Parents caught up with HGTV’s reigning expert on eco-friendly living, Carter Oosterhouse. He now plays host to four TV programs including Red Hot & Greenall about eco-friendly design. Having discovered carpentry at the age of 12, Oosterhouse is now an expert, which is why he teamed up with Scott Naturals to launch their new tube-free toilet paper. He shares with us his tips to go green (easily!) in your home and the inspiration behind his youth charity Carter’s Kids.
P: What motivated you to start carpentry so young?
CO: My dad was a farmer and was constantly saying “You gotta work. You can’t just sit around the house and watch TV.” So that prompted all of us kids to always be busy. Something that was easy—a summertime job where you could have fun—was building. I liked doing it. I felt like I was getting outside and being active.
P: What kind of impact have you seen from these Carter’s Kids playgrounds?
CO: We build one playground a month all over the U.S. in random cities, low-income neighborhoods, schools that really need it. It’s amazing to see how kids will respond when they have something attractive to play on. It’s like you put Disney World in their backyard. You have to remember back when you were a little kid and your world is your little town. When that’s just your world and you put something big and shiny it changes the whole dynamic. This playground becomes the community center point, which makes an even bigger impact. You’re not just changing the lives of those kids who are playing on it, but also the lives of the people who live there.
P: Do all Carter’s Kids playscapes include the same basic elements or are they each unique?
CO: We usually work with whomever we’re building it for and say “What do you guys need? Are you by the water? Do you like boats? Are you in Iowa with cornfields?” They’re all different, but all awesome. Each playground takes a lot of prep. To build it only takes two days. I love doing it. If you do build one playground for the kids you get that rush that keeps bringing you back.
P: You started on Trading Spaces, and now you have these other shows including Red Hot & Green. How did you get started in the green space?
CO: My parents were big nutritionists. So I thought, Well how else does that translate into other things? And that is: the earth. How could we build without taking away so much? Slowly but surely I got in the TV shows and I thought, I wanna do a show that has to do with eco-living and eco-repurposing and remodeling. Today when people see how they can be more efficient and cut down monthly bills, it makes more economical sense to be green within your home.
CO: There are so many. It’s cool to buy secondhand stuff and repurpose it and give it another life. Whether that’s furniture or clothes. Around the house, lighting is huge and using CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs. Composting. Recycling is one. When [my wife and I] got married, we actually only had one bag of trash because we were able to compost and recycle. Also, VOC-free paint, and using organic cleaning products. That’s good for you and your plumbing in your house. Oh! And aerators on your faucets. Living eco-friendly is sort of like preventative medicine. This is a better way to provide for your home because in the long run you’re going to pay less, your home will last longer, your bills aren’t going to be as large.
Top photograph: In honor of the launch, Oosterhouse and I posed in front of this 30 foot replica of the Empire State Building made of 14,000 rolls—the amount New York City throws away in only 15 minutes. Annually Americans toss 17 billion rolls, which is enough to fill the Empire State Building twice.
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Kid Reporter gaggle in the White House Library during the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House, April 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Justin Creppy who, at 6 years old, is the youngest contributor we’ve ever featured on our site! Justin (pictured in a blue shirt with red tie, right) was invited to the White House on Easter Sunday to be part of a special Kid Reporter event hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. Read Justin’s story about his experience.
By Justin Creppy
This year I visited the White House for the first time on Easter, and I was one of seven kid reporters to be in the first-ever Kid Reporter gaggle. My day started with so much excitement! I couldn’t wait to get to the White House, but I didn’t know what to expect, so I kept asking mommy and daddy so many questions.
When I arrived at the Northgate I had to be a big boy and give my name and birthdate to the secret service. That was special and fun. I got a badge and entered the White House lawn area. There was so much to see. I walked past the West Wing and I went to the Vermeil Room that had portraits of first ladies. Then I had press time with First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House Library. Her “Let’s Move” program was the focus for the event’s theme, “Hop Into Healthy, Swing into Shape.” When mommy told me what those words meant, I started telling her that I had a bunch of questions for the First Lady. Can I ask her what exercises she does? What sports do Malia and Sasha play? Do they eat healthy every day? My parents told me to pick 2-3 questions I really wanted to ask because this was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I was one of the youngest kid reporters, and I got a little nervous when the First Lady entered the room. She was very nice and asked us to sit on the floor and introduce ourselves. I got so excited and asked a question, “First Lady, what do Malia and Sasha do to have fun when you are busy and the President is traveling?” I was happy to learn they are just like all the children in the United States. They like to have fun! Malia plays tennis and runs track. Sasha likes to dance hip-hop and plays basketball. The First Lady also said they like to be normal kids with sleepovers, playdates, and going to the movies.
