Sunday, December 30, 2007

We're Having a White Christmas After All

So you don't live near the snow, but still want the experience of a snowy Christmas day? I have the perfect solution!

Leave one toddler unattended with your paper shredder for 5 minutes while you send an e-mail. Make sure that you have lots of paper already shredded in the bin.* And voila! Your house will turn into a snow-filled wonderland by the time you hit "send" on that message.

Exhibit A: My First Clue that Something Was Amiss

Omigod! Snow! In California! On a 60-degree day!

More snow!!

Next we'll do snow angels....

We would personally like to thank the godless credit card companies for sending us enough unwanted applications to make this White Christmas possible...

Happy New Year to you and your families!

*Note: If you attempt this at home please ensure that the shredder is NOT plugged in when you leave your child alone with it. I think this is obvious, but I must state the obvious just in case. You know, for the weirdos that find me through Google searches.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I just heard that Blogher 08 is happening in San Francisco, which is literally a stone's throw away from where I live. I was so excited! I'd finally get a chance to meet up with some of the people whose blogs I love and see what they're like in real life - more wonderful I'm sure. And I would love to meet 5 or 6 people who still read my blog and ask them "Why are you still reading my blog??" No really, I would have loved to have a drink and see pictures - real pictures - of your kids if you're going and talk to you about how cool it would be if we lived in the same city and could be friends because I know that I would be friends with so many of you if we lived on the same block.

So yeah, I was excited about BlogHer being in S.F.

But then I saw the date and realized that I am going to be in a wedding the very same weekend that BlogHer is happening. And the wedding is in L.A. Gah! I don't think I can take another year of living vicariously through the people going to BlogHer cuz I'm sorry but the virtual BlogHer is just not the same.

So yeah, that's where I am with Blogher. I don't know if you're planning to go, but I'll miss meeting you either way. I've had trouble visiting blogs like I used to in the past. I just don't get to visit nearly as often as I'd like. It's hard to find the time with two kids under 3 and other projects going on. Like I have to tell you that, right? Everyone is in the same boat. One thing I know is that the mommyblogosphere is filled with incredible women such as yourselves. And I will miss meeting you.

And gosh I do wish we lived on the same block.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Eve

I wish everyone and their families a safe and happy holiday.

I would post more, but I've got a naughtini hangover and really must get back to bed for a while.

I will be back in a few days, after I've recovered from the present-opening, cookie-eating, eggnog-downing extravaganza that is about to occur very soon.


P.S. Does anyone ever feel like Christmas is a giant ocean wave hurdling at you at about 50 miles an hour and all you can really do is dive right into it as it passes you by because if you just stand still and let it hit you, it would actually kill you? Hmmm. Well, maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Your Turn to Respond, Similac

After I posted about the dangers of BPA in formula cans, Andrea of Little Bald Doctors wrote to the company using the Environmental Working Group's sample letter and asked the company to stop using BPA in their formula cans. The following is the letter that Andrea sent to Isomil/Similac. We sent the letter to Sonya, the EWG researcher who wrote the report on BPA in formula. Both her comments and Andrea's comments on the Isomil/Similac letter are below. Clearly, Similac could do better in easing our fears about the danger of BPA in their formula cans. I am reprinting the letters here at Andrea's request. We hope that we get some action, instead of a lot of excuses, from formula companies in the future.


Dear Isomil/Similac:

I recently learned that your company uses a hormone-disrupting chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) as a lining for the metal portions of your baby formulas. Environmental Working Group and FDA tests show that the chemical leaches into the formula and could subject babies to harmful exposures. In fact, EWG calculated that 1 in 16 children fed ready-to-eat formula from steel cans would have BPA exposures that exceed doses found harmful in animal studies. Two separate panels sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have expressed concerns about infant exposure to BPA. The Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) concluded that infant exposure could harm brain development and adversely affect behavior. The chairman of the CERHR panel indicted that it might be a time for application of the precautionary principle for BPA, suggesting that parents would be wise to avoid infant exposure to the chemical until serious outstanding questions about BPA's potential harm are sorted out. The second NIH panel of 38 BPA experts expressed grave concerns that human exposures are at or above the levels that cause harm in animal studies. As a consumer of your product and concerned parent I want to know if your formula is contaminated with BPA, and at what levels. I urge you to provide consumers with infant formulas that are free of this toxic chemical.

Sincerely, Andrea


Hello Andrea,

Thank you for contacting Abbott Nutrition. BPA is one of the most extensively tested substances used in food and pharmaceutical packaging and has been approved for use in the U.S. for 50 years. It is also one of a number of compounds used in many consumer products across a number of industries, including the food industry.

