I Love Hulu and Netflix (Goodbye, DIRECTV)

We have canceled cable!  Goodbye, DIRECTV.  Hello, $40 more per month in my pocket.  I've wanted to get rid of cable/satellite for some time now, because they charge too much and don't have a package small enough for me.  I really only want the networks and PBS, and not all those crappy kiddy channels.

Top 10 Benefits of Moving into a Smaller Place

I recently moved into a smaller place:  fewer bedrooms, smaller living room, smaller family room.  Here are ten benefits of moving into a smaller place.

I love saving money.
1.  Lower rent
2.  Lower deposit
3.  Lower utilities
Yes, these 3 are all related to money, and they are all wonderful.  Lower cost-of-living was one of the main impetuses for the move, after all.  

Non-toxic Antibacterial Soap

We have a stomach bug going around at my house.  What do stomach bugs make you want to do?  Disinfect every surface, product and person in your house, right?

Well, years and years ago, before I was married or had children, a smart conscientious friend of mine (who read Scientific American magazine on a regular basis) told me about the evils of antibacterial soap.  She told me that antibacterial soaps:
  • Aren't necessary for regular folks
  • Aren't more effective than regular soap
  • Probably help create drug-resistant super bugs
  • Contain toxic chemicals

So I stopped using antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers a long time ago.  I didn't even use them when when I was an elementary school teacher watching my students put their pencils in their mouth and fingers in their noses and then hand me their papers.  I just washed my hands very thoroughly and often.  So what do I do now when there is a stomach bug going around my house and I really, really, really don't want the baby to get it?

10 Alternatives to Synthetic Air Fresheners

I have never liked the smell of synthetic air fresheners. I have a sensitive nose.  Even when I'm not pregnant.  I can remember disliking the one in my grandma’s bathroom when I was a kid. I bought fragrance-free or unscented personal products and cleaning products years before I ever heard the word "phthalates."  When I got married, I had to wean my husband off of the spray air fresheners in the bathroom and the plug-in air fresheners throughout the house. I couldn’t stand the smell. And this was before I knew anything about toxins in household products.

I’m not going to go into all the gory details about why you shouldn’t use most air fresheners. Let’s just say that they contain many chemicals (formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, p- dichlorobenzene, and aerosol propellants) that you and your children should not be inhaling or eating (the droplets linger in the air and fall on the floor).

Here are some lovely alternatives:

Potty Training Reflections or The Thrill of Success & The Agony of Defeat

The Thrill of Success

On our week-long trip to stay with relatives in Southern California, potty training went better than anyone could have hoped. My toddler still regularly poops in his underpants (I’d say about 25% of the time). I wash his poopy underpants with his baby sister’s cloth diapers. We bought pull-ups for the trip, but decided not to use them until he actually pooped in his underpants. One week later, he was still in underpants. He only pooped in the potty! We did bring our new favorite Baby Bjorn potty with us. My previous favorite is now just a bit small for him. My baby (nearly one year old now) also continued her awesome track record with pooping in the potty. She did not have a single poopy diaper during the week-long trip. She normally uses a potty seat, but on this trip she just used her brother’s potty.

The Baby Bjorn Smart Potty - our new favorite potty.
It's a good size for both the one-year-old and the 3-year-old.
It's compact, sturdy and well-designed.
It has a little rubber on the bottom to help it stay put.
My husband appreciates the removable pot.

The Agony of Defeat

Today is our first full day back home. My toddler pooped in the potty this morning. Then he pooped in this underpants and made a huge mess in the bathroom trying to remove his underwear by himself (it was not a very solid poop, shall we say). I ended up showering him and cleaning the entire bathroom floor. Later, after lots of fussiness from the baby (she’s been generally fussy this past week), the baby pooped in her diaper. Was she trying to tell me something with all those grunts and whines? She also got a bath.


I know my self-esteem should not depend on where my children deposit their bowel movements, but it’s hard not to get my hopes up after a few days of success. And then it’s somewhat inevitable that I will feel like a miserable failure when all those hopes and dreams are dashed to pieces by. . . poo. I try to remember that really I just want the baby to sometimes poop in the potty so that she doesn’t have to make the psychological leap her brother did when it’s time for full-fledged potty training. I try to remember that only a few months ago my toddler would sit on the potty reading stories for hours, and then poop in his underpants soon after I put them on.

I try to remember. . . it’s just poop.

For more tips, tricks, and tales from our potty training adventures, visit my CLICK HERE.

Of Sun and Sunscreen

I'm on a trip with my kids.  We remembered to pack all the stuff for the beach, except the sunscreen.  I usually buy sunscreen for my kids at Whole Foods, because I'm picky about ingredients.  Since we aren't near a Whole Foods, I was stuck buying sunscreen at the nearby Target.  My goal was to find a sunscreen that met the following 2 criteria:

1. Sunscreen protection from minerals instead of chemicals
Most sunscreens contain chemical sunscreens that mimic estrogen and are considered to be potential hormone disruptors. I stick to mineral sunscreens (titanium oxide and zinc oxide) which provide a physical barrier. Some people dislike that they can leave a white layer and make you look "ghostly."

2. No other ingredients that I immediately recognize as yucky
I wanted to avoid fragrance (which contains secret ingredients) and parabens, for example. This was really a split-second decision, because I didn't have time to do a bunch of research.
And guess what?  I found 2 sunscreens that fit the bill:

Johnson & Johnson Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 40

And I found them right there in Target!  Note that I found them in the infant section, not the sunscreen section.  They also had a place for California Baby (a more "natural" line of personal products) brand sunscreen, which is sold in Whole Foods and which I have seen on lists of safe sunscreens for kids, but they were all out at the time.  The sunscreens I bought are not super cheap, by the way.  But I am willing to spend a bit more on personal products because I care about ingredients.  Also, we don't use that many personal products.  Now that I'm here writing this post, I am pleased to see that the J&J Baby Sunscreen is actually one of the recommended sunscreens.

Even though I live in a sunny climate, I don't slather sunscreen on my kids all the time.  I prefer to cover up with clothing and hats for time at the park.  A little sun might be good for us after all.  But when you spend all day at the beach, you really need to use sunscreen.  Even if you are sitting under an umbrella in the shade because of all the reflection (I know all of you already knew that, but I recently found this out the hard way).  

For those interested in even more information, here are some great resources on sunscreen from Environmental Working Group:

Find your sunscreen -- so you can see EWG's evaluation of your favorite sunscreen's UVA protection, UVB protection, and potential health concerns. Here is the information for the Johnson & Johnson Baby Sunscreen I bought, for example. 

EWG's Shopper's Guide to Safer Sunscreens -- a pdf with lots of handy info

9 Surprising Truths about Sunscreens:  for example -- There’s no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer.

What do you look for in a sunscreen?

This post is part of Things I Love Thursday.


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