Blog Posts by Charlene Prince Birkeland, Senior Editor

  • The Honest Company: Just Another Celebrity Venture? Hardly

    Actress and entrepreneur Jessica Alba at the launch of her new venture, The Honest Company.After the birth of her second baby, actress Jessica Alba launched a product line of eco-friendly and stylish baby, household and beauty products with favorable reviews. It would be easy to dismiss the success her first entrepreneurial venture, The Honest Company, as the simply byproduct of celebrity backing. It certainly doesn't hurt that that the company has a beautiful, popular and eloquent actress at its helm. But The Honest Company has something else that's driving its popularity: smart products.

    Alba's idea to launch a toxin-free baby product line came at the same time as her first experiences of motherhood. When she was pregnant with daughter, Honor, she researched products that would be safe for her baby to use. Alba was ultimately shocked at the number of toxins in everyday baby products like diapers. Alternative products she used were eco-friendly but lacked in quality. Earlier this year Alba told Mother Nature Network, "Effectiveness and performance are important to moms! It

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  • Women Who Shine: Top 10 Nominees*

    Here at Shine, we want to celebrate the women out there who are blazing new trails, touching lives or are just being amazing every single day. Shine readers are nominating women in their communities who are are doing something extraordinary. The woman who receives the most overall votes will receive a $10,000 cash prize (great prizes are available for runners-up too).

    Check out the 10 Women Who Shine nominees who are currently leading in votes.* And if you know an amazing woman who shines, you still have time to nominate her!

     (*Based on votes as of Tuesday, October 2, 2012.)

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  • Is There Such Thing as a Role Model in Baseball?

    When my oldest son was five years old, he quickly scanned the front page of the newspaper over morning breakfast and saw a huge photo of his then-favorite baseball player, Barry Bonds. In a suit. In a courtroom. The caption included the words "steroids" and "investigation," which led to lots of questions that my husband and I tried to answer as simply as possible -- "He's in big trouble because it looks like he took drugs that made him faster and stronger." Eyes furrowed, my son processed the information and clearly understood it was bad news for Bonds. The kid asked his final question: "But is it okay if I still like him?"

    Breakfast discussions about steroids and baseball are at an all-time high in our household. We live in Silicon Valley and between the San Francisco Giants (our favorite team) and the Oakland A's, we have enough fodder to last us the season. But now my kid is a tween with more baseball knowledge in his young life then most adults. And his opinion of baseball

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  • What watching the Olympics can teach your kids

    My favorite Olympic memories: The 1980 U.S. men's ice hockey team winning the gold; the 1984 U.S. men's volleyball team and tall glass of water, Steve Timmons, serving up aces; and that tiny spitfire, Mary Lou Retton. I also remember being mesmerized by Flo-Jo's speed around the track.

    The 2012 Summer Olympics in London are set to begin on July 27. Along with the opening ceremony, we plan on watching several competitions while crashing the homes of our television-owning friends and family. The sports of choice? Diving, swimming, volleyball and gymnastics. And my 7-year-old son is pretty excited since it's the first year he really understands what it's all about.

    If you're thinking about turning your kid(s) onto the Summer Olympics, here are four things they can learn from watching the games:

    • Teamwork and Sportsmanship. This is a no-brainer. Watching a team sport is an awesome way to show kids how players work together -- and work hard -- for a common goal. As for individual
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  • Quiet Time: 5 Free, Healthy, Whole-Family Activities for Sunday Morning

    Sunday Morning: Go for a hike!Sunday Morning: Go for a hike!Weekends should be blissful, free of the crazy chaos that usually takes place Monday through Friday. But Saturdays can still be filled with shuttling the kids back and forth between practices, parties and play dates -- that antithesis of bliss. If you find yourself eager to etch out quiet, peaceful time with your family, you need a plan.

    Here's one: Set aside your Sunday morning for special family time, and try one of these five mellow activities:

    -Camp out! Or at least pretend you did! When you wake up, fire up the grill and pretend your camping. Serve up a delicious and healthy breakfast (bird's nest anyone?) in the backyard.

    -Have a breakfast picnic in the park. Grab a blanket, pack a simple breakfast, some books and games, and walk to a nearby park for morning eats and fun with the kids.

    -Walk, bike, or scoot to your local's farmer's market. Sample sweet fruits and veggies bursting with flavor.

