Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Hippie/Green/Organic Link (in the same fashion as the last one: short and easy to remember)

If you read my last post and found it helpful to know about the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen, then you might also like this simple 3 part list to reduce chemical exposure in your daily life:
1. Avoid pesticides and how
2. Avoid BPA and PFC's
3. Avoid growth hormones and antibiotics.
(continued in full below, or click on the yellow link)

Healthy Home Tips (on the Environmental Working Group Website)

1. Why should you avoid pesticides?

avoid pesticidesYears of research have shown different pesticides to be associated with a variety of health problems, including:

  • Cancer
  • Hormone disruption
  • Abnormal brain and nervous system development

Young children and pregnant women are especially at risk. Pesticides are unique among chemicals released into the environment because they are toxic by design. Their sole purpose is to kill living or“pests” - insects, plants and fungi.

How to avoid pesticides on your food

  • Buy organic when you can. Organic produce is grown without pesticides, so when you eat it you’re not also eating toxic chemicals. As it should be.
  • Don’t use pesticides to grow your own food. More and more Americans have backyard and community gardens. Use natural techniques – not pesticides - to manage pests.
  • When you can’t buy organic, buy less-contaminated conventional produce. Every year EWG ranks popular fruits and vegetables based on the amount of pesticide residues found on them. For example, apples and peaches top our “Dirty Dozen” list, so buy those organic, but sweet corn, peas and watermelon are all in the “Clean 15,” so you can feel better about buying those raised conventionally.
  • Download the guide and the handy iPhone app at Donate and we'll send you a fridge magnet, too.

2. Avoid containers and packaging that contaminate food with two common toxic chemicals - BPA and PFCs.

Buy fresh to minimize packaging

EWG recommends eating foods that have been processed as little as possible. Processing techniques detract from nutritional value, and chemicals from food packaging can leach into what you’re eating. For food packaging we recommend avoiding bisphenol A (BPA) and the Teflon and Scotchgard family of perfluorochemicals (PFCs).

What is BPA and why should you avoid it?

Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a synthetic estrogen used to harden polycarbonate plastics (like some baby and water bottles) and in the epoxy resin used can linings. It was found in the bodies of 93 percent of the Americans tested by the Centers for Disease Control. In laboratory tests trace BPA exposure been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and trigger a wide variety of disorders, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy.

As with many toxic chemicals, infants and young children are at the greatest risk of harm because their bodies are still developing. The National Toxicology Program has expressed concern that children’s exposure to BPA may lead to problems with brain and reproductive system development and behavior.

Limit your exposure to BPA from canned foods and plastic containers

  • Canned foods. Almost all canned foods (including canning jars) sold in the U.S. have a BPA-based epoxy liner that can leach BPA into the food inside. Pregnant women and young children, especially, should limit their consumption of canned foods to avoid BPA. Here’s how:
    • If you’re feeding your baby infant formula, use powdered formula because it has the least BPA. If you’re set on liquid formula, choose a brand sold in plastic and avoid ready-to-eat formula, which has the highest levels. Read more from EWG on safely feeding your baby.
    • Buy fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned.
    • For canned veggies and fruits, choose glass bottles where available; the lids may contain BPA but less than cans.
    • For canned beans, consider choosing Eden Foods brand because the cans are BPA-free. Or soak and cook dried beans – it’s a little more work but also less expensive.
    • In a pinch, rinsing canned fruit or vegetables may reduce the amount of BPA you ingest.
    • Make a special effort to avoid canned prepared foods like pastas and soups. We have found that they tend to have higher levels of BPA.
  • Simple precautions can minimize exposure to BPA and other chemicals that leach from plastic containers and water bottles:
    • Use glass or a BPA-free plastic baby bottles.
    • Avoid polycarbonate containers (marked with a #7 or ‘PC’), especially for children’s food and drinks.
    • We recommend the use of glass over plastics, but when you have no choice, plastics marked with a #1, 2, 4, and 5 don’t contain BPA and are generally safer for food.
    • Don’t microwave plastics or fill them with hot liquids.
    • Wash plastics on the top shelf of the dishwasher, where the water is cooler, or by hand.
    • Avoid old, scratched water bottles.
    • Use stainless water bottles without plastic linings.

