Archive | phthalates

Back To School Contest With My Little Green Shop

Sponsored by: My Little Green Shop

Hosted by: MommyFootprint

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Going back to school can be a challenging place for parents to find green options. Biggest environmental offenders, in my opinion, are products made from plastic that may contain lead. This is not a toxin that parents would welcome into back-to-school supplies, but if they contain PVC plastic, you can’t be sure. So where possible, I like to spend extra dollars to ensure a well designed and safe backpack for school, plus I’m a stickler for stainless steel items for lunches and water. So I’m super excited to be sharing this great prize from My Little Green Shop with big focus on quality: 17oz S’well Bottle (your choice of colour) and an Ecogear Backpack.
About My Little Green Shop

My Little Green Shop does it’s homework and is a trusted store for products that are sustainable for the earth and our health. With a full line-up of greener options for your busy household, we appreciate the research and dedication spent by this Eco boutique. Our favourite products are made with high quality food grade stainless steel and are durable, environmentally safe, and fun.

We are excited to bring you this amazing 17oz S’well Bottle that is teamed up with an Ecogear Flash Backpack Giveaway! The S’well bottles are easily the hottest item heading into schools this Fall because of their fun colors and double walled design keeping water cool all day. The Ecogear Backpacks have a hiking vibe with classic design so that kids can use them for many years. Unlike cheaper backpacks, these are made without PVC so there aren’t any lead concerns. We’ve used Ecogear Backpacks for years and love how the zippers and pockets have stood up to kids that are hard on school gear. Great quality all around!

Would you like to win this S’well bottle and backpack duo heading back to school? We are super grateful to My Little Green Shop for giving one of our lucky readers that chance!

One lucky winner will win this

17oz S’well Bottle and Flash Ecogear Backpack ($100 value)!

Giveaway ends 9/3/14 at 11:59 pm ET! Open to US and residents 18+ and older.

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. We are not associated with any of the companies named above. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received Open to US and Canada 18+ only. Confirmed Winner(s) (by Random.org) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this giveaway. My blog is not responsible for product shipment/delivery. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Plastic Dolls For Christmas

Navigating through our standard list of no-no’s this time of year seems to all go out the window when we are trying to find that perfect gift at Christmas. As green minded parents we know that plastic is always a bad option for toys. But when I found myself in Toys R Us after not being there for probably a year, I was completely overwhelmed and fascinated with the obvious love the big box stores have for plastic. And why not? The perfect details on the faces of toys, the cheap prices, and the packaging that will make a child scream with excitement! However, there is a big downside to these plastic options and it’s simply ‘health’. Now I’ve got you thinking the health of who? The planet or our children?

There are many toys that even very environmentally minded parents will make exceptions; especially those that include building, constructing, and creating. Lego and Playmobil have long been favorites for one of my sons and I don’t mind when he asks for a special set at Christmas. The imagination and hours of play are a great pay off and these products are hardly cheap. They are also not made from vinyl. Now here is where vinyl gets interesting – all plastic dolls are. And these dolls will be the focus of this article. They are probably one of the hottest toys at Christmas because when you don’t know what else to buy a little girl – you can always guess ‘doll’ because you know the shrieks of delight will be heard when a doll is opened. It’s immediate gratification, where they grab the doll, release their mothering instincts, and pour their love into this little being. It’s a tough thing to not buy into. I was even curiously drawn to the new Disney Brave dolls that lined the shelves at Toys R Us – the plastic replicas look so much like the fiery tempered character that is a different role model from the usual princess role (shooting arrows, being physically and mentally strong, and brave) which we all love. But my long standing struggle with how all the huge toy makers like Mattel, Disney, etc. produce dolls is always disappointing and I believe, a health issue.

