Monday, December 29, 2008

Cleaning Our Closets

We are cleaning out closets. Organizing. Getting rid of what we don't need anymore. Making things simple. This is what we love to do after Christmas, between rounds of holiday company, in celebration of the New Year. (Am I allowed to blog with conversational grammar?)

It feels so good to start the New Year with everything in order. It keeps my mind healthy. Less clutter = less stress. Less stress for mama = happy days for the kids.

I certainly don't expect you to jump on our bandwagon. I'm just sharing what we do around this time of year. If you do chose to bring in the New Year in like manner, I'll make a few suggestions.

1. Start with your easiest closet. You'll feel a sense of accomplishment sooner, and you'll be inspired to move through the next closet.
2. Don't bite off more than you can chew, which I always do. This could be disastrous. You'll have to call in reinforcements. Hopefully, they'll be on your bandwagon.
3. Think about the zone that causes you the most stress. Come up with an organizational strategy that will work for the long run. Keeping this hot spot in order all year will be enormously beneficial. It's worth coming up with an effective strategy.
4. Let the kid's help in organizing their things. If they help get it all in order, they will understand the order and be much more likely to return things to order.
5. Don't bite off more than you can chew. It's worth saying again. You don't want de-stressing your life to be stressful. Just focus on what would make the biggest difference.

I hope that you have a Happy New Year, full of hopeful thoughts for your next year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Christmas Time!

It's Christmas week! Well, the festivities have been going on all month. But now we're down to the final days. I really love this time. The kids are full of joy with everything going on. They are super excited to bring back each tradition we've started. And, they're super giddy about everything new we do... even the new storybooks we read. I treasure these ecstatic smiles... so much so that I am going to stop blogging this week and enjoy more of them : ) I hope that you and your children share plenty of smiles together this week too.


Here's a special message from my kids:
To all of you from each of them, "We wish you a Merry Christmas," Muppet Style.


video

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ten Simple Steps to Reduce Body Burden: Step Four

Okay, so we've looked at eliminating the toxins from three sources: cleaning products, laundry products and personal care products. I know, it ain't easy... and as soon as you eliminate one source, you see another five that you can't do anything about, like your children's school desks or your neighbor's lawn care service. But remember, we are looking at reducing our total Body Burden and consequently the long-term cumulative effect of toxic chemicals. We may not live in a perfect world... but, be encouraged. As moms, we can do a huge part by eliminating dangerous chemicals where our children sleep, eat and live.

So here we go with Step Four:

4. Use BPA-free plastic baby bottles and fill them with breast milk or organic formula. Choose powdered formula over canned formula to avoid BPA leaching from the can lining.

This step is geared more toward moms of the very young, including me. We all have heard that nursing is the best way to nourish and nurture your baby. That said, I know that many complications can arise in the nursing relationship and many moms have to use bottles with their breastmilk or formula. If you do use bottles, please make sure that they are BPA-free. Might as well do this with your children's sippy cups as well.

But, the question follows, where do I stop? If I'm going to go BPA-free with some things, what about the plastic baby spoons, the plates and bowls or the disposable diapers for that matter! Start with what your baby drinks from. Why? Two reasons off the top of my head. First, as the milk or formula is warmed, the bottle will leach more chemicals. Second, babies and toddlers often keep sipping on their drinks throughout the day. The chemicals have a much longer time to leach into their drink.

Sure, if you have the resources, you can switch everything to BPA-free plastic. And, if you feel inspired, make the switch to cloth diapers. But definitely consider BPA-free bottles and sippy cups.

So what's the big deal about BPA? The chemical known as BPA (bisphenol-A) has been connected with early puberty in girls and with behavioral changes in babies. It's worth watching this video if you've never heard of it before. Find options for BPA-free bottles here.


(If you live in the Georgia area, you might want to take advantage of a sale that Kroger is having on their BPA-free sippy cups. I found them yesterday for $1.99 each and bought two for Tickle's stocking. Unfortunately, I can't testify to their spill-proof-ocity yet. But, all Kroger brand products have a satisfaction guarantee. So, if they aren't spill-proof as the label says, you can return it to the store for a refund.)

By the way, if you've been inspired to make a change, post a comment about it so that others who read this blog might share your inspiration. Thanks!

And, stay tuned for Steps Five through Ten. It may take a bit longer to comment on them since it's Christmas Time... but then if I don't have time to post, you probably don't have time to read either. We must live parallel lives ; )

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ten Simple Steps to Reduce Body Burden: Step Three

I hope that Steps One and Two were helpful to you! Switching to safe cleaning and laundry products can reduce a huge amount of the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis. Starting here at home is our best strategy because this is where most of us spend the biggest part of our 24 hour day.

Now for Step Three:

3. Go to your bathroom and read the shampoo, makeup and moisturizer labels. Ask yourself, "Do I really need scent in these products?" Take stock of all of your other products and try to replace one a week with a safer, greener choice.

