the symbolic haircut.

The Baldologists have a fundraising goal of $20,000, which they have yet to surpass. To pledge your support of the cause, go to their team Web site and click "download a donation form."