Archive | February, 2010

Tips To Improve Household Carpet Health

A shocking quote from a great new book I’ve been reading called Ecoholic Home really jolted me into shifting my cleaning agenda with my home’s carpet. “One researcher said you’d have to vacuum 25 times a week for several weeks to bring the level of contaminants below safety standards”. Yikes!  There’s a shocking statement for anyone that hasn’t started to pay close attention to the health of their carpet. What do I mean by carpet health? Maintaining a regular routine of proper carpet care and here are 3 great tips, mentioned in Super Natural Home, if you’re looking for natural and effective ways to start:

1) If you must buy a new carpet, choose one made of wool.  It’s naturally flame retardant, nontoxic, and non-allergenic, and it deters bacterial growth.

2) Vacuum with a well-sealed, high-quality high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner.

3) A good doormat will stop a lot of toxins right at the door. Or, take your shoes off when entering your house.

Thanks to Beth Greer for these tips. I totally agree with the tip regarding a great quality HEPA vacuum cleaner. My Dyson HEPA vacuum has already make a noticed improvement with the air quality in my home. I also learned that dirty shoes can drag in pesticides and unwanted chemicals into your home. A new found reason to have guests remove their shoes and put out door mats.

Air deodorizer are very toxic and should be removed from any cleaning routines (glade plug-ins, fabreeze, etc.), as they simply mask odour and off-gass phthalates into your home. Same goes for traditional carpet cleaners that you sprinkle, leave, then vacuum.  Skip the toxic route and grab your box of baking soda.  Even better <evil smile emerges>, give the box of baking soda to a young child and watch their delight in sprinkling this natural homemade carpet cleaner. Just like the antibacterial cloths that only need water to clean your windows, children can help out because it’s totally natural and safe. My sons love to help sprinkle the baking soda before I begin a deep vacuum of my carpeting. It’s a good idea to test the baking soda on darker carpets in a small test area first. My carpet is white so I’ve never worried about it.  Another tip before you vacuum is to replace toxic carpet spray for stains and go to the pantry to mix a paste of white vinegar and baking soda, work into the carpet with a brush or toothbrush, let paste dry and vacuum.  Two very easy methods to help remove odours, stains, and naturally reduce pollutants in your carpeting.  A huge bonus is you’re not yelling at your kids to get out of the room while you apply the cleaning cocktail or baking powder because it’s safe for them to be exposed to and even help clean with!

My last bit of research on improving the quality of your home’s carpet is the topic of hiring professional steam cleaners. There is nothing like a deep clean with steam that helps eliminate dust mites, allergens, dust, dirt, and chemical contaminants. BUT – with an extra big BUT…it is very difficult to find professional carpet cleaners that are truly non-toxic. I went with the company Citrus-O for many years, but they continually ask if you want the scotch guard extra (which is offering Teflon coating with the highly toxic chemicals PFOAs – a proven carcinogen). Also, I would always have a headache for days after Citrus-O left my house, dry mouth, and very irritated eyes. I haven’t the time to look over the material data sheets on their site, but my reaction says it all to me. If I find a company I can recommend, I’ll write a follow-up article. Over the last year, I’ve borrowed steam cleaners from friends that own them, and filled them with Dr. Bromers liquid soap (or you could use vinegar).  But if you want to hold companies marketing themselves as all-natural carpet cleaning accountable, ask them if they use either of these chemicals to ‘clean’ with: perchloroethylene (nickname is perc) or naphthalene. Suspected to be carcinogens, they are notorious dry cleaning additives known to cause dizziness, fatigue, nausea if inhaled (sound familiar to my symptoms?), kidney and liver damage. Next time you book your carpets to be cleaned, ask the company these questions and please post back to the comments of this article and share the results.

For more information on carpet health, you can read my recent review of the Dyson HEPA filter vacuum at: Dyson Asthma Certified Vacuum Cleaner

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Fairy Doors, Fairy Dust, The Makings For A Magical Party Game

I’ve mentioned my kids attend a magical preschool, where play and imagination is the main focus. I’ve also learned that when you combine creative parents into the mix ~ magical things happen. A few weeks ago, the children from my twins’ class were taken into the nearby woods for a forest walk. I’m so happy I stayed to help that day because I watched an amazing adventure unfold! We started out along our regular trail and started to notice ‘fairy dust’ sparkling on the forest floor. Leading from the forest trail were little pathways of glitter that the teacher’s pointed out must have been left by fairies. Well upon further investigation the children (and parents) noticed fairy doors with accessories leaned up against the bottoms of trees and the effect was amazing. The doors with ladders, door knobs, windows, & fairy jewels melted into the forest and were beautifully earthy and playful – just like the gnomes and fairies that dance and play (we decided) within the trees.