My introduction to healthy skin care began nine years ago when Burt's Bees first hit the market. For Christmas, my mom gave me a Burt's Bees gift pack with several skin care products. They all smelled so delicious! I guess that's because they are made with all-natural ingredients like foods, oils or other botanicals. I liked some of the products better than others but I really liked the fact that I wasn't absorbing toxic chemicals through my skin. The next year, my mom gave me their Baby Care Gift Package. This again was an extra special gift since I was really on the lookout for safe baby products.

Thanks to my mom, my transition into healthy skin care was pretty smooth. I know it's not always that simple. It can be downright scary to switch from a "real" antiperspirant to a natural product you have no idea will work!


Sloan recommends replacing one product per week. That certainly would be a good thing. Or, you could choose the three products you use most, like your face cleanser, toner and moisturizer or your shampoo, conditioner and bath gel. Switch these three main products with a non-toxic alternative. Then, add in the rest as you run out.


I've been in the "healthy skin care" market for nine years now. I've tried an abundance of products! Some have performed well, some beneath my expectations. This is what I've been using for the last two years. And I am very pleased.


So what's in personal care products that we want to stay away from? Check out the Environmental Working Group website. You'll find a list of the hazardous ingredients to lookout for, plus several articles about personal care products... or, just give me some time and I'll post my comments about the most significant ones.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ten Simple Steps to Reduce Body Burden: Steps One and Two

I posted early in my blogging life about Sloan Barnett and her book, Green Goes with Everything. (I re-uploaded the video in this link because it was not playing properly. So if you weren’t able to watch it the first time around, give it another go.) In her book, Sloan discusses our Body Burden, the "total amount of chemicals and pollutants that are present in our body at any given time." If you haven't taken her Body Burden Quiz yet, take a moment to do that.

In thinking about health for families, we need to address this excess baggage. Over time, our body burden can deal devastating blows to our wellness. Everything from Alzheimer's to cancer to chronic fatigue has been connected to our chemically burdened bodies. And, we need to pay close attention for our little girls’ sake, because all of these chemicals interfere with their own hormone signals and wreak havoc on their developing femininity.

In Green Goes With Everything, Sloan gives Ten Simple Steps for a Greener and Healthier Home. Over the next week, I’d like to present those steps and add in my humble comments. As moms, we play a huge role in creating healthy home environments. Creating health can be an overwhelming duty when we look at the our toxic world, but I think Sloan ten steps will give us each a doable action plan. And, the new year is coming up… perfect time for change!

Sloan's first two steps have to do with switching to safe, green cleaning products. Several of my posts this month have been on the same subject, so I'm going to group her first two steps together. Here they are:

1. Start by replacing a bunch of your cleaners (your general spray cleaner, glass cleaner, counter-top cleaner, floor and bathroom cleaners) with a natural, nontoxic all-purpose cleaner.

I don't want to be redundant, but eliminating cleaning product chemicals is one of the easiest things we can do. You will only need one product to replace almost all the standard cleaning products in your home. Really!

2. Replace your laundry detergent with a natural nontoxic one so the clothes you wear and the sheets you sleep on have no fumes for you to breathe.

Have you ever thought about why drug patches work? Your skin absorbs what is put on the surface. A portion of everything you put on your skin, including your clothes, will migrate into your blood stream. Scary thought. Like switching your cleaning products, making a laundry product change doesn't have to be scary. I've found something that works even better than my previous laundry products AND is safe for my kids' bodies. Here's what I use.

The next 8 steps steer away from replacing household toxins, so you have something new to look forward to! But I had to go ahead and mention these two, even though I've had a series of posts on Household Toxin Exposure, because this is such a simple and effective way to do something monumental for our family's health.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cleaning Your Shower with Ease

Note: I published this before I knew about the great Works for Me Wednesday link-up at WeAreThatFamily. I am republishing it today because it is my all time favorite tip for making a hard thing easier. Hope it works for you too!

I'm thinking about blogging a Mom's Tip of the Week each Monday. I'm thinking each tip would have to:
1. Make our families healthier
2. Make our budget happy
3. Make life easier for busy moms like me.

Does this sound like something you would benefit from? If so, comment to let me know this is something you'd like me to develop.

Here's my tip for this fabulously winterish Monday: Cleaning Your Shower with Ease

Cleaning the shower does not have to be a daunting task. Your shower can stay clean in just five to ten minutes a week. Really. It works well for me.

I don't have an extra five minutes in the morning every day of the week, but on Saturdays I can usually extend my shower by five minutes. It couldn't be more simple. I spray the shower just a few minutes before getting in. Then, take my spray bottle and a microfiber scrubbie into the shower with me. I wipe down the walls and shelves with the scrubbie; give the shower door a wipe down; then give the floor of the shower a quick scrub. It takes me just five extra minutes. As I get out of the shower, I dry off the chrome with a microfiber cloth so that it leaves everything shiny.

Would this work with any cleaning product? Probably not. This cleaning product is especially good at dissolving soap scum or anything else that accumulates in a week's time.

