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The truth about motherhood

Yesterday’s Oprah was the talk of Twitter last night.  I have to admit, I was napping because I’m on “vacation” (well, as much as one can consider vacationing in your hometown and sleeping in your childhood bed) The napping part is the vacation part.  But, since I have extra help this week, to me, that translates into sleep.  So, we napped…and I missed Oprah and friends talking about motherhood.  But I did have the chance to read and watch Oprah online and I found it so interesting.

Just like the moms said, there’s so much about motherhood that no one really vocalizes.  I mean, not just the bodily fluids, but the resentment, the guilt, the constant exhaustion, the new types of “flutters,”  the greatness of this love… But for real, I could’ve used that memo a year and a half ago!

  • No one ever warned me that EVERYONE else knows more about my child than me, you know, the person that they poked, prodded and yanked him from.
  • No one ever told me that not only would I not be able to go to the bathroom in peace, but that I’d never be able to change my clothes in peace, either.
  • No one ever warned me about the icepack to the ass.  Um, hemorrhoids?  That phase of pregnancy was an entire hemorrhage.
  • No one ever told me the guilt would eat me alive–not just the working mom’s guilt, but the judgmental guilt, and the am I doing the right thing guilt and as of late for me, the discipline-sometimes-sucks-so-bad-I’m-a-horrible-mom guilt.
  • No on ever told me exactly how much poo and the wiping of another person’s butt would be involved.  I knew there would be a lot, but one day, at the height of the fun–I think there was four poopy diapers in an hour and a half.  Holy crap–literally!
  • No one ever told me just how powerful the little boy hugs and sweet kisses can be.
  • No one ever warned me that getting pregnant wasn’t as easy as I imagined.  It’s easier said than done to plan to wait to have kids once “the time is right.”  When you’re ready, your body/circumstance/nature might think otherwise.
  • No one ever told me how rewarding it all is, you know, after all the poo, Tucks and lack of showering.
  • No one ever told me just how happy and content these two human beings can make me feel.
  • No one ever said that being imperfect is perfectly fine.
  • No one ever warned me about the magnitude of it all.

Jacky and mom
I could go on forever about what I’d wish I’d known about motherhood, but hearing all of my truths would surely get redundant and for some, a lot more TMI!

Based on the “expert” panelists on Oprah, it sounds like none of us are alone in this thing we call motherhood.  Among the “expert” panelists were some influential mom bloggers and writers including, Heather B. Armstrong from Dooce, Mindy Roberts from The Mommy Blog, Daphne Brogdon from CoolMom , BlogHer CE Karen Walrond from Chookooloonks. Heija Nunn from The Worst Mother in the World, Vicki Glembocki author of The Second Nine Months were all Skyped in.  Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile, co-authors of the book I’d Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper and actor Cheryl Hines, star of ABC’s series In The Motherhood joined Oprah in the studio.

While not everything was relevant, it was informative nonetheless.  Running out of diapers?  What?  We live 15 steps from the bodega and CVS.   I know nothing about that.  However, I’m sure not every mom can relate to the amount of discomfort I felt when my kid melted down on Park Ave. or the fury I felt the time not a single person offered to help me hoist our stroller up a set of stairs from the subway platform.

We all have different scenarios.  Some of us are rural, some are suburban and others are urban.  Some have calmer, less acrobatic children.  Others have help.  Some have the juggle down to a precision.  Others handle stress much differently.

And that’s why I put it all out there.  So much of what I do makes up what I blog, what I tweet and influences how I update my status on FB, just like many of you do, too!  I’m not perfect.  My kid is not perfect.  My husband?  Well, he’s close to it (or so I tell him).

But that’s it.  That’s what makes motherhood for our generation so intriguing.  Each mom, each family, each child has their own story, and combine that with the immediacy and convenience of the internet and social media, it truly makes the world such an interesting place in which to live and learn.  I learn so much from what I read online, especially from the people I know personally.  We all influence each other so much, which makes motherhood *that* much easier, or at least not as lonely.

I sure as hell don’t know it all, but it’s pretty cool reading and learning from other people’s experiences.

One of the most memorable quotes I got from the show:

Mothers need to know that if they can’t do it all—or if they don’t want to—that doesn’t make them failures, Amy says. “We need honesty,” she says. “We need to support each other more.”

Lets be honest friends, the lack of sleep, that’s to be expected.  But listen, there’s a lot of poop involved–literally and figuratively.  But it’s so damn worth it.

