My Pajama Anxiety, Relieved At Last! or, Why are my kid’s clothes toxic?!

Yes, I have anxiety about baby pajamas. How could I possibly have anxiety about the cutest thing in the entire world, besides an actual baby? It’s pretty weird. Consumer reports explains that, “To protect children from burns, CPSC regulations dictate that children’s sleepwear sizes 9 months to size 14 must either be made of flame-resistant fabric, which doesn’t ignite easily and must self-extinguish quickly when removed from a flame, or the clothing must fit snugly because loose garments are more likely to catch fire.” Why does it start at 9 months? Because a chemical called chlorinated Tris was proven to cause cancer in tiny babies, and it was banned from baby pajamas in the 1970s. I’m still not clear on why the chemicals that are carcinogenic to a 6-month-old baby are considered safe for a 9-month-old. Prepared for this transition, I bought Walt some NOT-pajama matching tops and bottoms from the Swedish company Polarn O. Pyret, whose “eco” line is able to meet high European safety standards by simply not calling itself sleepwear, thus outsmarting US flame retardant laws that would destroy that status with toxins. Another company that makes a conscious effort to give parents this option is Hannah Andersson, but until very recently, I thought that this was an American company that only made expensive dresses. Nope! Not only do they make clothes that are not dresses (much of their stock is actually labeled “baby” or “kid” because it is entirely gender neutral) but they also make “long johns” that are both organic and toxin-free. This is because they have big bright yellow tags on them that warn parents to make sure the clothes fit “snugly” to protect from fire. Even more exciting (for me) is the fact that there is an outlet about 25 minutes from my house! Full-price, PO.P and “hannah” pjs can set you back over $40. And I can’t do it. Nope. No way. But I caught a sale and snagged some PO.P clothes for Walter and this outlet near me is pretty darn awesome! In fact, I did a good deed and bought “long johns” for no more than five parents today; they were marked down to $18 (from $40ish) at the outlet. We are all in a Facebook group together where the clothes get resold and traded when kids outgrow them. I am so dedicated to the toxin-free pajama cause that Walt and I shopped for two hours, selflessly spending other peoples’ money on adorable strips and Christmas patterns (with some dresses, leggings, tees and cute accessories thrown in there) and purchasing just one set for ourselves. It is white with blue trim and has big, brightly-colored trucks on it. Best of all? It is one piece and opens and closes with a zipper! All the cute with none of the cancer!

This garment is NOT flame resistant! (Wait. What? Why should it be?)

This garment is NOT flame resistant! (Wait. What? Why should it be?)

We don’t need more than one pair at the moment, because Walt often sleeps in wool pants or leggings that act as cloth diaper covers. That is the subject for another post–and I have had one planned for months. Oh, how I love the wool/cloth combination! Oh, how I love the all-natural-ness of it all! Here’s the thing: it’s not because I’m a snob about labels. I just feel a teeny bit lighter, knowing that nothing on his little body is made from anything linked to the word “cancer” in my reading. You may scoff and call me neurotic. I don’t actually believe that I am protecting my child from cancer, full stop. But feel better when I can pronounce the ingredients in his “sleepwear.”

Oh, and if you’re still confused about how some pajamas are going to do anyone a lot of good in a fire, especially on a baby in a crib–me, too! I’d rather take a chance on the big danger than expose my child, every single night, to a small amount of a chemical mixture that is definitely dangerous. Also: we do not smoke in the house or, you know, at all, and don’t really burn candles, let alone leave them burning while we sleep… I just don’t see the need for this law. If your kid is wearing polyester Disney sleepwear as I type this (it’s late) I don’t judge you–my niece has loved the same nightgown with The Princesses on it for years. It is absurdly small on her, now, and falling apart. She adores it. There are toxins everywhere. This one happens to have gotten under my skin, so to speak.

Sweet relief–I just have to wait for a sale at the outlet, and we’re good until he’s in junior high. But for the sake of my newly reduced anxiety, let’s not consider that future. Let’s just enjoy the sleeping babies everywhere. And ogle the cuteness:

A pile of pajamas! Ours are on top. The rest are going to other lucky kids.

A pile of pajamas! Ours are on top. The rest are going to other lucky kids.

