Two memes and an award

Farrah at Baby Loves Slings tagged me to write 7 True Things about myself, so here goes:

  1. I am left-handed.
  2. I have green eyes.
  3. I have a not-so-secret love affair with chocolate.
  4. I would love to give birth to another baby, but am unsure if more than two children is right for our family.
  5. I don’t wear antiperspirant, just deodorant.
  6. My first pet was a goldfish named “George.”
  7. I’m a perfectionist by nature, but have had to relax a bit, OK, a LOT since having kids.

I’m not tagging anyone specifically, but please feel free to play along if you’d like and let me know that you did so I can come read more about you. :)

Cristina at HomeSlice tagged me for the 4 Things meme.

4 Jobs I have had:
– Sales associate at K-mart
– Tech support rep for an ISP
– Office manager at a newspaper
– Customer service rep at a bank

4 Movies I love to watch over and over:
– The Princess Bride
– Napoleon Dynamite
– Bridget Jones’ Diary
– The Breakfast Club

4 Places I have lived:
– Clawson, MI
– Mount Pleasant, MI
– Oklahoma City, OK
– Colorado

4 TV shows I enjoy watching:
– The Office
– Uh, I can only think of those two. Oops.

4 Places I have been:
– Cancun, Mexico
– Key West, FL
– San Francisco, CA
– Chicago, IL

4 Websites I visit daily:
– The Weather Channel
– iGoogle
– Maya’s Mom
– Yahoo! Groups

4 Favorite Foods:
– Avocados
– Chocolate
– Grapes
– Mexican food

4 Places I would rather be:
– Sleeping in my bed
– On a tropical beach
– At a spa
– On a massage table

Again, I’m not tagging anyone specifically, but please feel free to play along and let me know if you do. :)

Community Blogger Award

And lastly, Phyllis at Ima on (and off) the Bima recently gave me the Community Blogger Award which was designed to “celebrate people who reach out and makes the blogger community a better one.” I’m so honored and felt so touched by what she wrote about me. Thank you, Phyllis. :)

I would like to pass the Community Blogger Award on to Kristen at Green Style Mom. Her blog may be fairly new, but I think she is already doing an awesome job to raise awareness about the importance of doing your part to go green, as well as providing a lot of great resources to help you on your way. She is trying to make the world a better place and that makes her a community blogger in my book. I hope you will check her site out. :) She also has some super cute Christmas cards with a great green message for sale.

fall y’allOK, one more thing. The Fall Y’all Bloggy Giveaway is almost here! If you haven’t yet heard about it – go check it out! The fun starts on Monday, Oct. 29. The summer bloggy giveaway was HUGE and I’m sure this one will be even bigger. I will be posting my giveaway on Monday, so be sure to check back.

Amy’s Halloween candy alternatives

jackolanternsHalloween is right around the corner, but in light of my recent discoveries about damaging effects of artificial colors and flavors (and petroleum and coal tar) in candy, I haven’t been feeling very excited about a holiday that promotes candy consumption.

Consider this:

Americans spend a whopping $950 million on Halloween candy every year. So it’s not surprising that a 2006 Mayo Clinic article estimates that 1 in 3 American children are now considered seriously overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. That’s a staggering 25 million children who are at high risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, exercise induced asthma, disturbed sleep patterns, premature maturity, liver/gallbladder disease and depression. — Go Green

So the idea of handing out “treats” that are laden with sugar AND chemicals was less than appealing to me. But what is a good alternative that won’t get my house egged the next day?

Using several different web sites, I’ve compiled a list of some alternative Halloween treats. (Please be aware that some of these may be choking hazards for small children.)

Non-food options:

  • Temporary tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Playdoh
  • Pencils
  • Small pads of paper
  • Fancy erasers
  • Pencil toppers
  • Crayons
  • Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
  • False teeth
  • Superballs
  • “Slime”
  • Kazoos or other small musical instruments
  • Tiny decks of cards
  • Origami paper & instructions
  • Bubbles

Healthier food options (buy organic if you can afford it):

  • Granola bars
  • Cereal bars
  • Pretzels
  • Glee gum
  • Packets of instant hot chocolate
  • Raisins
  • Fruit leathers
  • Prepackaged trail mix
  • Prepackaged cookies

Things to avoid:

  • Avoid costume jewelry, especially glossy, fake painted pearls and toys from vending machines, both of which may contain lead
  • Avoid cheap plastic toys that are just going to end up in the trash and go off to the landfills

Now what about for your OWN kids?