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Rub a dub dub: ‘No More Toxic Tub’ study sheds light on bath products

There’s a new report out that reveals some daunting information that will make you want to think twice about your babe’s bath products. Oh no, what now, right?

whats-going-onThe Campaign for Safe Cosmetics published a report that says several children’s bath products are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.  This isn’t the first time you’ve probably heard similar information; a study came out in 2008 that focused on organic personal products. However, this new study called, “No More Toxic Tub,” is the first to document the widespread presence of both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in bath products for children, including baby shampoos, bubble baths and baby lotions. The group says Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens; formaldehyde can also trigger skin rashes in some children. The report said that unlike many other countries, the U.S. government does not limit formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, or most other hazardous substances in personal care products.

Just a few of the products tested are:

  • CVS Baby Shampoo (CVS/Pharmacy)
  • Suave Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo – Wild Watermelon (Unilever)
  • American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel – Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works)
  • Equate Tearless Baby Wash (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.)
  • Grins & Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash (Gerber Products Company)
  • Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash (Kimberly-Clark)
  • Sesame Street Bubble Bath – Orange Mango Tango (The Village Company)

To see all of the products tested and results go here. Per usual, there’s no need to be alarmed, so don’t go and toss out all of your bath products.  The big picture here is, it’s all about being smarter consumers and to be aware of what you’re buying and using. I mean, who doesn’t want the best for their kid?

Once again, I’ll take the opportunity to tout the awesomeness of natural products. With this latest report, I thought I’d share some alternatives to the more questionable products that were included in this latest study.

These are my top picks:

star-pink-32x32Dr. Bronner’s Baby Liquid Soap
olba16USA Today said that products bearing the U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic seal, such as items by Dr. Bronner’s, were free of 1,4-dioxane. Dr. Bronner’s is one of these products that is truly organic. Their extensive line includes liquid soap and baby wash that both Jeff and I love. We use the Peppermint and sometimes Lavender Castile soap throughout the house, as well as Sal’s Suds for household cleaning. Like Jeff often says, after using Dr. Bronner’s soaps, you smell good and you actually feel clean. With many of those perfumy soaps, there’s so many irritants and moisturizers now, the whole objective of getting clean gets lost in the mix. In addition to the organic composition, the fact that its fair trade and has so many uses, Dr. Bronner’s product line is a longtime staple in our home. In my opinion, it’s one of, if not the greenest, line of soaps out there. For 60 years, Dr. Bronner’s has been at the forefront of the green movement.  So, it’s no surprise that Dr. Bronner’s Baby Liquid Soap is one of my top picks.  The baby soap is mild, contains no fragrance and great for sensitive skin.

star-pink-32x32California Baby
yhst-83878190403399_2045_48046543I’m a big fan of all of California Baby’s products, especially the bubble baths. They’re light, natural and smell incredible.  Calming and Overtired and Cranky are my favorite bubble baths.  Before bedtime, my sometimes overtired and cranky kid loves this bubble bath as part of his nighttime routine, just as much as I do!
I love how they divulge a host of information about their products and ingredients.  Many of the products in question do not have this information readily available. So, in that sense, I appreciate companies like CB for being generous with this information. In addition, their products are free from common allergens, contain organic & sustainably grown ingredients. The company says that many of the plants and flowers that are grown for essential oil distillation are very hardy, do not need pesticides or fertilizers and are by default organic and/or sustainably grown.

star-pink-32x32Seventh Generation Wipes
318g2rssrlThese, in my opinion, are the best wipes out there. These wipes feature Aloe Vera, Vitamin E and are alcohol-free, making them gentle, yet so effective and eco-friendly. Unfortunately, we haven’t used these wipes as frequently as we would have liked since they haven’t been stocked at our local organic store until recently. Good news, though: Seventh Gen has coupons online.
Check them out here.

star-pink-32x32Nature’s Baby Organics Tangy Tangerine Bubble Bath
NB

This is a brand that I recently tried and loved! Jeff brought this home and I plan to do a full blown review, but in the meantime, I love the sweet tangerine smell and the fact that it’s such a gentle bubble bath. We’ve been using this bubble bath for the past few weeks and Jack can’t get enough of the fun bubbles. This brand is out in several stores, but I’ve also noticed that you can get it at Diapers.com. More to come on this great line and product.

star-pink-32x32Trukid Silly Shampoo
sillyshampoo

This is another brand that we recently had the chance to try as well. So far, I’m in love the soap and lotion, but this shampoo is awesome, too. It has a great smell, contains various organic ingredients and is all around a great product line. This is another brand that I plan to do more of a thorough review, so stay tuned for that!