Would this be doable with a commercial cleaning product brand? Absolutely not. You don't want the chemical fumes wafting through the warm, moist air into your lungs. It has be a healthy cleaning product because of the skin contact as well.

Would this work as fast with a regular sponge? Probably not. A microfiber cloth grabs the dirt and scum much more efficiently.

What about my budget? One bottle of this powerful AND green cleaning product will make the equivalent of over 400 bottles of shower cleaner. I've been using the same bottle for over two years now. And the microfiber cloths can be thrown into the washing machine and used over and over and over.

What about if you're starting with a really, really dirty shower? I suggest spending a longer time scouring the shower with another totally safe product. Then, maintain the clean with just five minutes a week as I described above.

You'll never dread cleaning the shower again!

The rest of the bathroom? Well, it can take just five minutes too... if you have a six year old boy swish out the toilet and clean it with a safe disinfecting wipe, an eight year old girl wipe down the counter and clean the mirror, and a three year old girl shine things up with her own microfiber cloth. Okay, so it took me quite a while to teach the kids cleaning skills. I guess I have to factor that in when I calculate the five minutes it takes us now. The rest of the bathroom wasn't always this easy : )

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What do You Give Your Kids... Addendum

After talking with a friend on Friday afternoon, I wanted to post this thought. For children who have taken several rounds of antibiotics or who frequently take over-the-counter symptom relievers, response time to immune builders may be slower. This is because their immune systems have atrophied, in a sense. Their systems will need to be rebuilt in order to function efficiently. Don't give up! It may take longer for them to respond, but if their health is not critical, consider letting their own immune systems do the work they were designed for.

NOTE: I am not a medical professional : ) This is my mother-to-mother suggestion for the long term health of our children.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What do you do when your kids get sick?

As the week is closing, I am very thankful to say that we all made it through our respiratory bug in good time. We all seem to be very much ourselves here in the end of the week! And, so I want to answer the question I've heard from a variety of voices: "What do you do when your kids get sick?"

Since I'm answering a specific question, I want to give specific answers, which will include specific product recommendations. In light of my previous two posts about contaminants in supplements, I make my recommendations in perfect conscience. This company holds to the most rigorous and thorough quality testing for raw materials, manufacturing processes, and end products.


First, there is an underlying concept that guides my decisions about how to nurse sick ones back to health. When my family gets sick, I want to do everything I can to boost their own inherent ability to fight sickness. The main reason I am very slow to give over-the-counter remedies and antibiotics is that they undermine the body's natural response, which in turn prevents the body from developing antibodies and strengthening its defenses. A secondary reason is that the remedies and medications are tainted with all manner of dangerous ingredients. For all you moms out there who want an easy-to-understand yet informative presentation on how the immune system was created to function, please watch this.

When we first heard Witzy coughing, we added this to her daily supplement:
1. probiotics each morning
2. echinacea/elderberry three times daily
3. an herbal immune booster twice a day
4. Vitamin C every few hours.

We extended this regimen to the other three children, knowing that their immune systems would need fortification. It is impossible to keep my children separate!

My children passed through the cold/cough much quicker than they would without the immune system strengtheners. If I had taken them to our pediatrician and had him prescribe an antibiotic, they would have felt better in about the same time. But, because I didn't interfere with their bodies' own mechanisms, they are better prepared to fight the good fight the next time they are exposed to a bug -- which will happen, we all know!

Another thing to note: we bought the kids Bolthouse Farms C-Boost juice as well. This is simply a cherry, mango juice with added vitamins. I don't know if it had any effect on the kids' recovery. But I woke up one night with a very painful earache. I took the above regimen plus drank a quart of the juice and within 24 hours had no more earache.

So that's my answer to the famous question. You can email me (ae at healthbeginswithmom dot com) if you have specific questions.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lead in Supplements

I posted earlier today about black ooze that often comes out of vitamins when they are baked. The black ooze is melted synthetic ingredients, fillers, toxins or plastics. Who wants a daily intake of those things?

But lead wouldn't turn black at 350 degrees. Lead is, in fact, a natural ingredient according to most definitions. Natural, but poisonous at certain levels. Keep in mind that lead accumulates in our bodies. So, while we may not be taking a poisonous amount each day, it can accumulate to toxic levels within our body in a short amount of time.

But who puts lead in vitamins? It can be left over from raw ingredient contamination. Or, it can be a byproduct of manufacturing processes. There has been rising concern over the lack of regulation in the supplement industry in the last decade. Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition did a study to survey Women's and Children's vitamins for lead contamination. The list of contaminated brands is 19 pages long! Check to see if the supplement you or your children take is on the list. I found my former prenatals that I purchased from a health food store on the list!

What's in Your Vitamins?

There is so much in the news these days about the dangers of taking supplements. I've read about everything from lead to plastics found in common brand-name supplements. We really have to be cautious and do our homework!

I am going to post about some screening questions to use when looking at vitamin labels... but until then, here is a simple and fun experiment you can do at home! And, by all means, get your kids involved. If they're like mine, they will love to watch through the oven door.

