For the last couple of years I've been hearing things here and there and becoming more aware of all the chemicals we put in and on our bodies on a daily basis. While there is no definitive study that I'm aware of linking most of these chemicals to illnesses there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests we are doing ourselves major harm.
With my new little man I'm trying to be even more careful about what chemicals he comes in contact with. Last year I switched from a major name brand of baby wipes to Safeway's Mom to Mom brand, mainly because they don't contain DMDM Hydantoin, a relative of formaldehyde. It's used as a preservative to make sure the wipes don't get moldy, but there are other options for that function! I've also made some homemade wipes, but my "getting green" self hasn't actually gotten around to using them yet. I'm not sure how well that will go over with the hubby, and of course it's not really practical when away from home for extended periods of time.
The big realization came in the last few weeks however. I ran out of my moisturizer (again, from a well known beauty company) and ordered some more. The ingredients are listed on the box rather than the actual tube and I gave them a cursory glance. Imagine my shock when I realized the same chemical I wouldn't allow on my baby's bottom I was putting on my face!!! I then went around reading labels on all the personal care products in my bathroom and was just as surprised to find it in my shampoo and conditioner! These are products that I bought from the beauty supply store (for quite the $$) and specifically asked for the most organic and botanical ones available.
Now, you might be asking how I figure out which ingredients in products are harmful? To find out I generally turn to Skin Deep, a website run by the Environmental Working Group (note that I do NOT agree with all their policies and agendas, but I find this site to be particularly useful). I also have a minor in chemistry and a college roommate with a major that I run stuff by. I frequently read news relating to scientific studies as well, like the one recently talking about how Vitamin A in your sunscreen is probably causing you more harm than good. It's supposed to be good for your skin, but when exposed to sunlight can actually cause your skin cells to mutate much more than if you hadn't even been wearing sunscreen to begin with! And most common sunscreens do have Vitamin A in them. (look for retinyl palmitate, retinol, or some combination) Many lotions and moisturizers also have Vitamin A in them so beware of other products that you leave on your skin.
So, I've been trying to find a new moisturizer, face wash, and shampoo, but not really knowing where to look. I also don't want to break the bank and go with a European home based cosmetics company that a friend of mine runs. We are after all on a budget!
Luckily, we happen to be in Oregon visiting family and they have this cool little store simply called The Co-op. I had a hunch I would find a lot of options there. My mother in law and I even got to do the eco-friendly version of transportation to get there... walking, since it's close to their house!
I think I spent about an hour in the body care aisle (yes, they have an entire aisle and the most "nasty" ingredient I found was the above mentioned Vitamin A in some lotion). There were almost too many choices! Eventually I settled on a skin care line made by Alba - which I have seen at my local Target so hooray, I won't have a hard time restocking! I know I can probably order most of this stuff online, but the ingredients aren't always listed and I'm also highly sensitive to smells, particularly lavender, so I need to smell things before I buy them. (of course I find a couple days later that Fred Meyer here carries almost all the same things that I bought for about 30% cheaper, but they didn't have the selection or the employees to help me like the Co-op did either - and since Oregon is even more crunchy than Washington I'm not sure our FM carries them all)
I also got new shampoo and bar soap by Kiss My Face as well as some lip balm by Crazy Rumors (Lemonade - my husband says it's like kissing a lemon!) that doesn't have sunscreen in it - since I didn't realize until standing in the aisle that would also be a hazard. Of course I'll still wear it when needed, but it's not something I need to be licking all the time either, and yes, I'm addicted to lip balm!
I also got some new baby wash that smells heavenly! It's called Angel Baby Shampoo and Body Wash. I had been pretty happy with my Burt's Bees baby wash until they changed up the formula and it now makes my babies smell just as bad as J&J's. Yuck!
Can you tell I'm more than a little excited about all this? So, where does my epiphany come in? (and if you've read this far, kudos to you, I didn't intend to go off on such a "soap"box!)
Well, after coming home and chilling out I started thinking about how I'm actually really lucky to live in the Northwest where it's not that hard to find a store carrying things like this. We're not called crunchy and granola without reason! Most days I don't even wear makeup and while the "makeup people" would tell you you're helping your face with all their products I'm not so sure I'm convinced. I do like to look nice, especially for pictures, but I don't really care most days that I look "glamourous". For me, it's more of an inconvenience than an accessory to my life! And again, I can get away with this because I live in the great Northwest!
