Monthly Archives: June 2010

Like Me, Like Me!

It’s a mess around here.

I’m going to be on vacation next week which means I’m preparing for vacation this week. I’m swamped, but I have so much to say! Maybe when I get to the beach I’ll be totally inspired to write. Maybe I’ll post every day. It could happen, but it’s more likely I’ll be swimming in the lake, drinking sake and chasing bubbles in the forest with my nieces (the nieces are coming!). Who has time for hysteria?

Before I let you go: did you see my new buttons (top right)? Pretty nice, no? If you aren’t following HMN on Facebook maybe you could. It would be, like, super-awesome if you would, like, ‘like’ me. I like you. Have I mentioned lately how much I like you?

Enough! I’m off to pack things. I’ll be in touch, maybe, yes, or no, maybe not, but sometime soon, I promise. In the meantime, enjoy the 4th!

Chewable, Floatable and Less Likely to Get Caught in a Tree

The dog chewed her first bumper/throw toy apart almost immediately, but a quick duct tape repair lasted a few months until she recently tore it apart for good. I went to the pet store and bought her a foam ball with a shock cord loop designed to work as a slingshot. She chewed it to bits within days, and I’m still finding mysterious piles of blue foam in the forest (what kind of fungus is that?). This time I bought another bumper like the first because it was my only choice. Paul took that bumper by the rope, wound it up a few times (that champion waffle ball pitcher’s arm of his can really launch a dog toy) before letting it fly off the end of the deck right into the upper branches of a douglas fir. Perfect. Back at the pet store, this time I decide to buy a Frisbee. It’s durable, chewable, floatable, less likely to be caught in a tree and bright orange so it can be located in grass or water. I think it’s a winner.

Norah’s a fast, aerodynamically-shaped dog with nothing between her ears to slow her down. She could really be one of those Frisbee dogs. She could totally pluck that orange disk right out of the air. Go Norah Go! It’s time you make something of yourself! It’s time you start pulling your weight around here. I show Norah her new Frisbee and all I get is her frantic wheresmyball, wheresmyball, ohmygod, someoneispayingattentiontome howcouldInotfindballatatimelikethis, mustfindball reaction. I throw the Frisbee off the deck. Nothing. She has NO interest (wheresmyball). I try several more times over the weekend, again and again. Still nothing.

Then, miraculously, the lost hanging-from-a-tree-like-its-a-Christmas-ornament dog toy drops from the sky. We’re back in business. Until… Norah tears off the outer layer of fuzz and cracks it open like a pistachio. Done.

I’m not even going back to the pet store because I know they don’t have anything else. We’re out of options. Anyone out there got any ideas for me?

Maybe I don’t need a pet store at all. Maybe I need an athletic store where I can buy cans and cans of tennis balls. She can chew right through them and we’ll always have another. Or maybe we don’t need any store at all. Maybe we just need a beach with sticks. Only driftwood for this dog. Or, maybe I just need a kitchen and a few strips of (nitrate-free) bacon. Yes, that’s it. Next up: frying the Frisbee in bacon grease. To be continued…

Something You Should Know About Us

Maybe this will be one of those moments.

When we were little my sister and I liked to eat chapstick – any flavor or even plain would do but my favorite was orange. There was something about the smell that I loved so much. If we were in the mood for nighttime snack, we’d sneak stealth-like into my parent’s bathroom and rummage around in the bottom drawer until we came up with a tube of whatever we could find.

We’d talk in what we thought were whispers, while we snacked like little chipmunks. I don’t know how old we were, but I do know my sister (who is two years older than me) was old enough to feel guilty. As a penance she smothered Dad’s toothbrush, we assumed the balm was Dad’s because Mom used lipstick, with toothpaste and left it, bristles up, next to the sink. Such a good helper. 

One morning Dad said something like, “you guys can eat all the chapstick you want but please don’t put toothpaste on my toothbrush.” Apparently it dried and hardened and in the morning he had to chisel it off. Sorry Dad. Oh and, sorry Mom for eating your chapstick.

The other night while getting into bed I notice red streaks that look like blood on a crinkled tissue stuffed into the top of the Kleenex box. I pull it out to throw it away and smell something sweet. That’s not blood. I smell again. Definitely not blood. In my night stand drawer, you guessed it, the lid is off and the balm has been scraped out with a tiny finger. The Dr Pepper Lip Smackers has been compromised.

Don’t even start with me about all the chemicals Lip Smackers. I should have thrown Dr Pepper away long ago, replaced it with my 100% organic food-grade quality (perfect for eating) premium shea butter, encased in a BPA and phthalate free tube, but it’s a relic from my past. It was hard to let go.  

