Monday, February 28, 2011

Life too Short to be Uptight!

 These days, I'm always looking out for the win-win as a parent.  Many of my waking (and sometimes foggy) hours are spent completely focused on my kiddos.  Lately, I've realized that I haven't included enough "fun" time for me.  Sure we share laughs together as a family.  Yes, I have fun when we sing songs together.  But sometimes, I'd like to dance like crazy to some of my old jams.  How about some Beatles or techno in my underwear? Or when was the last time I tried to ride my bike without holding on? 

I've been taking a life a little too serious recently and honestly, it is getting old.  I don't like feeling uptight about whether my daughter says please to me or lifts up her skirt in public to show off her underwear.  Manners, manners, manners.  Today, I'm more interested in learning more about having fun.  I'm ready to rekindle some of the fun I had as an adolescent and bring in some new energy. 

Anyone else want to jump on the bed and put an avocado mask on? How about an innocent prank call, anyone?

When I'm enjoying the moment, so are my kids.  And that to me, is the ultimate win-win.



Jen Starks, Owner 850.284.5887

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Coming Soon!!! Biodegradable Beach Toys!


I am ecstatic that we'll be bringing these to Ecological Babies.  Finally, some quality beach toys that aren't made from harmful plastic.  Plus, it's affordable and made in the USA (only $21.99)!  Here's all the info:


What are Zoë b Beach Toys made of?

Our toys are made with a biobased material that comes from American-grown corn. Specifically, this bioplastic from Mirel™ is made with PHA, a polymer produced by microbial fermentation of sugar.

Do the toys contain Bisphenol A (BPA)?
No. They’re made with bioplastic derived from corn sugar and contain absolutely no BPA, phthalates, or PVC. In fact, our bioplastic is even FDA-approved for food contact (not that we recommend your child eating sand out of the bucket).

Why is your bioplastic better than ordinary plastic?
Our bioplastic comes from corn grown here in the USA, a renewable resource. Ordinary plastic comes from oil and natural gas, fossil fuels that are not renewable. Our bioplastic fully biodegrades in 2 to 3 years when buried in soil, immersed in water, home composted, or composted in industrial facilities. Ordinary plastic takes up to 500 years to degrade, and even then it only breaks down into tiny particles that are toxic to wildlife and the environment. Our bioplastic is BPA-free. Most ordinary plastic isn’t. And yet our bioplastic looks, feels, and holds up just like ordinary plastic.

Will the toys last?
Zoë b toys are durable and designed to hold up to playing just like ordinary beach toys. And don’t worry about exposure to the hot, summer sun. The material we use is “performance bioplastic” that can withstand endless sunlight and extreme heat—it’s even dishwasher-safe. It only biodegrades when exposed to microbial activity, such as in soil, home compost, industrial compost, or marine environments.

How long will it take the toys to fully biodegrade?
Within 2 to 3 years, depending on conditions. Our bioplastic is fully biodegradable in microbial environments, including natural soil and water, home composting systems, and industrial composting facilities— where these facilities are available. So if even if the toys get left on the beach and washed out to sea, they’ll fully return to nature in a few years. However, like nearly all other bioplastics and organic matter, Mirel is not designed to biodegrade in landfills.

So how long does it take ordinary plastic to go away?
The average plastic water bottle takes 300 to 500 years to break down. And even then, ordinary, petroleum-based plastic only photodegrades—which means it breaks down under the sun’s ultraviolet rays into smaller and smaller particles—but never actually disappears. And that alone poses a problem for our planet. Scientists estimate that every year at least 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they entangle themselves in plastic pollution or ingest it.

Will the toys biodegrade in my compost?
Yes, unlike most other bioplastics, the material we use to make our toys doesn’t require the high temperatures of an industrial-composting facility to biodegrade—which is a good thing, since many communities don’t even have these facilities. So when you’re done with the toys, please just put them in your compost or bury them in your backyard—or better still, give them to someone else who can use them.

Will anything harmful go into the earth? No. The Mirel™ resin we use is industry-certified to meet biodegradation and composting standards. For more information, go to:

Do you use GMO corn to make the bioplastic?
Unfortunately GMO corn is all that’s currently available to create our biodegradable resin. (In fact, 86% of all corn in the U.S. is GMO corn.) But as technology evolves, we’re always looking for better alternatives. So stay tuned.

Can I recycle the toys with my recyclables?
No, biodegradable plastics cannot be recycled. As mentioned above, the proper way to dispose of them is ordinary composting. We’re all for recycling, but right now 15 billion pounds of conventional plastic are being produced in the U.S. every year, and unfortunately only one billion pounds are actually being recycled. That’s a frightening amount of plastic sitting around for hundreds of years.

What about other environmental costs, like transportation?
We try to reduce our footprint wherever possible. That’s why our toys are manufactured right here in the USA. Wisconsin, to be exact. (And yes, China would be a lot cheaper.)