I also learned so much by listening to the other kid reporters’ questions and learning the importance of eating healthy, being active, and watching only a little bit of television. I had an amazing day, and the First Lady gave all the kid reporters a wristband to enjoy the Easter Egg Roll. I was so happy to see so many kids having fun, running, and playing with their families. I had a fun-filled day that I will never forget!
Like most moms, Alison Sweeney is super busy. But the Days of Our Lives actress, Biggest Loser host, author of the upcoming novel Scared Scriptless , and our cover girl along with her cute kids back in 2011 still makes living healthfully a top priority for herself, her husband, and Benjamin, now 9, and Megan, now 5. She’s recently teamed up with Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant to promote healthy smiles.Parents caught up with Sweeney to talk about good nutrition, keeping active, setting a good example, and maintaining a balance amidst the chaos.
P: How do you approach the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle?
AS: There are so many great tips from The Biggest Loser that I have incorporated into my daily life, but certainly I have tried to make it a lifestyle for my kids, too. Just that idea of healthy eating at home. Not making food or dessert a reward in any way. Trying not to put too much emphasis on food, trying to keep it in a healthy realm. I wish Popeye were on TV again eating his spinach to get big muscles, because that’s exactly what I’m going for: Your body needs fuel, but there’s good kinds and there’s bad kinds.
P: Are your kids healthy eaters naturally or do you get creative with your recipes?
AS: Maybe there are kids who are healthy eaters “naturally,” but I have yet to meet one. Our preschool taught us that kids’ palettes change over time so even if they don’t like something right away you should try it again. I just keep reintroducing foods, especially vegetables. I try different ways to prepare them. Brussesl sprouts are more a grownup thing, but I’m absolutely obsessed with them. They’re my favorite vegetable right now. I made a raw brussel sprout and kale salad the other day that I literally chopped up like a chopped salad and my kids devoured it. I had this olive oil and lemon juice dressing and roasted almonds on it and I’m not kidding, my son had third helpings. I couldn’t believe it. I do keep trying. I’m an old school parent; I’m pretty strict. “You don’t always get to eat your favorite thing. This is what I made for dinner tonight and you have to eat your vegetables.” That’s the rule.
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
P: Is there a go-to healthy snack that you like to give them after school or before an activity?
AS: I love greek yogurt. So I have tons in the house. It’s a 2% greek yogurt with blueberries, a little bit of agave and cinnamon and spiced almonds. My kids love it and so do I and it’s really good for you.
AS: My kids are involved in lots of sports and different activities after school. I like to get involved with my son. He plays baseball and I love to go out and play catch with him and run the bases. I worked with him on his running technique because I am a runner. It was really fun to practice his breathing technique with him and his posture and his form. I was thinking to myself, “Wow. It’s pretty cool, a 9-year-old learning to run legitimately.”
P: With all of this encouragement of a healthy lifestyle, how do you still promote a healthy body image so that it doesn’t become a pressurized situation, especially because you have a young daughter?
AS: I think in today’s society it really is starting to become across the sexes. It’s something that I’m extremely aware of and concerned about. I know that my best course of action is to model the behavior that I hope to see in them. I don’t criticize my own body. I don’t cover up or shy away from wearing a bathing suit when we’re at the beach or when I’m with them. I work hard not to use dieting-type words in front of them.
P: How else do you set an example?
AS: It starts from the moment you wake up in the morning. We brush our teeth together. Your kids should see you work out and taking time for yourself. You would want your daughter to take time for herself to work out. You play with your phone in the family dynamic, that’s the choice they’re going to be making. I know lots of people with teenage kids who are like, “Why are they on the phone the whole time?” And I’m like, Aren’t you texting me right now to ask me that question?
P: It seems that women are always trying to achieve a perfect balance. How do you manage expectations and how do you hope to guide your daughter?
AS: I don’t expect everything to balance out at the end of one day or two days or even a week. I feel like it is a pendulum: We’re getting a little bit heavy on the work this week, so next week we’re gonna get a little heavy on the family life. If you’re looking at the scale over the course of my life, it will balance out in the end. It’s a conversation my husband and I work on together when we see how the family dynamic is shaping up.