First preheat your oven to 350.
Then line a baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper -- something to protect your pan.
Place your own supplements on the foil or paper.
Bake just as you would bake bread.
Watch to see what comes out.

You want to see your supplement brown on top like a nice loaf of bread.
You don't want to see black, toxic ooze spilling onto the foil or paper. This is a sign that your supplement contains coal tar fillers, plastics or other synthetic, non-food ingredients.
If this happens, consider yourself in the market for a new supplement company. You wouldn't want to be digesting a daily dose of toxic sludge in the name of doing your body good.

If you are adventuresome and do this at-home activity, please comment to let me know your results! And, stay tuned for more supplement information...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Green Smoothies

We often have smoothies for breakfast. We keep things really simple... start with yogurt since yogurt is a nutritional powerhouse. I make my own yogurt from "fresh" milk, but any plain yogurt will do. Add some bananas and an assortment of fresh and frozen fruit. We pick gallons of strawberries and blueberries in the summer so we have these on hand all year. If most of the fruit is frozen, we add Orange Juice. Our smoothies are always unique. If it turns out thick, we put it in a bowl with homemade granola sprinkled on top. If it comes out thin, we drink it with a straw. I guess the bottom line with smoothies is "Be Adventurous!"

All that said, I think we're going to take our smoothies to the next level. "Going green" adds huge amounts of enzymes, antioxidants and immune builders. And, with a fruit base like I've described above, a Green Smoothie still keeps it's great flavor. We'll see if everyone in this family agrees : ) Check out this video to see how to make a Green Smoothie. Scroll down past the video and you'll see additional nutritional information for several types of Green Smoothies.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Keeping Perspective

I mentioned last week that Witzy was fighting a cough. She fought a really good battle. (She does everything passionately, which I totally love about her!) Then things took a turn and she felt the full blown effects of a realio, trulio cough. Shortly after, the other three got it as well. So, where does that leave me? For the first time I can remember I am caring for four sick children at the same time. I consider it a privilege to love them though their sickness. I am doing my best to boost their immunities so that their bodies can make antibodies, fight the war, and leave the battlefield stronger for the next would-be-invaders. (I'll post more about these specifics soon.)

And all this reminds me of a conversation I had earlier this fall. The discussion was about God's role versus our role in wellness. I'd like to share some of it here for the sake of keeping proper perspective.

First, when we are doing all that is humanly possible to be well, it is easy to forget that our lives are in God's hands. There is a danger in becoming so proud in our thinking that we put ourselves above God in our ability to make and keep ourselves well. This is a form of idol worship. Health is not a god. Neither is our knowledge of the natural world. Truly He has blessed us with so many health-giving foods and herbs. It is wise to use them. But we must walk humbly with the Lord, knowing that He, for a specific purpose, may take our health away. That would be entirely within His scope of authority.

So should we even try? I have heard the argument... if God can make us well or sick on His whim, why should we do anything for our health? Our lives are a gift. Our health is a gift. By His grace we live and move and have our being. Like the parable of the talents, we have been given a gift that we can bury, squander, or multiply for the service of God. I would rather hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Wouldn't you?

I think it is ironic that my children haven't been sick in so long I can't really remember... and that as soon as I start this blog to share with others about health, I have four sick kids. I suppose this could be God's way of prompting me to share about His role in health.

"Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but a vapor. Selah.
... And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You."
Psalm 39:4-7

Friday, December 5, 2008

Part three of Children and Cleaning Chemicals

I have been so eager to post this part because it contains some really good news... as opposed to the scary facts about toxin dangers I have been posting. If you're new, read Part One, Part Two and Part Two and a Half first...

So I know everyone remembers the song, "I'd like to buy the world a Coke." Well, I would like to buy the world one of these. Or, at least everyone who fills the housekeeping role in a home. But, alas, I cannot afford such a gift. So, I'll just try to tell everyone about it instead! This is my solution to the problem of how to effectively, economically, and healthfully keep a clean house.

My kids have always cleaned right along side of me. I think it is important for life skills and character development. So, I care what we clean with. When I first started looking into "green clean" I was trying to mix up stuff from common household ingredients like baking soda, vinegar and stuff. It was time consuming. It didn't really work. And, I was haunted by the lingering vinegar smell. So I tried the "green clean" products at the health food store. They were pricey. But, they didn't work like I needed them to. I wanted my cleaning to be quick and efficient. I didn't want to have to redo things just because they didn't get quite clean enough the first time. And, I'll admit it, I really like things looking clean. With my four little ones, the house can look lived in. But, under all the books, legos and toys, I want things to be safely clean.

So, check out my solution. You'll be impressed as I was. You'll have dishes that are clean enough to eat off of (sans toxic residue). You'll have clothes clean enough to touch your baby's skin (sans toxic residue). You'll have a floor clean enough to crawl on (sans toxic residue). And, you'll have bathrooms that are just plain ol' good and clean (sans toxic residue).