Do the toys simply break down into tiny bits like other plastic—making them just another example of “greenwashing”?
No, the toys full biodegrade in microbial environments (soil, water, home composting, industrial composting). As noted above, ordinary, petroleum-based plastic does, in fact, break down into tiny, toxic particles that are dangerous to our wildlife and our environment. Sure, biodegradable beach toys won’t save the world, but we think it’s a small step in the right direction. And what better place to start than on our beaches.

Jen Starks, Owner 850.284.5887

New Intention

New Intention
I'm adjusting my blog to merge both my personal and professional lives together.  After all, they are both interwoven into my every day life and make me who I am.  I've realized that I'd like this blog to be for me, an extension of my self, a place for me to process and share.  Honestly though, I'm a big nervous about the whole thing.  I was raised a private person and showing my vulnerable side isn't something that comes easy to me.

I'm the first to admit that I do not qualify as an expert in motherhood, nor do I think I have all the answers.  My goal is to stay open-minded, to look for opportunities to grow, and to give it my personal best.  My natural tendencies, however, don't always keep me in that space.

So with that all in mind, my goal is to remain real to myself and anyone who might read this.  To kick off the new direction, I'm going to start with a few confessions to get my feet wet.  Ok, here it goes:

Confession 1 (this one is weighing on me the most):  I'm torn about what to do about shaving.  For the first time, I've made the personal choice to skip shaving my body.  My upbringing screams, "hide it, shave it now b/c you've started wearing tank tops again."  But something inside me has changed.  I've never felt so liberated!  I'm fascinated at how I look, enjoy not having to keep it up, and feel more true to whom I am.  SO, I'm torn whether to shave and make it a seasonal thing OR go with it and say "screw 'em" to those who judge and scoff.

Whew!  That felt good to say, although I still haven't published it (if you're reading this, I've decided to do it!).

Confession 2: I have NO idea how to prepare meals for my family every night of the week.  I was raised on processed convenient foods and I just can't keep it up everyday.  I've come A LONG way since having Rita Clare but am baffled by those who can.  I simply can't manage all of life's demands AND get dinner served every night.  Somedays, I literally have a child on or next to me all day.  Sure I can manage some dinner preparations with them.  But often, I'm chopping veggies with a child either wanting to eat something in the kitchen, wanting to constantly help (which is actually fun when I'm in the right mindset), or to be held (wearing as a backpack doesn't always work).  Then there's the challenge of feeding both kids whom may or may not want to eat what I've prepared, and the clean up effort.  I'm exhausted just thinking about all that. SO, you'll find me a kid's night at Moe's and often at Earth Fare's kids night.  I'm not proud nor am I hiding.  I embrace having a day off or two from cooking, so I can focus on other important things in our lives too.  Accepting it frees me from mama guilt, which cripples me and brings in unnecessary anxiety/stress.  Do I think I can do better?  You betcha!

Cheers to all of you mamas who have it together today,

Jen   :) 

Jen Starks, Owner 850.284.5887

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Potty Training (Learning) Season

Call it what you want, this is PRIME season for starting to get your toddler out of diapers.  The weather is warming up and you can let them run around without pants inside or outside your house.  Now I'm the first to say I'm not an expert on potty training, so I won't spend time writing on that topic.  Though, I have certainly learned A LOT on the topic from going through it with my first child! 

To kick off the season, we're going to have a special on our Little Beetle Learners (15% off) starting 2/21 noon for a week.  These trainers are like a fitted cloth diaper in that they won't leak if a little bit of pee ends up in the learner.  It isn't, however, waterproof.  Here are some top reasons why we love these:

1.  They are super soft organic cotton=comfortable and they feel it when they are wet.
2.  They have snaps on both sides if your toddler decides to go poo poo in it-SO much better than sliding it down.
3.  They can be worn like underwear underneath clothes AND can be pulled up and down by your child.
4.  If you add a doubler and throw on a cover, you can use it if you want to take a break on the learning process and it is functional cloth diaper.
5.  They look like big kid underwear (which for our daughter was a big deal)!
6.  You're not throwing money in the trash for those expensive pull up disposables.
7.  It's healthier against the skin compared to most disposables.

Whether you've never given a thought to cloth diapers and are hoping to encourage your toddler out of disposable diapers, or you are continuing cloth beyond the diapers, these trainers are a great option.

Finally, I have a couple accessories to recommend when you begin this process.

1.  GroVia BioWipes- Made from a plant source, these wet wipes help the toddler (and you) with the poopies on the toilet.  One last wipe after she/he has wiped himself, so you won't have messy underwear.  We also used these when training "on the go".

2.  GroVia BioLiners- Let's face it, the poopies at this stage are really not fun to clean up.  These liners go on top of the trainer so in case they aren't comfortable yet pooping in the toilet, all you do is take off the liner and flush everything down. 