P: Was the quest for that balance part of your choice to leave Days of Our Lives?
AS: I turned 16 at Days and I’ve loved being part of the show. That said, my son is now 9, my daughter is 5, and I’m wanting to spend more time with them and to explore new opportunities directing, acting, writing, and developing shows.
P: How do you hope to spend the time that this will free up?
AS: I’m still planning to be busy but I’m hoping the new schedule will enable me to take my kids to school more often, help them with their homework, go with them for a hike, and take vacations when they’re on break.
P: What is your favorite thing to do with your kids?
AS: I love when my husband, kids, and I have an impromptu dance party at our house. It’s so much fun, and hearing their laughter is the best.
Photograph: Alison Sweeney with her kids Benjamin and Megan/ S. Buckley for Shutterstock
A few weeks back, Gisele looked fabulous. She was basking in her full glory while her glam squad coiffed her curls and primped her luscious lips, as she simultaneously breasted her 1-year-old daughter, Vivian. But the truth is, we don’t all have a glam squad waiting in the wings to put us back together after a long flight, too much egg nog or one too many sweet potatoes at the family get together. Plus, there is no team of nannies at the ready, waiting to whisk our children off to exciting endeavors as we get our butts kicked by a fabulous fitness trainer, like Tracey Anderson. What’s more, when we fly, we don’t fly private. So yes, we have to keep our screaming children seated and belted while onlookers judge us.
Despite our best wishes for turning over a new leaf in the coming New Year, when January 1st hits, we are often just as overwhelmed as we were on December 31st, but with the addition of a few more pounds thanks to all the holiday feasts and festivities! How can we get back in shape for the New Year and feel good about the way we look, all the while juggling the millions of things we constantly juggle?
To help, I’ve devised 10 calorie-saving, fat-burning rituals to work into your day so you too can be your very own Gisele:
1. Use portion control. Try serving yourself the same portion sizes as you would your kids, and eat small, regular meals just like they do. I promise I haven’t gone bonkers; returning to fist-sized portions is actually a great way to shed those extra pounds.
2. Combine your afternoon lull with excercise-packed TV time. How? In my house, we like to have a “Dance Storm.” I choose a music-packed DVD, like The Wiggles‘ “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” or The Gigglebellies, which are my family’s favorites. Then, we all get up (kids included!) and dance for the entire length of the DVD. It might feel like it will never end, but trust me, you can do it!
3. Get the single, double or tripple stroller out, and pile everyone in for some hill walks (or a run if you’re feeling particularly daring). A brisk 20-30 minute outing while pushing around all those extra pounds of children will work miracles.
4. Try to see clean-up time not as an oppressively annoying chore that never, ever ends, but rather as a chance to add in some extra cardio. Set goals for how quickly you’d like each task accomplished and time yourself. All that squatting is golden.
5. Eat with your kids. This will mean you’ll eat earlier than usual, which is far better than falling asleep right after gorging on late night burrito!
6. Treat your body like you treat your kids’ bodies! Just like we wouldn’t let our children eat excessive amounts of candy and unhealthy foods, apply the same good common sense and care taking skills to yourself. Remember, it’s not just for you. They need you to be healthy, too.
7. If you don’t have child care but are the type of person who needs an exercise class to kick your sweet derriere into action, consider the following: There are many strollercise groups that meet in local parks that you could join. And if there isn’t one near you, get some of your favorite moms together and organize your own so you can split the cost of a trainer who can lead the class. Alternatively, look for gyms that have child-care options so your wee one gets to play while you crunch.
8. Just as kids’ bedtimes often slip during the holiday season, so do ours. We need adequate amounts of sleep to be able to make good choices when it comes to food and exercise, so bump your bedtime forward just as you have theirs.
9. Reconnect with your partner. Not only does it burn calories, but it benefits your relationship, too. Make it a part of your new regime—a healthy relationship means a healthier you.
10. Don’t beat yourself up. I often find I get so hard on myself for not working out enough or being healthy enough that I become so overwhelmed I don’t do anything at all. Give yourself praise for small achievements. Even 20 minutes of exercise here and there or cutting a few late-night snacks from your weekly norm is a step in the right direction.
And if all else fails, strip down to a white robe, fly on your private jet and have your glam squad ready in the wings each morning to beautify you as you roll out of bed. Ahhh, at least we can dream! (Ahem, Gisele.)