This wonderful bonus in addition to walking through the forest on a glorious sunny day was so imaginative and I appreciated the effort from one very creative parent in our class. One of the moms had crafted the fairy doors herself and come to the forest the day before the forest walk and built little walkways to the doors with sticks, crafted ladders, propped up paper umbrellas so the fairies could sip their drinks without getting their wings wet from the rain, and more! Her older children had helped her ~ what a great eco-activity for children!  And don’t think this is only for preschoolers. After my older sons had finished school for the day, I took them to the forest that they had walked through for so many years attending the same preschool and they were SO excited by seeing the fairy doors. “I can’t believe they are real!  Look – here is the proof!” … my boys kept saying to each other. We told them to be gentle because if they forced a fairy door to open, it would vanish into air – but knocking was okay.

I have the eternal love for fairies inside me and hope to pass that to my girls (my boys obviously have it already) and I hope to decorate the nearby forest by my house with some fairy doors of my own this summer. Sharing the magic with a simple fairy door adds to the beauty of any forest and imagine the glee a child would experience by finding one unexpectedly?  I also thought this would be amazing for a fairy themed birthday party. You could do an eye-spy version at the party and leave goodie bag items at each tree stump ‘from the fairies’ like wooden wands to decorate, hand made fairy furniture, and more!

If you’ve been thinking of creating a fairy garden – you only need to look at these two sites.  The site called The Magic Onions will have your heart on-fire for any fairy fans. Check out her Fairy Garden and numerous articles on making fairy furniture.  She is amazing!!  I’ve also purchased from and been a long time fan of The Enchanted Cupboard. Her wooden fairy dolls and sets are magical and the perfect addition to any fairy garden or child’s playroom.

From Rosie ~ our wonderful preschool mom, to The Magic Onion and her dedication to sharing the magic of creating fairy themed items from nature, to award winning artist Beccijo – I only need to peek inside your worlds and become inspired – thanks for sharing ladies!

Related Articles:

The Fairy Ring ~ Etsy Wooden Fairy Dolls

Eye Spy Eco Activity or Kid’s Birthday Party Idea

Children Learning Through Play

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Dyson Asthma Certified Vacuum Cleaner

You may have noticed a fresh look for the Mommy Footprint site. Please check out our new, streamlined layout with a super charged focus on companies that are doing great things with children’s health and the environment. I’m thrilled to be hosting a Dyson banner at the top of Mommy Footprint to show my support of their amazing Asthma and Allergy Friendly certified products.

Like most parents, once my mind is fully wrapped around an issue regarding my kids health or happiness, I fully spring into action. Last month when my oldest child was ‘officially’ tagged with Asthma from the specialist, the wheels kicked into overdrive in my head.  Parents always question their abilities or things they’ve done when told their kids have a condition and I’m no different.  I’ve always known that I don’t vacuum or dust enough – even knowing many chemicals like phthalates travel within homes in dust.  It didn’t help having a weak in-house vacuum system because you wonder how much good you are actually achieving with poor suction and lots of carpet to get through.

The most common advice I’ve heard with helping a person suffering from asthma or allergies is to rip out all your carpet in your home. That theory, true or not, is not an option with my house having an entire upper floor with carpeting and my family room downstairs.  That option is simply too costly and when I replace my flooring, I want to source very green options (more costly) with material like cork. For me, the best option was to start researching a vacuum system with a HEPA filter. This type of vacuum is one of the few options I found in my research that is so effective for an allergy/asthma sufferer because the HEPA filter is amazing at removing air-born irritants and very small particles that other vacuum cleaners would not effectively trap. If you smell an odour when vacuuming – that is irritants coming back out of your machine. What brand did I choose to contact with my questions? Dyson. Dyson machines are actually certified asthma and allergy friendly by the Asthma Society of Canada and 10 allergy associations worldwide. The reason a Dyson vacuum is so effective because they use Root Cyclone technology and include a HEPA filter that remove the smallest particles of dust, mould, and bacteria.

Dyson Canada sent me a DC25 All Floors model to test in my home and even my children have remarked ‘we’ve never seen mom this excited before’. Funny how life changes and a quality, well-designed, powerful vacuum has made my life so much easier and very exciting to clean my home with. Not only is it super powerful, but it’s a pleasure to push and simple to use. I couldn’t believe the amount of dust that has come out of my carpets. I had vacuumed with my in-house vacuum system only days before using the DC25 and look at all of the dust it removed from my carpet! I took a picture because it was so shocking what we’ve been living with and this was only from 2 rooms!

I’ve included various links throughout this article for you to learn more from the Dyson site. My focus for this article was sourcing a product that will and is already helping provide a healthier environment for my child with asthma. Dyson machines are known to never lose suction, but the filters and strength of the machine offer so much more and the proof is in the canister for me. The lines left on my carpet from the superb suction from the machine looks like I’ve just had my carpets professionally cleaned. The industrial strength of the Dyson, balanced with this lightweight, beautiful design makes me want to use it more often and I know I’m improving my home with reducing chemicals and possible irritants for asthma, eczema, or allergies with my kids. When you purchase a Dyson vacuum online – the shipping is free so if you’re in the market for a new vacuum, click onto the Dyson Canada or US site and experience their amazing customer service.  The warranty is great too with 5 year parts and labor. Dyson, you really are the total package with cool looking design, easy manoeuvrability (click here to watch video of the Dyson ball), and great results!

