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Archive for October, 2008

So, being a research fanatic is hard work. Fortunately, I often times will come across really great organizations that do all the work for me, and this is exactly what I found when it was time to purchase a new car seat for Liam. Yes, he has already outgrown his old one, can you believe it??? I know, I know, he may not be super-sized like some of my friend’s (yes, plural) 30 lb. 8 month olds who grew out of their infant seats at 3 months, but he’s big to me 🙂

When I started researching car seats a while back, I learned that (surprise, surprise) not only are they putting toxics in our food supply, but apparently they are putting them in our children’s car seats as well. (Hmm..what are we going to do with “them”?) You may be reading this thinking to yourself, “Well, I don’t have children, so I am not concerned.” However, what you may not know, is that chances are, they are in your car seats as well. What kind of chemicals are in these seats you ask? Well, only bromine, PVC’s, phtalates, and lead (to name a few)!! Here is an excerpt from their site

“Plastics used in vehicle interiors and child car seats contain many chemicals that are added during the production processes to impart specific properties such as rigidity, durability or flame resistance. Many of these chemicals are not chemically bound to the parts and are consequently released into the environment during the life of the product. One of the common ways chemicals are released is referred to as “off-gassing,” and evidence of this is sometimes present as a window film or “fogging” that develops on the inside of the windshield. Heat can accelerate this process and UV exposure may also cause chemicals to break down into even more toxic compounds. The mix of chemicals released from materials used inside the car can be inhaled or ingested by drivers and passengers through dust and air, potentially causing allergic or other acute reactions. These chemicals have also been linked in animal studies to long-term health impacts such as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer. The concern with the commercial use of these chemicals is that consumers are exposed to them from many sources in addition to auto interiors, and the combination of these many exposures may lead to harm.”

And there’s more where that came from. So when read the site, I learned that Sunshine Kids makes the only toxic-free children’s car seat on the market. There are many companies that make low-toxic seats, but Sunshine Kids is the only non-toxic one in the “convertible” car seat selection for 2008. When I started researching company, I found out that they were based locally in Kent, WA. Even better I thought! However, come to find out, like so many other American companies, even though they are based here, the seats are manufactured in China. So now I am faced with a dillemma. Should I poison my child or contribute money to human rights abuses? (decisions, decisions!) But seriously, it’s a tough call. I consciously avoid buying everything else from human rights abusers, but when it comes to exposing my child to toxic chemicals, I think I can make an exception. ANd that is exaclty what I did. So now Liam is cruising around in his super cool Radian 65! To see how healthy your car seats are, click here.

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Little Things, Take Two

So recently I wrote a post, What does your pizza box say?, about how when asked why I love Seattle, I often resort to answers such as the outdoors, the open-mindedness, blah-blah-blah, but when it really comes down to it, it’s the little things like what’s on my pizza box that truly explain how I feel. Anywho, since I come accross these “little things” all the time, I figured I would start a series. So for my two loyal readers out there, Ray and Aunt Lyn, be on the lookout for more “little things” to come.

Little thing number 2: My neighbors yard man uses words like primordial and assimilate.  In fact, he used more four-syllable words than my last professor at UNF. And he was smart! I just happened to be out taking the family for a walk on a beautiful October day, and I got drawn into a conversation I swear came out of an essay in my Freshman year philosophy course. But no, the yard man was not Decartes incarnate, he was a yard man.

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Liam’s New Ride

After much reasearch (I don’t think I do anything without “much research”), I decided to buy Liam a Baby Jogger. It is awesome. We first found out about this company when shopping at Merry Go Round in Bellevue, WA. Not one of my favorite stores, but a great place to go to try out strollers, furniture, and car seats. We saw a few different brands there, but were super impressed with this company. We knew it would be perfect for long walks in the Arboretum and around our neighborhood with the worst sidewalks known to man.