Proud Welfare Mom: WIC vs SNAP

:::UPDATE – This post was written in 2013. Much has changed in our lives since it was written, but I remain proud of my family, and we do remain both dependent on and grateful for government services provided through the Connecticut Department of Social Services. Please read other Proud Welfare Mom posts. If you comment here only to vent rage or hate, I will delete your comment. If you have something to say that might help someone or further discussion, I will try to reply. The comments I receive on this page make me question humanities, some days. Be human beings. :::

I’m putting on my Proud Welfare Mom hat today to explain the difference between WIC and SNAP (food stamps). It’s really important, and really confusing. I’ll do my best.

**Disclaimer: I am not trained to explain any of this to anyone, or to help anyone apply. My experience is limited to the Connecticut Department of Social Services only.**

First, it’s important to understand that WIC is a special kind of “welfare” program. The acronym is for Women Infants and Children. It’s the most basic of safety nets, in that the purpose of WIC is to make sure that pregnant women, infants and very young children receive very basic nutrition (milk, eggs, bread) for low-income families. You can qualify for WIC if your income is below a certain amount. Other WIC requirements include: living in the area of the office you’re applying through, and a few other things. The most important thing about WIC, though, and what makes it such a basic safety net, is that you don’t need to prove that you’re a US citizen or a documented immigrant to qualify, meaning that the US government realizes that the most very basic nutrition for pregnant women and children under five-years-old is good for society at large. Or, if you are cynical, it is cheaper to provide basic nutritional assistance for the most vulnerable population than to provide health care after they show up in our emergency rooms.

Unlike WIC, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as and still informally referred to as “food stamps,” requires a rather lengthy application and many more eligibility requirements. It is not just for the basics, but for groceries in general. Very unlike WIC, you can’t even receive SNAP benefits unless you’re a US citizen or have lived here legally for at least five years. That’s probably because SNAP is much more expensive–a family of three, like mine, can receive about $500 per month. That’s not what we get, but you can imagine that it adds up.

One of the stranger questions asked on the "adjustment" form I'm currently filling out to continue receiving SNAP benefits.

One of the stranger questions asked on the “adjustment” form I’m currently filling out to continue receiving SNAP benefits.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention a dollar amount for WIC. This is the second important difference between WIC and SNAP; WIC benefits include a book of “checks,” or vouchers, for specific foods, to be used at specific stores, while SNAP provides money for food in general, at a variety of stores and even, in some states, restaurants. WIC checks are so complicated to use that my husband and I have never managed, between the two of us, to make it through the checkout process at a grocery store without encountering some sort of problem. Right brand, wrong type of bread–“Yes, you did get the 12 grain bread last time, but that was in December. Now, it’s a new year and we only allow the Whole Wheat from that brand.” If we don’t get everything that’s been printed on the check, or if the store is simply out of stock, then we are out of luck. Nothing organic is allowed. Keep in mind that we are over-educated, native English speakers, and we have a really hard time navigating this process. When my therapist asked me why WIC made me feel angry, infantalized and humiliated, I showed her the booklet explaining which foods we are and are not allowed to get. She made several mistakes trying to understand the first two pages. 

Why is WIC so complicated? Because it involves negotiations between the states and food manufacturers. The state asks companies to submit bids and accepts whatever it can get for the least amount of money. Big companies can usually afford to provide the deepest discounts. WIC makes a list of those foods and prints it on our vouchers. The stores must then write down the dollar amount, send in the vouchers and wait to receive compensation. For that reason, if we wanted formula from WIC, we could only get Enfamil. If we chose to use the vouchers they give us for jars of baby food, we could only get certain “flavors” of the Beech Nut brand. Babies who are breastfed can get the jars of meat, but babies who are formula fed can only get the fruit and veggie jars. Why? Because they only allow iron-enriched formula. Breastfed babies need the iron in the jars of meat, presumably. Just for the record, our local WIC office encourages breastfeeding with warmth and enthusiasm, and I love them for it. Every three months, we go to the office and sit down with the booklet and a nutritional counsellor and choose from our options. We are apparently unusual for choosing the tofu option. Everyone receives vouchers for gallons of milk. I don’t know how anyone goes through that much milk. It’s supposed to be on of my main sources of protein, unfortunately.