I will be writing a few more articles in this series about how to effectively manage your carpet’s health to help improve the overall environment for your household. Along with a HEPA filter vacuum, there are many more natural tips that will help.

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What Does The Olympic Spirit Mean To Your Family?

It’s been a long day for my boys, Grandma, and myself because like many families in the ‘burbs’ of Vancouver today, we woke up very early to catch a glimpse and show our support for the 2010 Olympic Torch relay. The flame has been winding it’s way throughout communities in Vancouver, BC, and will make it’s way to light the olympic cauldron Friday, Feb 12th. It’s so interesting to see the excitement, passion, and huge Canadian pride that is standing on every curb and lining streets to cheer on the Olympic volunteers and the proud torch bearers. The Olympic spirit is alive in this city and the torch is fuelling the Olympic message and what you take away after seeing it is different for everyone.

Although the moment passed quickly of the young man running past us carrying the torch, I’ve felt extra purpose in my day and motivates me to up my game with challenging my children to become more active and participate in sporting activities that Canada is known for. I got to have precious 1-1 time with my 6 year old son later in the morning going ice skating with his Kindergarten class. Feeling the cool air as we skated around the ice rink with Angelo in my arms was amazing. These are the changes I can make in my own life – choices and past-times that are important to heritage. I realized that things you practise and enjoy as children stays with you your entire life. I haven’t been on skates in years and it felt wonderful to be enjoying the ice with my child. Such exhilaration mixed with a sense of peace and nature.

Amazing what these Olympic games are doing with the spirit in our city – people are electrified and can’t wait for opening ceremonies tomorrow. I didn’t plan on writing about the games at all, but I’ve been so consumed with thinking of the thousands of people that happily lined the street today in the pouring rain without a second thought to weather, time of day, or the process of patiently waiting to catch sight of a flame. It’s such a powerful symbol that has different meaning and message for everyone. All the ‘ney sayers’ seem to have quieted down and it’s time to showcase our beautiful province of BC – I can’t wait to see the Olympic stories and how they unfold.

What has the 2010 Olympics meant to you and your family? Please post and share.

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Run Bikes Provide Balance & Confidence For Kids

Riding bicycles hasn’t come easily for any of my children. Tricycles seem to be a waste of time with teaching my kids to pedal and even I would start feeling frustrated. It’s really only after seeing a ‘run bike’ that you understand that tricycles are designed in a way that makes pedalling very difficult. It’s tough watching your child feel unsafe with the tippy motion on a 2 wheeler with training wheels, and I always wished my kids could find confidence and embrace the great past time of bike riding without fear. Once you see a run bike in action, traditional bikes geared for younger children will seem quite primitive.

What is a run bike?  They are two wheeled bikes that don’t have pedals and they are made by a range of companies using metal frames or wood.  This is a great gift for a two year old since the only requirement is the child can walk and is coordinated enough to hold onto the handles and ‘walk’ the bike.  As the child’s confidence grows, they learn to lift their feet and coast, while balanced on two wheels. The result of this is voila – they are actually balancing a bike and the fear of balancing without training wheels or an extra wheel on the bike is removed.  Don’t rule these bikes out for older children (ages 4 – 6) that are very timid or fearful on traditional two wheeler bikes.  These bikes give children confidence because they’ll always feel their feet on the ground – my first son has never felt confident on a bike and I wish run bikes were around when he was younger because he’s discovering the joy of feeling balanced on a bike now at 7 years old.

I needed to write this article today, because we had a milestone in my household this week. With having 4 kids very close in age, it’s always been tough to balance all of the needs and ages so certain activities like taking them all on a bike ride myself was impossible.  Well – not anymore!  I can put my oldest boy (7 years old) on his regular bike, my next son (6 years old) on a run bike and my twin daughters (3 years old) on their pink run bikes and everyone is okay.  I’m not running back and forth checking on everyone like a mad woman because they are all balanced and walking/running/riding at their own pace and speed.  We could never do this with tricycles or bikes with tippy training wheels. Kids really have the confidence to feel safe and learn to just stand up and abandon the bike if they are going to wipe out or crash. Watching my tentative little girls become what we now call ‘red baron’ on these bikes is amazing.  They have been the best investment to date as far as bikes or outdoor products for my younger kids.  When I purchased my bikes from Monkey Business Kids Boutique, they were nice enough to offer me a discount since I was purchasing them in bulk.  If you are in the market to purchase a run bike, I’d recommend you canvas your friends and try to get a group discount from a local store.  They are approx. $115 and up, but also remember the re-sale value is probably quite high because little kids will outgrow them (although don’t tell my 7 year old that rides his younger siblings bikes with absolute glee!). The fun factor is huge with these bikes.

I write this article ecstatic that my girls get the freedom to enjoy their bikes, but wished I had known about them earlier for my boys. They missed out on many years of enjoying bike riding, but it just means we’ve got lots of biking journeys to make up for and discover this year. I can’t wait!  If you want to view videos of kids riding run bikes, click on this link from runbikes.com – there are some great videos that parents have uploaded via YouTube.

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These pictures are of the Norco models that my children ride and love.

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