Obviously, there are many more really great products that are worth mentioning, but I can recommend these without hesitation because either we use or have used these in our home! Like most people, we use 2-3 different products, sometimes even more, at bathtime. Not everything we use is natural since we’ve been using good ol’ J&J shampoo among a few others since we received them as gifts, but once those are up, I hope to stick to products that fall under the natural category.

This is how I see it: with healthier, more natural alternatives out there, why go the cheaper, questionable route? If you’re worried about cost, so you buy one less toy, one less electronic gadget—that, right there, would cover the few dollars of the difference in expense. Years ago, many of these brands and options weren’t even available, and if they were, I’m sure these products were only at specialty and organic stores. Good news now is, in addition to a plethora of online outlets like diapers.com, big box and baby stores carry many of these products, such as Babies R Us, Harmon, Target, Buy Buy Baby, Whole Foods.

Before you go putting your baby or kid in a bubble, here are more recommendations from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:

  • Simplify: Select products with fewer ingredients and no synthetic fragrance or dyes, and use fewer products overall.
  • Choose safety: Search EWG’s cosmetic safety database, Skin Deep, to learn more about the products you use and find safer alternatives.
  • Read labels: Select products for baby and yourself that don’t contain the ingredients listed above, which are commonly contaminated with formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane.

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The lowdown on phthalates

The safety of toys and children’s products are in the news once again, but this time it has to do with compliance and regulation of phthalates, as well as the enforcement of lead levels in children’s products. Both topics deserve their own separate posts, so look for one on lead levels later.

According to CPSC:

Starting on February 10, 2009 children’s toys and child care items cannot contain more that 0.1% of any of the six phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, and DnOPA) regardless of when they were manufactured.

What are Phthalates?

Phthalates (Pronounced THAL-ates.) are a group of man-made chemicals that are structurally related to the organic acid, phthalic acid. The most important use of phthalates is in plastics, especially PVC, where they act as plasticisers. Essentially, phthalates aid in making certain plastics softer, certain toys like rubber duckies are a prime example.

Source: based on the GreenFacts Digest on phthalates

What’s the big deal about phthalates?
As the EWG describes,

phthalates are ubiquitous in modern society; they are in toys, food packaging, hoses, raincoats, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, wall coverings, lubricants, adhesives, detergents, nail polish, hair spray and shampoo. So the big deal is, Phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system. Several phthalate compounds have caused reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy and structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of male test animals, and some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s 2005 National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.

The regulations are now in effect, what now?
Because the regulation went into effect yesterday, some retailers are prepared and others not so much. Retailers like Toys R Us have set up helpful websites to aid in understanding this topic.  There are also resources such as Healthy Toys that features a database of safer products.  A lot of these products in questions may already be in your home, so it would be at your discretion what you do with them. For us, the questionable plastics continue to be phased out in our home, including bath toys and plastic sippy cups. There are plenty of affordable alternatives, so we opt to go the safer route.  So, we have less plastic toys (as in, we avoid buying questionable plastic toys at all costs) and use mostly our stainless steel sippy cups.

On the other side of the spectrum, smaller retailers, like the local mom and pop stores, could be hard hit with these new regulations.  According to reports, the abrupt change and the lack of guidelines has left many smaller retailers questioning these new standards and compliance, as well as questioning current inventory.

Here’s some helpful information I found on products regarding phthalates:

  • According to the CPSC, stopped using phthalates in teethers in early 1999: ArcoToys, Chicco, Disney, Evenflo, The First Years, Gerber, Hasbro (Playskool), Little Tikes, Mattel (Fisher-Price), Safety 1st, Sassy, Shelcore Toys and Tyco Preschool.
  • Soft Landing has a list of phtalate free bath toys http://thesoftlanding.wordpress.com/2008/03/17/bpa-pvc-and-phthalate-bath-toy-guide/
  • A guide for healthy toys
  • TRU’s link that focuses on safety-related issues
  • Opt for products made with latex or silicone, both of which are resilient for babies
  • Discard any soft, plastic toys that were manufactured before 1999, especially if the ingredients are unknown.
  • Look for toys and furniture that don’t contain polyvinylchloride (PVC) #3. These may contain plasticizers called diisononyl phthalates (DINP) shown to cause birth defects, cancer and organ damage in mice. New PVC products often have a strong odor; if it smells like a new shower curtain, it’s probably PVC.

More resources and helpful articles on phthalates

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6 more weeks of winter, 6 ideas to combat cabin fever

So, it looks like Punxsutawney Phil is forecasting 6 more weeks of winter. Oh, joy! We’ve had a severe case of cabin fever from being cooped up as a result of the cold and the various illnesses between the two of us over the past month.

