Category Archives: Family

Our Chance To Eliminate Toxic Chemicals From Everyday Products

Our Chance To Eliminate Toxic Chemicals From Everyday Products

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Sign this petition to #FightToxins in our products!

This is a sponsored post written in conjunction with a Seventh Generation awareness campaign about toxins in our everyday products, and how we can change that.  As always all opinions are my own.

I rummaged through my cabinets the other day grabbed all of the plastic cups my kids drink out of and all of those plastic take out food containers I was saving to re-use, and threw them into the recycling bin. In the car I had been listening to a report on NPR about the BPA safety controversy. First it was supposed to be dangerous, now “they” are saying it’s safe…..Any plastics I had purchased were supposedly BPA free to begin with, but on the radio experts said any plastic food containers may still contain harmful elements. One quote from the story impacted me in particular. The show host, referring to plastics, had said something like ” We speculate about what is causing the rise in cancer, and I wonder if the answer has not been right in front of us all along.”  I realized I had been following the various reports that BPA is harmful or not, but that comment on the radio made me re-think who I am counting to deliver the data. As a mom I decided it’s not worth the risk. These are my children, to companies they are just a statistic. It should not be that way, and we should be able to count on our government agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, to keep products on the market safe.

I have always been careful about the cleaning products that I use in my home, we have four kids, a dog, well water, and a septic tank. This puts us in delicate balance with our environment and it’s impact on our health.  Seventh Generation products are some of the ones I’ve been using for years to safely keep things clean. I’ve always liked the idea reflected in the company name, that what we do today lays the path for the next seven generations to come.  I am thrilled to support the companies’ efforts to help pass new reform on the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA, that would help the Environmental Protection Agency to take regulatory action against dangerous chemicals present in our everyday products currently on the market.  One of the problems is that the TSCA has not been changed since 1976. This has allowed companies to add chemicals to our products that are known to cause cancer or cause serious health side-effects.  Even worse there are more than 80,000 chemicals available in the United States that have never been fully tested for their toxic effects on our health and environment!

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Do you remember hearing about the toxic water contamination in Charleston, West Virginia not too long ago? One of the scariest things about the coverage on that story was that I kept hearing them say..”such and such chemical was also found but it’s safety has never been tested before so we can’t say if it is safe or not.” Yeesh, I thought, It would take me a long time to trust that water again! Exposure to toxic chemicals, even in small amounts has been scientifically linked to health risks like cancer, asthma, learning disabilities, and reproductive problems. Don’t you think that true meaningful chemical reform should be put in place to protect the most vulnerable among us; the kids, pregnant mothers, and communities directly exposed to these toxic chemicals? It should also require that the public has access to all information regarding chemical safety levels, allow states to protect their residents, and have the EPA take swift action within specific timetables. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“For the 22,000 chemicals introduced since 1976, chemical manufacturers have provided little or no information to the EPA regarding their potential health or environmental impacts.

These chemicals are found in toys and other children’s products, cleaning and personal care items, furniture, electronics, food and beverage containers, building materials, fabrics, and car interiors.

Since 1976 scientists have linked exposure to toxic chemicals to many health risks. There is growing recognition in the scientific community that exposure to even low doses of certain chemicals, particularly in the womb or during early childhood, can disturb our hormonal, reproductive, and immune systems, and that multiple chemicals can act together to harm human health. Some toxic chemicals can even persist in the environment, for decades sometimes, building up in the food chain and in our bodies. Cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and other reproductive problems are all associated, to some degree, with exposure to toxic chemicals in animals or humans.”-Natural Resources Defense Council

I don’t think we should sit by and wait for others to do the right thing for our families, we need to demand that Congress reevaluate the Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time since 1976.

We can help make a change! Seventh Generation is working to push a reform on TSCA which would have all of these chemicals studied and evaluated. Join the movement to protect our kids and future generations to come.

visit www.fighttoxins.com to sign the petition that will be presented to congress on April, 30th 2014.

You can follow the hashtag #FightToxins to stay up to date in the campaign.

Photo provided by Seventh Generation

Photo provided by Seventh Generation

All information on the TSCA and images provided by Seventh Generation

Global Impact’s Women And Girls Fund On #InternationalWomen’sDay

Global Impact’s Women And Girls Fund On #InternationalWomen’sDay
Woman in Long Ampung, Borneo taken by Elizabeth Atalay

Woman in Long Ampung, Borneo taken by Elizabeth Atalay

I was trying not to stare at her earlobe, but finally I had to ask. Not in English mind you because she spoke the local dialect of her village in Kalimantan. I asked her in that international pantomime us travelers learn to speak. One earlobe hung to her chin weighted with gold rings like most of the women. It was the inverted crescent of the other ear that had caught my attention, where the decorative lobe had been cut off.  She stood and sliced the air with two hands holding an invisible scythe. Bending over she then grasped at the shorn earlobe.  Chuckles came from the other village women with whom I sat on the floor of the longhouse as she did this, and I nodded that I understood.

