Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: See Kai Run Shoes For Kids

I have a confession to make:  my children have a closet full of shoes!  I'm embarrassed to say that, considering many children out there don't even have a pair to wear.   Although a lot of their shoes were gifted or passed down, and many were bought off-season and on clearance, I still feel guilty all the same.  Everyday the kids will change in and out of their shoes at least three or more times for no reason other than they want to wear every pair they have.  When that happens, shoes end up everywhere in the house, and I'm left to pick up after them.  I always wish they could just be happy with one pair and leave them on long enough for me to take a break from putting shoes away, and maybe - just maybe - they can part with some of them to lessen their stash.  So imagine my surprise (and contained giddiness) when my 3-year-old Handsome Man put on his Ozzy shoes from See Kai Run AND has not wanted to wear another pair of shoes since!




I was so excited when the box came in the mail and wondered if the shoes would be as perfect as they seem to be from photos I've seen online.  Oh yeah, they are!  And let me tell you - you know that "new car smell" that you experience when you, well, get a new car?  When I opened the box, it had a "new shoes smell," and it's crazy how something like that can make you smile.  Of course, the kids thought I looked funny smelling the shoes over and over again, but I just couldn't help myself.  They smelt so new and fresh and clean!


Styled for older kids, with adjustable hook and loop (aka velcro) closure and faux laces, this signature "K" trainer is perfect for growing active boys looking for trouble and adventure, yet fashionable and classy-looking enough to wear to church or at more formal events.  So far, these shoes have gone everywhere!  I can't even get my son to wear his other shoes anymore.  I guess I shouldn't be complaining, right?  I think if he had a choice, he'd go to sleep in them.



See Kai Run shoes were started by Seattle Mom, Cause Hann and her husband, Chen Gang, in 2004 when they were on a mission to find great-looking, durable, and comfortable shoes for their first baby son, Kai.  Originally offering shoes only for babies, See Kai Run eventually came out with their toddler version called Smaller.  In the fall of 2011, they introduced their Kai line for kids ages 2-6 years, all with the same soft flexible soles that keep the shoes long-lasting through all kinds of play - perfect for kids' growing feet.



After the first day of Handsome Man wearing his Ozzys, my husband commented on how they seem to be very comfortable to wear.  That makes a lot of sense considering he now favors these shoes over his other ones, and lack of comfiness may just be the reason why the kids can't seem to stick to one pair too long.  These size 9 shoes were a perfect fit, and although there is still plenty of wiggle room, they are made to stay on children's feet while they're on the go.
All of our shoes meet the American Podiatric Medical Association’s rigorous standards for foot health and functionality and have been awarded the APMA’s prestigious Seal of Acceptance.
It's always a good feeling when you know you have invested in a good product for your children, and even though I didn't pay for these shoes, I am more than satisfied enough to say that their price of $52 for this pair is completely worth it.  With the way Handsome Man rides his bike or just runs around everywhere, he's already put in so many more miles into these shoes, and they still look as new as when we received them.  He's been using them as "brakes" with his balance bike, and it amazes me at how it has held up with that type of abuse.  I've been reminding him to not ruin them, but he'll return with an awesome comment like, "But, Mommy, they're still new!"





Their newest collection includes super cute shoes that every child would look fantastic in.  I love how they are all designed to match any outfit or attire without having an overabundance of different colors, words, or characters, making them perfect for any occasion.  When I showed the kids the other See Kai Run shoes on their website, Sweet Pea immediately spotted the Isla sandals in hot pink. She loves the flower that is just the perfect size and shape for a school-age little girl.  Then she found one that would just be so adorable on Little Peanut - the Braxton - a See Kai Run first walker version of big brother's Ozzys.  You can also find organic socks that coordinately smartly with any of the fabulous shoes.




Check out the See Kai Run website for these new products as well as their SALE section.  You'll find awesome deals at 50% off or more!  Also, follow them on Facebook and Twitter and get instant updates on current contests and giveaways.  If that's not enough fun for you, follow them on Pinterest.  Now, who wouldn't want to pin these babies on their boards?!