At almost a year and a half, the boy is beyond the baby days, but not quite at the big kid phase.  Keeping him entertained all day while remaining productive is a daily challenge, especially when it feels like there are more things we can’t do, than can. Playdates aren’t really of interest yet (soon, though) and too much tv is never a good thing; he’s getting bigger, but not quite big enough to completely enjoy everything. So, with that in mind, these are Jack-tested and approved!  Like many of you, we’re doing as much as we can to curb our spending, which ultimately includes recreational activities. I’m all about finding fun, but budget conscious activities. If it’s free, even better! So, here’s a quick run down of activities that have helped us to combat cabin fever.

Museum of Natural History

1.  Be a tourist–Most towns have museums or places of interest. Bundle up and check out your local museum or tChildren's Museum of Manhattanourist attraction. Just the other week, we were fortunate to be able to visit the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the Museum of Natural History. Both were very cool activities and most certainly occupied us for an entire snowy, frigid day.
2.  Get crafty- Break out the crayons, pipe cleaners, foam pieces, fabric and other kid-friendly crafts. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, making handmade (or scribbled) Valentines would be a great way to occupy you for at least an hour or two. For the ambitious ones, homemade play doh would be a fun way to bide the time. We’re not quite there yet…

3. Library-story hour or visiting the library. For us, the library is usually a big part of our week. The story hour is such a high demand activity in our neighborhood (because it’s one of the only free activities) that we unfortunately haven’t had a chance to participate yet. Nevertheless, we have a fun time browsing all the books, or in Jack’s case, pulling all the books off the shelves, looking at one page and moving on to the next one. Walking to the library and hanging out to read and explore, for us, is a great way to spend an entire morning before lunch.

4.  Have a Dance Party- Dancing is such a big part of our day. Dancing occupies a good part of the afternoon. Often, we’ll watch Yo Gabba Gabba that showcases a lot of kid dancing with plenty of cameos and pretty cool mainstream musicians as well. But aside from dancing with DJ Lance, Muno and the gang, I like to hook up my iPod or tune into the radio online and find music (besides kid music) to introduce him genres he’s never heard before. Break out the plastic instruments and sing along. Jimi Hendrix, old school Michael Jackson, Devo, The Ramones and Beyonce are among our recent favorites. Oh, and how could I forget— Jack was extremely enamored by NJ’s own, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s performance on the Superbowl. Dancing keeps things pretty vivid around here.

5.  Build forts–As a kid, building forts with my brothers were some of my fondest memories. Even though we had a pretty cool playhouse out back, we’d bring the fun times indoors with our forts. By implementing resourcefulness with mundane objects, fort building encourages creativity and problem solving. So, let loose with the couch cushions, the gazillion decoration-only pillows, old sheets and boxes and make a little town indoors.

at the park in the snow
6.  Go to the park/take a walk–Every now and then, if you’re lucky, the weather will dip ABOVE freezing temperatures and the rain or ice will let up. If everyone is healthy and the weather cooperates, bundle up, and get outside. Nothing combats cabin fever like the great outdoors. After being indoors, there’s nothing like going outside and getting some sunshine, whether at the park, on the patio or backyard. After the fun in the (cold) sun, as you un-bundle, a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows is a great way to unwind and defrost!

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Children’s Book Week

I’m a bit late on this, but as they say, better late than never!

It’s Children’s Book Week this week, and from what I’ve read, school libraries, bookstores and others are celebrating with various reading-related events. It looks like there are various happenings in NYC for Children’s Book Week, so hopefully, there are some celebrations going on at your local libraries and book stores.
I know I’ve mentioned my obsession for books before, but I truly do believe books are the gateway to creativity. I love how our nephews and nieces love reading too. Michael and I like to compare notes on our shared love for reading. He told me awhile ago how he sometimes likes to “sneak” past his bedtime just to finish a book. Sounds like something I did just the other week! My sister in law left my a voicemail a few weeks ago to tell us that when she was going through Brandon’s book bag, she found the book we got both boys for Christmas. (Since the boys are the same age, we like to get one of the same gifts so they can interact together as cousins. And with this book, we told both nephews that since Jack is their baby cousin, it was their job to “teach him how to be a boy.”) Anyway, my sister in law was so tickled that Brandon carried this book around every where and had notes all throughout the book. In the day and age where kids seem isolated, thanks to the internet and video games, Jeff and I were pretty touched that a book could warrant a special part in our newphew’s busy life.

reading timeGetting lost in a book makes me forget about all the stressors in life, even if it’s 20 minutes at a time. With Jack at such a fun age, I love introducing new books every chance I get. I can’t even begin to describe how big my heart gets when a squirmy Jack will sit on my lap, lunge for a book and settle down with me, the minute I start to read. Honestly, I could be reading the Macy’s sale paper–it makes no difference–he seems to appreciate the idea of reading. And it turns out, according to Jack, his boardbooks make for for great teethers.