This kit contains everything you need to keep your house healthy clean. And, believe it or not, it contains the equivalent of more than 5,000 bottles of window cleaner! Or, over 400 bottles of all purpose cleaner like 409 or Fantastik (sans toxic residue, of course). And, this is what I love: it is cost efficient since all of the products are concentrated. Less to buy, less to throw away.

So that's my solution. I am glad I found it. And, I'd like to share it with the world... so there you go, world.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Easy Supper Idea

This is what I've got in mind for supper tonight. I love making it because it is a cinch... well, as long as I start the rice on time. I buy long grain brown rice in bulk and it takes 45 minutes to simmer. Yours may take less time, but try to use a whole grain brown rice for the nutrition factor.

1. Get your rice cooking. I have also used jasmine enfussed basmati rice... love it!

2. Saute some carrots, onions and garlic in extra virgin olive oil in a big pot.

3. Throw all other vegetables you have on hand in the pot and let them steam. Tonight I'm using shredded cabbage and some "broccoli slaw" that was discounted at the grocery store. It just contains shredded broccoli, red cabbage and carrots. Use whatever you have on hand and whatever your family likes. My tip is to chop the veggies into small bites or shred them. For some reason, the kids think it tastes yummier that way.

4. When the vegetables are nearly done, add a protein. I've used a few scrambled eggs, leftover turkey, leftover salmon, even chopped up ham (the nitrite free kind, of course). Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. When the rice is done, gently mix it into the vegetables and meat.

6. The kids like slivered almonds sprinkled on top. Or avocado if we have a good and ripe one.

I hope this gives you a healthy idea for a night when you really only have leftovers and rice (which should always be in your pantry).

Part Two and a Half of Children and Cleaning Chemicals

I am working on Part Three for this series, but I thought of something that had to come first. Thanks for your patience! This is an eye-opening resource:

Ever wonder what ingredients could be in our cleaning products that are all that bad?
Ever wonder what health hazards those ingredients actually pose?
It's time to take a look! So take an inventory of what you have under your sinks and stashed out of your children's reach... and then visit the National Institute for Health's household product database.

Click one of the tabs to search for dangers listed by Product Name, Ingredient, Manufacturer or Health Effect. Explore this site... and get ready for Part Three!

By the way, Witzy has a cough. She woke up feeling crummy two days ago. I am taking several measures to boost her immune system and help it win the battle. I'll be blogging about this soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Inspiration

Okay, I admit it. Creating health for your family is hard work. It would definitely be easier to take short cuts that aren't so healthy. There are times when the short cuts have to be taken, but we need to work on creating healthy habits that become just a part of what we do. Until things become habit, they seem like work.

I have chosen to give the gift of health to my children (and to my grandchildren through them!) and that will require some diligence on my part. I guess that is just part of the choice. Be encouraged! It is worth it!

I was sent this proverb earlier today. I think it is very appropriate to our topic...
The best time to plant a tree
is twenty years ago.
The second best time is now.
We could bemoan all the poor health choices we've made in the past. But that wouldn't help matters one bit. We just move forward. The second best time is now! It takes time to see health develop, just like it takes time for a tree to flourish. It takes time, so get started now!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Investing in your health

It's everywhere these days. I saw a billboard today that a real estate agent put up prompting us to "buy land; invest in something solid." Everyone is thinking about how to secure their earnings. I'm thinking about it too.

But here's something you may not be thinking about yet. Have you thought of your health as an investment? Money that you spend on your health (and your children's health) now will save you great expense in the future. This could be your near future as you avoid copays and gas for doctor visits, medications and other related bills. Or, this could be further in your future as your heart maintains its health or as your children are free from allergies and repeated infections throughout their childhood.

I consider our family health a very wise way to invest our money. I'm preventing future spending and saving lots of money now too!

Dr. Ranjit Kumar Chandra, a pediatrician and immunologist at Memorial University of Newfoundland, decided to investigate this idea. He took a random sampling of 86 people over the age of 65 and gave each either a vitamin/mineral supplement or a dummy pill. He found remarkable improvement in cognitive and immunological health in both the "healthy" and the "vitamin deficient" in the group given a supplement. His findings were reported in a New York Times article in 2001.

"As described in Dr. Chandra's report in Nutrition this month, those who took the supplement showed significant improvement in short-term memory, problem-solving ability, abstract thinking and attention. Even the participants who started out with adequate nutrition got some mental benefits from the daily nutrient supplement, although the greatest improvements occurred in people whose blood contained deficient amounts of one or more nutrients."

"Based on his findings, he has calculated that for every dollar spent on such a nutrient supplement, $28 would be saved in health care costs."

While Dr. Chandra's research was based on a group of elderly people, it is supportable that the medical savings would extend to the middle-aged and the young. Interesting stuff, in my opinion. (I have just mentioned a very small portion of Dr. Chandra's findings. If you would like the whole article, email me for it!)

As long as we're talking about scientific studies!

