We NEED a change of rhetoric- Gun control is the new abortion rights movement

227151_10151200864224092_2083398330_nI’m MAD. I’m so MAD that this happened. It was so unnecessary, so unthinkable. SO CRUEL.

No need to go into the details. What I want to discuss is how we can get people to change the talk, the discussion that leads to such madness. I’m tired of the rhetoric our country has adopted on killing unborn babies, i.e. the abortion debate, when it is not paying a lick of attention of ways to keep thriving youngsters safe, and now, with this horrid turn of events, alive.

Just google shootings in Chicago having to do with children and too many results appear to name.  Yet, all politicians do is focus on women carrying unborn children who have a choice on what kind of life they would like they and their child(ren) to live. How can these same people, who want to dictate what a consenting, grown adult do with her body, and that with her child by choice or unwanted child, also say that it’s okay for grown adults to wield weapons of destruction so powerful they are used in crimes to kill children?

The rhetoric has just gone wrong. Literally dead wrong. These conservative politicians cannot talk out of one side of their mouth saying that abortion kills children and how we must SAVE children by preventing abortion while disallowing strict gun control which ends up killing or injuring upwards of five children a day?

We have lost our freaking minds, America. We have become too selfish, too inwardly-focused, too-caught up in superlatives to remember that at the end of the day, all that we have to propel us forward are our children. When we don’t put them first, we all lose. Politicians who purport to want to bring children into this world because abortion is bad, deadly, wrong, need to do more then to save and help those children once their out of the womb. Because you can’t stand on both sides of that debate.

I think it starts with strict gun control. First, I’m going to read up on how and why we got here. This article, written in August for the Washington Post, about what the Prime Minister of Australia did with regards to gun control really stirred me. Why can’t we do the same?

Next, I’m going to sign Moms Rising open letter to the NRA to stop blocking commonsense gun control. Because we’re not a nation of savages, even though the world could easily think so at this point.

Last, I’m going to donate to at least one family who tragically lost a child last Friday. A Jewish boy. It could have been anyone. It could have been my little first grade Jewish boy. I’m also hoping we can change the conversation. Even if it’s just one blog post at a time.

What did I miss? What else can we do? I feel so helpless.

Mamaloot + Greater Chicago Food Depository Food Drive = Good Stuff

One of my *new* “clients” (More information forthcoming, I swear!! Too busy to blog! Does this blog feel like an advertisement yet? Ack!) is running a very cool campaign for the next 10 days. Mamaloot, the awesome daily deals website geared towards Chicago parents, is donating a can of food for every email sign up they get over the next 10 days to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Isn’t that nice? And I said I’d help spread the word… It’s so easy to sign up on their site and every day they send you an email of some really great parent-focused discounts and steals. Not just for moms of young kiddos!

Better yet, some of Mamaloot’s “Best of the Best” partners (Bullfrogs and Butterflies, Grow, Building Blocks, Little Threads, Psycho Baby, Pump It Up, Kid City, Green Genes, Galt Baby and Wishcraft) are also hosting in-store email sign ups and some of them are matching the food donation or making unique gives of their own. We love these partners!

So if you’re feeling giving and want to save money on stuff you’re doing with your kids already, go sign up! Better yet, spread the word and help to feed some hungry folks this holiday season.

We done good.

Before there were endless PR pitches, link contests, product reviews and the feeling that if your blog doesn’t have 72 ad banners and 25 comments per post you’re a complete failure, there was just writing on your blog for fun, meeting up for a good time and feeling that you were a part of something special.

I’ll be honest that as the blogosphere and mom-o-sphere have grown, I’ve had that feeling less and less. Maybe it’s my fault. Perhaps all the personal gains and losses I’ve had over the last four years sent me further away from the blog community when it should have been pulling me toward it. But, whatever the case, I had an experience today that made me remember all the things I love about being a blogger and why I continue to write and post.

