Archive | December, 2009

2009 – An Eye Opening Year With Mommy Footprint

I was just typing ‘A Very Good Year’ into the subject of this post, but not every discovery uncovered at Mommy Footprint had a feel-good vibe. It’s been a full year of asking questions and getting answers that can sometimes be confusing and scary, but it’s all about parenting with our eyes wide open. The articles that did cause me to lose sleep at night were always about canvassing for my children’s health. An understanding that actually causes me to have small breathing attacks in dollar stores where I can only smell plastic and over thinking everything I buy to the point of being ridiculous at times. Once you gain the understanding that anything that is truly harmful to the environment because it’s toxic or can’t be recycled is actually toxic to human health – you’ll have an awakening that is hard to ignore when you head out to shop, plan events, or bring products into your home.

For those that have read and supported Mommy Footprint over the last year, I’d like to thank you for your comments and support with the topics I discuss and write about. For Mommy Footprint newbies, I thought I’d link to a few articles I’m especially proud of from 2009 and I hope you gain some insight to the type of material I’m passionate writing about. I have a line-up of stories for 2010 that are so exciting and will really interest parents on a path to remove toxins from their lives.  Stay tuned and Happy New Year!

Such a scary title, but the fact remains that women especially are putting hundreds of chemicals on their face everyday. Read and learn how more about the price of beauty.
Are Cosmetics Killing Us?

An article I’ve had to re-read of late. Get outside and enjoy nature with your children….it is so healthy for them and you! Nothing like a big dose of mother nature to help you feel re-connected with your children and family.
Resources to Get Parents and Children Outside Enjoying Nature

Are you a mommy to boys? Doesn’t matter the age of your sons – this is a must read documentary. I know business owners that started a new career after watching this video. It’s well worth the 40 minutes and you will learn a lot about the human health of boys.
Part I
Part II

Want to have an epiphany of sorts? Wrap your mind around the fact that most toys produced at the big box stores are toxic for the environment and human health. It’s a big buzz kill for parents that love their toxic toys.
What You Don’t Know About Plastic Toys Made From PVC

Have women in your life you care about? Forward them this link because they might be putting chlorine bleached tampons or sanitary napkins in the last place you really want this chemical.
Dioxins – The Last Place You Want Them

Sorry BPA, you are sooo 2008/09! Move over because there is a more dangerous offender in town – PVC. Find out here where it lurks in your everyday life.
PVC Items In Your Every-Day Life

Cleaner is not always better. Have we gotten to this point in our society that we have removed our ability to fight super bugs because of our addiction to antibacterial products?
Antibacterial Products Heading back-to-school

It’s that time of year – winter weather has arrived and if your child has a skin condition, they are probably feeling a flare-up of some kind. Here is an all-natural cocktail of sorts that has kept my Isabella’s eczema at bay for several years.
All-natural Tips For Managing Childhood Eczema

Google or learn about flame retardants and as a parent you will be concerned. A toxin that is highly carcinogenic – you would want to keep this chemical away from children! Well think about the fact that if your child is sleeping in polyester fabric, they are brushing up against flame retardants all night. This chemical is woven into the fibres of polyester, which made me sick because a lot of my kid’s PJs are made from this material. Always go 100% cotton for sleepwear.
Polyester PJs and Flame Retardants

One of the harder decisions for parents this year was if they should vaccinate for H1N1. Why a tough decision? Parents just don’t trust what they are told by doctors or the government and most people I know really struggled with the question.
H1N1 – What WIll You Do?

Shocking to learn that a big name like Target was selling onesie sleepers and the tagless label within the sleeper contained three times the legal limit for lead content. The reaction caused chemical burn-type marks on many children.
Skin Reaction To Tagless Labels

Have little girls and are looking to remove plastic products that eventually always get rubbed or mouthed like dolls or plastic food? I found two mamas that are blazing a trail with hand crafted magic that put the Christmas spirit back into my heart this year.
Plastic Alternatives For Girly Fun Christmas Morning

I personally vow to my readers that I will only write about products or companies that I support and believe in.  I do product reviews throughout the year, but I try to balance this with helpful information that I learn along the way about synthetic chemicals that affect your family’s health. See you in 2010!

Suzanne & Family

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Butterfly Stocking Stuffer Magic

Looking for some last minute magic for a great stocking stuffer? These wonderful felt butterfly rings have just arrived and been loaded onto the Green Planet Parties site. All girls love rings and butterflies…I won’t talk about the fact they are pink =)  My finger actually fits the medium size we are carrying for tweens, so I’m proud to host my new eco-friendly ‘bling’ that is guaranteed to start some conversations. A picture is worth a thousand words – so this is a short post tonight. They’ve been loaded onto the Green Planet Parties website and cost $9.95. A great price for a very special gift.

pink butterfly ring on hand

pink butterfly ring

For more gift selections for Christmas – check out 2009 Christmas Selections.