Andrea: So just because it’s been used for 50 years means it’s safe, right? Sure. I believe that. Uh huh. Liar liar pants on fire.

Sonya: Agreed. The length of time we've used this chemical is no indication of safety. If it caused a rare illness in infants, we might have traced the exposure back to formula. However scientific studies suggest BPA exposures during infancy could play a role in common health conditions with many causes: learning and behavior problems, obesity, insulin resistance, changes to breast and prostate cells that predispose them to later life cancer. Each of these conditions would be nearly impossible to relate to formula consumption.

As a worldwide nutrition and healthcare leader, Abbott takes the quality and safety of the products it offers very seriously, as well as the packaging and containers that hold them. The materials used in Abbott Nutrition infant formula packaging meet all applicable U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.

Andrea: So, what if the US FDA regulations still allow too much of this chemical of which people are just starting to take notice? Just because you’re within range doesn’t mean you’re safe if the established range of “acceptable” is STILL TOO HIGH!

Sonya: Agreed as well. FDA guidelines for allowable leaching of BPA from packaging are quite high relative to the laboratory studies, and even with regard to EPA's outdated safe exposure level.

Nearly all of the plastic bottles that Abbott uses for its liquid infant formula products are not made with polycarbonate, a plastic that may contain BPA. The vast majority of our bottles are made from polypropylene or polyethylene, not polycarbonate.

Andrea: I didn’t ask about plastic, though I’m glad your plastics don’t contain BPA. I asked about taking BPA out of the packaging lining for your formula, ALL of the packaging lining.

Like other companies, a limited number of our bottled products have caps that are made, in part, of metal, and a layer of epoxy is applied to prevent corrosion and product contamination. This layer of epoxy may have a negligible level of BPA, and the layer does not come in contact with the product, as an additional coating is applied over the epoxy coating.

Andrea: Again, “negligible” is still questionable as to its safety level.

If the bottle lids are lined with a final layer then this would reduce potential for BPA leaching. An even smaller number of our liquid infant formula products are packaged in steel cans. Again, in order to prevent corrosion and ensure product integrity, these cans have an epoxy lining that may contain very minute levels of BPA.

Andrea: “Minute” is still questionable in terms of safety.

Abbott/Similac produce very few types of liquid formula in metal cans.The coatings used on the interior surface of both our metal powder cansand ends and our composite powder can easy-open ends may contain very minute levels of BPA. These coatings are used to protect the metal and ensure product integrity. Neither the body of the composite can or the sanitary end have coatings and/or materials that would contain BPA. All of the coatings used by Abbott Nutrition comply with all current US federal, US state and European Union requirements for food contact surfaces.

Andrea: Certain levels of lead in paint were allowed as well, until studies showed lead exposure was toxic to children and the lead was taken out of paint in the U.S. Why is it so hard to believe BPA could be the same danger as lead was/is? Studies are now coming out about the toxicity of BPA. You could be proactive and actually act BEFORE you’re required to by a change in the FDA regulations that people are lobbying for right now.

Periodic testing of our products has shown that in cases where any level of BPA was found, it was well below limits established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union. As you know, infant formula is a highly regulated product, and manufactured under stringent quality assurance parameters.

Andrea: Just because it’s highly regulated doesn’t mean you’re still safe. And the FORMULA is regulated, but how much is the packaging regulated? I have a baby due in 5 weeks, and you want me to just take your word for it that it’s okay because FDA regulations are met, even with new evidence coming out about the dangers of BPA, evidence damning enough to get BPA banned in parts of California from all products used in the care and nurturing of children? For medical reasons, I must use formula for my children and you’re not really inspiring my confidence that your brand of formula is the best choice for my baby.

Sonya: Agreed. EWG is concerned that the safety levels set by EPA and the European Union are out of date with the newest studies showing BPA toxicity at very low levels. California EPA is prioritizing a review of BPA's effects on reproduction and development. We'll keep you posted about their conclusions.

Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.


Consumer Relations
Abbott Nutrition

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh The Hand-Crafted Goodness

More addictive than crack...

More addictive than blogging...


I'm not sure my checkbook will survive this.

Anyone know a good 12-step program?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is Wal-Mart Good for the Organic Movement?

Cross-posted at Moms Speak Up.

