Category Archives: Family

toxins=gross

As if I don’t have enough to worry about.

We moved to Brooklyn from Long Island City in 2008. I was pregnant, we were living in a big drafty third floor walk up apartment with no laundry that overlooked the midtown tunnel toll plaza and just beyond that, the Newtown Creek, you know, one of the most polluted waterways in the country.  I wasn’t excited about the idea of raising a baby exposed to those toxins. And this is aside from the fact that Jeremy works in a shop on the Gowanus canal, a brand new Superfund site. I relish the day he comes home having sprouted a second head.

And now there’s this “a just-released report by the National Cancer Institute that showed a 9.4% increase in childhood cancer between 1992 and 2007, the FDA let moms and dads all across America down. Instead of making the long overdue move to do something serious about getting rid of toxic food dyes so ubiquitous in our food supply, they instead fell back on those two simple words so often used to stall, delay and deny: “more research.”” Link to the full article at Healthy Child, Healthy World here.

But if you don’t feel like clicking on the link, the gist of the article is that so much of our packaged food, most of which is marketed towards kids, includes artificial dyes and food colors, and links are being made between these dyes and hyperactivity, cancer and food allergies. Okay, so we as progressive parents know about these dyes, and to read labels and avoid processed foods when we can, but if you’re still with me, here’s the kicker. Major food manufacturing corporations, I’m looking at you Kraft, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, have removed these dyes from food they manufacture and sell in other countries. What ?!?!

In the UK, these companies “have voluntarily removed artificial colors, the preservative sodium benzoate, and even aspartame from their products. Particularly those marketed to kids. Take a close look at the ingredient list for the product below.”

So if these companies have proved that they can make healthy processed foods without the added chemicals, WHY can’t they do it for our kids? Why can’t the FDA just admit that added chemicals are not good for us and let’s move on. In the meantime, keep reading those labels and keep eating clean.
But wait, there’s more. I just heard this crazy statistic – up to 80% of the antibiotics used in the US are given to farm animals, and only 20% go to sick people.  The animals in question are not necessarily sick, but are given the drugs prophylactically so they’ll grow faster and won’t get sick from the wholly unhealthy conditions they live under. A regular grass fed cow takes something like 5 years to go to slaughter, whereas a corn-fed cow given an unhealthy dose of antibiotics can be ready for slaughter in 9 MONTHS. This is bananas.
Props to NY Congresswoman, Louise Slaughter, (the only microbiologist in Congress) for raising awareness and bringing this to the floor. Back in 2009 she introduced the The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), designed to ensure that we preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for the treatment of human disease. Last month she reintroduced the bill. The new bill aims to prevent certain antibiotics from being given to animals, because they’re the same ones (think tetracycline, penicillin, etc.) that we humans rely on to fight off dangerous infections. The more those antibiotics are given to animals, the more antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” develop—and these superbugs are responsible for a growing number of deaths. For example, each year 90,000 Americans die from bacterial infections acquired during hospital stays, and 70 percent of those infections were resistant to the drugs that should have conquered them.
If you’ve stayed with me this far, some things you can do. Buy organic meat, dairy and eggs. Rather than spend the money to eat antibiotic laden food , spend the money, buy the good stuff and eat less of it. Write your congressperson and ask them to support PAMTA. Click here for an easy link.
Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Family, healthy eating, Healthy habits, mom stuff

How I learned to stop worrying

Okay…I haven’t STOPPED worrying. So much to worry about, birth, new baby, how on earth I’m ever going to leave the house again with all this $!@* snow and ice and a kid who won’t walk in the snow and the crosswalks aren’t crossable with a stroller. BUT, I have found a small amount of peace in motherhood strategy. And from a book of all places.

Last week I read Instinctive Parenting : Trusting Ourselves to Raise Great Kids by Ada Calhoun. I knew Ada back in Austin when we were both disgruntled New Yorkers living in the Lone Star. And I LOVE her book. Right before I read it, I spent an evening online looking up the best waterproof pads for changing tables and cribs, reading reviews, cross referencing. Even as I was searching I was thinking about the other things I could be doing with my life and how silly it all seemed. Don’t even get me started on the double stroller thing.

Ada writes about  her experience raising a child in the city and how all we need to raise a great kid are three basic essentials, shelter, food and love and to teach them to be kind and responsible human beings. And the rest, how we do that, is all up to us, you, the individual. It’s all written in short chapters perfect for my attention span and it’s very honest and frank and funny and if I had to recommend ONE parenting book of the hundreds I’ve looked at, this would be it.