What do you do if your kids go trick-or-treating and come home with a bag full of stuff you’d rather they not eat? While my kids are still too young (in my book) for door-to-door trick-or-treating, we are going to a Halloween parade tomorrow (the kids dress up and walk down Main street) and the local merchants pass out candy after the parade is done. This year I decided to buy some natural candies – suckers, cookies, fruit leathers, etc., to trade Ava for once she’s done trick-or-treating. I’ll likely still let her pick a few things from her collected loot, but then I’m hoping she’ll trade the rest in for the still tasty, but natural candy goodies I have for her. I am optimistic that it will go well! :)

Get your game on

156155142v13_150x150_front_230793172v16_150x150_front_colorblacMy home team, the Colorado Rockies, are playing the Boston Red Sox, home team of Tanya from The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog in the World Series this week. Tanya thought a friendly bet was in order and I agreed that, even though I am not a baseball fan, a little bloggy bet sounded like fun.

We’ve agreed that if the Rockies win the series she’ll give away one her breastfeeding coalition‘s “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” t-shirts (see her store), and if the Red Sox win I’ll give away one of my “I Make Milk. What’s your Superpower?” shirts (see my store). We’ll announce how to win one once the series is over.

Play ball! (Go Rockies!)

Kids’ toys, pajamas contain industrial chemicals

rubber duckyIf the toxic lead paint scare wasn’t enough of a reason for you to consider getting rid of all of your children’s plastic toys, you might change your tune after you read about a new study that revealed high levels of industrial chemicals in children’s bodies. Children as young as 18 months and 5 years old showed “chemical exposure levels up to seven times those of their parents.” How did these kids end up with industrial chemicals in their bodies? How about from their toys, their furniture, their bottles, their pajamas.

When I first read the title of the article, Tests reveal high chemical levels in kids’ bodies, I had a feeling I knew where it was going, but the results were pretty alarming nonetheless.

“In 2004, the Hollands became the first intact nuclear family in the United States to undergo body burden testing. Rowan, at just 1½ years old, became the youngest child in the U.S. to be tested for chemical exposure with this method.

“He had two to three times the level of flame retardants in his body that’s been known to cause thyroid dysfunction in lab rats.”

…children up to six years old are most at risk because their vital organs and immune system are still developing and because they depend more heavily on their environments than adults do.”

Some of the chemicals the Holland children were tested for include:

Phthalates are the chemicals that make plastics soft and pliable. Phthalates disrupt hormone levels, cause neurological dysfunction and reproductive defects in lab rats. In preliminary human testing, phthalate exposure may be linked to genital birth defects in males and infertility problems in men.

Think about all of the soft plastic toys your baby may have (or have had in the past) – teething rings, toys on exersaucers, stackable rings, Fisher Price “Little People,” rubber ducks. Now think about how many of those toys go/went into your baby’s mouth. What about plastic eating utensils?

Flame retardants such as PBDEs are found in foam products like mattresses, couches, and carpets and electronic plastic casings. Liver, thyroid and neurological damage in lab rats. Studies on human toxicity have just begun.

Flame retardants are also on children’s pajamas.

Bisphenol A is a chemical used to make plastics hard. Found in baby bottles, hard water bottles, food containers. Study shows a link between bisphenol A and female reproductive disorders such as cystic ovaries and cancer. More research on children and adults recommended.

PFOAs are chemicals used to make non-stick and stain-resistant products such as non-stick frying pans. Developmental problems and liver toxicity in lab rats. Some studies suggest PFOAs may be human carcinogens.

How many of us have stain-resistant sprays on our furniture or carpeting? Where do babies and kids spend most of their time? On the floor. On the stain-resistant carpet.