With tons and tons of books out there and in honor of Children’s Book Week, I thought I’d list a few of our favorite baby books.

Boynton Books-
The Going to Bed Book- This is our nightly ritual. Even when Jack’s in mid-meltdown on the way to sleep, the minute I open this book, he calms down and lays next to me as I read it to him. I almost fall asleep after I say, “and they rock and rock and rock to sleep.”
ABCs-Boynton’s ABC book is such a hit! I really want to believe that Jack likes interesting-sounding and very articulated words. Perhaps, it’s because he loves to watch lips and grab them. Who knows? But, Vicunas Violining is always a line that makes us giggle. Vicuna? C’mon, if an ABC book leads me to googling about an animal I don’ t know about, it’s a keeper!

I Love You Stinkyface

The title says it all! The illustrations and the outlandish theme and importance of unconditional love in this book make so much sense to us!

Who are you Baby Kangaroo?
I bought this at an Earth Day festival, so this is a new book to our library. I love how this doggie goes around the world to find more about a Baby Kangaroo.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See?
This is yet another classic well known for the illustration and simple dialog. The vibrant colors of Carle’s art is just as fascinating for me as it is for the boy!

And finally, for future purposes for me and for those of you who have big kids, I read on Parent Hacks via Jen Robinson’s book page, a good way to encourage life long love for reading is to let your kids choose Let Young Readers Choose their Own Books.

So, what books do you guys love?

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Children’s Book Week

I’m a bit late on this, but as they say, better late than never!

It’s Children’s Book Week this week, and from what I’ve read, school libraries, bookstores and others are celebrating with various reading-related events. It looks like there are various happenings in NYC for Children’s Book Week, so hopefully, there are some celebrations going on at your local libraries and book stores.
I know I’ve mentioned my obsession for books before, but I truly do believe books are the gateway to creativity. I love how our nephews and nieces love reading too. Michael and I like to compare notes on our shared love for reading. He told me awhile ago how he sometimes likes to “sneak” past his bedtime just to finish a book. Sounds like something I did just the other week! My sister in law left my a voicemail a few weeks ago to tell us that when she was going through Brandon’s book bag, she found the book we got both boys for Christmas. (Since the boys are the same age, we like to get one of the same gifts so they can interact together as cousins. And with this book, we told both nephews that since Jack is their baby cousin, it was their job to “teach him how to be a boy.”) Anyway, my sister in law was so tickled that Brandon carried this book around every where and had notes all throughout the book. In the day and age where kids seem isolated, thanks to the internet and video games, Jeff and I were pretty touched that a book could warrant a special part in our newphew’s busy life.

reading timeGetting lost in a book makes me forget about all the stressors in life, even if it’s 20 minutes at a time. With Jack at such a fun age, I love introducing new books every chance I get. I can’t even begin to describe how big my heart gets when a squirmy Jack will sit on my lap, lunge for a book and settle down with me, the minute I start to read. Honestly, I could be reading the Macy’s sale paper–it makes no difference–he seems to appreciate the idea of reading. And it turns out, according to Jack, his boardbooks make for for great teethers.

With tons and tons of books out there and in honor of Children’s Book Week, I thought I’d list a few of our favorite baby books.

Boynton Books-
The Going to Bed Book- This is our nightly ritual. Even when Jack’s in mid-meltdown on the way to sleep, the minute I open this book, he calms down and lays next to me as I read it to him. I almost fall asleep after I say, “and they rock and rock and rock to sleep.”
ABCs-Boynton’s ABC book is such a hit! I really want to believe that Jack likes interesting-sounding and very articulated words. Perhaps, it’s because he loves to watch lips and grab them. Who knows? But, Vicunas Violining is always a line that makes us giggle. Vicuna? C’mon, if an ABC book leads me to googling about an animal I don’ t know about, it’s a keeper!

I Love You Stinkyface

The title says it all! The illustrations and the outlandish theme and importance of unconditional love in this book make so much sense to us!

Who are you Baby Kangaroo?
I bought this at an Earth Day festival, so this is a new book to our library. I love how this doggie goes around the world to find more about a Baby Kangaroo.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See?
This is yet another classic well known for the illustration and simple dialog. The vibrant colors of Carle’s art is just as fascinating for me as it is for the boy!