What I’ve learned in the past two years of mothering on the fringes of Park Slope is that EVERYone is going to have an opinion about everything and I spend a lot of time keeping my parenting opinions to myself because I don’t really want to have to defend my decisions OR have anyone attempt to sway me in another direction, because truth be told, I’m highly susceptible. So vaccination, circumcision, baptism, plastic toys made in China, I generally don’t engage, especially if someone is busy telling me how doing something one way or the other is going to irrefutably damage my child. I have an annoying tendency to smile and nod and say something about oh how isn’t that nice.

But this book… reading through it, I had an Oprah ah-ha moment. That small stuff, it doesn’t matter. I need to do what works best for me and my family and my kid and not spend more than 5 minutes thinking about things like waterproof changing pads or watching Elmo or how many snacks he eats, if that’s all he’s eating right now or the fact that he doesn’t dig on wasabi or Indian food or kale or the HORROR of juice. Sometimes juice is good. In fact, I might go have some juice right now.

Thanks Ada. It’s a swell read and I’m happy you wrote the book and have given us a good reason to take a deep breath, hug the kids and go eat some m-n-ms.

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Balance, Family, mom stuff

Getting real about household toxins

If you’re a progressive mom type, or someone who considers the benefits of clean living you can’t have missed the amazing amount of info posted lately about the amazing amount of toxins that we live with in our homes, our makeup drawers, our laundry room, basically a whole host of poisons that we breathe in and rub over our bodies and expose our children to that weren’t around when we were kids and we just use willy nilly without thinking about it. Okay. I need to get real about this.

I spend a LOT of time trying to avoid toxics in my family life. Our dairy and most groceries are organic, the various soaps and shampoo we use are all earth friendly and don’t have parabens and lecithin, we don’t drink bottled water and wear mostly cotton, but OY, can you make yourself crazy with all the warnings out there of what to avoid. If I listened to all the warnings, I wouldn’t ever leave the house, well, really I would have to move to the country to avoid the bus fumes that are poisoning my unborn child and making him 2 IQ points dumber than his non-city dwelling counterparts, compost my own dirt to grow my own vegetables, invest in baking soda and vinegar stock for all the cleaning products I’ll be making and start washing my hair and everything with Dr. Bronner’s (a delightful product that serves a purpose…just please don’t ask me to brush my teeth or wash my hair with it).

The health warnings can be really alarming not to mention overwhelming. And I don’t believe that it’s all hype. I do believe that we should be concerned with what we put on our bodies and clean our counters with and I suppose I could try making my own all purpose cleaning agent, but I feel like it will get made, used once and then sit in the back of the under the sink cabinet along with the carpet cleaner and HA, I don’t even know what else is back there.

okay – to be fair – I recently read about one eco-friendly cleaning tip that I would try – oven cleaners are nasty. Even if you don’t buy into the whole non-toxic cleaning agents theory, any product that suggests you leave the house while using can’t be good for anyone.

To clean the oven spray the bottom of your oven with water. Sprinkle baking soda over the area. Spray with a little more water and let it sit overnight. Spray it again with water in the morning and wipe away baked on grime. Apparently this also works for baking sheets. I’m skeptical, but next time I feel the need to clean the oven (or ask my wonderful hubs to do it) I’ll give it a go.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, it’s really tough to wade through all the warnings. I don’t want to expose my kids to more chemicals than they have to encounter just living in this city on a daily basis, but I’m also not willing to live with composting worms under my sink (where would the homemade cleaning agent live). We all have to draw the line in the sand somewhere and do the best we can and make the best choices we can that will help promote cleaner living and a healthier planet and kids.

So for now, I’ll probably continue wearing my toxic mascara and sleeping on my toxic pillows, but I’ll think twice about where my fruit is coming from and maybe I’ll learn how to grow an herb garden in my kitchen window.

There’s a great website, Healthy Child, Healthy World that has all sorts of great info about this kind of stuff. I was inspired to write this post by this Green Checklist, because I do love a good quiz.

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Healthy habits, musing

Unplugged

A GREAT post from Lisa Druxman today on the Stroller Strides blog about how we could all use a moment to unplug.

I was thinking the other day about what I was doing ten years ago, working this summer job where we had computers, but didn’t really use the internet, much less email all that much. I can’t imagine how we did our jobs back then without email or web searches? And how quickly things have changed. My kids will never know a world where we don’t carry computers around in our pockets or stand around discussing if Josh Brolin did a movie before Goonies or wonder whatever happened to that person you went to Jr. High with…

Nope, thanks facebook. But if we don’t start teaching them that it’s okay to turn off sometimes and by this I mean that we actually turn off sometimes, how will they ever know.