I started really thinking about dolls a month ago when I watched two girls during my son’s hockey game looking with pure love at their American Girls dolls. I had never seen these dolls up close before but heard lots from my nieces when they went through the phase a couple of years ago. They seem to be the perfect solution to keep older girls (Grade 2 and up) playing in the wonderful world of imagination and dolls. Apparently visiting an American Girl store in the US is quite the experience – you can even get the doll and your daughter’s ears pierced at the same time!  I asked the group of girls playing with these dolls to tell me about the dolls and they were so excited – the popularity for American Girls hasn’t gone away and I live in Canada! I like to prepare myself for when my own daughters see a toy like this – so I started researching immediately. I know the dolls are over $100 so I assumed the materials used to make the dolls are something other than vinyl. I was wrong – the plastic arms, legs and face of these dolls are vinyl plastic. Plus, do you want to guess where the American Girls are made?  China.  Why the hell are they made in China – they are American Girls!  And the Canadian version of these dolls Maplelea Dolls are also vinyl made in China and the ethnic option Karito Girls are also vinyl and made in China – which for Karito Girls might make sense since they represent the world collection. So I immediately asked my friends if anyone had an American Girl doll that I could see. I was trying to find out if the vinyl that they are made from is actually PVC. I checked the doll to see if there was a material listed on the plastic and no luck. I also took a deep smell of the plastic and it didn’t smell like 100% PVC normally does but since the company states they are made from vinyl – I would guess a mixed variety of plastics have been used. After all we are taught that vinyl almost always means PVC. I asked my friend Alicia from The Soft Landing for some input on this subject – it’s something she’s written about and her article ‘When Is Vinyl Not PVC‘ is awesome! She also let me use this quote regarding vinyl and dolls:

“Vinyl is PVC 99% of the time, and so far we haven’t found a single plastic baby doll made from PVC-free materials.”

After I read this quote from Alicia I found it so much easier to wrap my head around the fact that all, yes all dolls until proven otherwise, made from plastic are PVC. When we are buying to hear the shriek it’s selfish. I know if I picked up that Brave plastic doll for my daughters it would be played with and happily received but I’d rather give them one of the older doll designs from my friend Kellie at The Rice Babies. She’s combined a funky design with high fashion boots, funky hair accessories, and I even saw tattoos when I visited her beautiful display at a craft fair a few weeks ago.  There are options out there. I would have to say Christina from Bamboletta is my doll hero and after seeing Bamboletta dolls for so many years you simply can’t compare the quality and care that go into her creations. Read the story of Bamboletta here. Of course the fact that she hasn’t strayed from her first mission of keeping these dolls made with the safest of materials, by a group of sewing mamas, local to her community keeps her totally unique. And her magical dolls are truly unique in the world of Waldorf doll making. You might initially scream they are expensive but I say they are the safest toy on earth. No worries of off gassing, no worries that it will fall apart, no worries of asking questions to the manufacturer that can’t be answered. I say don’t buy the 10 plastic dolls you probably will before your daughter turns 2 years old and invest in a doll that’s been handmade with cloth, wool, and cotton. Don’t give them all the plastic, commercialized options  – only 1 or 2 dolls to love and appreciate with a story that is unique.

The first dolls my girls received were from me. I was so excited to purchase Corelle dolls but with my current awareness of plastic, I would lump these high-end dolls into the same vinyl category as the rest. Made from vinyl and what makes Corelle dolls even worse in my opinion is the fact they release scent when squeezed. Yes, we probably even pay extra for it. But will the company respond to questions asked about if the perfume being released is synthetic or not?  Of course not. And to me – unless you prove and market to me that your doll is something other than made from the cheapest form of plastic that starts polluting with carcinogenic dioxin from the moment it’s first made – then I won’t even entertain the thought that you’re different.

But do you want to see something different?  Check out Bamboletta’s magic. And just in case you think Christina forgot to add the hair to the dollies in the front – this upload of dolls was on it’s way to Ronald MacDonald House in Vancouver – the dolls in the front have lost their hair after going through chemo so you can guess who the recipients are for these bald dolls. All of the dolls in the photo below have been donated from this generous company that just keeps on giving back to the community. All the time. When you follow their updates on Facebook you feel like the world truly contains people with good hearts, doing good things with their talent. The team at Bamboletta is special and there is a good reason why it takes so long to actually purchase these dolls. If you are wanting to purchase a Bamboletta doll just remember that all magical things in life are worth waiting for but might take a little hard work – these are no exception.