But honestly, I think I'm more happy about the fact that I don't need makeup to be me. With two small boys I rarely have time to look in the mirror so I am not focusing on what I look like. And if someone wants to judge me entirely on my outward appearance, well, they're probably not the kind of person I want to have a close relationship with anyway!
I haven't talked a lot about the things I'm doing to be more "green" or eco-conscious, but perhaps I will go into that more in future posts! Thoughts?
Now the question is: what do I do with the (rather large) bottles of shampoo and conditioner I have left that I spent good money on? Use them up or throw them out? And I don't even feel that comfortable passing them on to someone else...
I've got a special treat for you today... please welcome my mother as she reviews I Am Hutterite, a book I thought she would really like! (read to the end for a giveaway!)
Last fall I visited a Hutterite community in Washington State and was intrigued by their lifestyle and religious views. So when my daughter suggested that I might enjoy reading this book, I took her up on the idea. The story has many characters and it is a little difficult to sort out all the families, but I am reading it a second time, so that tells you it has kept my interest. The family tree at the back of the book is helpful. The Hutterites - originally from Europe - have been a separate group of believers for about 500 years and there are 400 communal farms in North America. If you are interested in unusual religious groups, then this is a must read.
As human beings God created us with a desire to belong to a community greater than ourselves and our immediate family.Children especially need a stable community to help them feel worthy and accepted. Routines give them a sense of peace and order. Our childhood and youth experiences in that community will have the greatest impact upon the people we become. Whether we accept or reject in part or the whole of the life styles and beliefs of our community, they will still shape us. When we become adults we have a different understanding of the family events and parental decisions that happened when we were children. Maturity tends to change the color of our reflections on life. At some point most people do an evaluation of their roots and determine as an adult if they want to keep the same values and faith of their parents or other significant adults from their childhoods. One may not even be completely aware of this process, but it happens.
In this story Mary-Ann Kirkby had the difficult experience of a radical change of communities [from Hutterite to English secular] at the young age of 10. This was not easy for her. The book goes back to the childhoods of her parents and follows them up to the present day giving many insights into Hutterite community living. The Hutterite philosophy is to create a community where all possessions are shared and everyone works for the good of all. This lofty ideal isn't always easy to achieve given the different personalities that people have and the hierarchy needed to operate a communal farm. Someone must be the leader and make the final decisions, which may or may not be the best for every individual. There is security there on the farm, but no room for nonconformity. In the story you will learn of the challenges her family faced (especially her father) living under the authority of a less than benevolent leader. She experienced rejection on the outside when her family left the community, but her parents also experienced some rejection within the community. Bits and pieces of how the doctrine of this religious group is lived out in practice is very interestingly interwoven into the story. Her parents chose to live their faith in God the same outside as inside the community with honesty and love. Mary-Ann understands this as an adult. The story has a happy ending - which I always like. Although Mary-Ann does not return to the Hutterite community to live (which she could have chosen as an adult) she has wonderful memories of the love and joy of living there as a child. It is the story of a woman coming to terms with her unique heritage.
One month from today I will be walking in the park to support our local pregnancy center, Life Choices for Women. It's not a super strenuous walk (well, I suppose that depends on how hot it is that day!) at 2 miles, but it's all about the symbolic.
Before I had my boys I volunteered at this center, counseling women who found themselves with an unplanned pregnancy. Contrary to what you may have heard we never tried to force anything on them. We were there to listen and gently offer various options that they may not have thought of. The center also offers various parenting classes for those who would like them.
This is a place that is near and dear to my heart, I actually volunteered there when it was in a different location under a different name way back before I left for college. I'm so glad that it's still here in our valley offering support and hope to women who need it.
I would be honored if you would consider sponsoring me on my walk. All donations go directly to support the day to day operations of this non-profit organization. If you have a local pregnancy center where you are, please, by all means donate to them instead! No pressure here, just send up a prayer for our center instead!
Oh, and if you live around here, come join us! This will be an all day event after the walk with fun stuff for the kids and yummy local food! You won't regret it!
But you'd never guess that from the amount of bugs we seem to be hosting. I've killed no less than 6 large spiders in my house this week (the teeny ones I don't mind - one lives on my bathroom windowsill) and a black widow outside on the foundation the other night. As a general rule if they are outside I tend to leave them alone, but I make an exception for poisonous things that could hurt my babies!