In watching a DVD presentation by Healthy Child Healthy World two years ago, I heard the most significant, most critical clinical finding I have heard reported. As parents, we just have to stop and think about the implications of this:

Dr Alan Greene of Stanford University School of Medicine took samples of umbilical cord blood from babies at the time of birth to see what they had been exposed to before birth. He found an average of 200 modern industrial and commercial chemicals coursing through the newborns' blood.

Remember my previous post in which I said only 20% of the chemicals introduced in the last 30 years have been tested for their effects on our health! And, remember that none of them have been tested in conjunction with one another as they were found in the newborns' blood!

I know that sentence had two exclamation points in it. And, I can get pretty excited about how chemicals are totally disrupting our children's endocrine systems... AND, I also know that we can't live in bubbles. However, we owe it to our children to do what we can. Which is why the Blue Butterfly Program is so useful... and which is why I will soon be posting Part Three of Children and Cleaning Chemicals so that you can see what I do here in our home.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Over the Counter Children's Medications

I spent a very nice Thanksgiving holiday with family. Since our holidays are full of energetic children, we often converse about the different issues facing children, their education, their health, their hearts... Well, our conversation this time included warnings about children's over the counter medications for things like cold, flu, fever and such. I have been very wary about these symptom relievers and their ability to aid our children's immune system. Some of my family members had very interesting input on the dangers. I came home with the hope of finding some information about our suspicions. And, interestingly enough, I had an email about this very topic waiting for me when I got home!

Here's a quick excerpt:
"Pediatricians groups are urging the government to demand a recall of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for children younger than 6. The effectiveness of the medicines in children was never proved, critics say, and problems with the drugs send thousands of kids to the emergency room every year. “When treatment is ineffective, its risks – unless zero – always exceed its benefits.” Dr. Michael Shannon of Children’s Hospital in Boston told the FDA PANEL."

As I mentioned before, I want to post some strategies for keeping your children's immune systems at their peak. We need to work proactively in preparing them to handle the bugs they come into contact with so that there is little to no need for the symptom relievers.

By the way, don't forget to take the poll I've put in the right hand column!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Healthy Child Healthy World

Here is a great resource to pass along to anyone interested in creating a safe environment for their kids. (As well as passing along the link to my blog!)

Healthy Child Healthy World is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about environmental hazards in our children's worlds. They have initiated the Blue Butterfly Program, a simple five-step plan for parents, preschools, and other child care providers to follow. It's worth looking at.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a wonderful holiday! I hope that you are enjoying your family today. I am! I have a quick comment about thankfulness. You know, thankfulness does a heart good. Ours and our children's. While we invest our time and our thoughts in laying healthy foundations for our children's future, we also need to invest in their hearts. I encourage you to be thankful. Speak about the things you are grateful for. In doing so, you'll nurture your children's hearts and lift yours up in the process!

Happy Thanksgiving from me...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving? (Revisited)

I'm curious. What are you all creating in your kitchen for tomorrow's holiday meal? If you've got any healthy additions to your Thanksgiving Turkey, post it as a comment and share it with the rest of us! Especially post if you've got something excitingly fresh or something that puts a healthy twist on an old-favorite...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving?

I stopped by our local health food store last week to put in my order for a "real" turkey. While there, I enjoyed a sample of some yummy sweet potatoes made with marmalade. Since then, I've had an insatiable craving for all things orange-y. So, this evening for a festive and seasonal treat, I made some Orange Cranberry Muffins. Do you want to try them?

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 Sucanat (Rapadura or other non-refined sweetener)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup "real" milk
1/2 cup orange marmalade (You can buy the kind sweetened with fruit juice.)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 farm fresh egg
1 cup chopped cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the melted butter, milk, egg and marmalade. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together. If you were making this according to the recipe, you would fold in the cranberries and walnuts, spoon into muffin cups and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. My husband happens to not like cranberries. So, I divided the batter into two parts and put mini-chocolate chips in one part and the cranberries in the other. The Orange Cranberry Muffins are like a comfort-food. However, the Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins were a surprising hit. I don't know which one we liked best. You could make both. Have the Chocolate Chip ones for a dessert and the Orange Cranberry ones for breakfast!

Note on Whole Wheat: If you are just now considering making the switch to whole wheat, let me say a few things. First, it is worth it for your family's health! Second, I know that white flour habits die hard. Third, it is worth it for your family's health! Fourth, try making the adjustment by degrees. First use 25% whole wheat until your family gets used to it. Then, step it up to 50/50. Here's the final thing though: when you do make the switch to 100% whole wheat, keep in mind that the store bought whole wheat tastes a lot heavier than fresh ground. Once you get your family eating 50/50 0r even 75/25, consider buying a grain mill. Your family will enjoy the lighter flavor. (Wanna hear more about Grain Mills? Comment to let me know!)

Note on other ingredients: This world is crazy with debate about which foods are good for us. I hesitate to use any new-fangled food like butter or sugar substitutes. I use three principles from the book What the Bible Says About Healthy Living. This is my rough paraphrase: Eat what God made. Eat it as close to how He made it as possible. Eat everything in moderation. (Have specific questions about why I use certain ingredients? Comment to ask them!)