And here is a photo I snapped from a recent table from The Rice Babies doll selections; hip, handmade, and perfect for the older crowd.  Way to go Kellie – I’ll be proud to say “I knew her when..”

 

Related Articles:

The Bamboletta Story

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The Dark Side of Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday shopping starts today and with The National Research Federation predicting sales for 2012 will increase over this US holiday – it seems that the movement to boycott this shopping day is not working. I’ve written about Black Friday in the past (click here) but this year I asked my friend Barb from Gibsons Recycling Depot to give me a glimpse into the after effects of consumerism through the eyes of a person who is an expert on personal waste. Hopefully the message of over-consuming is not missed by those planning on shopping Black Friday deals. You see, Barb sees the ugly side of the holidays and she also sees the side of Black Friday few people know. The majority of people see this method of shopping as a way to save a few dollars and perhaps even help support the US economy. What a recycling depot sees are the tons of un-opened gifts that start arriving in the trash after the holidays. Gift wrap and discarded gifts (that were never opened from their packaging!!)  are the dark side of a recycling depot in January. Face it or not, when you are purchasing a gift based off price – you are not shopping with any sort of Eco-conscience. When you are shopping based only from cost alone – several things are happening:

- the product is probably manufactured overseas. So how does purchasing it help the US or local economy?

- the product might be unsafe with lead or phthalate levels because the cheapest materials have been used in manufacturing.

- consumers overspend. We all probably head to the Walmarts of the world with a list but we look around and start seeing items in bins for $1. Thinking we can’t possible give up a bargain like this we buy it.

- stores that offer the greatest sale discounts are big box and do not think about packaging or the huge footprint it took to transport the product into their store. Is the cost of that $1 trinket still only $1 if it will exist on earth for 100s of years after it’s been trashed? Is that item still $1 if it’s wrapped in plastic or Styrofoam that cannot be recycled? The facts are – when the toll on the earth is so great from that $1 item – it’s true cost is no longer $1.

Barb actually gave me a quote today that was amazing and I’d like to share it. She works at one of the most progressive recycling depots in Western Canada. I’ve been there, seen how much they can recycle, so it’s important to listen to someone who knows waste.

We are culturally conditioned to want to create displays of abundance. In most cultures and history there is feasts and gifts, so we must create behavioral changes where we create and satisfy those needs but without all the consumption and waste. We need to get into “creative abundance” where maybe we put photos under the tree and everyone shares memories and stories about each other, Maybe those old plastic farm animals toys become symbols of donations we have given to aid organizations in someone else’s name. I see the ghosts of Christmas past throughout the year, bags of awful plastic toys, useless products…

To put a visual along with this quote from Barb, I found a video published by our friends at The Story Of Stuff. It’s called Tis The Season To Get Trampled… and it is driving the movement to ‘Buy Nothing Do Something’ over Thanksgiving this year. I sat and watched this video with my children and their mouths just hung open. Then of course they giggled because they couldn’t believe adults act like this over stuff! Have a watch with your children and then try to justify going shopping later that evening. You might just decide to stay in and choose family over frenzy.

Barb has also given me some stats regarding Canadian waste over the holiday season. I’m posting these facts so that you can think about personal waste while starting your Christmas shopping. Will you be contributing to another person’s personal waste by your gift giving choices?  Thanks for these Barb!

Every person will throw away an average of 110lbs of waste this holiday season

3,000 tons of foil will be used

Canadians will consume 4.3 million turkeys.

2,6 billion greeting cards will be sent

27.8 million real Christmas trees will be decorated

7.3 million fake trees will be purchased

6 millions rolls of tape will be used

250,000 tons of plastic packaging will be discarded

So with the high level of greenwashing that happens from ‘green gift lists’ this year – cut through the crap and ask yourself 3 questions: where is this made? what is it made from? how do I get rid of it? If you can get a positive answer on any of these questions while your shopping – you are no longer shopping based purely off price. You are now shopping based off price and thinking like an Eco Ninja – which is way cooler. Happy Thanksgiving to my readers in the US!