Have I mentioned we also still have an ant problem? I'm fairly used to finding them crawling on me during the day. They are so ubiquitous it's hard to be jumpy all the time. It makes me feel like I can't keep my house clean, but when they can find the teeny tiniest drop of sweet and congregate around it... well, I guess their senses are better than mine!
This was after I'd made some tuna fish and apparently spilled a bit on the counter. I didn't know they liked protein too or perhaps the mayo was sweet to them.
If you look closely you'll see the one under the arrow is standing "guard" up on his back legs. Cracked me up when I saw the picture!
Outside I try not to mind them, it's their home... but why do they like my home so much? And why are the mosquitoes so nasty this year? I thought I had a mosquito bite on my ankle, but considering it's turned a funky shade of dark purple I'm wondering if it was a mutant mosquito or something else... but they are all out to get me in the evenings and I itch.
But the kicker... oh the kicker! I came in from watering my flowers this evening and felt something on my back... inside my shirt. I tried to brush it, but thought I'd better check... Taking off my shirt I found an earwig crawling in it!!! Still gives me the creepies just thinking about it! Time to buy some bug bait!!!
What kind of house do you live in and do you have a bug or pest problem? We didn't have this problem in our apartment... it's taking some getting used to!
My little man has progressed from puke-boy to drool monster... compliments of his two bottom teeth that appeared on the 4th. Since they're now through I'm not sure why he's still drooling so much... but be warned, if you hold him, you will have a wet shirt!
(if you look real close you can see the little teeth on the bottom in this picture)
He has much redder hair than I remember Cory having, maybe he will actually be a red head! And it's finally coming in peach fuzz style around the edges. It's so soft! I'm trying so hard not to cut the mullet he has going on in the back though...
He has discovered his fingers and always wants something in his mouth, whether it's your shirt, fingers, or sometimes a toy that he can hold on to. Unfortunately he doesn't quite understand that he has to keep holding onto it and usually gets frustrated after a few minutes when he's dropped it. Sometimes the blanket the we have over him works well as it usually stays by his mouth better. And then we come back to a soaked blanket!
Noah has quite the range of facial expressions and absolutely loves interacting with people. When I was working on these pictures he was sitting on my lap and "talking" to himself on the computer screen. Priceless!
Unfortunately that also means he wants to be with the people all. the. time. There's only so much I can get done while holding him, even in the pack so that is frustrating at times because I can't just let him scream even when I know all he wants is to be with me and he's not hungry or wet or anything else.
We started Cory on baby cereal not too long after he was 4 months old, but so far Noah has shown no interest in food other than mommy's milk! I guess I'm okay with that since I don't have to worry about not having it!
As I posted last week after we went to the doctor he weighs over 16 pounds now and is 25 1/2 inches long. In about the 50-75th percentile, no surprise there! If you pull him up by his hands he will stand just holding onto your fingers. He's a bit wobbly, but pretty good for 4 months old! I'll try to get a picture of him standing when Brian is able to hold him for me!
He generally goes to bed for the night between 7 and 8pm leaving me with a free evening. I've gone shopping at 9pm (Target is open til 10!) and out for coffee or smoothies with my best friend. It's nice that I don't have to worry about him waking up usually until at least 1am, sometimes he sleeps through until 5am, but not consistently. Makes a mommy a little more sane when she can have some time away!
Behind our house is a set of rental duplexes. The owner decided it was time to trim all the lovely tall trees around them as they were getting to be too tall and could be a hazard in high winds (which we seem to be getting more frequently). Sadly this means we have now lost pretty much all the shade in our backyard.
This is the big main tree that gives our yard shade. It was quite tall...
Shade, lovely, lovely shade... and later in the afternoon almost the entire yard was shaded.
Cutting down "our" tree
They managed to smash all my sunflowers that were growing along the fence, but at least they missed the garden...
I'm thankful they left this one taller than the ones in front of the houses... it will still provide some shade next summer, but as you can see, we now have only a little spot of shade from our walnut tree. So sad. :(
Hopefully our garden will like it...
Saturday morning Brian's dad emailed and said his Grandpa was in the hospital. Saturday night he called us and said, maybe you should come. When we discovered that all the hotels in town were sold out we instead packed up and got up early to drive down Sunday morning.