Being such a hardcore advocate of baby-wearing, I was a little doubtful that Liam would even like being in it. Boy was I wrong! He absolutely loves it! While I still plan on wearing him in the Ergo or his ring sling when we are out and about, this stroller will be so nice to visit all of those great Seattle parks with 🙂 Carkeek, Lincoln, Seward here we come!

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Today Was a Good Day

Although it looked nothing like Ice Cube’s, I must admit that today was a good day. Despite gettting a $50 bill in the mail for an appointment I had to reschedule, there were many highlights to overshadow that one setback.

  1. Today was absolutely beautiful in Seattle! Sunny, warm, and no rain… it felt like summer!
  2. My laptop arrived in the mail today which means I can officially start my new job AT HOME!!!!
  3. One of me best friends K.D. welcomed a brand new baby girl into the world!! Love you guys xoxo
  4. And last, but definitley not least, I VOTED FOR BARACK OBAMA!! 🙂

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In a society where we are hard-wired to reach for the medicine cabinet the minute we feel sick, it’s not often first nature to reach for your backyard garden instead. In fact, it takes some getting used to… especially at 5 a.m. when your baby is screaming and feverish! I will admit that I was somewhat unprepared for Liam’s first cold. He had a really bad runny nose and a slight fever and boy was he miserable. As a mother, you feel helpless. You know that they are hurting, and the first thing you want to do is ease their pain. This is what makes reaching for the Motrin so incredibly tempting. Its a quick fix and it “works”. I say works in parentheses because cold medicines and pain relievers don’t ever cure the problem, they simply mask it. As adults in this busier than ever world, some of us need a quick fix.  However, I feel that a little baby with a slight fever needs to let his body fight the infection in order to work up a healthy immune system. Don’t get me wrong, pain relievers are sometimes necessary for certain situations, especially if his fever had reached dangerous levels, but they shouldn’t be something you simply give to your child the minute he coughs or sneezes. There are other, safer ways of dealing with a cold. With all of that said, fevers are scary. Being unprepared for what to do, and not knowing anything about fevers, even I ran to the store for a quick fix. However, by the time I got back, Liam was sleeping peacefully on his daddies tummy and my concerns diminished. SInce I had a little while to calm down (the whole ordeal was a little nervewracking), I turned to Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child, a wonderful book about coventional, homeopathic, and alternative medicine, and read about my options. Even though I ended up making the decision to not rely on Motrin, here are a few things I wish I knew before I ran to the drug stroe at 2 a.m. :

  • Fevers scare moms more than they should. In most cases, a fever is the body’s reaction to an acute viral or bacterial infection. It is not necessarily a dangerous condition. Since viruses and bacteria do not survive well in elevated body temperatures, a fever is actually an ALLY in fighting infection. It is one of the ways in which the body defends and heals itself. In a child, the level of the fever does not necessarily reflect the severity of the illness. A child can be very sick with a low fever, or a slight cold and a very high fever. When assessing your child’s condition, it is better to observe how they are ACTING, not how high their fever is.  Unless a child’s temperature is well over 102, there is generally no need for medication. Gently and naturally bringing your childs temp down can not only help your child feel better, but also prevent further complications.
  • As soon as your child starts to feel or look sick, get him to drink some echinacea tea! If you are breastfeeding, you can start drinking it. Echinacea and goldenseal tea is even better. The immune-boosting effects of these herbs have been well documented and could help you avoid a nasty cold. If the fever is already noticable, you can give your child a fever reducing tea made of all or some of the following: sage, licorice root, lemon balm, chamomille, elder flower, and peppermint leaf. If you don’t have all of that stuff, try a simple ginger tea.
  • Wrapping the calves in socks soaked in lemon juice can also help bring down a fever. Heat a cup of water with the juice of one lemon, soak the socks in it, wring them out and put them on under a pair or dry socks. Bundle up and leave on for 20 minutes.
  • Garlic has antibacterial properties and helps detoxify the body. Not so easy to use with infants, but you can get an older child to swallow a clove or an odorless capsule.