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Air Freshener Options

Regular readers of Mommy Footprint know a few things about me… I’m scent sensitive and normally can’t tolerate air born particles from air fresheners, plug-ins, perfume, cleaners, etc. You see, when a person is sensitive to chemical scent, you can smell things most people can’t, triggering headaches and other reactions. So when our friends from Urban Forest Soaps sent me air fresheners to review I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I do know lots of people that won’t give up the convenience of a spray to combat odor so I tried the air freshener/linen spray and tested on my mattress, pillows, and used as a room freshener, I was actually surprised that I didn’t get a headache. It was also nice to have a linen spray to use while my pillows were out in the sunlight getting dust mite maintenance. I won’t turn into a daily air freshener user but I’m happy to recommend this to people that need one. And if you’re thinking you don’t need to replace that big bottle of Febreeze or Plug-In – the rest of this article is for you; to remind everyone why traditional air sprays are so bad. Not just for us lot that are sensitive – but the toll they have on human health.

If you read this article and want a 100% organic solution for air freshness  – think back to how our grandparents did things: bake something with cinnamon or open a window. Want a longer term solution? I have a friend named Marisol that wasn’t going to give up her air fresheners and after listening to her reasons why, I know there’s more people that feel the same and want something easy and convenient. A good rule to follow is looking for options that release scent using essential oils. Here is a link to the sprays I was sent from Urban Forest Soap and I like they only contain two ingredients (witch hazel, organic floral water) and have a light scent that dissipates quickly. I tried the lavender and orange sprays and really liked them both. I sent them to my friend Marisol to test for me since she likes linen sprays and room deodorizers to see if I could convert her – she’s also very honest! She wasn’t a fan of the orange spray but is still happily using the lavender and has replaced using Febreeze type products to spray clothing, bedding, air, and her car. I’ll call that is a success story! It is important to note that just because a product contains essential oils – you might still find the scent or oils irritating.

Why am I so against traditional air fresheners? They are loaded with chemicals that cause cancer, effect fertility, and can effect brain/nervous systems. A bottle of Febreeze only lists 3 ingredients on their packaging – do you know how many actually exist in this air freshener? The EWG released an article finding 89 air contaminants within a bottle of Febreze Air Effects and the chemicals of concern according to this report are scary! Here are only three of the many chemicals but it gives you an idea of how serious these chemicals are. Read the full list here:

BHT: Neurotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Occupational hazards

ACETALDEHYDE: Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)

FRAGRANCE: Neurotoxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous

Do you want to know what is disclosed on the exterior label of the same bottle of Febreeze tested by EWG? “Odor eliminator, water, fragrance, non-flammable natural propellant, quality control ingredients.” There aren’t regulations on the use of harmful chemicals in air fresheners so as you can see, reading labels with traditional sprays won’t help us. Another place to check for air fresheners is your workplace or school bathrooms. I can’t think of anything I’d rather not have my children inhaling every time they enter a school bathroom than those chemicals found in air fresheners (you know those pink pucks found behind the toilets?  Yeah those!). Allergies and asthma are exasperated with spraying air-born chemicals so make sure you check what is flying around day cares, dance/gymnastic studios, schools, and locker rooms where your children spend large amounts of time. And for those that need something to spray  – Tricia from Urban Forest Soaps has you covered!

This article is being written just at the crest of Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Don’t get forget there is a lot of marketing for synthetic scents to spread the smells of Christmas (cinnamon, candy canes, and trees) around your house. Make sure they are the real thing rather than off-gassing with chemicals. Try this great DIY recipe for the stove top with cinnamon sticks and orange – it will fill your house with scent, without the chemicals. While your reading this article – scroll down further and read a story about my first encounter with a women using Febreeze around my children. My kids were shocked by my reaction but we all laugh about it now.

Related Articles:

Natural Tips to Improve Bedroom Air Quality

Think Before Using Fragrance

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Save Money & Green Back-to-School Supplies!