And finally, for future purposes for me and for those of you who have big kids, I read on Parent Hacks via Jen Robinson’s book page, a good way to encourage life long love for reading is to let your kids choose Let Young Readers Choose their Own Books.

So, what books do you guys love?

2 Comments

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day, everyone!
Though our family has made some progress since going green, we still have leaps and bounds to go. Nevertheless, every step–big or small– makes a difference.

Earth Day, to me, surpasses green tv shows being advertised on the sides of city buses. It goes beyond the trendiness of being green for a day. It’s not about buying something just because it says it’s organic or because it says that it’s natural. earth day love

Being eco-conscious is about knowing what all of that means, and how it will effect future generations. A greener lifestyle isn’t just about bringing the canvas bags to the store or buying swirly lightbulbs. It’s about knowing the significance of renewable energy and conserving natural resources.

Many of us enjoy our daily conveniences, but it goes without saying that the toss-away, disposable mindset our society embraces has detrimental effects. Instead of buying big giant plastic toys, disposable consumer goods, toss-away conveniences, think sustainable, reusable and renewable. Being green is often viewed as a costly lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be. In the grand scheme of things, being green shouldn’t be dictated by the almighty dollar.  The more mainstream all of this becomes, it becomes more attainable and more accessible.

Being green, to me, is about making indelible decisions that will impact, and hopefully, influence my child, my husband and our family.

Jack loves greenBeing green transcends the marketing campaigns and self-absorption of years past. As I’ve said before, many of my friends have observed greener lifestyles for some time now.
Best said by Five for Fighting, “We’re all we’ve got on this bouncing ball!”

Al Gore I’m not, but based on your emails, my little corner of the internet seems to be impacting a few. It’s a start. If not for our generation, make smarter, more environmentally-conscious choices for future generations.

Jack thanks you. (with open-mouthed drooly kisses, of course.)

More to come and a few giveaways too.

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Easter Lily trivia

0407lilly500×300.jpgBeyond the stupid cheese and debra barone post, one of the most popular posts on here is the Easter Lily post. And since it’s the first day of Spring, I thought I’d list some mindless, but fun facts on Easter Lilies for those that find their way here. They must be true because I found them on the web ;)

First and foremost, people: Lily, the flower, has only one L.

L-i-l-y

Outside of work, I’m not usually the grammar or spelling police, but I had to get it out.

Ok, now that I’ve got that off my chest, here we go:

  • Since the beginning of time, lilies have played significant roles in allegorical tales concerning the sacrament of motherhood. Ancient fables tell us the lily sprang from the milk of Hera, the mythological Queen of Heaven. Roman mythology links the lily to Juno, queen of the gods. Legend has it that while Juno was nursing her son, Hercules, her excess milk fell from the sky. Some of this milk remained above the earth to form the stars; the rest fell to earth and turned into lilies. In early Christian art, the lily was a symbol of purity because of its delicacy of form and its snow white color. Biblical legend tells us that the lily flower came from Eve’s tears when she and Adam were banished from the Garden of Eden.
  • The Easter Lily originated in Japan. 95% of all Easter Lily bulbs for the potted Easter Lily market are grown on 10 farms along the California/Oregon border.
  • Lilies are often called the “White-Robed Apostles of Hope”. Lilies were discovered in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ died on the cross. During the Easter season, churches line their altars and envelop their crosses with a multitude of Easter Lilies, to signify the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life.
  • The Easter Lily (Lilium longiforum) is native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan, as well as the islands of Okinawa, Amani, and Erabu. Although Easter lilies came to England in 1819, commercial bulb production initially started in Bermuda in 1853. The Bermuda lily industry was devastated in 1898 by a virus infestation. Around the turn of the century, the Japanese took over the annual growing and exportation of Easter Lilies to the United States, and continued to dominate the U. S. export market until the start of World War II.
  • Current U. S. production began with a World War I soldier, Louis Houghton, who brought a suitcase full of hybrid lily bulbs to the South coast of Oregon in 1919. Houghton freely distributed bulbs to his horticultural friends and neighbors. With World War II, the Japanese source of bulbs was abruptly cut off. As a result, the value of lily bulbs sky-rocketed and many who were growing the lilies as a hobby decided to go into business. The Easter Lily bulbs at that time were called “White Gold,” and growers everywhere attempted to cash in on the crop. By 1945, there were about 1,200 growers producing bulbs up and down the Pacific coast, from Vancouver, Canada to Long Beach, California
  • This lily is the traditional flower of spring and is highly regarded as a joyful symbol of beauty, hope, and life. Each holiday is marked by cherished traditions that bring joy, comfort, and warmth, and provide continuity from one generation to the next. Easter has its share of traditions: egg decorations and hunts; gift baskets and chocolate bunnies, sunrise church services, parades, and, of course, the Easter Lily. For many, the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life — the spiritual essence of Easter.
  • The cultivar most commonly grown for U.S. markets is the “Nellie White.” It is named for a lily grower’s wife and has large, white, fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers.
  • Despite a sales window of only two weeks, Easter lilies are the fourth largest crop in wholesale value in the U.S. potted plant market, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • One of my BFFs just had a gorgeous baby girl named Lily!