Football season is now in full swing. Whether your little athlete plays on a team or prefers to watch from the sidelines, you’ll want to encourage a positive attitude towards sports. We spoke with Andrew Luck, quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, to get his advice for keeping kids moving and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
Make sure it’s fun. “Even as a professional athlete, if it’s not fun, something is wrong,” Andrew says. He recommends letting your child play as many sports as she wants. “Diversity helps. Playing basketball helped me become a better football player.”
Emphasize the commitment. “My parents never forced me to play anything, but if I started a season of any sport, I had to finish it out,” he says.
Help your child prepare correctly. That means fueling up on the proper foods, getting enough sleep, and understanding what the body needs.
Practice, practice, practice! “I used to throw for hours with my dad after work,” Andrew says. “But on occasions where he didn’t have a lot of time, we’d just do five minutes. Even that helps.”
Andrew also gave us his tips for throwing the perfect spiral. Perfect the move yourself, and then teach your little one:
1. Grip the football correctly. Hold the ball so that your ring and little finger are across the laces and your thumb is underneath. Your thumb and index finger should make an “L” shape. Don’t grip the ball too tightly–you should hold the football firm, but it should still be moveable and comfortable in your palm. 2. Position your body. Face 90 degrees away from your target and turn your hips to the side you throw with. Keep your front shoulder pointed at your target. 3. Keep it by your ear as you prepare to throw. This will keep the ball at the proper height. 4. Release the ball with your fingertips. As the football leaves your hand, it should only touch your fingertips. The last part of your body to touch the football should be your index finger, giving it a nice spin. 5. Practice makes perfect. Play a game of catch with your child, and you’ll both get better through repetition.
Want to win a $15,000 grant for your school? Andrew has teamed up with Quaker Oats and Fuel Up to Play 60 for the Make Your Move video contest. Film and submit a video of students showcasing how they are active by November 27, and your school could win all sorts of great prizes! Check out the video below for more details.
With physical activity as a proven brain booster, the Institute of Medicine is recommending that schools provide opportunities for at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day for students.
Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind law in 2001, 44 percent of school administrators report slashing big chunks of time from physical education, arts, and recess in order to boost classroom time for reading and math. Mandatory PE classes can help lower our nation’s childhood obesity rates, increase brain power, and add a healthy dose of fun to our kids’ school day, experts say.
Playground made from trash gets children back in the swing
Ruganzu Bruno and his troupe of fellow eco-artists created a playground made of recycled materials to raise awareness about environmental degradation. (via CNN)
Pregnancy Hormone May Predict Postpartum-Depression Risk
Levels of a stress hormone released by the placenta could predict a woman’s risk of developing postpartum depression, new research suggests. (via Yahoo! News)
NYC School Principals Send Letter Refusing To Consider Recent State Test In Fall Admissions
Principals around New York City are fighting back against what they see as flawed state tests. (via Huffington Post)
Report: Nation’s kids need to get more physical
The prestigious Institute of Medicine is recommending that schools provide opportunities for at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day for students and that PE become a core subject. (via Yahoo News)
Parents Argue School Is Violating Separation Of Church And State
Does teaching yoga in public schools violate the separation of church and state? That’s what two parents are contending in a lawsuit against Encinitas Union School District in California. (via Huffington Post)
CDC: 105 Children Died During Flu Season in US
Health officials say the flu season is winding down, and it has killed 105 children — about the average toll. The flu season started earlier than usual and ended up being moderately severe. (via FOX News)
Babies Shouldn’t Get Solid Foods Until 6 Months Old
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found many mothers are feeding babies solid foods earlier than the recommended age of six months, according to the Cleveland Clinic. (via FOX News)
Kids Who Exercise Are Less Likely to Have Fractures in Old Age
It turns out that strengthening bone to avoid fractures starts at a very young age.
Physical activity, such as the exercise children get in school gym classes, is important for fighting obesity, but the latest research suggests it may help to keep bones strong as well. (via TIME)
Celebrity Endorsers May Impact How Much Kids Eat
Celebrities who endorse specific foods in TV commercials are a powerful influence on children, and that effect may extend beyond the advertisement itself, according to a new study from the UK.(via Reuters)
Some Schools Urge Students to Bring Their Own Technology
Educators and policy makers continue to debate whether computers are a good teaching tool. But a growing number of schools are adopting a new, even more controversial approach: asking students to bring their own smartphones, tablets, laptops and even their video game players to class. (via The New York Times)