As for the runny nose, since it wasnt so “scary”, I had a little bit of time to figure out what to do. Here are some things that seemed to work:

  • Shower Steams: Run really hot water in a shower and just sit in the bathroom with your baby for 15-20 minutes. This worked really well before bed time. Even better, I had some lavender and eucalyptus growing outside, so I cut some down, filled a sock and threw it in the hot water. The aromatherapy effects helped clear both his and my sinuses. If you dont have the fresh herbs, you can always use some essential oils in the tub.
  • Beta Carotene: Cartenoids are a group of substances that help mucous membranes to heal. The best known is beta carotene. SInce I couldn’t give it to Liam, I took a bunch of it hoping that he would get some!
  • Vitamin C: This helps all around for any kind of cold. Like the echinacea, as soon as you start feeling sick, pump up on some Vitamin C. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to ease the course of a cold. Choose ones without sugar if you pick the chewable ones!
  • Lavendar and Eucalyptus Oils: I diluted one drop of lavender in a TB of olive oil and rubbed it on his chest and back. For me, I used Eucalyptus. I am not sure if Euc. can be used on infants. Some sorces said no way and others said extremely diluted, so I just stayed away from using it on him.

Above all, make sure you rest!! Hope everyone stays healyth and doesn’t have to worry about any of this!

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When people ask me how I like Seattle, my response usually includes the weather, the sites to see, the food, and occasionally the shopping. However, it’s the little things like the info on my pizza box that truly explain why I love the Pacific Northwest.

Last week, Damon and I ordered some pizza from the local chain Pagliacci. Typically on the top of their boxes, they print information and statistics about going green, but today’s delivery was different. NOt only was there a flyer taped to front letting me know that they would be begin their services one hour early for debate nights, the box was full of voting stat’s from around the world. And yes, you did just read the last sentence correctly…opening early for the presidential debates. In Seattle, they treat the presidential debates like the Superbowl. How awesome is that? I thought I would also share with you some of the wealth of knowledge on my pizza box.

Presidents Rate: Over the past 30 years, US voter turnout has averaged 52.5% for presidential elections, whereas in non-presidential elections it drops to under 40%.

Australia 95, USA 55: At election time, 95% of Australians go to the polls. Why? Well, it’s been the law since 1924. Refuse and get fined; refuse to pay, go to jail. Do you think a law like that would inspire American voters to improve on their 55% turnout in 2004?

Why do we vote in November? Since 1845, U.S. presidential and congressional elections have taken place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Why? FARMERS ARE TOO BUSY THE REST OF THE YEAR. American society was largely agrarian in 1845, and in November the harvest was in and the weather mild enough for travel on dirt roads. POLLING PLACES WERE FAR AWAY. Voting could only take place at the county seat- sometimes a day away by horse and buggy. NO TRAVEL ON SUNDAY. To make it to a polling place on Monday, a voter would have had to miss church to hit the raod. BOOKEEPING AND MARKETING. Most businesses finished the books early in the month, and the farmers took their crops to market on Wednesdays. That left Tuesday.

How do we stack up? Washington ranked third in voter turnout for the 2004 election. 82% of all registered voters participated, compared with 89% in COlorado and 85% in Oregon. Go Washington!

Malta’s the Most; In Malta, earlier this year, voter turnout for parliamentary elections was 93% – the lowest since 1971! The USA ranks in the bottom 20% of the world voter participation.

Why the Electoral College? As the framers of the Constitution considered how to elect the president and vice president, two choices emerged: direct popular election or election by Congress. The method they chose – indirect popular election – was a compromise that reinforced the cohesiveness of the young nation. As the country grew, the Electoral College (as it was dubbed decades later) effectively balanced power between large and small states. (not all of this I necessarily agree with, by the way….it forgot to mention, as I tell my students, that many of our framers didn’t think the average AMerican was intelligent enough to vote. In fact, GW was not elected by the people at all…hmmm).

Anyways, there was a bunch more facts on my small onion pizza, but you get the point! Have fun watching the debates! I am anticiapting a good laugh tomorrow night!

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