Fellow blogger and Coloradan Katja at Skimbaco wrote an excellent post about this very subject called Protect your child from the harmful chemicals in your home. She includes a list of things you can do to help keep your children safe. Rather than repeat all of her information over here, I highly suggest you pop over there and take a look. I was quite shocked to read that sex toys, of all things, have to have warning labels on them when they have high phthalate levels, yet children’s toys do not. How messed up is that?

So, what am I going to do about this in our home?

  • For starters I’m going to try to avoid putting my children in flame retardant pajamas. Think about how much time your children spends in their PJs – at least half of their life, right? That’s a huge amount of exposure to PBDEs. (Read this article – “Inherently” Flame-Resistant Pajamas? – from The Green Guide for more information about pajama safety standards and what options you have other than pjs treated with flame retardants.)
  • I’m also going to check into getting organic sheets for our beds. I’ve thought about it in the past, but haven’t pursued it yet.
  • And I’m going to continue to purge the plastic toys from our house. We got a good start after the lead paint/made in China scare, but we need to keep at it. There are too many times that I look over at Julian to see him gnawing on a soft plastic something or other, and I remember it being that same way with Ava as well. I do know soft plastic toys can be made without phthalates, because Jody bought Ava one such squishy, squeaky toy when she was just a baby. On the bottom of “Vinnie the skinny hippo” (our name, not the actual name of the toy), it says “No Phthalates.” We used to joke about that odd word – phthalates – until we found out what it meant. Then we were glad to know that Vinnie was phthalate-free. I imagine that unless your soft plastic toy is marked with “no phthalates,” then it’s probably safe to assume it has them. (Just quickly, here’s one store that sells toys with safe (no phthalates) plastic – The Bunny Nest. I’m sure you can find more by doing a Google search. Updated to add: I came across the Cool Mom Picks Safer Toy Guide with tons of discount codes listed at the bottom. Also I just got the latest issue (Nov./Dec.) of Mothering magazine in the mail today. There’s an article called “Out of the Mouths of Babes” – a guide to non-toxic plastics, as well their annual toy review containing the Best Natural Toys of 2007 – I can’t wait to read them!)

I know I can’t protect my children from all of the toxins in the world. It’s simply impossible. But I believe I can protect them from dangerous chemicals by the products we choose to have or not have in our home. Even if the government isn’t going to ban them for their toxicity (like many other countries already have), this mama still can.

Knowledge is power.

Bitty Braille – review and a giveaway


Ava in her Bitty Braille teeI love discovering cute and unique clothes for kids, and Bitty Braille tees for infants and toddlers are both of these things.

Bitty Braille tees feature simple “kid-friendly” words set in Braille type in either sparkly faceted metal studs for the girls or simple metal studs for the boys. The translation is hand-embroidered underneath in a simple print or cursive. The idea behind Bitty Braille is to introduce children to Braille through original designs. The concept is the brainchild of Julie Dutt, a busy mom to three home-schooled children.

Ava in her Bitty Braille tee

Some of the designs available feature the words “happy,” “cutie,” “darling,” “silly,” “buddy,” and “dude,” or shirts may be personalized with the child’s name. In addition to infant and toddler shirts, Bitty Braille also sells Bitty Blankies, hair clips and birth stone charms.

Bitty Braille donates 10% of every sale to the American Foundation for the Blind.

Ava is wearing a personalized long-sleeved toddler tee in size 4. The shirt is 100% cotton, very soft and Ava thinks “it’s neat!” I agree and think Bitty Braille shirts would make a wonderfully unique gift for the baby or toddler in your life.

Win it!
Win a Bitty Braille t-shirt of your choice, excluding upcoming holiday tees. To be eligible for this giveaway, please sign Mr. Linky, then share the love and link to this post AND Bitty Braille on your blog (non-bloggers are eligible too, but be sure to tell a friend or two), and finally leave me a comment stating which Bitty Braille shirt you like best. You must do all three steps to be eligible. The deadline to enter is Monday, Nov. 5. The winner will be chosen randomly with number generator and announced on Tuesday, Nov. 6.