I have never ordered a pre-assembled kit of back-to-school supplies. My oldest child used to feel left out when every other child in his class was given ‘the box’ on the first day of school but now he has no problem bringing his decorated shoe box with more carefully selected school supplies inside. At this stage of my parenting journey, I’m not even sure I would pay the money to have a green pre-assembled school supplies kit provided for my children because I think we often forget about reusing with back to school. For the last few years, at the end of the school year, I parked their books and supplies in a bag or box and forgot about them in a closet. This year I combed through previous years of supplies and to my delight I won’t need to purchase many new items! Check out the sets I made from mixed sets of crayons – I have four complete sets for each of my kids!

I wasn’t sure if teachers would mind if supplies weren’t new and I was reminded by a reader and teacher on the MF fanpage that a crayon color spectrum is really more important for your children than the teacher. Purchasing Crayola products goes against so much of what I believe in because they are a huge company that doesn’t have the manufacturing standards I usually support –  so it’s been a relief to realize it’s up to my kids if they only want 6 beeswax or soy crayons in art supplies that are made in North America and don’t contain petroleum. The Clementine brand I point to at the end of this article for crayons, markers, and glue are all manufactured in the US and that is important. I of course won’t be purchasing the soy or beeswax crayons this year because I’ve done a great job of rounding up crayons in my own home – reusing is always best! And I’ve made 4  complete sets! But when you need to purchase new, avoid the petroleum, plastic, and antibacterial crap on the market and become your child’s eco warrior with back-to-school shopping!

Where else can you easily up-cycle with back-to-school supplies?  You know the little interlined work books for elementary school?  I have found more than 10 of these from previous years that only have a few pages filled out . . the rest are blank! I’ve ripped out these pages and will be sending the rest of the blank books with my kids. I have blank printer labels and will be applying these to the front of the books to eliminate the name, grade, subject information my children wrote from previous years. There is a cost savings here and think of the amount of wasted paper each year?!

Other supplies that are still in great condition that we are reusing from previous years? Wooden ruler, O’bon coloured pencil crayons, pencils, duotangs (empty and reuse), scissors, and paint! Now here are some tips for purchasing new back-to-school supplies. This is a great time to talk about commercialism with back-to-school. If you want to keep rolling over school supplies each year, stay away from the licensed folders, pencil cases, backpacks, water bottles, etc. That cute little monkey design or Dora and SpongeBob print might be cute for Grade 1 but they are not babies anymore by Grade 2 and might feel embarrassed by bringing what they once loved at this age. Keep supplies classic and simple – there is a secret to longevity by doing this. I would also encourage not to bring small children back-to-school shopping with you. If it’s just going to be a tantrum or fight for the supplies they don’t understand are poor quality and toxic – let kids stay home. Bring older kids with you and explain why and how you are making decisions on what to buy. Have older children go through supplies from the previous year and save what they’ll reuse. Also have them participate with decorating the up-cycled shoe box to bring supplies in.

I noticed last year and again this year, companies are doing a lot of marketing for Microban and antibacterial products. Examples of this are pencils, scissor handles, water bottle lids (the worst of all in my opinion), and binders. Normally Microban in plastic contains Triclosan which is a chemical that does not belong in back-t0-school supplies. The original use for Triclosan, a strong chemical, was used in surgical rooms. Why would we turn a classroom into the equivalent of a hospital with antibacterial properties? Skip this chemical (look for antibacterial or Microban marketing) and if you are asked why by school administration you can reply “this is a pesticide linked to hormone disruptions, allergies, asthma, skin irritation, eczema, and thyroid problems”. I have found when you explain to teachers the reason behind limiting your children to chemical exposure – that you’re not trying to be difficult – they are very understanding. Probably the biggest product linked to antibacterial and might be on your school list is hand sanitizer. This is an important one to make eco-friendly and the easiest way is to not purchase anything and request that your child is given the opportunity to wash their hands more often. If you are more comfortable knowing he can disinfect quickly – send Cleanwell wipes or spray in your child’s back-to-school kit. Again, unleash your eco-warrior and don’t let the marketing of ‘germs’ pressure you into purchases that use endocrine disrupting chemicals that could lead to an allergy. Here is a personal story about hand sanitizer. The brands that have perfume or strong scent will trigger a reaction with a person (like me) with chemical sensitivities. A person in one of my children’s classes had just applied hand sanitizer (apricot scented) and the 2 minutes I was in the classroom delivering hot lunches, I felt dizzy and left with a headache. Please be aware of the effects of using strong chemicals – if not for yourself but other people.