According to Global Impact, two-thirds of the labor to produce more than half the world’s food is done by women. Meanwhile women control less than 10 percent of the world’s assets. I had seen the women working in the fields, carrying thatched backpacks full of grain back to the village, and then pounding it into fine powder.  The missing earlobe was merely an occupational hazard. In turn she motioned to her belly in a sweeping outward gesture unmistakable as pregnancy, and then clasped her arms to her breast. I shook my head “no” and smiled.  I had no children yet, knowing as their faces flooded with pity that being in my mid twenties this would be shocking to them. Still, despite our cultural differences and our language barriers, I remember being amazed at the feeling of sisterhood I felt as their guest. I was a stranger from a faraway land, but as women we connected and understood each other on some very basic level.

This type of experience would repeat itself for me all round the world, fortifying my sense of global sisterhood as I went. The feeling was bolstered even more so after having my own children, knowing for women the experiences that go along with that are universal.  As is the love we feel for our children, and our hopes and dreams for their futures.  That sisterhood stays with me, as does the knowledge that the population most affected by global poverty is women and girls. Women and girls are integral in overcoming poverty, for a family, a community or a nation.

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This International Women’s Day, Global Impact has launched the Women and Girls Fund which harnesses four of the most respected charities working to help women and girls, CARE, World Vision, Plan International, and the International Center for Research on Women.  These charities work to provide education, health care, protection from violence, protection from sexual exploitation, and job training to women and girls around the world.

We women need to stick together in this world, it is unacceptable that 1 in 9 girls will be forced into marriage before her 15th birthday, or that nearly 300,000 women will die from preventable childbirth related causes.  Girls in the developing world face overwhelming odds from the day they are born.  By educating girls we give them the chance to rise out of poverty, earn a living, and send their own children to school one day.  With proper health care and nutrition we can ensure that they grow to contribute fully to their communities.  Together we can help change the world by simply investing in women and girls. I think about the women I met along my travels who fed me and housed me despite their meager means, and that stranger from a strange land that I was to them, and I want to give back.  I still appreciate the camaraderie we shared so many years and miles away from my here and now, and it calls me to action.

Global Impact’s Women and Girls Fund has the goal of helping women and girls everywhere to live healthy lives, protected, educated, respected, and empowered to reach their full potential. Through this fund you can join millions of people working to help women and girls. All contributions go directly to supporting programs to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.  Please visit www.togetherforwomen.org to learn more about this great opportunity to make a difference.

This post is a part of a sponsored awareness program that seeks to help women and girls everywhere live healthy lives wherein they are protected, respected, educated and empowered to reach their potential. Visit www.togetherforwomen.org.

global teamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

 

#Cancun #Mexico #Travel

#Cancun #Mexico #Travel

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Cancun Beach

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Chichen Itza

Cancun

Mexico

Mexican Woman

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Mexican Beach

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Cooking With Kids; ChopChop Invites You To The #BigPicnic

Cooking With Kids; ChopChop Invites You To The #BigPicnic

ChopChop Big PicnicParsnip and Dill, I tell my kids. Those are my secret ingredients for delicious chicken soup. Well not my recipe I confess, but passed on to me by Grandma Nettie, Auntie Kimbo’s grandmother. They know that “Auntie” Kimbo is not really their aunt, and that her name is Kim (Kimberly but don’t tell her I told you!).  They also know that Kim and I have been friends since we were six, and somewhere Kim turned into Kimbo, as those things go with longtime childhood friends.

In any case, my kids and I love to cook together and it has been fun as they grow to watch them conquer more and more complex cooking tasks on their own. And by complex I mean my 10-year-old is up to the cracking the eggs into a bowl without bits of shell getting in. One of the most rewarding moments of motherhood so far was the birthday morning that I woke up to heart-shaped pancakes made for me by my 13-year-old daughter. My child had cooked for me , and that felt revolutionary.

I like to cook with them for the same reason that I like to keep a small (o.k. weed infested) garden in our backyard. I like for them to know where their food comes from. To understand the process of how what we put into our body is made, and that they can make food for themselves, it does not have to come in a package or be bought off a shelf. We had been big fans of the quarterly publication ChopChop Magazine for years, loving to try the healthful recipes and snack suggestions within its colorful pages. ChopChop is a non-profit  with the mission to inspire and teach kids to cook and eat real food with their families.