I was part of a select group of bloggers participating in a program coordinated by The Motherhood to partake in a day of good deeds: “Do Good Day.” It was sponsored by 77Kids, a new store for girls, boys and babies by American Eagle. I love Cooper and Emily having connected with them in blog years past, and was really excited by the opportunity to work with them.

Led by the mighty Hyacinth and Melissa here in Chicago (there were teams of 7 bloggers in 10 other cities around the country doing good today too), we agreed on a Do Good Day program: Bake for the tenants of the Ronald McDonald House and then pass out $77 worth of $1 bills at random in the afternoon on our own.

Thanks to resident bakers Emily and Michelle, we made a cake and thumbprint cookies for the residents of the RMH. In a conversation with a resident couple before we started cooking, I was told of the hardship families must endure when their kids are at Children’s Memorial Hospital, but the family residence is in another city completely. For these families who are already shouldering the burden of the high cost of healthcare, saving money on meals and hotel rooms is a necessity. RMH pays for 100 percent of their living expenses. Residents can stay there for as long as they want. Soda only costs $0.25 from the vending machine. Amazing.

Also, 77Kids included for each of us a “goodie” box filled with the $77 to pass out as well as goodie bags, an adorable (and high quality) tee shirt for my eldest and thank you notes to pass out at the organizations at which we were volunteering.

Since I brought baby burrito, I was not in charge of baking. Which is a good thing, because there’s nothing I do worse than bake. So baby burrito and I wrote some thank you notes, clipped money and gave all of Theresa’s (count ’em) SEVEN kids someone to watch and play with. We laughed, shared stories and learned a lot about how lucky we are.

I had to leave early to go to an appointment for baby burrito, but I wish I could have stayed longer to chat and gab with the amazing women in the room. It was that intangible good feeling I had when I left that I had done a good deed and had a nice morning with interesting women that reminds me why I stay connected and committed to the blogosphere.

And it was nice to be a part of a company-sponsored experience that didn’t feel pushy, sales-y. Just Good-y.

Full disclosure: I was compensated to be a part of the 77Kids team and to post and tweet about my experience. However, the mushy, gushy bloggy-love feelings are all mine. You can’t pay for that.

A whole other look at Whole Foods

I shop at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods almost once a week not infrequently. At first, the store, a behemoth grocery store by any standards, let alone a Whole Foods, scared me. But I’ve grown to love the size, the selection, and especially, the sushi bar. (I even got Cyn to meet me there once.)

Which is why I was appalled and horrified that a local mom, Lisa Portes, was BANNED from Whole Foods for LIFE for accidentally taking out a $15 bottle of chewable vitamins amidst a clusterf*** of epic proportions with her kids. (Full story in Chicago Magazine via Windy Citizen.)

Everyone who has children, babysat children, or watched children from afar can understand how difficult it is to grocery shop (or do any kind of shopping) with kids. Just the baggage and items alone needed to keep them occupied, dry, sanitized and fed is enough without remembering the grocery list, your wallet, and your own, sustainable shopping bags. (Portes gets extra props for those.)

So what, she paid for the groceries, left, forgot another item and went back to get it, took her kids to the bathroom and forgot to pay. Was that worth the shakedown by the security guard in the parking lot, a Whole Foods “mug” shot and directive to never step foot in the store again?

I think not.

I remember fondly when Kristen forgot to pay for the duck that accidentally fell into her shopping cart. Was that worth the $6.95 to take her kids out of the car, go back and pay? Readers were mixed, but I know that I wouldn’t have gotten out of my car at that moment to return it.

We all have our bad moments as mothers. And apparently Chicago does not like when moms have those moments, or moms in public in general (as referenced by the comments to this story and the Stroller Wars story that I was a part of.) Not all of us are a texting, careless, maniacal bunch.

I personally think it’s clear that Portes did not intend to steal the vitamins. It’s also clear that a company has a policy against shoplifting and I cannot fault Whole Foods for adhering to policy.

But where’s the middle ground? It’s not like Portes was a repeat offender. It’s not like she didn’t offer to pay. I’m not sure how the Whole Foods organization works, but most companies I’ve worked with over the years with regards to employee relations give managers the ability to assess the situation of their own store or office and make an informed decision based on that.