That’s all beside the point. Suddenly, I realized we’re here: she’s reaching the age where tangible memory begins. It’s possible she’ll remember some of these days, some moments, not as a general feeling, a haze of babyness, but as specific moments that have, I don’t know, quotation marks. Maybe this isn’t exactly what happened, maybe I haven’t remembered Dad’s words correctly but that’s the way memory works. What’s important here is not the accuracy but the solidity.

On one hand, this is terrifying. What about all my mistakes, the times I get frustrated, I do the wrong thing? She’s watching, remembering, cataloguing, probably with the dewey decimal system, saving all these moments for her teenage years.

But this new phase of tangible memory is also a relief because here we are, mother and daughter (both with an appetite for lip balm), making it though our days and our nights. Working it out. We’ve made it this far and hopefully, if our luck continues, we’ll have a lot more time together, good and bad, to remember.

Good News for Friday

No, it's not a cow, but it is a farm animal.

We need some good news around here (rain! more rain!), and guess what? I found some. The Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility reports that:

“Use of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to induce more milk production in dairy cows reportedly has declined over the past few years. …the number of U.S. dairies using rBGH is now about 9 to 12 percent, down from 15.2 percent in 2007. The number of cows injected is 10 to 14 percent, down from 17.2 percent.”

We don’t want it, we don’t buy it, they stop using it, or they use less of it. Isn’t that wonderfully simple?


Stop with the hormone disruptors, Mom. Sheesh!

Let me first apologize for being SO late on this. For heaven’s sake it’s mid-June and I still haven’t written anything about sunscreens. It’s hard to feel a sense of urgency when it’s raining.

This is one of those stupidly-complicated topics. There’s a lot to cover here, no time to dilly-dally, no messing around, I’m going to get right to it.

First, the Vitamin D issue… We need Vitamin D for bone strength, strong immune system function, and studies have suggested high levels may reduce the risk of some forms of cancer. Many of us who live in the northern territories (rain!) are D deficient. The best source of Vitamin D is sunshine on bare, sunscreen-free skin for about 20 minutes a day.

The best way to prevent sunburns is to cover up. Wide brimmed hats, light-weight, long-sleeved shirts, tube socks worn under Velcro sandals are all a good way to go. OK, you can skip the tube socks, but they epitomize how I feel when I go into the sun completely covered: like a total nerd. I save this special look for working in the yard or any time I don’t really care. Whenever I can go with a completely, or partially, covered look I do. I’m always in search of cute sun hats (that also double as rain hats).

If you’re going to wear sunscreen, the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2010 Sunscreen Guide.  is a great resource. When choosing a sunscreen, the first question to ask is: can I tolerate a mineral sunscreen? If yes, the EWG approved mineral sunscreens listed here offer the best protection without any chemicals considered to be hormone disruptors.

Mineral sunscreens are often thick and white and don’t rub into the skin completely. I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t turn Josie’s skin bright blue. I mean bright blue. She doesn’t burn easily and I do my best to keep her covered. If I can’t keep her covered and we’re working in the yard or somewhere she won’t get strange looks, I put mineral sunscreen on her. If we’re out at a beach or some fun place with other people and I don’t want her to look like she just stepped out of Avatar, I occasionally (but rarely) put a non-mineral, well-rated sunscreen, which contains at least one hormone disruptor, on her exposed skin.

Gasp! A hormone disruptor on my baby? This is a good time to remember that we’re trying to decrease the overall toxic load on our bodies across a broad range of categories (foods, cosmetics, air quality, etc). We (and by we I mean I) do the best we can but sometimes we have to compromise even for purely cosmetic purposes.

Of the 500 sunscreens the Environmental Working Group evaluated, they recommend only 39 (8%). Here’s why:

  1. Many sunscreen manufacturers make exaggerated SPF claims that cannot be proven.
  2. There’s new information on two common sunscreen ingredients: Vitamin A and Oxybenzone. A recent study found tumors and lesions develop faster on skin coated with Vitamin A and Oxybenzone is a synthetic estrogen found in 97% of bodies that were tested by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you have a sunscreen you use and love, you can look for its rating here.

If you want to buy a product not on the list, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Stick to SPF 15-50
  2. Avoid ingredient Vitamin A also known as retinyl palmitate
  3. Avoid ingredient oxybenzone
  4. Avoid sunscreens with insect repellant

In case you couldn’t already tell, the federal Food and Drug Administration still has not issued regulations for sunscreens makers. Thank goodness for EWG.

Now, get out there and enjoy the sun, but for heaven’s sake, don’t tell me about it (rain!).

As for Rehydration…


After the most recent McDonalds debacle, orange drink is clearly out of the question (as if it wasn’t already, but oh how I used to love it!). The latest news involves lead found in juice and packaged fruits. Wednesday the Environmental Law Foundation “filed Notices of Violation of California Proposition 65 Toxics Right to Know law, alleging the toxic chemical lead was found in a variety of children’s and baby foods. The specific food categories included apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears and peaches (including baby food), and fruit cocktail.”