Thanks Lisa for your thoughts – here they are…

Last night, I watched a show called Crackberry about how addicted we are to our phones and how much harm can come of it. It showed everything from car accidents to train accidents, from family dysfunction to work problems. This year, we announced a new employee program at Stroller Strides called Unplugged. Each employee is suggested to take one day off a month and literally unplug their phones, email, texting, skype, instant messaging, etc. I’m a firm believer that there is no room in our brain to create anything new if we are always inputting information. In fact, none of us are working as effectively as we should be. The show demonstrated that the brain cannot totally concentrate when you are aware that you might get a text, a skype or a Facebook post. So sad that it is so difficult to disconnect that there is now a program called Freedom where you literally buy a program that will lock you out of the internet. Shouldn’t we be able to do this on our own?
Of course, my posts most usually tie in to motherhood.
Do you want your child to text and drive?
Do you want your child to take calls at dinner?
Do you want your child to be on Facebook when doing homework?
No? Then we better curb our actions now because they are watching and learning. They are being raised in this tech-connected age so it will be much harder for them to escape.
Me? I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Linked In, etc. But in my heart, I know that we all need to UNPLUG!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, Family, Healthy habits

It’s been a while

I could go into what a crazy awful stressed out month December was, aside from all the general nonsense that accompanies December and the holiday madness, let’s just say that it was a lot for one small family to handle. BUT! It’s almost over. And I can feel the weight sort of lifting from my shoulders, not to mention the incredible extra heavy burden my wonderful husband has been carrying and even the tiny little weight on our kid’s shoulders…he still won’t eat, but that’s a post for another day. And it’s ALMOST 2011! And while I don’t normally buy into New Years Resolutions – this year, I’m resolving to commit to this little blog here, and keep it updated and make it pretty, because in the few months that I did keep it up, I really enjoyed it…and in my endless quest for balance (which went you know where in a hand basket this past month), it’s important to keep doing things I enjoy.

2 Comments

Filed under Balance, Family

Things we learned on a rainy day

I was not looking forward to yesterday – the weather forecast could not have been more bleak and H’s rain boots got left at his grandmothers and I was coming down with a cold. But we survived and in the process learned a few fun things that passed the day away…

Juggling is hilarious – especially if you can’t juggle but are good at making silly faces when you drop the balls.

Popcorn is delicious and is a great way to share a loooong snack together.

A little TV never hurt anyone – I suppose if you are diametrically opposed to letting your kid watch tv, then this isn’t for you – my kid was NEVER going to watch tv but then he went to daycare and discovered Elmo and well, Elmo works. And yesterday I got my first ever please when he wanted to watch Elmo. After walking around for about 30 minutes calling for Elmo, I said, do you want to watch some Elmo… yes… then say please… please Elmo. COME ON! They don’t call it the magic word for nothing. Of course for the rest of the day whenever I asked him to say please, it was followed immediately by Elmo. Sigh. We also watched a little Ellen, because he loves the dancing. I swear. Oprah = boring but ELLEN = amazing fun time calling for more dancing and little kids doing cute things.

Laundry can be fun. I mean for them. It’s still not fun for me.

Happy Hanukah everyone!

1 Comment

Filed under Balance, Family, mom stuff

File under gross

I have some time to kill, the wee one is taking his nap and my work site is down, so, while I could probably use this time to better myself, read Little Dorritt or take a nap or clean out something, instead I’m doing some online research (or wasting time, depends on your take) and came across this little video from Jezebel.

What fast food really looks like

It’s pretty easy to live in New York and get away with not eating fast food. We don’t spend a ton of time in our cars, for those of us with cars, and if there isn’t a place conveniently located to your home or work or subway station, you probably won’t even see a whole lot of them. But the fast food industry spends BILLIONS of advertising dollars a year, targeting us and our kids. Especially our kids. I was so happy to read about San Francisco and their bold decision to ban the Happy Meal (although vetoed by the up til now cool Mayor Newsome). I mean really, what little kid needs to eat that much saturated fat and sodium in one meal ever, shoot, we as adults don’t need to eat that much fat/sodium/calories in one meal, but these products and their little plastic toys are being marketed to our kids.

Okay, for real, I love taco bell. I do. I love their chicken tacos and their nachos with cheese sauce, but when we do happen to make the run for the border, it’s because we’re in a car, usually heading somewhere long distance and since we’re going to be sitting on our butts for a couple of hours anyway so might as well make them a little more comfy and in my haste to remember everything and get out the door, I most definitely did not remember to pack a healthy lunch.

But I don’t want to eat it every day. And you know what, the chicken tacos I can make at home taste every bit as good without the weird aftertaste and without the allure of the diet pepsi. And I sure as shoot don’t want my kids eating it every day. So where’s the line? How do you be a responsible parent and not let your kid pork out on fast food but at the same time not deny him the treat of dipping his processed chicken bits  and soggy fries into ketchup, because as long as he watches TV or keeps his eyes open in the world he will at some point make the food/fun association and I don’t want him to have to sneak off to eat this stuff.

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Balance, Family, mom stuff