The Green House Disclosure:  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.  The products(s) in this review was provided to me free of cost for the purpose of conducting this review.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Will If You Will

My husband always makes fun of me whenever he says that I'm always on my iPhone.  And sadly, I am.  I use it to play games, watch Netflix movies and youTube videos, read and write emails, send messages and photos, take photos and videos, tweet updates, post Facebook statuses, make to-do lists, see store ads and restaurant menus, check the weather, get directions, make purchases, and listen to music.  I use it for everything other than actually making phone calls.  And when I do that, I use up the battery power of my phone.  That leads me to constantly having to charge it.  Charging my phone uses up electricity in my home and anywhere else I may be plugging in my charger.  That isn't exactly a great way to reduce my carbon footprint or save on our electricity bill (or someone else's).

I just recently came across a page on youTube put on by the Earth Hour Global Challenge.  "I Will If You Will" asks people to challenge themselves while challenging others to make a change in their every day lives that will impact our world for the better.  You can accept the challenges of other people as well.  Dare your friends, co-workers, or complete strangers.  Either way, this is a win-win situation for everyone involved.  So, I decided to make a challenge of my own:


There you have it.  It's out there, and there is no going back!  If you already use a reusable coffee, tea, soda, juice, or water cup, pass this on to someone else who doesn't and dare them to take the challenge.  If 100 people start using a reusable cup for their favorite hot coffee, hot tea, or cold frap by Earth Day on April 22, 2012, I will use my iPhone for phone calls only for one whole week. Will you accept my challenge?  Will you spread the word and challenge yourself and others? What will you do to get others to help our planet stay green?

Post photos of you and your reusable coffee cup on The Green House Facebook wall or Twitter page.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Minimalist Monday: Before You Make Your Next Purchase...

There was a time when pay day would come around, and it wouldn't be but two days and all the money I had that was supposed to last for two weeks or more would be gone.  Aside from the necessities like groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and medicines, I would have spent any extra moolah on craft supplies, (more) clothes for the kids, (used) books, and desserts.  Boy, am I sucker for anything sweet?!  Although everything I bought were always on sale, it didn't take long for my wallet to be empty.  And if there is a garage sale going on, it would be a weird day if I didn't walk away with something - anything - in my hands.

That was my life about two years ago.  My husband and I had already been working on getting out of debt, so I didn't use credit cards, or any of his "budget" to buy these extra things, but still - I had a long way to go to controlling my shopping urges.  These days, it's a little different.  My "paycheck" is still for our necessities and any extras we may need or want to purchase (gifts, right-size/right-season clothes for the kids, extra curricular activities for any of us, etc), but since we have been more committed to living simple and green, our shopping objectives and mindset has changed drastically.  Our groceries are almost 100% organic or all-natural so I know that most of my budget will go directly to food.  That doesn't leave for much else, so I've had to become creative with my gift giving and family activities.

Learning to be responsible with our budget and knowing when to say "no" to unnecessary shopping has been a huge challenge for me, but every day as I read up on how to live a more sustainable life while minimizing our home, it becomes easier to just step back and be happy with what I have.

This past Saturday, the kids and I went for our daily stroll around the neighborhood.  There was a garage sale down the street, and if it were any other day two years ago, I would have probably brought something home that would have eventually ended up back in our own garage sale pile. Instead, I didn't bring my wallet, I just skimmed through the "stuff" without giving myself any reasons as to why I needed any of them, and the kids and I kept on walking.

Ironically, today I received an email to a blog I subscribe to entitled "4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Anything" from It's Not Easy To Be Green.  If you are anything like the person I was two years ago, always feeling the need to buy something because it's on sale, because you want to stock up, or simply because you think you will eventually need it, then this post is a great read as well as a reminder before you ever step out of the house.  Ask yourself these four simple questions:
  1. Do I really need it?
  2. Can I make it?
  3. Can I get it for free?
  4. How much of my life energy is it worth?
These days, I don't even get past the first question before I realize I would just be shopping to shop.  Asking yourself similar questions before you make any kind of extra purchase will help keep your budget in tact, help you continue getting out of debt if that is the route you're on, help you minimize the stuff that goes into your home, and help you to be content with what you have already.  It's not easy, and there will be many times you will want to give in (trust me, I know), but just like a bad thunder storm, your shopping anxiety will blow over, and it won't be long until you can pass by a store window and not give it a second thought to go in.