The complete list of lead contaminated juices includes brands I trust like Santa Cruz Organics and Trader Joe’s. The list also includes a few non-contaminated brands.

Josie doesn’t drink much juice because it seems to make her crazy – like jump on her trampoline while Mommy counts to 75 (one count per jump) then sing the alphabet song twice without stopping kind of crazy. Have I mentioned that we have a mini-trampoline in our living room? A few months ago I met with the coolest organizer/decorator in the world. Can you see us standing around, me with my notebook in hand to take down her brilliance, her rubbing her chin with index finger and thumb (she wouldn’t do that but just play along). We move furniture, we reconfigure, we solve all the problems of the room then… Hey, you know what would look great right here? A mini-tramp, yeah, one with blue padding around the edge decorated with green frogs and a giant foam handle. Just far enough from the fireplace that if she falls, she won’t hit her head but close enough to the kitchen… Yes, right here in the center, let me just move this coffee table out of the way, OMG its perfect!

Moving on… We try to eat unprocessed whole foods and this is just one more case for that. Packaging and processing can cause all kinds of trouble. But what’s a child to drink? I’m going to put Josie on an all-water, retrieved from pure mountain streams, rehydration plan. She will drink this pure-mountain-stream water only from a stainless steel cup, scratch that, she will drink only from her cupped hands, her cupped hands washed with organic handmade soap and air dried. And the stream will be high in the mountains, no scratch that, she will drink only melted fresh mountain snow from organic-soap-washed, cupped hands. Then I will obtain a sheep and I will dress her in clothes made of wool. She will only eat lettuce from the garden. Bathing will become unnecessary. If you need me, I’ll be in the forest, gathering sticks and fallen branches to whittle into shoes.

More Dangerous than the Marshmallow Man

Nothing scary to see here.

I was getting caught up on some light blog reading about cancer treatment, chemicals in children’s medicine, and toxic sunscreens when I came across this fun story about McDonald’s voluntary recall of 12 million Shrek-decorated glasses after complaints of cadmium contamination were lodged with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Cadmium is considered more toxic than lead and even low levels have been linked to health problems including kidney damage and fragile bones. One of those complaint-lodgers was    

Here’s how I imagine this story went down: this woman blogger, goes to McDonalds, orders a Shrek glass full of something or she gets the empty Shrek glass as a promotion, (not sure how that works) anyway, she has the Shrek glass. It’s sitting on a tray. When the guy cashier turns around to get some fries she takes a small Bond-style camera pen-like device out of her inside jacket pocket. Or, even better, she takes out a Ghost Busters PKE meter with the arms that stick out and the little red lights  (Did you know there’s a site that contains instructions on how to make all the Ghost Busters equipment at home? Of course you did.) She points the tool, which detects cadmium, at the ink on the outside of the glass and the thing goes crazy. She’s thrown back by the force of the charge (don’t cross the streams!). Someone helps her off the floor, she takes the data to the CPSC, the glasses are recalled and (spoiler alert!) and the marshmallow man is killed in the end.   

Perhaps it didn’t happen quite this way, but this part is the truth: this woman has her OWN Thermo Fisher Scientific Niton XRF analyzer. Total rock star. She tested all of the parts of the glasses herself. The worst offender: yellow lion of Puss in Boots. Like Mr. Stay Puft, I don’t think I’ll ever look at the lion the same way again.


This might be my favorite picture ever.

Happy Birthday! This has become a standard greeting in our house. Josie wishes me one at least 10 times a day, sometimes with song, sometimes not. I’ve stopped explaining that mine isn’t for a few months and hers isn’t for another six months. I’m rolling with it and thought I’d share the love with you.

Also: interesting conversation in the comments section of My Love of Pockets about why conventional blueberries, which used to be on the consistently clean side of the list, are suddenly #5 on the worst list.

And! In the ongoing quest to find organic BPA-free tomatoes we have a new provider, or at least we will soon. To get caught up on the other sources you can read the comments on this post Hey Everyone Let’s Panic and the next follow up Suspense (and BPA-Free canned tomatoes!). And Muir Glen just announced that with the next tomato harvest they’ll be using BPA-free can liners. Oh gluten-free joy!

Pardon Me

It's too dark but I like it anyway.

You’ll have to excuse me. I’m feeling very confused and tired this week. My lower left eyelid is doing a lot of twitching. A lot. Every time it starts I forget what I was saying, doing, thinking. It seems to be my body’s way of getting me to leave my problems alone, to keep me from fixating. It appears that I need to stop thinking altogether and relax. I’m trying to listen.