Ever since I heard that Wal-Mart carries organic products, I've felt a nagging sense of dread. On the one hand, Wal-Mart entering the organic market means that many millions of people will have access to organic products when they might not have otherwise. That is good. But what are the downsides? I've often feared that big-name retailers selling organic products may do more harm than good. And now some of my fears are being realized.

A series of lawsuits has just been filed accusing Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, Safeway, and Wild Oats of consumer fraud for marketing suspect organic milk. According to a lawyer for the prosecution, these retailers are accused of selling milk marked "USDA organic," while the cows are penned in factory-confinement conditions.

It is terrifying to me that these retailers may be misleading the public like this. And I fear this is only the beginning. Will the USDA organic label be slowly corroded by big box retailers like Wal-Mart until no one can trust the label anymore or is this just a hiccup in an otherwise positive venture to bring quality organic products to those who would otherwise lack access?

I'd be interested in your thoughts - is Wal-Mart good or bad for organics?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Don't Worry Dear, I'm Not Going to Kill You

I just got an e-mail from my husband at work saying "Don't get any ideas from her." And then he linked me to this article.

Gosh, ever since I threw those coins at him the other day, he's been SO on edge. It's not like I would ever go so far as to kill him or anything. Jeesh. And if I were to kill him, it certainly wouldn't be by pouring hydrochloric acid all over his unconscious body. There have to be more humane ways to kill a husband.

*This post is all tongue in cheek of course. Please don't call the cops on my blog. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Joyous Event of the Most
Momentous Proportions Has Occurred!

Since I am sharing my good news with everyone today, including the technician who just installed our new heater and really couldn't give a hoot about my news, I figure I should also share this with you as well....

The baby slept from 10pm to 8am last night. 10pm to 8am! That's 10 hours -- 10 blessed, uninterrupted sleep-filled hours.

Hallelujah. May it continue to be this way forever and ever. Amen.

So cute when he's awake. Even cuter when he's sleeping.

Monday, December 10, 2007

How You Know It's Time To Start Potty Training

Your kid sits down on everything and tries to pee in it.
Including your Christmas tree stand...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Do Lead Testing Kits Work?

Well, it depends on who you ask. Ask the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and they'll say they're unreliable. Ask the Consumer Union and they'll say it depends on the brand.

The CPSC tested two common types of home lead test kits and found that the kits registered false positives and false negatives. Therefore, the CPSC has said that "consumers should not use lead test kits to evaluate consumer products for potential lead hazard."

But hold on. The Consumers Union evaluated five lead testing kits and found three of them to be effective - Homax Lead Check, Lead Check Household Lead Test Kit, and Lead Inspector.

So are these kits effective or not?

Continue reading at Moms Speak Up.


p.s. Aren't I full of all sorts of great news lately? Yeah, well, don't worry, I've got even more happy holiday joy to spread around! Stay tuned for my post about lead in artificial Christmas trees....

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Research Reveals Hidden Dangers In Formula Cans

Please read this post if you or someone you know uses baby formula!

This morning I participated in a conference call hosted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) about their new report about the dangers of BPA exposure in formula-fed babies.

You can read the full report for all the details, but here are some of the highlights:

The Scary Stuff

--Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical. Scientists at the NIH have expressed concern about impacts of BPA on infants' brains and behavior. BPA has been linked to cancer, early-onset puberty, obesity, and Type II diabetes.

--An investigation by EWG estimated that 1 of every 16 infants fed ready-to-eat liquid formula would be exposed to the chemical at doses exceeding those that caused harm in laboratory studies.

--According to a EWG survey, the makers of Nestlé, Similac, Enfamil and PBM (who make store-brand formulas sold at WalMart, Target, Kroger and dozens of other retailers) all said that they use BPA in the linings of metal cans holding liquid formula.

--BPA is widely used in powdered formula containers as well. Every manufacturer except Nestlé said it uses a BPA-based lining on the metal portions of their powdered formula cans. Nestlé failed to provide EWG with reliable documentation of their alternative packaging, and thus is not a clear improvement over other types.

--Powdered formula sold by Enfamil and Similac are reduced-risk choices, because only the metal tops and bottoms of their packages – not the cardboard sides – are metal and lined with BPA-based plastic. Earth's Best Organic and PBM (which make dozens of store brands) are more of a concern: they are sold in an entirely metal can, which means the formula has more contact with a BPA-coated surface.

What Parents Can Do
Avoid all ready-to-eat liquid formulas in metal cans.

Opt for powdered formula over liquid.

Use glass bottles.

Avoid plastic liners.

Use filtered water.

Warm bottles in a pan of hot water.