What are PFCs and why should you avoid them?

PFCs, short for perfluorochemicals, belong to the family of chemicals that includes Teflon and Scotchgard. They are used to coat carpets, clothes, furniture, and food packaging, among other things. They persist in the environment and the human body and have been associated with lower birth weight for babies, cancer, infertility, elevated cholesterol and liver problems.

How do PFCs get into your food?

PFCs are used to coat food packaging, particularly those made for greasy foods. Research has shown that the chemicals can leach into what’s inside – your food.

Limit your exposure

  • Avoid non-stick pans and kitchen utensils. When overheated, they can release toxic particles and chemicals in gas form. Opt for stainless steel or cast iron instead.
  • Cut back on greasy packaged and fast foods. You might find PFC’s in pizza boxes, fast foods wrappings, microwave popcorn bags, muffin and pastry bags, butter boxes, and hash brown and French fry bags.
  • Pop popcorn the old-fashioned way - on the stovetop or with an air popper. You can also microwave popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag.

3. Limit your family’s exposure to growth hormones and antibiotics by choosing organic meat and dairy products

choosing organic meat and dairy products

Under federal law, antibiotics and growth hormones are prohibited in organic meat and dairy products. We recommend organic dairy, meat and other products from Organic Valley Family of Farms, a cooperative of more than 1,300 certified organic farmers in more than 30 states. We're also fans of Stoneyfield Farm organic yogurt.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

As Requested (by some of you). For others, here you go anyway.

I have constantly expressed my disgust with pesticides and all manner of food additives and alterations. I have heard some of you say "Hey if there's a comprehensive list, I'll take it!" Well, there is one (and it's been around for awhile but I have kept forgetting to post it here!). Thanks to my friend S for reminding me of it in an email this morning.

The Environmental Working Group tested produce for pesticide residues and put out these two lists: The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen.

The Clean 15 (or: Lowest in pesticides or: What you can buy conventionally/non-organically grown)
  1. Onion
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet Peas
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Papaya
  12. Watermelon
  13. Broccoli
  14. Tomato
  15. Sweet Potato
The Dirty Dozen (or: Most pesticide residue or: What to buy Organically grown)
  1. Peach
  2. Apple
  3. Bell Pepper
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarine
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Kale
  9. Lettuce
  10. Grapes (imported)
  11. Carrot
  12. Pear
So there you go. It's a start!

Monday, July 20, 2009


M decided to brave the scariness and come with me to Harry Potter. I screened it first by myself and thought he could just close his eyes at the scary parts if I warned him beforehand. It went well. The hardest part was getting him to hold still during a 2 1/2 hour movie. But alas, E would not eat for R at home. So around the 2 hour mark we had to go home anyways before the majority of the eye-closing scariness ensued.

M was a little miffed that he did not get to see the scary monsters in the water trying to pull Harry Potter down. Brave child. I was still happy to go before ending though. M was ready to get the wiggles out anyway. When we got home E was pretty proud of himself to resist a bottle from dad. He was getting played with and was giggling to his little heart's content. Stinker! But he knew when he saw mom that I meant business. He drank that sucker in 4 minutes flat. Sheesh.

In other news, M has finally managed to split his chin open in just the right spot to require stitches. He was looking at his fish, Annie. Annie is an ornery little malawi fish (I think) so we had to separate her from the others she was pecking to death. As M watched her in the bowl he knocked her onto the floor and then fell himself, hitting his chin on the counter on the way down. R and I saw the whole thing, grabbing the fish and filling the bowl back up with water and then checking M's chin and seeing the split. The cut is not that big, but it definitely needed stitches from the look of it. Fortunately, M thinks bandaids are magical, so he stopped crying when we got one onto his chin.