We're enjoying organic berries this summer, thanks to SNAP.

We’re enjoying organic berries this summer, thanks to SNAP.

WIC is stuck in the distant past in its nutritional suggestions (processed cereals, juice from concentrate, skim milk for protein, etc.) because highly processed foods are cheaper. Organic is more expensive. I wasn’t really that angry about “Big Agra” and corporate food until I saw for myself the way low-income families get stuck with the worst options, simply because they are the cheapest to manufacture and contain foods heavily subsidized in farming (corn and corn products are in absolutely everything). Frosted Flakes (generic, processed corn, sugary) are allowed, while steel-cut oatmeal (high in protein, hardly processed) is not. We can only get the most heavily processed hot cereals, too.

SNAP allows us complete freedom in what we buy; it simply limits the amount of money we are allowed to spend. We fill out mountains of paperwork, and the Department of Social Services determines how much money we should receive. They put it on an “EBT” card that we swipe and use with a PIN, just as through it were attached to our bank account. It took me months of waiting and hours on the phone to get that amount adjusted after Walt was born, because someone, somewhere, had failed to type in his social security number. Now that we have received the money we ought to have been allotted in the first place, I can feed my child organic products. Because we prefer to eat unprocessed foods in general and because, in the store itself (as opposed to in the board room, where WIC is negotiated), vegetables are cheaper than anything else, we eat well on that amount.

In Connecticut, the only restriction we’ve encountered on what we buy using our SNAP money is on prepared foods. Oddly, we can’t use it for the salad bar at Whole Foods, but we can use it for the sushi they package and sell in a cooler right in front of the counter where they prepare the sushi. I don’t really understand the restrictions, but I love SNAP. Whatever it doesn’t cover just comes up as a balance. It’s easy for everyone, as though you were splitting the bill onto two cards.

You can use your SNAP card at any grocery store, whereas WIC vouchers may only be used at stores who have agreed to participate. Cashiers don’t need to understand any rules or call over managers for any signatures when we use our SNAP card, but WIC vouchers require both. We can always use our SNAP card at farmers’ markets and even receive an extra $10 to spend on fruits and vegetables when we “spend” at least $10, there. WIC has just started giving out checks for the market, but they are few and far between.

I’ve surpassed 1200 words and have also reached the limits of my patience. I’m happy to answer any questions, though! Ask away!

One more thing: I am proud of myself for navigating all the paperwork and time on the phone required to get my family the help we need. I am still struggling with feelings of shame in actually using that help. I can’t handle WIC checks at all. Nathan does it all, so that I don’t have anxiety attacks in the aisles of Wal-Mart (a company I hate, but the only place where the cashiers know what they’re doing regarding WIC). My emotional response is complicated. Money is hard for everyone to deal with, even people who have lots, in my experience. I’m hoping that talking about it will help me and anyone else who happens across this space.

Sanity Sundays: Ginger Green Tea

Okay, this one seems completely unoriginal. But I have been mixing my own morning tea that fights nausea, wakes me up and is full of antioxidants. And it is delicious!

I’m not normally a green tea fan. There’s a bitterness there that I just do not like. But lately, I take one green tea bag and one ginger tea bag, let it steep for five minutes, and that for some reason I love.

Why did I start drinking the green tea in the first place? Well, my nutritionist made a brilliantly simple observation: antioxidants fight free radicals, which damage cells. During the embryonic phase/first trimester, the embryo/fetus is very vulnerable to anything that damages cells. So, flooding my body with antioxidants can only help, especially because antioxidant-rich foods are healthy in other ways. From Jan the Amazing Nutritionist:

At Tufts University scientists from the USDA have developed a rating scale that measures the antioxidant content of various natural plant foods. The scale is called ORAC, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.
 
Foods highest on the ORAC scale:
 
Condiments: clove, cinnamon, cumin, curry, cardamom, garlic, onion, turmeric, oregano, thyme, basil, dill, rosemary, rosehip, sage, sumac and sorghum bran, vanilla bean, unsweetened cocoa, black and green tea.
 
Dried and deeply pigmented fruits: apples with skin, avocado, olives, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, goji berries, plums, black currants, raspberries, strawberries, figs, cherries, oranges, papaya, pears, grape and pomegranate juice.
 
Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus,  broccoli, brussel sprouts, red leaf cabbage, asparagus, beetroot, eggplant, yellow squash, kale, spinach, sweet and russet potatoes.
 
Legumes: red, kidney, pinto beans, and lentils.
 
Nuts: peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts.
 I love eating almost everything on that list, so eating lots more of these foods is not a problem! The ginger is for the nausea, by the way.
I have a friend who buys green tea in bulk, plus herbs that are good for her and makes loose tea. I am too lazy for this, so I bought inexpensive organic green tea bags and organic ginger tea bags. I am not too lazy to add fresh ginger, but they were out.

My Head Just Exploded

It’s 1:40 am on Saturday morning, so my stay-relaxed techniques that work so well during the day are as tired as I am. Why can’t I sleep? I don’t know, the decaf tea had more caf than I can handle?

[Oh wait, I do know. I’m anxious. I wanna be pregnant now and I don’t wanna wait anymore and I’m scared something is going to go wrong/make me wait! But that’s a secret. Shhh!]

I did what anyone does on a sleepless night. I tried once again to find a crib that was non-toxic. And I did. And here’s why my head exploded:

It is only available at Wal-Mart.

I know. I was really suspicious, too. But indeed, ’tis true. The only crib under $300 that is made from all solid wood (pressed wood is made with really horrible chemicals) and has a non-toxic finish comes from the evilest of all evil huge stores. And here’s the next shocker.

I love it.

It’s gorgeous. Modern. Finished in the dark wood we love. It has a drawer underneath for storage!

I know, right? KA-BOOM!

How did I find it? I came across a link to this other fabulous blog:

http://www.younghouselove.com/2010/02/nursery-progress-crib-notes/

Where people much more determined than I and much more open-minded did more thorough research than I did (perhaps because they did actually have a child on the way) and found the best. crib. ever. At Wal-Mart.

I know. It’s amazing. (That bear is pretty adorable, too…) For $299.97. Free shipping to the store. Did I mention the drawer underneath? It converts to a toddler bed. It’s 3-in-1, which means infant (mattress up high), baby/young toddler (mattress low enough to not climb out) and late toddler/preschooler (one side converts to a rail that makes sure the kid doesn’t roll out of bed). Did I mention that it matches our existing furniture? So if we share a room, it’ll all match?

Excuse me while I go collect the pieces of my mind that have scattered to the far corners of the internet.

“BPA is illegal now, isn’t it?” NOPE.

From Healthy Child, Healthy World and AP:

“Better labeling news comes to us from Washington state, where a new law went into effect this week that forces manufacturers of toys, cosmetics, jewelry and baby products to report to the state if their products contain hazardous chemicals such as formaldehyde, bisphenol A and phthalates, according to the Associated Press.

P.S. On the BPA front, California is well on its way to passing a law banning the substance from baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula and baby food.”

Know what that means?

  1. California has NOT YET banned bisphenol A from baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula and baby food. (Please tell me that means formula and baby food containers!)
  2. In Washington state, you can use “formaldehyde, bisphenol A and phthalates” in baby products. You just have to LABEL it, now.
Let’s start with BPA. I talked about it in an earlier post, but let’s look at why parents should definitely pay attention and the rest of us should feel concern. I even found a nice little picture for you! The National Toxicology Program has a handy website with no alarmist rhetoric (this blog is TAME, people, compared to what else is out there) devoted to educating us, the public, about BPA and how to avoid it, if we want to.

Concerns about BPA are on the left. The level of concern is in handy stoplight color. This is the most conservative statement about concerns surrounding BPA, from the National Toxicology Program.

In case that’s hard to read, there is “some concern” (that’s orange, or yellow-turning-to-red: consider stopping!) for “Developmental toxicity for fetuses, infants, and children (effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland).” How? Well, it’s an “endocrine disruptor.” Which means that it messes with hormones (endocrine system). And here’s another tip from the NTP–if you’re concerned, avoid plastics with the recycle codes 3 and 7. The ones that look like this:

See the 7? Recycle it now. See a 3 in there? Recycle it. Just don't risk it.