I’ve also noticed some ‘non-stick’ marketing with back-to-school supplies. Does anyone need teflon on their scissors? I’m not sure what the inner coating of lunch bags that are marketed non-stick but I stay clear! Remember my article on teflon lined diaper bags? Since researching this article I’ve been wary of non-stick lined products that are marketed to clean or wipe up quickly from spills. I stick to 100% organic cotton lunch bags in place of this and love that they are machine washable. Sticking with cotton is just a great way to go with backpacks, gym bags, and sandwich bags because at the end of their life, you cut off the zipper and plastic velcro and compost. That is a great full cycle story for a product…reuse, reuse, reuse and then compost.  It’s my favourite kind of story.

The last tip is the most important for back-to-school supplies shopping. Avoid plastic. All plastic. I don’t care if it’s marked free of everything; BPA, phthalates, PVC, etc.  At the end of the day, at the end of it’s shelf life – it’s still plastic. We are experiencing the greatest problem in our history with ocean pollution and the leading cause is plastic. Our health has never been so clouded with problems: cancer, asthma, allergies, diabetes, skin sensitivities, endocrine disruption, and more. I don’t trust plastic. Studies have found that many products labeled BPA-free still released chemicals that mimic estrogen.  PVC plastic is a known poison to human health and the environment so if you are purchasing backpacks or supplies made from plastic, please ensure it’s marked PVC-free. Summon your eco-warrior and use your nose if buying plastic…don’t put anything in your cart with that strong plastic smell.  Did you know that coloured paper clips contain PVC coating? With all supplies, including litterless lunch systems, stick with plain stainless steel. Most supplies like rulers, folders, duo-tangs, and binders have non-plastic alternatives in stores. Pens and markers still appear to be the toughest plastics to avoid with back-to-school. Search out recycled plastic options to lesson your environmental impact. If you see a specific plastic request on your child’s school supplies list from the school, try substituting it with a material you are comfortable with. On my children’s list I see a plastic containers to put supplies. Every year I use a shoe box, my kids decorate it with a best memory from the summer and I’ve never received a complaint. Sometimes the supplies lists we are receiving haven’t been tweaked in many years so it’s more of a guideline. The below picture is of my oldest son’s supplies box from last year. It’s in such good shape we are using it again this year!

 

I reviewed soy crayons a few years back and loved them!  You can find Clementine Soy Crayons via Organically Hatched. These crayons are literally like using butter – they just glide. If your child is happy with streamlining their color selection to 6 – then you should be happy too! And minus the petroleum and colorants used by traditional companies! Actually, you could pickup non-toxic glue, crayons, markers, and paint all at the same time shopping here. There isn’t anything eco-friendly about the plastic surrounding the Clementine markers but they are additive free, without scent. Having discussions about what has influenced your purchases with back-to-school products is a wonderful time to educate children. I’m hoping by going through supplies from previous years and re-using what you can, the ability to afford the slightly higher prices for greener back-to-school supplies is manageable. Your children will become your voice and echo the education. My child was the one in Grade 2 last year telling his teacher that the cleaning supplies they were given to clean their desks were toxic and gave him a headache. We donated bottles of diluted Dr. Bronners for our children’s classrooms until the school switched over the Green Seal certified cleaners. A child’s voice is important and matters – give your children the wisdom and help create Eco-warrior children that inspire change!

Related Articles:

Back To School Eco Backpacks

End of School Sustainability

Teflon Lined Diaper Bags


Soccer Saturday – Getting Ready For Rain!

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