Monday, June 27, 2011

Simple Sunscreen is best...if you know what you're doing!

We were going to the zoo a couple years ago so I slathered my child up in the sunscreen. He was 2 at the time & I was still using the paba-free Baby Blanket sunscreen for super-sensitive little people skin. A few hours after we got home he started running a fever & was red all over. Wait...he was just red in areas that were exposed to the sun. Did I not re-apply when I should have? My child was sun burned & I was responsible. I felt horrible. The next day the burn was gone (so was the fever) & he was no longer burned (not tan either). Weird. That night I took him to an outdoor soccer game. You can bet I slathered the lotion on this time! Fever back, red skin back. Now I'm starting to get a clue: he's having a reaction to the sunscreen! The baby sunscreen at that! What am I going to do? I consulted the doctor & he recommended Neutrogena sensitive skin sunscreen (for adults). We tried it & we haven't had any additional problems. This year I even tried the spray with helioplex & he's been fine with it, though I have been wondering what we are sucking in our lungs each time we spray. I have a sunblock stick to use on the face.

Enter new FDA standards & information around sunscreens. What is in this stuff, is it tested & how does it all really work? Here's my summary:

  • We need protection from the UVB & UVA rays. UVB are what give you sunburns. UVA penetrate deeper & give you premature aging, sunspots & skin cancers.
  • SPF numbers apply to UVB protection only.
  • There is a difference between sunscreen & sunblock. See next 2 bullets.
  • Sunscreens soak into your skin & absorb the rays. These contain more chemicals, but are generally lighter. There seems to be some question about the safety of these chemicals & not a lot of testing. Some say they remain on the surface & don't penetrate the bloodstream. Others aren't so sure.
  • Sunblocks contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They sit on the skin's surface instead of being absorbed so they are considered a more natural option.
  • You can find lists of recommended sunscreens & those to avoid. It seems to me the environmental groups recommend ones that avoid chemicals harmful to the environment regardless of how well they actually protect & dermatologist groups recommend ones that protect your skin, regardless of what else they are doing. There's not a lot of research and it seems everyone has an agenda.
I did my research & then went to the store with my new-found information. Overwhelming sums it up! I finally settled on Neutrogena pure & free baby because its only active ingredients are titanium dioxide & zinc oxide. I figure simple is better. 

To learn how to use sunscreen to get the ultimate tan without burning, read my earlier blog on that one. 

Also, if you have an infant under 6-months, sunscreen is not safe for him/her. When we lived in Florida I felt like this was talked about a lot. Then we moved to the Midwest & I've never heard it uttered (except by myself). I'm not sure if it's not talked about or if everyone just assumed I was not a 2-time mom from Florida & I knew.

If you want to read up on some of these things on your own, I found these websites thorough yet comprehensive:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wally Chicken & Asian Slaw

I have 4 incredible nieces! It's hard to believe, but 3 of them will be in college as of this Fall. It's amazing how fast the time goes. They each have very special qualities and talents and I hope they always walk proud & know just how remarkable they are. Today is Cary's birthday & I am dedicating this post to her (not just because she said how beautiful I was when I first married her uncle).

Truth is, this is one of her favorite recipes & it is delish! I think she's been waiting to request it until I listed it on the menu, but I have yet to do that :)  It is especially great if you are feeding a lot of people.

Wally's Chicken (credit goes to none other than my hubby's friend Wally)
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup Sprite or 7Up
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 head crushed garlic
juice of 2 lemons
black pepper to taste
package of chicken thighs (thighs are key)

Mix everything together & marinade the chicken for 24-72 hours. When ready to cook, grill on low heat.

It goes great with rice pilaf & Asian Slaw.

Asian Slaw (a food processor comes in handy if you buy the actual heads of cabbage)
1 head green cabbage, shredded
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 carrots, shredded
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro

Just mix it all together. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Potty Training Take 2

This is out of the normal realm for my blog, but I'm doing it anyway. Neither of my kids have ever shown any interest in potty training. "They" say to wait for the signs & then it will go oh, so smoothly. My first was almost 3.5 & we were a month out from preschool so it had to be done (or he'd continue to stay home without any breaks for me-not happenin!). My method was just to put him in underwear & see how it went. He did great! He got it almost immediately. We had very few accidents that first week or two. Also, he has never had an accident at school. However, at some point he turned it into a control issue. He would potty in his pants every time he got in trouble. He would hold it most of the day until I put the pull-up on & then he would go. He's 5 now & we still have the occasional accident (not often & mostly when he's exhausted) and he still wears a pull-up at night. (Approximately 3 months ago he went 2 weeks in a row without peeing in bed at night, but then decided he was done with that so the pull-ups came back.)