These charming folks would like to assure you that your BPA intake is very low, and that there is therefore, no need to worry. Not true. As Annie Murphy Paul writes, in her book Origins, in this case, traditional views are not helpful, because with endocrine disruptors, “the dose does not make the poison.” In fact, a tiny amount might be more dangerous than a large amount. According to Paul, a tiny amount of an endocrine disruptor fails to trip immune system “alarms”–it looks a lot like a natural hormone. If you drank it, undiluted, I’m not sure what would happen, but your body would definitely say “That’s a foreign substance!” and fight it. But we’ve known for awhile now that endocrine disruptors are more dangerous in smaller amounts because they sneak past those alarms and make it straight into breast tissue, umbilical cord tissue, and other scary places.

And just in case you thought you were safe because you use a stainless-steel water bottle and avoid plastic dishes, there’s one more dirty little BPA secret: it’s in your soup can. I have signed two petitions trying to get Campbell’s to stop putting it in their cans; they refused to respond to either. And guess what’s got the highest concentration? Chicken soup. That’s right, the stuff with the character-themed noodles marketed directly to children. Also, ravioli and BABY FORMULA. Okay, enough yelling. But seriously, if you don’t believe me, read this from the Environmental Working Group.

So if you’re one of the people who told me, after my earlier post, that it’s okay to relax, BPA has been banned, this one’s for you. It has not even been banned from baby bottles in all states. True, far fewer baby bottles have BPA in them, but chicken soup and infant formula cans still have it.

Send a letter to your senator. Ask that our kids be protected from BPA. The smart people at MomsRising.org, “where moms and people go to change our world,” have already written a great letter for you. All you need to do is sign it.

Going Plastic Free

It started with paint. Or whatever that stuff is that OXO GoodGrips uses to label its plastic measuring cups and spoons. One humid day, I was happily measuring flour, when I looked down to find that my thumb was now green and the formerly labeled handle was now blank. I guess I had just assumed that whatever markings were faded had come off during washing. But we don’t have a dishwasher anymore. So then I became obsessed with the idea that the paint was ending up in our food. I wrote angry letters but got NO information about the content of that paint. I did get (for free) a set of measuring cups with stainless cups and the same “grips” for handles. Which did not solve my problem AT ALL–same paint. I also got a patronizing assurance that OXO products meet safety standards in Europe, and since those are higher than any standards in the US, that was actually sort of comforting.

Being in this my-therapist-is-on-vacation-so-I’ll-obsess-over-cookware mental place means that I am now worried about everything plastic in our kitchen. Anxiety is more of a hyper, compulsive kind of thing that incites activity, if not always rational activity; obsessive-compulsive disorder is actually an anxiety disorder, although thankfully not one that I deal with. (Depression, however, did not put me in any sort of place even to write angry letters or, well, to do anything except sleep.) No, I did not throw everything plastic away. But I immediately go to Amazon to look for stainless measuring cups and spoons. Wow, were they expensive. On to etsy! There, I found some awesome and charmingly dented vintage stainless measuring cups.

Enter, Super Mom-In-Law, to the rescue! Be jealous, those of you with less awesome mothers-in-law–the day after reading about my disgust with my measuring cups and my hope to switch them out for stainless, she called me to tell me that she had found some for a good price (the woman is a magnet for a good deal). I now have two sets of nothing-but-metal measuring cups and the most awesome set of measuring spoons ever. Seriously. They fit inside spice jars and go from 1/8 tsp all the way to, get this, 1 1/2 tbsp. Little things make me oh so happy! So, the “green” things in my kitchen now include:

sifter (wood handles), measuring spoons, cups, ice cream scoop (for muffin batter--try it! no spills. less waste.)

I also LOVE these plastic free kitchen items we got as gifts, mostly wedding gifts: ceramic nesting mixing bowls from Nigella Lawson & Bliss Living, bamboo cutting board, chicken-shaped wooden cutting boards from Martha Sterwart (they were a joke, but I use them! hilarious!), stand mixer. We also have pyrex bowls, a wooden rolling pin and, my pride and joy, an all-wood drop-leaf table. It even has two drawers and the all-wood stools fit in spaces under the drawers. Our kitchen is so tiny, and it makes a huge difference. But I’m also amazed at how good it feels to roll out dough on a wood surface, sit and eat at wood and just plain have wood around. It’s nice! It’s the background to all those photos, by the way. Oh, and the “greenest” purchase I have ever made? My vintage cast iron skillet made by Le Creuset. The enamel on the outside (was it originally red or orange? it’s both, now!) is all beat up, but after a good scrub with coarse salt and one seasoning in the oven (rub pan with oil, put in oven upside down for 1 hour), it shines. The best part is that someone else did all the original seasoning for me. Tip: rust on a cast iron skillet can be easily removed with a good scrub–use coarse salt because soap will take off the oil that makes case iron an almost entirely non-stick but chemical free pan. Mine was $24, including shipping. A new Le Creuset can go for well over $150. The star of my kitchen really deserves its own photo:

Good for the planet. Good for my family. Best deal ever.

So far, so good, right? Right. But if I’m going to plan for Baby, I want to have an (almost) entirely plastic-free kitchen. And nursery. I don’t want plastic toys, teething rings or baby bottles. I don’t even want plastic food storage. That’s right, I want glass baby bottles. Is this necessary? Depends on who you ask. Why do I want it? I am the kind of person who will end up thinking “plastic is toxic, plastic is toxic” every time I go to heat up a baby bottle or send a lunch to preschool, knowing the food will be warmed in a plastic container. The toxins in plastic (BPA and many, many others) get released when the plastic is damaged, and, often, heating it up is enough to damage it. The regulations in the US are just not good enough. “Phthalates are common in soft plastics, like baby teethers and bath toys, and can affect the endocrine, immune and reproductive systems.” (Read more about safe feeding products at the hilariously named Granola Babies.) And if you think I’m crazy, then you haven’t read the blog posts out there about how truly terrible it must be that breast milk is pumped through plastic tubes, stored in plastic bags in the freezer and warmed in plastic bottles. This is not, in the scheme of things, high on my list of the truly terrible. If I pump, I’ll see if we can afford a green option. I’m not that deep into this research yet. But I assure you, I am not even close to the crazy end of this particular spectrum.

This is a breast pump from the 1830s. Plastic and rubber free? Yes. But would YOU use it? I looks like a medieval torture device! And probably felt like one, too.

As my mother pointed out, some things must be plastic: nipples/tops for the baby bottles, lids for the glass containers, the baby-proofing cabinet locks and outlet covers, the shower curtain. Even the glass baby bottles have silicone “protectors” (although I’m not sure what they’re protecting–maybe they prevent the bottle from slipping?). Plastic is part of modern life, and it’s a great invention. As I mentioned before, I LOVE my BPA-free, built-in-filter Water Bobble. The idea, here, is to keep it away from my food as much as possible, especially if I’m going to keep throwing it out at the slightest scratch–talk about bad for the planet! I have no desire to go back to the days when we had cast iron but used cleaning products laced with arsenic, cyanide, mercury and any other poison you can think of. (I just read in The Poisoner’s Handbook about an entire household of servants who died because the cook forgot to rinse out a pot after polishing it. Why? The polish everyone used at that time contained cyanide as a main ingredient. She cooked the stew in cyanide. I do not long for history’s kitchens! I love my freezer!) It’s expensive, I know, but it gives me peace of mind, and it lasts a lot longer than plastic in my kitchen and a lot less long in the landfill. Glass is 100% recyclable. And for the record, I have thought about the fact that glass shatters, but assuming we don’t start throwing stuff against the wall or feed the baby from wine glasses, the food-storage-grade glass should hold up just fine.

It’s all about balance. We live in an old building with beautiful wood floors. Pro: no chemicals from icky, gross wall-to-wall carpeting. Con: God only knows what’s under the paint chipping off that radiator. So I’ll put some sort of barrier to keep Baby from the radiator and hope the kid doesn’t ingest lead from, oh, I don’t know, chewing on the walls. You can’t take care of everything–I know this because I have tried to take care of everything and went nuts in the process. I have papers to prove it. So plastic bugs me, while glass, wood and metal just feel good. What bugs you? What will you absolutely not have in your house?

Best Intentions

I have a BPA-free water bottle. I threw out all damaged plastic containers. I even plan on switching to metal measuring cups and spoons. But the best of intentions cannot prevent stupidity: I did in fact light a small amount of plastic wrap on fire today. The top of the stove is the best place to let bread dough rise, okay? And I didn’t see that the plastic wrap protecting my dough was that close to the gas burner I was using to reheat my super healthy oatmeal!