At Urgent Care they put numbing lotion on it for 5 minutes first, complete with a big stack of gauze and a long piece of tape. We joked about M's beard and that got him nice and distracted enough to enjoy the entire visit. When he heard that he was going to get glued, there was this little twinkle in his eye. M clearly thought that was pretty awesome. So once it was numb they glued it shut, put a sticky tape-X over it, and then a big ol' bandage over that. My little daredevil.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Things M says (Part Eight)

While driving in the car to Trader Joe's (which is, BTW, my favorite place) and listening to an old CD by Red Grammar that I listened to when I was a girl, M says, "Wait a sec Mom, turn the music down, you gotta hear dis!"

And you know, I don't even remember what he said next. "Dis"!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Things M says (Part Seven)

On M's birthday to Grandma in an uncoached response to the question "How is being 4 different than being 3: "Well, 4-year-olds don't throw fits." Score!

E's Palate Recovery

E is doing pretty well, considering it has only been one week since he had palate reconstruction surgery. He has not recovered as readily as he did with lip surgery, but he improves every day. On Thursday we go in to have the 10 day checkup.

It has been tricky keeping up with all his physical therapy and chiropractic appointments for his torticollis, but as of this morning we are back on track. He is well enough to do all the stretches and tummy time at home, and to get to all his therapies this week. We lost a little momentum (his neck looks more crooked again), but I am determined to get it back. He also gets a preliminary helmet appointment this week. In the words of Thom Yorke "It's just like, spinniiiiiing plaaaates."
E getting one more chomp in before surgery.

Standing up in his baby hospital gown that says "tiny tired tiger" all over it.

In recovery right after coming out of anesthesia. It was not nearly as shocking as how he looked last time. All the stitches are inside, he is not as swollen, and he does not sound as different.

The face he has been making the most since surgery. A cross between "I am in pain", "I am kinda bored" and "Are you seriously still making me do tummy time?!"

Um, I want that camera. Seriously, give it to me.

M's Birthday. He's 4!

Well, M had a great birthday in spite of the fact that I was with E at the hospital for half of it. He spent the night at Grandma's, helped make his cake in the shape of a Golden Snitch that morning (complete with white frosting wings), got to eat cupcakes and Mexican food for dinner, had a visit from the Birthday Fairy after I got home and he woke up from his nap, and got to open a pile of presents when Daddy got home from work.

Hands down the favorite toy: Marbulous. He has played with that plastic marble run for at least 2-3 hours per day since his birthday. Oh, how I love that toy! I love that little man, getting so big and tall. For the record he is very into Wall-e, Harry Potter, Wipeout, Trouble, puzzles, butterflies, "swimming" with his stuffed water animals, playing his piano and dancing, and generally running around like a hyper little boy. We always joke that he's our little raccoon. Only it's kind of not a joke. :)
Two squash M grew himself in the garden.

The birthday spoils.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Guest Post on The Exponent

I have made my Bloggernacle debut! Today I was able to provide a guest post on The Exponent blog. I have crossposted it here, but you should really check it out on the other site in case the comments get going. Plus, I love that blog. I am lucky to have a voice there.

How Well Does the Church Handle Abuse?

It took me until I was 18 and had moved out of my house to finally wander my way into the Counseling Center at BYU. I was having trouble in school, trouble sleeping, general anxiety. There began my awakening to what I was. I was abused as a child. I finally spoke the words aloud. I was broken. I was a victim.

The first time I told someone about my sexual abuse it was to my therapist at BYU. I was 19 by then. Through therapy I gradually put names on the abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual. The sexual abuse took the forefront. I look back now and am shocked that my therapist did not insist on calling the police or a social worker when I told her. I was convinced that I was the only victim. But she knew that I had younger siblings still living at home. She knew that my father was the perpetrator. She knew that statistically it had probably happened to more of my siblings. I wish she had done something. Admitting that I came from an abusive family was so new to me at the time. I did not feel comfortable navigating those waters. I definitely did not have the guts to blow the whistle on my father. I did not even know that I should have blown the whistle on my father, that my siblings were in probable danger. A social worker or police officer should have been notified. My father should have been stopped.