Currently, 1 out of 400 children under 18 in the U.S. has diabetes, and nearly 1 in 3 is obese. ChopChop’s goal is to reverse this trend by teaching kids and their parents how to create healthy, delicious meals that are easy to prepare and use fresh, nutritious ingredients. ChopChop doesn’t demonize particular foods or use scare tactics. They just offer simple, healthy, and affordable recipes for children and parents to make together.

When we found out ChopChop had come out with a  ChopChop cookbook  we were thrilled.   We were sent a copy as a lead up to our participation in The Big Picnic, and when we received our copy of the cookbook  I had the kids pick out a recipe for us to try.  With four kids coming to a consensus can be challenging to say the least, this time somehow they all enthusiastically agreed that they wanted to make Matzo Balls to add to Grandma Nettie’s Chicken Soup.

The ChopChop Cookbook is made for kids so it is easy for them to read and follow the well explained simple recipes. Personally I never knew I could make Matzo balls, so to find them so easy to make surprised me. Of course the kids all wanted to crack the eggs so I was grateful that the recipe they chose called for 6! Of course rolling the Matzo balls was the most fun, but watching them fluff up as they cooked came pretty close.

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Inspired by National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September, The Big Picnic is being hosted on September 22nd by ChopChop and partner organizations including The White House as a virtual community picnic in which families across the country will cook and eat together at their own picnics. It will be a fun event with a serious goal: preventing childhood obesity.  Who doesn’t love a picnic!?! They are a great way to remind us that cooking and eating healthy food together is lots of fun—a time to share and enjoy. This event is all about good food and good company!

You can join The Big Picnic however you like, spread out a blanket , eat at a picnic table – outside or in. Invite friends, family,  neighbors, and make it as simple or as elaborate as you want. Take pictures or video and share with the hashtag #bigpicnic, and as a participant you will be eligible to win prizes like subscriptions to the magazine, a copy of the  ChopChop cookbook or other fun surprises. We’ll be there, eating our Matzo Ball Soup!

You can also Enter to Win a ChopChop cookbook and a one-year ChopChop Magazine subscription Below!
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This is an original post written by me as part of a program with The Mission List. I received a ChopChop cookbook + magazine subscription for culinary inspiration; as always all opinions are my own.

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How The Kids See Me

How The Kids See Me

Portrait of me by my daughter “yelling about the messy playroom”

This is re-posted from a year ago. It’s one of my favorites.

I think of myself as a pretty laid back mom, and by nature I’m not a yeller, so years back when my oldest daughter returned from art class with a portrait of  me looking like a screaming maniac, I was sure there must have been a mistake.  She took the class with three friends, and there was some confusion over whose portrait was whose.  Three were of serene smiling mothers, and then there was this.  One of the other moms actually was a yeller, so I knowingly looked around the group and told them I though there was a mix up.    My daughter cleared the air by confirming that it was in fact her portrait of me yelling about the messy playroom.  Of course as I slunk away I told her I loved it, and commended her on her originality.  I sincerely meant both compliments, but a part of me caught the first glimpse of how she saw me through her child’s lens, and I had to laugh.  Sure I am a laid back person, and I swear am not a yeller, but many a mom has caught herself losing her cool at her kids about something, and then thinking “who is this raving lunatic the kids are turning me into? This is so not me!”  This portrait just may be my favorite piece of artwork that hangs in our home; it forces me to laugh at myself every time I see it.

I was harder hit a year later when in the same week my daughter brought home a family crest where I was represented by a mop and pail, and my son brought home a cute Mother’s Day card where he finished the sentence “My mother loves to…..” with “wash the dishes“.

 

As disheartening as these depictions of me were I knew that they were completely honest, innocent assessments.  I thought back to how I viewed my own mother as a kid, and from what I remember,  I was only vaguely aware of her as a woman outside of her role as my mom. The first time I recall feeling deep pride and admiration for her accomplishments was when we were writing the text for our wedding invitations, and I realized that as a Ph.D. her proper title was “Dr.” not “Mom”. I guess it took me a while, and still it wasn’t until after I had my own children that I could truly appreciate her in full.   I can’t expect my kids to see me other than through the paradigm of their childish inner world.  Most kids by nature are egocentric creatures.   Most of the time my kids perceptions of me serve as moments of humility, but they can just as easily put me on a pedestal like no one else can.   I have to laugh at the truth in their observations, because no commentary is as candid as a child’s.  This recent portrait of me by my youngest son is a new favorite.  Here he managed to capture the essence of me in the morning with perfection. Certainly this is how I feel before that first cup of coffee.  The funny ones are my favorites, but every now and then a piece of art comes home that just melts my mommy heart into a puddle, and that is the power of kids art.

 

 

(I had to throw in this one where I am listed as 6′ tall and 100 pounds)