This whole thing would be awful if I didn’t have a sense of humor.

A Sacrifice for Baby

Really? Already? Yes. Already. I got a voicemail on Thursday reminding me that I had a hair appointment on Saturday afternoon. I’d originally made the appointment for highlights and a haircut. Then, two things occurred to me–I don’t know what I’m doing this fall in terms of work! And–How can I read about all these chemicals to avoid, including food coloring, and then go and soak my head in them? Does anyone even know how long it takes these chemicals to leave my body? Will it matter that the dyed hair may not be grown out by the time I’m pregnant? Do I sound completely insane or just mildly neurotic?

Of course I knew that I would not want to dye my hair while pregnant. What never occurred to me was that I would have to get it dyed back to something resembling it’s natural color, make sure that the roots matched that color and, if not, get it done all over again. I tried just letting it grow out once, and it just made me hate looking in the mirror once the roots became truly obvious. And then there’s the money–I don’t do cheap haircuts. When things get tight, I can stop buying new clothes. I can give up going out to eat. I can go months without a hair cut. I cannot get a cheap haircut. Same goes for color. Badly dyed hair makes my skin crawl. The price tag on a good haircut plus a good set of highlights makes Nathan’s skin turn really, really, abnormally pale. I need to get my haircut in order to keep it healthy and looking nice. I do not need to dye it. My natural hair color is lovely–and it’s a medium brown. (Judy, you have, in fact, seen me without dyed hair.)

Today, therefore, I bid my highlights adieu. I had fun with a new set of straight-across bangs to take advantage of the drama of my darker hair agains my pale skin. But I will miss the highlights. I will miss making the appointments to get the highlights. I will miss watching my colorist make up some weird goop that magically turns segments of brown hair into shades of ash blonde. I will miss sipping cappuccino in the middle of the salon at the “Color Bar” with foils in my hair. I may even miss hearing complaints about the absence of good men for my colorist to date in the New Haven area. I will definitely miss having two to three salon employees examine my color and “ooh” and “aww” at the results. From now on, it’ll just be me and Trinity, the stylist who cuts my hair. I’ll come in quietly and leave quietly. But I am grateful for one thing–when I leave, it may be with less fanfare, but it will be after under one hour, not three.

Before:

Summer Highlights

And after:

Back to Brunette

Water Bobble

There is a new love in my life. It’s name is Bobble. Water Bobble. Isn’t it sexy?

Mine is red like this one, but I can change it up when it's time for a new filter!

I carry it everywhere, and since I purchased it at the New Haven American Apparel (along with some truly adorable “I could belong to a boy” style undies), I have been drinking lots of water every day. Why my water Bobble has become the third thing to remember when I leave the house, after keys and purse:

  • It filters as you drink via a charcoal filter just like the one in your Brita filter. Suddenly, all water tastes like Brita water! I am one of those people who trusts her tap water, but all the preconception literature says to drink filtered water.
  • It’s BPA-free. BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a chemical that mimics estrogen, so even tiny amounts can do serious damage, since our bodies don’t know the difference between small amounts of BPA and the real hormone. (Origins by Annie Murphy Paul explains this and lots of other complicated science very neatly.) It’s used in some plastics to make them shatterproof but gets released when the container is cleaned too harshly, scratched, heated up or even just reused. This is one really good reason NOT to reuse the water bottle you bought. It’s also a good excuse to throw out your old plastic food-storage containers. Ladies, I’m talking to you–we’re talking about a definite carcinogen that gets into your body by mimicking estrogen, so if you’re picturing the cancers that scare women the most, you’re on the right track.
  • The $10 I spent on my Bobble is a whole lot cheaper than buying a drink every time I realize I’m dehydrated and far from home.
  • It’s really light-weight. I am outside a lot. Lately, that means I sweat a lot. I simply have to carry something.
  • Last but not least? I can change the color of my filter when I get a new one! (They last 90 days.)
Go get one. You don’t even have to get up, because their website says “enter code FREE WATER when purchasing online and receive 25% off your order.”
*This blogger was not paid to endorse this product. She just loves it enough to devote a whole post to it.