    -Go for a hike. Tour beautiful trails in your area and enjoy the sights,

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  • What's in Your Summer Bag? 6 Things a Mom Should Always Have on Hand


    What do you carry in your summer bag?What do you carry in your summer bag?A 2007 study reported that the average woman's handbag weighed nearly seven pounds. Apparently, the stat went down in 2010 to three pounds, as we started carrying smaller tech gadgets. But those numbers can't be accurate for moms, especially over the summer.

    Does the content of your handbag change in the summer? Mine does. It became noticeably heavier this past week. Like Allison over at Petit Elefant, I suddenly was carrying more stuff. Summer stuff...for my kids.

    Along with my own personal items -- sunglasses, makeup, wallet, iWhatever, a notebook and pens -- I have several things I only keep in my purse during the summer months. And I'm guessing you'll likely have these items in your bag as well. Check out these summer "mom bag" essentials:

    Snacks. Kids seem to be hungry all the time during the summer. Be sure to carry simple snacks at all times. I usually tote apple slices, cheese sticks and a few Z Bars. If my kids don't eat them, I will!

    A water bottle
    . Kids play hard and you

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  • 8 Ways to Get Your Kids Moving This Summer!

    Get the kids moving!Get the kids moving!The kids are out of school and while you want them to go outside and play, they want to sit around inside and chill. out.

    Hello, lazy days of summer.


    Here's the thing: The kids may not want to be lazy; they just don't know what to do with themselves. After months of school where their every moment is scheduled out, kids sometimes lose their get-up-and-go.
    Boredom is okay...until they're driving you insane with their incessant whines of, "I don't have anything to do!"

    So inspire them. Kick start their summer vacation with some outdoor fun that the whole family can enjoy:

    Go on a neighborhood walk. Start out with a leisurely early-morning stroll around the neighborhood. Let your kids notice the different sounds and sights at an hour where they're normally sitting in their desks at school.

    Geocache in your neighborhood or a local trail. Let your kids hunt for treasure with geocaching! If you believe your area doesn't have any geocaching, think again. Check out Geocaching.com, drop in

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  • UPDATED: Home for summer!

    My kids are on summer break, and while they'll spend ample time outside, the kitchen is still the central gathering spot in our home. 

    I spent the weekend cleaning up our kitchen "workstation," which had become the dropping post for everything. Bills, notebooks, end-of-year school art. Everything. And it needed an overhaul in a big way.

    I cleaned out cabinets, got rid of old/expired food in the pantry, and organized art supplies in the "kids" section.

    And then my favorite part of prepping the kitchen for summer: I started mapping out summer meals and breaking out the summer cooking gear. If a meal needs to be cooked, I try to make it on the outdoor grill. It keeps our kitchen clean and our home cool. But most important, it helps our family stay to the season.

    How do you prepare for summer?






    =========

     July 7, 2011

    Do you have secret cleaning tips to make your kitchen sparkle? We recently hosted a contest to give a $100 Target gift card to the Shine user with the best kitchen

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  • Fun (healthy!) Snacks to Make with Your Kids This Weekend

    Do you get tired making of the same, tired snacks for your kids? We do. And we know they probably get tired of eating those snacks, too. It's hard not to smirk at their subtle groans when presented with the options, "Carrots? String cheese? Sliced apples? Popchips? Ants on a log?"

    So change things up this weekend. We present you with some of our favorite homemade snacks. And we think your kids will dig them.

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  • 8 Fun Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day with the Kids

    You really should make snow cone cupcakes this weekend. (Or, at least, dream about them!)You really should make snow cone cupcakes this weekend. (Or, at least, dream about them!)While Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, it's also a time to remember and pay respect to those in the military who died while serving the U.S. Sometimes the latter gets lost in flurry of backyard parties and festive celebrations that take place over the holiday weekend. How do you encourage your kids to take part in this patriotic day while also acknowledging "Yay! Summer!"?

    Simple. We'll get you started with our list of eight ways to celebrate Memorial Day with your kids"

    -Bake red, white and blue Snowcone Cupcakes. (They look tough to make but it's not as hard as you think!)
    -Create patriotic chalk mural on your driveway.
    -Plant red, white and blue pansies or red poppies, a symbol of fallen soldiers, in your garden.
    -Make a star-spangled cake.
    -Participate in local Memorial Day events.
    -Play patriotic balloon volleyball!
    -Have a flag tag relay.
    -Make patriotic pinwheels!

    How do you get your kids involved in your Memorial Day celebrations?

    Share your Spring

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