I decided whatever I did with him was wrong. Short-term he did great, but long-term it's not been good. Someone recommended "Toilet Training in Less Than a Day" & I decided to give it a shot.

It requires pre-planning. I had to buy a doll that pees and snacks & drinks (yes, it's one of those). The book is written for kids a little younger and my 3 year old has actually peed in the toilet a couple times. I thought my "day" was really going to be a few hours. Not so much! After they pee in their pants you have to practice 10 times. It took him a couple hours before he had to go & then he had to go again (and again) before we were done practicing. He finally got it, but had multiple accidents over the next few days. Mentally I wasn't prepared (read the line about it taking a couple hours). I am convinced that pull-up equals permission to pee so I didn't put them on him at night. Some nights he held it all night, others he didn't and I did a lot of sheet washing. Day 10 arrives & the accidents all but disappear. We started Vacation Bible Camp on day 16 of starting the training & he did awesome! I was so nervous since I wouldn't be there, but he only had one accident all week. We've also had almost one full week of not wetting the bed! I am so proud of the little guy and am thinking that short-term he was harder, but long-term he's going to be a champ!

So, if potty training is in your future, I recommend the book. It also fosters independence as he does it all himself.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Menu: the next few weeks

We have Vacation Bible Camp this week & I feel like I'm getting a small dose of what many of my "working" mom friends go through on a regular basis. Camp landed on a week when I didn't have a menu planned out (I was through the old & hadn't created a new yet). Every morning we've had plans or I've tried to get a little work done. We've been leaving for VBC around 11:30. I hang out with 1st graders from 12:30-3:30. By the time we get home (if we don't run an errand) it's almost 4:30. It might all be fine except when I get my kids from their VBC rooms at 3:30 they are generally in melt-down. It's like they see me & decide to let out this huge release. I'm generally tired, but have the potential to rally...until the melt-down occurs & throws me into complete & utter mental exhaustion. Needless to say, it has been a week of left-overs. I was fortunate to find a few things I had previously frozen.

This has me back on track with my next menu & here it is. Also, the CSA I joined has started producing the more "fun" produce--strawberries, broccoli (best I've had), beets (weird, but I LOVE them), tomatoes. I'll be incorporating these things in side dishes to go along with the menu. So excited!

tonight: going out (Checking out a new restaurant owned by a friend-fast food using fresh, local & non-processed as much as possible. I'll let you know if we like it.)
Sat: pork roast
Sun: ribs
Mon: chicken supreme
Tue: left overs for the boys, date night for us
Wed: pork burgers
Thurs: left overs (book club for me, boys can fend for themselves)
Fri: yogurt chicken
Sat: steak
Sun: a birthday party-eating there & can't wait!
Mon: chicken salad
Tue: stir fry
Wed: pot roast
Thr: left overs
Fri: hamburgers
Sat: BBQ chicken
Sun: chicken fried rice
Mon: pulled pork
Tue: chicken enchiladas
Wed: left overs

There it is. Like last time, I'll post some of the recipes. If there's anything in particular you want please let me know!

Friday, June 10, 2011

If you like fried chicken...

Summer brings images of being outdoors, picnics, parks, BBQs and yes, fried chicken. Yum! Below is how I make "fried chicken". I may have to look for alternatives to the crackers at some point, but even so it's healthier than the original.

Crunchy Baked Chicken
1.5 cups crushed buttery crackers (Club, Town House, etc.)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup chopped parsley (or about half of this if you use dried parsley)
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
chicken on the bone (sometimes I buy a 1/2 chicken "cut up" and sometimes I buy a package of chicken legs depending on my mood)

The night before, put the chicken in a bowl & pour the buttermilk over it. Cover & let sit in the fridge until you're ready to bake. When you're ready to make it: grease* a 9X13 pan & preheat the oven to 350. Mix the first 6 ingredients (all except the buttermilk & chicken) in a big bowl. Pull each piece of chicken (coated in the buttermilk to help the mixture stick) out of the buttermilk & roll in the cracker mix. Use a spoon to cover it with the mix. Place in a single layer on the pan. Bake 1 hour, 15 min or until fork-tender.

*To grease a pan I rub a paper towel over a stick of butter & then rub the butter on the pan. There are so many additives in cooking spray, I try to avoid it. Plus, cooking spray ruins your non-stick pans.

For all you fried chicken lovers, I hope you find this is an enjoyable (and much easier) alternative!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Off to Kindergarten. What to do about shots?