Rather, what it seems, is that everyone likes a scapegoat, especially when it’s a harried mom. It’s easy to judge that mom and assume the worst. She was an easy target for the bored security guard in the parking lot. As Portes says, “They didn’t leave the slightest margin for human error.” And that seems exactly like what it was. Human error. We all err as humans.

Even the crazy Chicago mom haters.

Even the manager and the security guard at Whole Foods.

I love the store, the products and the people I encounter at Whole Foods. But I’m not a fan of the way they handled this situation or their inane, inflexible policy. It makes me wonder who’s looking over my shoulder as I soldier on through the vast aisles of the store. I better make sure I triple check my cart on the way out.

My romance: Chemical free

Apparently my last post with the link to all the bad ingredients in sunscreen hit home with y’all. My friends have been calling and emailing about it, and I’ve been proselytizing chemical-free sunscreen like Heidi does her plastic surgery. So, because you didn’t asked I’m using Badger for my husband and I and California Baby for the kids (it made my husband’s face way too zinc-oxide white to use on me.) I’m happy I found sunscreen that doesn’t have the dreaded Oxybenzone in it, and to be honest, these brands work way better than the spray-on cancer crap that I used last year. I have this love-hate thing with chemicals in beauty products, you see.

Moving on, earlier today, my friend and I had a thrilling discussion about how far we are taking our chemical-free romances.  You know I have green guilt. I’m never as green as I should be. Same goes for my love of chemical-free beauty products. Because you can’t take the paraben out of the concealer and still think it’s going to conceal.

So because again, you didn’t asked, I’ll tell you what I’m doing to ensure that my skin is as pure and sweet as the Diet Coke I had this afternoon.

  • I stopped using soaps and body lotions with artificial ingredients and artificial fragrances. I switched to Burt’s Bees, but apparently that, too, has some question about the fragrances they use, but it says 99 gazillion percent natural and I’m pretty impressed with their voluminous FAQ pages.  Plus, my husband thinks this whole thing is so crazy and if I spend any more money on body wash I’m a dead woman.
  • I switched my lip gloss. I’m obsessed with lip balm and gloss, especially ones that have SPF.  I was using Neutrogena MoistureShine Lip Soother which I loved almost as much as my Diet Coke and slathered on my lips 50 times a day, but then found out that it had the dreaded Oxybenzone, and I was basically eating it all day long and I decided that was probably not so great for my health. So I went to Whole Foods  and found Hemp Organic Lip Tint which has sun protection in it. It also has something called carmine, which some people freak out about, but I was just glad I wasn’t ingesting the dreaded Oxybenzone. And, I actually like the consistency of it (but I do miss my Neutrogena poison.)
  • As for my face, I really really am addicted to my Bobbi Brown foundation stick.  Concealer is pretty much the one thing I don’t leave the house without. But, Alison told me all these great things about Jane Iredale makeup and how it’s all natural and they sell it at Pure Beauty so I thought I would try her concealer. But it really sucked, I’m sorry to say. It didn’t cover up jack sh**. I’m sure there are other amazing natural concealers out there, but I draw the line when it comes to zits.
  • And, I draw the line when it comes to deodorant. I know aluminum may cause alzheimers and I’m probably spreading cancer around my body every day by using it,  but I cannot go au natural with the deo for the B.O. Again, I tried. I really did. With Aubrey Organics. But people, I need an anti-perspirant like the Queen needs her tiara. Do you love me for trying?

(Btw, for more organic beauty tips, check out Robin’s great organic beauty blog.)

So that being said, I’ve happily made the switch to more natural lotions and creams, but I’m still going to be the lovely blemish-free, sweet-smelling friend you all know me as.

Oh, and if this hasn’t made you crazy enough already did you hear about the lead in our kid’s juice boxes? I may have to start growing grapes on my roofdeck and do the Lucy dance.

Green Guilt

You all know I’ve been trying to live more “green,” but my efforts are just resulting in another big G: Guilt. Every time I’m not being green I feel guilty.