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Plastic Alternatives For Girly Fun Christmas Morning

My Christmas shopping woes have ended for my girls, as I’ve struggled this year with finding safe and fun (!!) gifts for under the tree Christmas morning. They love dolls so much, but we already have a few plastic ones that I’ve been looking to replace because I don’t want them snuggling with PVC. Well…bring on the Christmas cheer because I’ve not only found handcrafted cloth dolls that are beyond adorable (and affordable), but also felt food that ‘had me at hello’ when I saw the apple slices.  Think I’m exaggerating? Read on and check out the doll pictures and food pictures – I’ve never seen anything like either online or locally…

If you are also looking for cloth alternatives to plastic with dolls before Christmas, keep a close eye on Secelie’s shop this week. She’s posting 14 new dolls next week and like all other custom doll makers, is not accepting custom orders until the New Year.  With the price point and next to nothing shipping cost, her site is amazing!  It’s called Heart Felts and each little cutie is hand-made. My twins are always ‘coded’ by color because one loves blue and the other loves pink.  It works for us so when I saw some of the funky hair selections form Secelie, I knew I found the right place. Here is a picture of what will be under the tree Christmas morning for my girls. Thanks Secelie!

cloth dolls

I’ve also been on a quest to purchase enough felt food that my girls can pretend grocery shop, play kitchen, play restaurant, without breaking my bank account. I want to replace all the plastic food they’ve inherited from my sons. Well as I mentioned above, once I saw the apple slices from MudPie Kids – my quest was over. Especially when you see her well-priced listing called ‘Everything but the kitchen sink’ …what a deal!  The detail is more realistic than you’ll ever find with wooden or plastic pretend food.  Look at the fruit selection!

fruit assort

So cute!  And the bananas actually peel! I purchased everything on this plate, plus

2 pancakes w/ syrup
4 apple slices
2 strawberries
4 carrots

And wait until you see the hot-dog buns with ketchup and mustard.  I just love it!

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2 hotdog w/ bun ketchup, and mustard 
2 fried eggs
2 drumsticks
1 watermelon
4 orange slices
2 bananas

A very reasonable listing and items that are guaranteed to get lots of use.  I also feel great about supporting two ladies that are making incredible, safe, and quality items from the US.  I love dolls and felt food from Europe but there’s something to be said about trying to shop as locally as possible this year.  Thanks for making this year so easy with your creativity!

pancakes

Okay I’m going to stop now, but check out this popcorn!  And when you check out her site, look at the whole chicken dinner, cherry pie, eggs, and sushi!

popcorn

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Boys And Fun Alternatives To Electronics

I have to start this article on a personal note and I don’t very often so please indulge me.  I have two sons and my feelings for them are unique to anything in my life. I honestly believe I could stare at their faces all day.  I could sit in a chair and watch them play for hours and they bring me more joy in life then I ever thought imaginable. I’m sure this is true for most mother/son relationships because as moms we try so hard to understand these little wild things from the moment they enter our life and it’s not always easy and doesn’t come naturally like it does for dads.  We know they are different from us and it’s a beautiful feeling to just accept and embrace those differences.

From the time my boys were young, being active outside, running off massive amounts of energy was my connection and way to engage my guys.  Now, more and more I find them craving anything electronic.  They could bounce from the TV, to computer, to handheld devices all day and go to bed happy. Why the pull to electronics for boys?  Starting at the age of 5 and 6 I’ve really noticed this behaviour and it worries me. I find as a parent I need to stand on my head to entertain them enough to leave these games.  Part of me knows that boys need to be stimulated constantly to stay engaged with activities. What activities are effective with keeping them entertained and away from the screen? Here are a few ideas I can share that effectively keep their brains and hands busy:

Wood-nails-hammer.  It’s really that simple. Put a pile of wood outside, different size nails and a kid friendly hammer and trust them to not break a finger. My 7 year old even made a Halloween decoration out back this year with wood and was so proud of himself. To encourage this healthy activity, Santa will be bringing my boys their very own toolboxes. This gift idea is a great price point and something practical that will get used. A hammer, variety of nails, tape measure, screws, and scrap wood can all go inside.

If your child is pre-school age and too young to handle real nails, my sons’ preschool had an incredible idea that introduced 3 year olds to the idea of hammering.  They collected the packing foam that comes with a new appliance and put out golf tees and little hammers for the kids. The golf tees slide into the packing material like butter and they can’t hurt themselves.  Pretty smart and the kids love it!

Drawing and crafting. Nothing keeps hands busy like paint, glue, and markers. My boys love to draw and craft.  It can sometimes be daunting to come up with great ideas on the spot, so here it’s always nice to receive a great craft kit to bring out when boredom strikes. My little guinea pigs loved building the wooden rocket Green Planet Parties just got in. It includes paint, stickers, glue, 15 wooden parts, and boys had a blast putting it all together!

Playdough – so easy to make at home!  Best ever play dough recipe found here and read the comments at the bottom of the article – there are some great ideas.