Technical Glitch!

There seems to have been a malfunction with my email address recently. If you sent me an email that bounced back, please retry. If you still get a returned notice, please post a comment here to let me know. I don't want your comments and questions to disappear in to the vast world wide web!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Part Two of Children and Cleaning Chemicals

Did you know that by the year 2006, over 80,000 new chemicals had been registered with the EPA? And did you know that less than 20% of these have been tested for toxicity even now? Amazing, huh? And, this is what really gets my attention: hardly any of these have been tested in conjunction with one another. (Sources: U.S. EPA, New Chemicals Program; Landrigan, P.J., et al, (2006).)

What will the cumulative effect of all of these toxins be? Our children are at great risk here. They are more likely to have earlier and more prolonged exposure to these new-fangled chemicals than adults. Pediatrician Herbert L. Needleman said, "We are conducting a vast toxicologic experiment in our society, in which our children and our children's children are the experimental subjects."

"Children are highly vulnerable to chemical toxicants. Pound for pound of body weight children drink more water, eat more food and breathe more air than adults. The implication of this is that children will have substantially heavier exposures than adults to any toxicants that are present in water, food or air." (Source: Landrigan, P.J. & Garg, A. (2002). Chronic effects of toxic environmental exposures on children’s health. Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology, 40(4), 449-456.) Children have more immature metabolic pathways for detoxifying and excreting toxins, while they also have an increased metabolic rate which speeds up the absorption of chemicals. This puts them at increased long-term risk.

Infants and toddlers are even more vulnerable because they have a greater percentage of fatty tissue in which to store these toxins, they crawl on the floor where pesticides and other chemicals are tracked in from outside, and they put their toys in their mouths.

And this isn't even the tip of the iceberg! I enjoy science and research, but many of you may not. I want to keep this blog light yet thought-provoking reading. So, if you are interested in reading more about the science behind our children's exposure, email me:

ae at healthbeginswithmom dot com

I will send you a 12 page pdf file that is chock-full of all the nitty-gritty facts. Just put "12 Page PDF" in the subject line...

And, lest you think I am going to leave you hanging, I will post a Part Three to this series so that I can tell you a simple, cost-effective way to replace ALL the hazardous chemicals in your home. Part three will not be the end, though... I will revisit this topic often as it is a hot-button for me. The way I see it, we can't really do a lot about how much toxic exposure our kids are getting from outdoor air pollution or hazardous cleaning products in their schools and preschools. BUT, we can create a safe, clean home for them where their bodies can rest from the toxic overload they experience.

Until then, take a tour of your home to see what toxins may lurk in your cabinets.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Part One of Children and Cleaning Chemicals

Here is the first installment in "Children and Cleaning Chemicals." This is a huge topic, so I thought I would just start with the story of how I first became aware of the possible hazards.

Being a concerned mother of four, I do care about the wellness of my family and the toxins in my home. But this concern has taken different action over the past years. When I had Rainbow, I gave cleaning products a great deal of thought and tried to make as many as I could using earth friendly ingredients and recipes I found online. Then, after the arrival Spiderman, I needed convenience and so I tried some of the green cleaners found at health food stores. This was expensive so at times I had to just use the chemicals that choke you in the cleaning aisles of grocery stores. And finally, after Witzy joined the famliy, I needed maximum convenience and minimum price. So I started to use Clorox wipes, among other things.

Unfortunately, I was doing more harm than good. A friend of mine suggested I watch Toxic Brew, a news segment produced by a Canadian news station. After watching this, the reality of what I was bringing into my home began to dawn on me. Particularly eye opening to me was how long chemicals stay suspended in the air.

Only a month or so later, I heard of the work of Dr. Doris Rapp, who researches the effects of harmful chemicals on children’s health. In one of her studies, she tested the effect of bleach fumes on six-year-olds’ handwriting. I looked at the printed results, and was amazed at the evidence. Before a bottle of bleach was opened, students wrote their names fairly well. Then, with just an opened bottle of bleach in the room and the fumes wafting through the air, the children wrote their names dramatically different. Some wrote messy, some too small to read, and one even wrote backwards.

Being the devil’s advocate that I am, I thought: "Well, they just printed up the worst case scenarios. Certainly it wouldn’t effect my kids this way." So, I determined to do the same test at home. I didn’t tell my kids what I was doing. I only told them to write as neatly as they could. They printed their names on a sheet of paper. Then, I told them to hold up their papers while I wiped the table off with a Clorox wipe. As soon as it was dry enough, I had them put their papers down and write their names again. I was shocked! Rainbow's writing was visibly messier; instead of letters being tight and connected, they were loopy and crooked. Spiderman was completely distracted by something while he was writing his name! This is uncharacteristic of him. He has no attention difficulties. When he realized that he was talking about something else, he stopped mid-sentence and said: "Wait, I’m supposed to be writing my name!" The next letter he wrote was upside-down, which my son had never done before.