and here is some Easter trivia:

  • There is an Easter Peep eating contest held each year in Sacramento, California.
  • A commercial laying hen can now produce up to 280 eggs each year
  • Each year witnesses the making of nearly 90 million chocolate bunnies.
  • I can single-handedly consume enough Easter candy to feed a small village.
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Top 10 Reasons to Support Organic

I’m in the midst of deadline week at work, so I’m sitting here staring at a pile of papers and hundreds of emails. It happens to be my publication’s Environment Edition which hits so close to home– literally. I’m currently reading this very interesting book called the Field Guide to Buying Organic. I’m only halfway finished, but so far, it’s an insightful resource that defines the significance of organics and the impact your shopping decisions has on the environment.

According to the USDA:

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

With hundreds of Green books and publications on the shelves these days,4colorsealjpg.jpg it can be difficult to sift through the biased and unbiased information. So, I wanted to share a list from the book that has been around for quite some time, been circulated through all different media outlets and has even been a marketing tool for Whole Foods and the Organic Trade Association. I don’t mean to post this to be preachy and sanctimonious, but if anything, it sheds even more light on the organic movement and the significance as a new parent.

Top 10 Reasons to Support Organic in the 21st Century

1. Reduce The Toxic Load: Keep Chemicals Out of the Air, Water, Soil and our Bodies
Buying organic food promotes a less toxic environment for all living things. With only 0.5 percent of crop and pasture land in organic, according to USDA that leaves 99.5 percent of farm acres in the U.S. at risk of exposure to noxious agricultural chemicals.

Our bodies are the environment so supporting organic agriculture doesn’t just benefit your family, it helps all families live less toxically.

2. Reduce if Not Eliminate Off Farm Pollution
Industrial agriculture doesn’t singularly pollute farmland and farm workers; it also wreaks havoc on the environment downstream. Pesticide drift affects non-farm communities with odorless and invisible poisons. Synthetic fertilizer drifting downstream is the main culprit for dead zones in delicate ocean environments, such as the Gulf of Mexico, where its dead zone is now larger than 22,000 square kilometers, an area larger than New Jersey, according to Science magazine, August, 2002.

3. Protect Future Generations
Before a mother first nurses her newborn, the toxic risk from pesticides has already begun. Studies show that infants are exposed to hundreds of harmful chemicals in utero. In fact, our nation is now reaping the results of four generations of exposure to agricultural and industrial chemicals, whose safety was deemed on adult tolerance levels, not on children’s. According to the National Academy of Science, “neurologic and behavioral effects may result from low-level exposure to pesticides.” Numerous studies show that pesticides can adversely affect the nervous system, increase the risk of cancer, and decrease fertility.

4. Build Healthy Soil
Mono-cropping and chemical fertilizer dependency has taken a toll with a loss of top soil estimated at a cost of $40 billion per year in the U.S., according to David Pimental of Cornell University. Add to this an equally disturbing loss of micro nutrients and minerals in fruits and vegetables. Feeding the soil with organic matter instead of ammonia and other synthetic fertilizers has proven to increase nutrients in produce, with higher levels of vitamins and minerals found in organic food, according to the 2005 study, “Elevating Antioxidant levels in food through organic farming and food processing,” Organic Center State of Science Review (1.05)

5. Taste Better and Truer Flavor
Scientists now know what we eaters have known all along: organic food often tastes better. It makes sense that strawberries taste yummier when raised in harmony with nature, but researchers at Washington State University just proved this as fact in lab taste trials where the organic berries were consistently judged as sweeter. Plus, new research verifies that some organic produce is often lower in nitrates and higher in antioxidants than conventional food. Let the organic feasting begin!