3.  Diaper Sprayer-  If you haven't already purchased one of these yet, your experience during this process will be really enhanced with one of these.  If you plan on using a portable potty seat, these sprayers are the BEST at cleaning it out.  If you skip the Bioliners and have poopies in the underwear for awhile, a sprayer really does the job with minimal mess for you.  We use the sprayer for many other uses to, so you'll have plenty of excuses to use it (cleaning the bathroom, filling up buckets, bidet, etc).

4.  Prefolds- If you've already invested in prefolds, don't put them away yet.  These are excellent at soaking up accidents in record time.  We'd keep them in a bin around the house, so if we needed to wipe up an accident it was ready for use.  And the bonus is that you won't need to buy a lot of paper towels and they can be washed with the trainers!

Good luck to you and your new adventure! 


Jen Starks, Owner 850.284.5887

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day Special!

On February 14th, we're offering a special 15% off selected pink, red, and white diapers (in stock items).

See below to see which ones qualify:

BumGenius 4.0: Zinnia, White, Concrete Jungle
GroVia Hybrid: Cosmos, Mod Flowers
GroVia All-in-One: Cosmos, Mod Flowers
Thirsties Wraps: Rose, Alice Brights, Warm Stripes
Tot Bots: Pomegranate, Cherry, Mushroom Magic
Knickernappies: Red, Raspberry
Happy Heiny's: Pink Hybiscus

Receiving the Discount:
1.  Online Purchases:  We'll refund you the discount after you pay.
2.  In Person: We'll discount you at the check out.

With love for all of you!

Jen :o)

Jen Starks, Owner 850.284.5887

Monday, February 7, 2011

Healthy Foods Seminar w/ The Kitchen Goddess

Old habits die hard, right?  I can't tell you how many years I have made New Year's Resolutions and the SAME list appears again.  I'm not saying I don't improve a bit and don't continue to work on issues throughout the year.  But it sure seems to take me a lot of effort to make a significant change in my life and I don't always have the patience to embrace tiny improvements.  Instead, I expect big and permanent results quick. :o/

Ok, I know I'm sounding vague about right about now and you're probably wondering how this relates to our upcoming seminar with The Kitchen Goddess.  Here's why!  I grew up in a heavily meat-eating, canned veggies, and convenient/process foods diet.  In an attempt to not insult my loving, hard working dual-income parents, I at least want to say I never starved, was content with all the foods given to me growing up, and was instilled with a desire to try new foods and learn how to cook well.

At the same time, I was not raised to yearn for a healthy, fresh foods diet.  I never considered where my food came from, how the animals were treated, what a lentil was, and how great my body felt when I ate healthy foods.  Sure I learned the food pyramid and knew that fried foods weren't healthy.  But I lacked a foundation to eat healthy, and which foods were going to make me feel best (no, I'm not just talking about eating salads at every meal!).

With 2 small children whom I'm trying to raise in a healthy way, I'm still working on feeling confident in feeding them well. I continue to read books, talk to other moms, and experiment with different foods.  But one person who has been a HUGE asset for helping me not only feed my children well but myself too is Jill Welch, The Kitchen Goddess.  When I was pregnant with my son Tyler, I met with Jill to help me improve my own diet and to prepare for healthy eating after he was born.

I've FINALLY come around to recognize that when I'm not eating well (e.g. skipping meals, grabbing quick convenient meals when I'm really hungry, etc), I'm not my personal best for my family.  With 2 young children and Ecological Babies in operation, life is always very busy.  I forget to stop for a minute and take care of myself.  Silly and foolish, huh?

Jill has prepared healthy meals for our family after my son, Tyler, was born.  She also brought food when our family was sick and needing a "healing" meal.  We've met to talk about healthy and tasty snacks that my picky toddler will go for and foods to have around to keep our immune system strong. I now crave healthy foods and drool over fresh greens and beets (now that I know how to prepare them well!) rather than force a salad down in the name of "health."  Thanks Jill!

I've asked Jill to partner with Ecological Babies to bring this knowledge to you and the rest of our community.  I hope you'll take advantage of this opportunity to invest in your health and your kids health too.  Whether you don't have children yet, your kids are young like mine, or your kids are all grown up and you want to start now eating well--this is for you.  Want to learn how to extend breastfeeding while slowly introducing foods to your baby?  You'll learn how here!

As a bonus, Jill will be providing healthy snacks at the seminar to give you a first hand experience while you learn. To register for both or just one seminar, head to our website to sign up:

To learn more about Jill Welch and all her amazing talents, check out her website.  She does other seminars around town that you might also want to check out sometime.We've been to a few and they are excellent.

What topics are you hoping she'll cover?  Post here and I'm mention them to her to incorporate into the upcoming seminar!  Do you have some bad habits too?

Peace, love, & healthy eating,


Jen Starks, Owner 850.284.5887