Giving Back: Donate To A Water Project

Having been born in a small village off the China Sea in the third-world country of the Philippines and knowing that even now, you can only get good, clean drinking water by going across a muddy river to the closest "shopping" town, I find myself blessed and thankful every day for the clean water that comes out of  the tap here in my American home.

Many people in many little villages all across the world find themselves in the same predicament as the people in my birth town still do these days:  where do they get clean, disease-free water for themselves and for their children?


charity: water is a non-profit organization founded by one man, Scott Harrison, with one vision - to help provide clean drinking water to developing countries.  As of January this year, 6,185 water projects have been funded through charity: water.  In 5 short years, more than $40 million have been raised to create 91 projects in clinics and hospitals, 703 projects in schools, and 5,391 projects in communities.  Here's a short video to show you how water changes everything and just how important water is to the families of these impoverished countries.


What can you do to help?
  • Donate to water projects: 100% of your donation will directly fund water project costs like pump heads, cement, pipes and local staffs.  100% of this gift is tax-deductible.
  • Sponsor a water project:  100% of your donation will fund a water project for a village, school or clinic in a developing country.
  • Donate as a gift:  Make a donation and dedicate it to a friend or loved one.  All donations are tax-deductible.  
  • Volunteer:  If you live in the NYC area, join other charity: water volunteers and supporters for monthly get togethers.
  • Water for Schools:  Start your own school campaign or find a group of students in your area to help raise awareness and funds for water projects.
  • Fundraise:  Whether you want to help raise money on your own (i.e. running or biking events, to "receive" in lieu of birthday presents, etc), with co-workers, church members, or your family, any amount goes a long way.
  • Share the charity:water videos and campaign trailers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or on your blog.
  • Shop the charity:water store where your purchases go towards water projects worldwide.
  • Help spread the word by grabbing the charity:water banners and placing them on your blog, site, and social media pages.
  • Download a Twitter background.
  • Download images to print posters you can hang at your kids' schools, work, church, etc.
  • Head on over to purchase modern baby products from ModParent.  For the month of March, 10% of their profits will go to charity:water.

We all don't have the means or time to give back as much as we would like, but there are so many different ways we can spread the word of just about anything that is near and dear to our hearts just by using our computers and the Internet.  Share the charity:water website link, this post, or even just the video, and you've already done more than you thought you could.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Save The Date: "One Day Without Shoes" Event by Toms

April 10.  Does that date ring a bell or mean anything to you?  Maybe it's your birthday or anniversary.  Or maybe it doesn't have any significance at all.  In the last few years, do you remember a day when you noticed people walking around without shoes on and thought, "What are they doing?  Are they crazy?"

Honestly, it wasn't until last year that I recall getting on Facebook and seeing on my friends' walls asking if anyone knew why people at work, on campus, or at the grocery store were casually walking around with no shoes on.  Naturally I was intrigued and wanted to give them an answer, so I went on the Internet and found out about Toms "One Day Without Shoes" event going on that day.  Started five years ago, Toms began a campaign with one goal in mind:  to make people aware of the significance one pair of shoes has on the life of a child!  


Be it construction boots, high heels, or school shoes, we put them on without a single thought and walk out the door.  Yet in other parts of the world, or maybe just down the street, there's a child who is walking around barefoot, needing just one pair to protect such an important part of his or her body.  You'd be amazed at how walking around for one day without any shoes on can set great things in motion.  One question...one conversation...one person wondering if they can do something to help - one small action that will make all the difference in the world in the life of one child!  Now imagine everyone - anyone - who has a closet full of shoes do the same thing.