Green Guilt – it’s almost as bad as the Jewish or mommy kind. Trust me on this one.

I can’t use a plastic bag without wondering where it will go after I’ve disposed of it. The paper towel roll looks at me with a sad face each time I rip a sheet off. The never-ending pile of cardboard boxes leftover from baby gifts is becoming tragic. I read articles, like this one from Time magazine (thanks, Allison) and go apoplectic that everything I’m using in my house will kill me and my children one day. Who can live with that?

And don’t get me started about the inlaws who were in town this weekend. I tried to dissuade them from water bottle, paper plate and plastic silverware use, but it fell on mostly deaf ears. I love them dearly, but they make a lot of waste.

I keep trying to be better about my environmental footprint, but time, energy and unintelligible ingredient lists (on both natural and chemical-laden products) keep weighing me down. For instance, I bought the Korres and Boscia beauty products at Ulta to replace all my over-the-counter-crapola and found out that really, they’re not as natural as I thought. $185 later it didn’t seem worth it to shlep with the baby all the way back down to the store for a few misguided chemicals. Maybe in 25 years when my skin turns blue I’ll regret it, but last Tuesday it seemed the rationale decision.

It’s all just getting to be a little much. I drive the hybrid car. I try to keep up with the movers and shakers in the green world to stay on top of trends. I don’t use plastic in excess. I just spent a gazillion dollars on the most eco-green-reusable-phlalate-BPA-free lunch bag for my son possible.

But I can’t be Green perfect.

I am never going to buy unbleached, rough toilet paper. I like my triple-ply Charmin Ultra. I’m never going to cloth diaper my baby; I just think it wastes water anyway. I’ve switched all our home cleaning products to more natural-formulated versions of the original, but sometimes I just want to use a freaking Clorox wipe to get the kiddie poop out of the toilet. I bring my own shopping bags to the grocery store, but often I’ve forgotten them and have to ask for more.

I guess as all things, it’s about compromises, and so instead of feeling guilty all the time, I’m just going to compromise on my green life. If I can walk, I will (see: yesterday’s 5 pm shlep back from the park.) If I can do the organic, locally-grown meal, of course I’ll choose that. But, hey, I grew up on McDonald’s and Domino’s pizza every weekend and I turned out okay I guess.

The Green Guilt is getting to me, but it will not overcome me.

A reminder to think green

Every month I coordinate a topical discussion with a speaker for parents of my son’s preschool. And every time one of these smart and distinguished speakers appears I walk away more informed and also a little bat sh** crazy.

Today, we had the pleasure of listening to the well-spoken Allison of Ecominders who helps people to remember to be green and reminded me of all the dangers lurking around my house.

The one I’m most mad about right now? That my new and fabulous Ice Mountain water cooler stores its water in BPA laden water jugs. I should have known and looked for that devilish #7, but I was naive and really was enjoying the hot tap.  I’m not totally down on Ice Mountain, though. When I called and asked the company about BPA in their water jugs, the customer service rep had her talking points at the ready.  But even if the ingestible amount in the plastic is .001 I still don’t want it near my baby.

So besides getting bat sh** crazy at myself for not being more dilligent in my research, what else can I do? Go back to good ‘ol Chicago City tap I guess.

H1N1 vaccine: Lucky to get one

It’s hard to put into words what it took for me to finally get the H1N1 vaccine yesterday, 38 and 6 days pregnant. There were the phone calls, the texts, the emails (yes, we’re quite the tech-savvy pair) to my OB/GYN office. There was the nagging of pediatrician offices (they had it for my son before I could procure one for myself, which is cool), other people’s (read: husband’s) internist for a dose. (They wouldn’t bite – only for patients.) I was like a reformed HFCS addict looking for a hit of a Twix. Where could I get my dose?

I didn’t really think it’d be that hard to obtain the vaccine while pregnant. I was at the top of the priority list according to the CDC and from what I’d read, they’ve been working on the vaccine for months. I figured by the time it came out, there’d be ample supply to quell my nerves about stories like these. Yes, I’m neurotic and yes, I wanted the vaccine before I delivered. (Can I throw a “dammit” in here just for fun?)