Ink pads and stamping. Great for boys that get easily frustrated drawing. I picked up a fantastic knights stencil and stamp set from Dandelion Kids and the brand is called Dejeco. It’s amazing and I can’t wait to try the stamp kit that consists of all robot parts. So you stamp robot parts together to make full robots which all boys love. Aliens, robots, wild animals are great bets that boys will want to draw and a stencil set can really benefit a child just learning how to draw.

Writing and story and illustrating. A great way to help with writing and drawing, my boys love to sit and create little books. When they are young, we write the story for them and they draw pictures. Now that they are older, they get to write and illustrate.  These little books also make a great keepsake!

Dress up. Yes, boys love to dress up and a good cape is a magical gift for any young boy. Pirate gear or masking a caped crusader is wonderful to watch a boy transform. Try to purchase the cape without any shiny decals because it screams PVC.  And if a treasure gold hunt accompanies these costumes, why that’s even better!

Kids and bird watching.  Borrow a pair of grown-up binoculars, purchase a bird book of bird species local to your area, grab a pencil and notepad and you’re ready to bird watch. The small winter birds are out and hungry so it’s easy to put out a bird feeder and watch and record their activity for hours. A fun craft that we did today is making bird feeders out of pinecones, peanut butter, rolled in seeds. For full instructions click here.

Empty box. I hate to say it because you hear it so often, but my boys have the best time with oversize appliance type empty boxes.  Cutting out their own windows, decorating with stickers or words is just the best feeling in the world. My 5 year old made his own Christmas house out of a box last year and I still have it in my garage. He worked so hard on it and it sat in my living room for months before we finally put it away. The best thing is these boxes are free and can be recycled at your curb when the boys are done decorating and playing in it.  Here was the result with led lights and a christmas welcome sign attached by a craft tube that he thought of himself.

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Do you have more ideas for keeping boys (and girls) entertained and unplugged?  Please post a comment and share your ideas.

Related articles:

Eagle Cam Eco-Activity

Join The Great Backyard Bird Count ~ Eco Fun!

Resources to Get Parents and Children Outside Enjoying Nature

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Skin Reaction to Tagless Labels

I’ve learned a lot from the Z Recommends watchdog group (a concerned mom and dad) that started the website Zrecs a few years ago.  As far back as September 2008, they were reporting about sores on the back’s of children that resembled minor chemical burns. What were these sores being caused by?  Tagless labels in infant clothing seemed to be the culprit and the companies receiving internet buzz for having this problem included Carters, Circo and Gerber. What ink is making these tagless labels? Plastisol type and solventborne polyurethane. One contains PVC and phthalates, the other contains small levels of formaldehyde in the urethane. Okay – now fast forward to Nov 28th 2009.. . Zrecs and the Center for Environmental Health search nation wide for onesies sold at Target stores (brand name Circo) to be tested because a onesie (picture here) tested three times the legal limit for lead content.  Was it only this one isolated onesie – no!  Zrecs asked it’s thousands of readers to send in any of the Circo ‘green baby’ onesies and all 30+ tested the same ~ having over 1,000 ppm lead content.

Some of you might think this is mass hysteria, but people, chemical burn-type rashes from a tagless label printed with chemical ink on baby clothes. A store like Target that sells millions of products and this was a Target-branded onesie.  To me, it just reconfirms so many things. The big names do not have a trusted track-record with our children.  Advocacy groups, blogs, and websites had to be created to bring awareness to the fact so many household items are dangerous to children. If you want more information on the onesie sold at Target, read the full article on the Zrecs site. They have a picture of the garment and at this time, it’s the only Target item to be concerned with.  But when the opportunity presents itself to purchase more trustworthy and sustainable products – remember this article. I cannot believe the measures parents need to arm themselves with before purchasing clothes, toys, household items for their family! It’s why with the huge sales happening around American Thanksgiving and post-Christmas – I truly worry that stores are dumping toxic product at reduced rates because they are so cheap to begin with or a potential recall is about to happen.

I must admit, I felt like a wet blanket writing my article on Black Friday talking about being aware of discounted items and asking if we really need massive amounts of ‘stuff’.  It would have been so much more fun to talk about the great sales that were happening here, there, and everywhere! I swear by my theory that before a major recall happens from a company, you’ll find the product or brand discounted for months at stores that are known for amazing prices (Winners, etc.).  Shopping for children’s products in this fashion is just not any good for their health.  Many of you know I’ve been battling this Christmas with things to buy my children. Going shopping and buying lots of ‘stuff’ is fun, but I’m staying as true as I can to the course of sourcing toys from sustainable stores, handmade items from local artisans, and it just feels better. I can’t wait to share some of my great finds…but for now I just want to thank sites like Zrecs for helping me sleep a little easier at night because I haven’t yet got my degree as an environmental engineer (which btw – seems to be a qualification these days to being a parent).   =)

Related articles:

Polyester PJs and Flame Retardants

PVC & Christmas Toys

Little Inkers – Growing PVC & Phthalate Free Kids

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