"One Day Without Shoes" is not about disgusting people.  Or is it?  If you see someone walking on a dirty floor with no shoes on and were repulsed by it, perhaps that quick second of disgust will make you think about the children out there who live that way every second of every minute of every day.  My husband has on more than one occasion called me a germaphobe.  With two young boys diagnosed with bronchiolitis, I have a tendency to want and keep our home clean.  It's part of my maternal nature to look out for their health and well-being.  So, is it difficult for me to encourage others to do something that I myself may have a hard time doing?   Of course! But, I get it.  I get the message behind "One Day Without Shoes."  I get it's importance.  I'm sure that there are other germaphobes like me who will read this and think, "Heck no.  I'm not doing that!" But when April 10 comes around, and even if I have no plans to be anywhere at all, I will do my best to let go of my germaphobic ways to do my part in this movement.  Maybe, just maybe, being in that situation for that short while is all it takes to get the ball rolling.

Stop by the Toms website to learn more about their "One for One" mission and enter for a chance to see firsthand how your Toms shoes purchase will impact a child's life.  A new winner is chosen every week.  Find an event in your town, or better yet - start one.  If you're a student, check out what you can do to participate in this momentous event!  One day.  April 10, 2012.  Will you join in to spread the word?  Will you help change the world that day?


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Organic Overload

Last week, Target had all their organic baby foods on sale!  So what's a Mommy on a budget with a baby who is about to have his first taste of fruits and veggies to do?  Stock up, of course!  At least until next payday!  Looks like Little Peanut is enjoying all the new foods so far.


Don't forget to enter our current giveaway from Godseeds on etsy.  Open to US residents only, you can win an upcycled bracelet made with mustard seeds.  Retail value:  $95.  Good luck!

Going Nuts

For a while now, my two older kids have been going through the picky-eating phase.  When they were babies, I recall them loving all the pureed fruits and veggies.  And these days, as long as they are blended into smoothies, shakes, salsas, dips, and anything else that doesn't remotely resemble the actual produce, they don't complain.  They actually eat it all up and ask for more!  I am grateful that they have recently been getting better at trying new things other than blended foods - dried mangos, small slices of apples with peanut butter, and baked potatoes (instead of just french fries).

Now one thing that the kids do love, and I mean L-O-V-E, are nuts!  They eat them every day by the handfuls, with yogurt or cottage cheese, in their cereals or oatmeals, in trail mix or just by themselves.  They are fortunate enough to not be allergic to any nuts so far.  And for that, I am a happy Mommy!


We buy a lot of our nuts in the bulk section of Whole Foods.  It's the very last stop of our shopping trip, and boy, do the kids love it, including my husband.  Every week, I hear, "we're out of almonds, Mommy," or my husband will smile and say, "oops, I'm out of pistachios at work."  We can easily spend a third or more of our grocery budget on nuts and trail mix every week, and that is one thing I do not mind doing.  Our family has gone from munching on non-organic and sweet fruit bites and salty chips to these healthy and awesome snacks.


Some of our favorite nuts and (some, but not all of) their health benefits are:

  • peanuts:  rich in vitamin E, antioxidants, mono-unsaturated fatty acids to help lower LDL (or bad cholesterol), and resveratrol that fights against cancers, heart disease, and viral/fungal infections
  • almonds:  awesome gluten-free storehouse of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals that help protect against diseases and cancers, vitamin E, and mono-unsaturated fatty acids
  • macadamia nuts:  excellent cholesterol and gluten-free source of B-complex vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E, nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants
  • pistachios:  great low-calorie source of antioxidants, carotenes, vitamin E, important B-complex groups of vitamins, minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium


I love using nuts and seeds in my cooking and baking.  Our weekend favorite pancakes and waffles always has fruits, flax seeds, and cinnamon in them, and the kids are none the wiser.  We receive macadamia nuts from our 'ohana (family) from Hawai'i every few months, and they are awesome in white chocolate chip cookies.  It's always a great day when the kids can eat and snack on things that are nutritious.  I can sleep well knowing that they aren't deprived of, allergic to, or do not care for, these healthy and yummy foods. 




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