And remember, if you are using formula, POWDERED is safer than liquid!

Read more about what parents can do, here, in EWG's Parent's Guide to Baby-Safe Bottles and Formula.

How to Take Action
EWG is calling on parents to contact formula companies and tell them to remove BPA from their formula cans. Click here for e-mail addresses to all the major formula companies, along with a sample e-mail.

If you have a question about this study that you would like to ask EWG researcher Sonya Lunder, who conducted the study, leave me a comment and she has promised to respond. Thank you, Sonya and EWG!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This Is A Message From God. I Know It.

I lost my wallet. With my ID, all of my credit cards, my Visa check card, and about 20 gift cards. See, I'm notorious for not using gift cards for like forever and now they're all gone. I had one to JCrew, one to Old Navy, one to the Mall, one to Starbucks...I would go on, but I don't want to cry.

Fuck. I am so pissed. I have looked everywhere. In the cars, around the house, in my pockets. I've called around to places I've recently visited. Nothing.

It's gone.

So today I spent the whole day canceling all of my credit cards, making a DMV appointment to get a new ID, and putting a fraud alert on my credit report. Fun times.

I just know that after all of this I'm going to find it somewhere really random, like behind the toilet or something. At least, that is my hope. My hope is that this is all Little Guy's fault and that he stashed it somewhere and that someday I will find it. Yesterday, when I asked him if he has seen it he said, "yes, it's outside!" jumped up from the couch and ran outside. I followed him out there and he promptly handed me a basketball, saying, "Here it is!" Great.

So, I think this whole wallet ordeal is a message from God. God is telling me to STOP SHOPPING. Yeah, with less than 30 days to Christmas and a helluva lot of presents still to buy, I now have no credit cards to use. Not the best time to deliver the message, but here it is. And I am ready to hear it. It is actually reinforcing something in me that I have been thinking a LOT about lately and that is - how much waste I contribute to our landfills, how much I buy that I really don't need, how much disposable junk I use that ends up in the garbage that will take 1000 years to biodegrade. It makes me feel guilty. It makes me feel sick like when I eat way too much cake. It tastes good at the time, but after eating it, I really regret it.

And there's nothing like Christmastime to reflect on this kind of stuff. This year, I actually set out to buy less presents altogether and not fall into the consumer trap of Christmas, but that is a whole post in and of itself. I will say that, incidentally, I lost my wallet on a shopping trip to buy presents for a family that I'm adopting for Christmas. It's just a mom and her son. On their shopping list? Clothes, blankets, and a tricycle. The blanket thing really got to me. Some people don't even have blankets to stay warm. There is something wrong with that. The other thing that got to me is that the woman in need is 30 years old and her son is 3. I am 30 years old too, and my son is 2. I don't even know her, but I felt an immediate connection just due to our ages. I bought a bunch of stuff for her - blankets, warm clothes for her son, a sweater and robe for her, a new trike, and a grocery gift card. The sad thing is that it's probably just a drop in the bucket of what they actually need. It was actually sometime right after that shopping trip that I lost my wallet. I am taking it as a sign that that was really the last thing I needed to buy for Christmas.

Anyway, the sudden loss of my entire wallet with all my credit cards sucks, but I am taking it as a positive message from the universe, which really relates to something that I have been slowly realizing over the past few months. I want to live my life differently. I want to consume a lot less. I want to figure out how to make better, safer, healthier choices when I do buy things. I want to eat more naturally, find organic/natural/local food sources not just for produce, but also for meat and dairy. I want to stop using plastic altogether. And there is more, but I will stop there.

So I guess a "thank you" is in order. Thank you God for telling me that I am on the right track with my feelings of becoming a more conscious consumer.

Just please don't let anyone find my wallet and start opening credit in my name. Cuz I don't think I could forgive you for that one.

On a related note, if you are looking for a really great charitable gift-giving opportunity, check out the Original Really Useful Gift Catalog. This is a reputable charity organization with lots of great donation opportunities.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Oh Holy Night

Tonight we hung up some of our Christmas decorations. After we put up the Nativity Scene, I picked Little Guy up so he could look at it. We took turns examining each figurine. I showed him Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. He took lots of interest in looking at the three wise men and the animals. Then, in a sweet voice, he asked, "Mama, can I talk to Baby Jesus?"

"Sure," I said, and handed him the little Jesus figurine.

"Jesus," Little Guy said gazing at the figurine, "you wanna have a smoothie?"

Filed under "WTF Moments from Toddlerhood"
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