By the time we got there at about 1pm he was just released from the hospital. He looked pretty good to me, but congestive heart failure is not fun.
Anyway, we had a good afternoon hanging out and visiting. It was hot so time was spent outside on Grandpa's swing.
There was an NCIS marathon on TV so I got a good introduction to the show... maybe signing up for Netflix recently will have it's benefits! I'm a science geek and although I don't like the gruesome pictures I love the way they find the evidence and solve the cases!
It's so suspenseful Mommy!
We finally remembered to get a picture of the 4 generations of men...
Noah did much better this time, mostly smiling and happy, but after a long afternoon and only a half hour nap in the pack he wasn't such a happy camper!
Our boys don't sleep well in the car at night so poor Cory woke up completely disoriented about halfway home. We finally made it home about 12:30am to get to see the flames from the forest fire just north of town. We are in no danger, but it was a bit spooky!
Not really a fun reason to get together, but all in all, it was a good day!
It's now been almost 6 months, but it matches the kitchen (where I am standing to take this picture) and I'm so happy that I finally have a real floor! Now to get a door...
There is one on the right - to the back yard, but we're still missing the one on the left that would take you into what is left of the garage - yes, there's still room for a car, but no, we can't park in there because it's full of stuff!
We also had an entryway "made" by our front door. It used to be you just stepped in straight onto the carpet. With snow and slush at least 5 months out of the year here we really needed a place to step into the house and take our shoes off, so we now have a 3 foot by 4 1/2 foot entry way that matches this.
Ah summer. Where my schedule goes out the window and I forget to post for days on end! Or, as was the case for some of this weekend, I am so busy I hardly have time to take pictures!
I realized recently that I'd gotten to the point of not being able to post without pictures. I know "a picture is worth a thousand words", but seriously, I do like to write too! So, with that in mind, I'm going to attempt to be better at making this blog what it started out as, a journal of our life, with or without pictures!
The highlights of our weekend... on Friday we decided impromptu, the cherries are ready at our friend's house so let's go pick them. A few hours and some chicken visiting later and we were home with a cooler full. A large camping cooler.
We started to wash them and look for fruit flies... Brian started cutting into a few and we quickly discovered that almost all of them had fruit fly larvae inside of them even if they weren't squishy or had no holes in the skin. (you won't want to click on that link if you're eating... you're welcome).
So we decided that since the cherries weren't sprayed with chemicals we would go to the work of cutting every single one open before we canned them. 8+ hours later we had 14 quarts and threw the last 1/3 of the cherries out. Unfortunately our friend's trees are so badly infested that after hearing our story of 80% of the cherries having larvae in them he decided to cut them all down. Yeah, all commercial cherries you buy have been sprayed for fruit flies. I hate this, but what can we do? If they aren't sprayed they become inedible quickly and the problem compounds every year. (you can read all about it at that link above, just be warned, there are pictures)
Saturday was uneventful and calm although I was rather uncomfortable hoping that plugged duct wouldn't turn into mastitis. Thank goodness for a best friend who's a nurse and taking hot showers twice a day, I am fine now.
Happy 4th of July... we missed church and at 3pm finally headed out to our friend's party. The wind was so incredibly strong that our BBQ was trying to blow off the picnic tables. Cory had a blast in the inflatable water slide until he was blue and Noah charmed everyone from the pack on my front.
It wasn't the most fantastic party since Brian didn't know many people there and I thought all afternoon that he only wanted to eat and leave for our other friend's party. Not a good recipe for fun. Hopefully next time we will figure out how to communicate our expectations a little better...
After going to the other party and scaring all the kids with the giant (illegal?) fireworks, we finally got home and went to bed.
Monday we had a former student (of Brian's mostly, but I subbed for him a few times) come share our afternoon and evening. He's heading out on a Navy deployment for 10 months and it was fascinating to be able to ask him all kinds of questions about life on an aircraft carrier - especially since my dad was on 2 of them. He's a cool kid and I hope we can support him more through this and in the years ahead.
And so, now that I've rambled on indefinitely... anything special happen for your weekends?
Oh, and as of this morning my big little guy is measuring a whopping 16 pounds and 25 1/2 inches long at 3 1/2 months! He also got his 2 bottom teeth to poke through on the 4th. I guess you could call it their Independence Day!