I took it to the next level and had my children move to another room where there were no Clorox fumes. They wrote their names again and proved that without being "under the influence" they could write just as neat as the first time. I could clearly see that the chemicals were affecting both writing ability and focus.

There is more to come on this topic! Take the time to watch Toxic Brew and I will post the more thought-provoking evidence soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Upcoming Posts

Yesterday afternoon as I was driving Rainbow to ballet, my children were eating their power snack. I thought, what a great thing... I'll make a weekly recipe entry starting with this very wonderfully healthy treat.

My mind is also swimming with answers to questions like: "Do I really need to take supplements?" and "Are they worth the money?" and "What do I do when my child appears to be coming down with something?"

Then this morning, as I was making yogurt, I got to thinking I that need to write "a novice's guide to making yogurt" AND I need to write a post about the beneficial connection between probiotics and our immune system.

BUT THEN, I got an email question from a friend in South Africa. She had heard me talk about the link between toxic cleaning product fumes and a child's focusing ability. She asked me for any links I could give for further information. I decided to put the answer to her questions on my blog. This way, all of you can benefit from it as well. All the other posts - and more - will come in time. Thank you for returning to this blog often!

And one more thing before I start the hazards of cleaning chemicals post: if you have a question, chances are others are asking it too! So, email me or post your question in a comment. I will gladly take a look at each of them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Body Burden Quiz

Have you heard about Sloan Barnett's book Green Goes with Everything? It has been on the New York Times bestseller list. In it, she talks about our Body Burden. Interesting thought. As Sloan reports in her book, “Most Americans, and especially children, have dozens of pesticides and other toxic compounds in their bodies, many of them linked to health threats. A source of many of these toxins? Common, everyday, run of the mill household products. Experts call the total amount of chemicals and pollutants that are present in our body at any given time, our “Body Burden”."

While the body burden test run by a medical professional takes a dozen vials of blood and urine, you can take a quick look at what your Body Burden might be by taking the Body Burden Quiz on her website. It may be enlightening. It may help you decide just what your first steps toward a healthier life should be.

And, watch this video. Sloan herself can tell you what this book is all about.



video

Monday, November 17, 2008

So what is health anyway?

I want to help you. I want to provide good information in order to encourage you to make informed decisions about your health. Really, our kids depend on us to lay a healthy foundation for their future. It's up to us to create healthy habits that will serve them as they grow independent.

But, first things first. What is health anyway? This is a pivotal question. We have to answer it before we can make sound decisions about which health trends to follow and which to leave behind.

First, let us look at the miraculous design of our body. Did you know that our bodies have over 4 trillion cells? Some scientists estimate there to be as many as 4 times that amount! That is a huge number!

Now, did you know that these cells are continuously reproducing? The skin cells that you have today you will not have in seven days. You will completely regenerate a new layer of skin! Some cells take longer to reproduce than skin and blood cells. For example some cells like bone cells take nearly seven years. Every day, our cells are hard at work copying themselves! In an adult’s life, all the cells in a body are entirely new after seven years! For a child, it is as short as one single year.

Where do these new cells come from? What are they made of? This is a very key thought. Cells need a consistent supply of building materials. Each new cell is made, according to the stored DNA, using vitamins, minerals, proteins and water. If a cell has these building materials accessible, it will regenerate itself as a vibrant, healthy cell. However, if some nutrients are absent, it will have to make a weaker version of itself.

Here is another key thought: Because of the amazing DNA coding, a weakened cell still has a blueprint to regenerate itself stronger, as long as the proper building materials are present! This is totally amazing. Think about it! We can, through poor diet and malnutrition, starve our cells and loose our vitality. Or, on the flipside, we can get healthier from year to year as we rebuild what has been weakened over time.

Without a doubt, I am healthier today, four babies later, than I was ten years ago. I think this is amazing – definitely worth sharing!

May I be so bold as to ask where your body is headed? Will you through a solid foundation of nutrition provide your cells with ample building materials? Are you ready to find out what steps you can take to improve your health? It all starts with thinking on the cellular level.

Here's My Setting

If you want to know exactly what this blogging experience is like on my end, this is the picture: Rainbow is making very imaginative people using play dough. She is also humming the Christmas (already!) music we listened to while making lunch. Spiderman is outside, raking the fallen leaves off his bike trail through the woods. Witzy is using cookie cutters to make lions and tigers and bears with her play dough. Tickle is still napping. And there you have it... It is a very beautiful fall afternoon and I have my laptop facing the window so that I can see Spiderman and the richly decorated leaves on the ground all around him.

It will take me a bit of time to get all my preliminary thoughts onto this blog. Please come back again to hear how you can make a healthy difference for your own family. I hope that my experience and my insights are an inspiration to you. Bit by bit they will come out on this blog. In the meantime, introduce yourself to me! I'd like to meet you...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

You'll want to come back.


I'm in the middle of posting some very exciting content. You'll want to read it. Bookmark this blog! In the meantime, check this out.