My oldest will be in Kindergarten this fall. It's such an exciting time! To me, it's the beginning of growing up. Though he'll always be my baby, he's a full-fledged kid! And he's moving from us being the primary teachers in his life to learning lots from others: teachers, coaches & other kids. He's been in preschool, but this just seems so different. He's ready & I'm excited for him. A little more independence for him. A little letting go for me. Hopefully I'll be ready too!

Enter Kindergarten.  Enter a new round of shots. A number of my friends also have kids this age & a few have asked my thoughts. Here they are: you really have to research it yourself & determine what you are most comfortable with. It's an individual decision. Both sides have consequences & you have to live with them. It's no-win. If you don't vaccinate, your kid is at risk for some potentially horrible diseases or illnesses. If you do vaccinate, you're injecting known carcinogens and other harmful ingredients directly into their little systems, many of which we don't know the long-term consequences. This is why we need change. We shouldn't have to make these decisions. Why can't they produce vaccines using preservatives that are known to be safe? Do you realize that vaccine manufacturers can't be sued? If your child has a reaction, you file for compensation through the government. Manufacturers are making billions & paying lobbyists to help get laws passed so that kids have to have vaccines before they can enter school & they have no accountability.

I really didn't mean to get on a tangent here. I just feel so strongly about it. I don't get why something that was originally intended to protect us may actually be harming us. Believe me, I want nothing more than to inject my kids with something that would protect them from some awful diseases. And I regress again....

You really do have to research it & decide for yourself. The website I have come to trust the most is There are others, but this is the most balanced one I've found. If you click here you can scroll down to look up the individual vaccines and the associated diseases so you know some of the known risks. Click here to see a list of the ingredients included in vaccines by manufacturer.

I did read the book, "Saying No to Vaccines" by Dr. Sherry Tenpenny.  It was informative, scary and one-sided in my opinion, but she did make a number of very good points, including the amount of a vaccine absorbed in a system is different for different persons. You may not need a booster. It's also interesting to me that the amount of medicine you give to an infant is determined by weight, but vaccines are not. You can get a titer test to determine how much resistance you have to a particular disease & whether or not an additional vaccine or booster is needed.

Bottom line: research it. Talk to your pediatrician. Pray. And ultimately do what you are most comfortable with. If you want to give your child all the recommended vaccines-do it, but also understand that you don't have to do it per the recommended schedule. You can have them administered at different times. If you have a doctor that is bullying you into something you aren't comfortable with, get a new doctor. I have done everything mentioned in this paragraph. The most valuable was the prayer. God has been the one to guide us along the way & I'm convinced our first child (who was more susceptible to "issues") would be facing a different life outlook had we not done things the way we did.

Please understand that I am just a mom trying to do what's right for my children. If I can help others along the way, that's my hope. I am not a doctor or a scientist. My background is business & marketing. Anything on this site is purely an opinion on my part or something I deem true via other sources typically referenced.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Impossible to eliminate everything, but maybe I'll start with the most harmful....

Since first finding the list of chemicals most harmful to children as reported by the EPA, I can't get it out of my head. Some of the items on the list we are already trying to avoid (BPA, MSG, food dyes). I must admit even with those, if it's something that is terribly inconvenient, I haven't avoided it. Some of the items are going to be painful to get out of the house & I've been struggling with whether or not to do it. I sometimes have the age-old thought "I grew up with it and I turned out ok", but then I wonder, did I grow up with it? When was it introduced? I really have no idea.

Ultimately I'm coming down on the side of: IT MADE THE EPA's LIST OF MOST HARMFUL CHEMICALS TO KIDS. Hello!?! We should avoid it. My first step is the BHA. I've thrown out or given away all our cereals except Cheerios (I've read that label 80 times I'm sure & I'm now convinced it doesn't have it), replacing them with some cereals from the organic aisle. Gorilla Munch seems to be the new fav!

Next to go are the PJs. My kids love their PJs-both the animals that normally come on them & wearing them all day. I've been trying to figure out how I can get them out of them. Low & behold, on the last day of preschool my 5-yr-old came home with a new t-shirt featuring an art rendering he drew. He swears he drew it on paper & Mrs. G got it onto the t-shirt (I think ironing). He said it won't come off & thus far it has held up in the washer & dryer! This could be fun-we can make our own animals on big t-shirts & sleep in them for years!!! This weekend I'm going to plant myself at Michaels & figure out how Mrs. G did this. If anyone knows, please clue me in before I waste hours at the craft store.

Note: I tried searching the EPA's website to ensure this info is correct. While it's nearly impossible to find anything on the EPA site, I did find this, which appears to be essentially this list in more scientific terms. Also if you're a soon-to-be mom or the mom of an infant, it might be worth reading this: (as if you need one more thing to worry about).