That same year I told my bishop. His response was "How old were you when it happened?" I told him I was 8 years old. "Wasn't that a long time ago? I don't think you need to break up your family over this when you can deal with it through therapy." Then he asked "How old are your other siblings?" I told him I was the oldest of five and four of us were female. He asked whether I thought anyone else in the family had been abused. At that time, I honestly thought I was the only one, so I told him that. He restated that I did not need to tell anyone except my therapist. My younger sister was eleven at the time. At that point she had been abused for about three years.

I was sexually abused for about one year when I was in second grade and then it stopped. That was plenty. Once is enough to do all kinds of damage. In contrast, my younger sister endured 9 years of sexual abuse by the time my father was arrested. 9 YEARS. This kills me. It kills me not only because of the quantitative amount, but because it could have been stopped. I found out during the ninth year.

Once I learned of my sister's abuse I went to my bishop at the time, in Michigan. I was 25 by then, pregnant with my first child, and had several years of therapy under my belt. My bishop's response was so different. He told me he was bound by not only by Michigan law to call the police and report it, but also needed to call the Church hotline for legal advice on how to proceed. He advised that we call my parent's bishop and tell him what was going on. Surprisingly, that bishop was also very supportive of calling the police. Both bishops explained very gently that I was encouraged to be the one to call the local police in California and give a statement to an officer. They said that if I did not feel able, that they could give the statement for me, but it would be harder to prosecute my father and get my younger siblings into a safe environment.

I suspect that in the six intermediate years between talking to my BYU bishop and my Michigan bishop there was a change (shift?) in Church policy. I think they probably give bishops better instruction on what to do with abusers and victims. It sounds like bishops have Church leaders to call for advice. These are good steps, but I must be honest: it is not nearly enough. What about a hotline for the victims? What about bishops automatically providing therapy, instead of waiting for victims to ask? What about having stricter whistle-blowing policies, to protect further victims?

I cannot help but be cynical when the only time the Church seems to actively support calling the police is when children are still living at home and/or the abuser is still abusing. Abusers need to face the law and Church discipline, no matter if their victims live at home or not and no matter if they have "stopped". It sends a message to victims that they are inherently less important and undervalued when abusers do not have to pay for their crime. Victims have no choice but to pay for what happened to them.

I am an abuse survivor. Over the last four years since I learned of my sister I have been increasingly more open about it. So I find myself here at The Exponent reaching out to other women and men to tell a part of my story. For a more in personal account of my experiences, you can read my personal blog: It is my priority there and in my life to openly discuss the effects of abuse. The truth will set us all free.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

We are home

And E is doing well. He is sleeping a lot and eating good amounts of milk, so I am not too worried about how sad he is in between those times. But it is still sad that he is sad :( I think he will get much better over the next few days. So far he has improved greatly since immediately after surgery. Thank you for writing, texting, and thinking. Love you guys.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


I have written a guest post that will appear on The Exponent blog in the next week. When it gets published there, I will crosspost it here so you all will know. I am pretty excited to have a voice there and to add to the discussion. I also feel like the subject matter is of great importance.

In the meantime, you should check out The Exponent. I know a few of the bloggers there and they are wonderful and have such interesting and pertinent things to say in the realm of feminism and Mormonism. Let me know what you think!

E's Palate Surgery

So tomorrow is the big day. Just knowing that folks are thinking of us is enough. If you like to pray or fast or devote some other kind of meditative time, that would just make my day to know that as well. I will post an update as soon as possible after surgery is over tomorrow late in the morning.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Things M says (Part Six)

After coming home from taking R to the bus and realizing that I meant it when I said "You have to finish your mini-spooners when you get home, even if they're soggy", and scrunching up his face into a semi-fake sad face: "But Mom, I can't. It's all foggy."