6. Assist Family Farmers of all Sizes
According to Organic Farming Research Foundation, as of 2006 there are approximately 10,000 certified organic producers in the U.S. compared to 2500 to 3,000 tracked in 1994. Measured against the two million farms estimated in the U.S. today, organic is still tiny. Family farms that are certified organic farms have a double economic benefit: they are profitable and they farm in harmony with their surrounding environment. Whether the farm is a 4-acre orchard or a 4,000-acre wheat farm, organic is a beneficial practice that is genuinely family-friendly.

7. Avoid Hasty and Poor Science in Your Food
Cloned food. GMOs and rBGH. Oh my! Interesting how swiftly these food technologies were rushed to market, when organic fought for 13 years to become federal law. Eleven years ago, genetically modified food was not part of our food supply; today an astounding 30 percent of our cropland is planted in GMOs. Organic is the only de facto seal of reassurance against these and other modern, lab-produced additions to our food supply, and the only food term with built in inspections and federal regulatory teeth.

8. Eating with a Sense of Place
Whether it is local fruit, imported coffee or artisan cheese, organic can demonstrate a reverence for the land and its people. No matter the zip code, organic has proven to use less energy (on average, about 30 percent less), is beneficial to soil, water and local habitat, and is safer for the people who harvest our food. Eat more seasonably by supporting your local farmers market while also supporting a global organic economy year round. It will make your taste buds happy.

9. Promote Biodiversity
Visit an organic farm and you’ll notice something: a buzz of animal, bird and insect activity. These organic oases are thriving, diverse habitats. Native plants, birds and hawks return usually after the first season of organic practices; beneficial insects allow for a greater balance, and indigenous animals find these farms a safe haven. As best said by Aldo Leopold, “A good farm must be one where the native flora and fauna have lost acreage without losing their existence.” An organic farm is the equivalent of reforestation. Industrial farms are the equivalent of clear cutting of native habitat with a focus on high farm yields.

10. Celebrate the Culture of Agriculture
Food is a ‘language’ spoken in every culture. Making this language organic allows for an important cultural revolution whereby diversity and biodiversity are embraced and chemical toxins and environmental harm are radically reduced, if not eliminated. The simple act of saving one heirloom seed from extinction, for example, is an act of biological and cultural conservation. Organic is not necessarily the most efficient farming system in the short run. It is slower, harder, more complex and more labor-intensive. But for the sake of culture everywhere, from permaculture to human culture, organic should be celebrated at every table.

Source: Alan Greene, MD (Organic Trade Association), Bob Scowcroft (Organic Farming Research Foundation), Sylvia Tawse (Fresh Ideas Group)

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Mama likey linkys

or should it be linkies?

I’m on deadline this week, so it’s a bit fitting that I’m also delirious. I’m delirious not because of the workload, but because a certain somebody decided that 5:00 am would be a good time to sing and dance. Good God, kid. The birds weren’t even up yet! I suppose, if I had to choose, singing and dancing is better than crying and wailing ;)

Anyway in my quest to expand other horizons, I’m hoping to finally update my blogroll but before I do, I wanted to share some links that I love. Like the packrat I am, I have Post Its full of links crowding my computer screen. Well on my way to having a fluorescent pink and yellow-colored computer screen, it’s a good thing I added the Stumble Upon toolbar to remedy the situation.

As if I needed to reinforce how much time I spend on the internets, I thought I’d share a few of those sites:

I’m a big fan of Green Mom Finds. Products, news, eco-friendly finds, giveaways? It’s like the holy grail of green living.

Teensy Green is another green-influenced site chock-full of great products, baby friendly finds and a fountain of information.

My sewing machine has been collecting dust for the past few months, but with the kid drooling by the buckets, I hope to work on more sewing projects like these. Aptly titled, Happy Things, this site is definitely a inspiration for creativity with a collection of great projects.

Married to a tech nerd geek who, coincidentally,kitchencontrap.jpg works for a big box store, people automatically assume our kitchen is filled with the most beautimus kitchen appliances and gadgets. This is soooo not the case when you can only fit one person in the space at a time. How in God’s name would I be able to fill it with any more gadgets? A girl can still dream via Kitchen Contraptions.

Remember when I was working on the closet-nursery and referencing Apartment Therapy Baby? Well, as the main site grew, so did its design and spinoff sites. ATB is now Ohdeedoh and their Green Living site is Re-nest.

1000places.jpgOh, and because I’m due for a beachy vacation one day soon, The Official Site of 1,000 Places to See Before you Die is a reminder of one of the reasons why I’m ok with leaving the boy every day. Besides helping to take care of our family, working to see the world is a dream that will never die :)

I’ve got plenty more where these came from, but back to work I go. Enjoy!

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