As it turned out, my road to H1N1 vaccination took me Uptown, Downtown (ok, fine, the Loop) and was hard fought with blood, sweat, almost tears (not mine), and a potential to make some hard cash. (Twix are really hard to come by, apparently).

You can only imagine what I was thinking Tuesday morning after what must have been my 40th call in 2 weeks to the OB’s office. They had no supply. Oh, they had their “Top 20 list based on delivery dates” but NO SUPPLY. So I went on a mission. I called all above-mentioned health care providers. I checked the Chicago Board of Health site for updates over and over.

And when those didn’t work out as planned, (My attempts to blackmail their healthy care practices over Twitter, Facebook and my blog were met with silence on the other end. Kidding people.) I knew I had to take it to the streets. Literally. I looked up the closest Chicago City College offering the vaccine to my house, and hightailed it there faster than you can say swine flu vaccine. Or Twix. Seriously, people, I have only 7 days left to fully indulge my sugar cravings.

I thought trekking to Uptown to get in line at the free clinic by 2:30 p.m. for the vaccine would give me a prime spot in line and a sure bet to be vaccinated by at least sundown. Instead I was met with this:

h1n1line

And that wasn’t half of it. When the nice 16-week-preggers-who-considered-wearing-a-fake-bump behind me in line and I realized that we could cut the line because we are pregnant, we raced to the next zone of H1N1 in waiting. Mind you, I’m pushing my 3-year-old around in his stroller the entire time while he’s screaming “I’m not getting a shot am I mommy!?”

Yes, it was that pleasant. Only, in that room, we were met with this:

h1n1waiting

Hundreds of those “high risk” people just waiting for the vaccine, you ask? Oh, if only. I think I saw more elderly, low-risk ninnies in line than I care to mention. Oh, and protocol, you ask? By all means, there was none. And if you don’t believe me, you can read for yourself. I was number 373 in line, well behind the old man wearing the medical mask. How is it possible that he would get it and not my 39-week pregnant friend whose son has H1N1? Surprisingly I found a chair to sit on and stuffed my son’s blankie in his face. And then decided to make a call to change me from number 373 to number 1. My OB had a dose for me. Saved.

I’ve never hustled my 167 lb. (yes you read that right) ass so fast back down Lake Shore Drive to the Loop in my life. Sweating, completely out of breath with a dirty-faced toddler in tow, we showed up at the desk of my OB ready to go. Twenty minutes later, I was injected.

But I can’t stop thinking about that 16-week preggers I left behind. Did she get it? Did it all work out for her like it did for me?  That’s the problem at hand. Amidst the chaos, there were no good systems in place to ensure the high risk were put at no risk. I got lucky. My delivery date is imminent. But I know about the teacher at my son’s school who waited in line for 3 hours on her feet for the vaccine while my other friend’s low-risk over-50 years-old aunt got it for free at her internists’ office.

I’m not political, or vocal about much. But if we all want to fix what’s wrong with health care in this country, doling out medicine to those in need would be a good start.

We have nothing to fear but endocrine disrupting chemicals

I’m not a hysteric about making my house an organic haven, or making sure my kid can speak Tibetan by age 4, or worrying about the effects of Dora the Explorer’s shrill voice on my son’s eardrums.

But lately, I have taken to trying to eradicate certain ingredients from our food, like high fructose corn syryp, and after talking to my new BFF, Dr. Harvey Karp, making an effort to rid our lives as best as possible of endocrine disrupting chemicals.

What are EDCs, you ask? Good question. I wrote all about it today on Babble in an interview with the doc.

And he put the fear of freaking g-d in me about all the toxins in all the products we use on our bodies and in our house. Like  phthalates in beauty products, insulating agents, chemicals in carpets and flooring. It’s not just the chemicals alone that are scary. It’s the research being done about how these chemicals compound in our bodies and may cause autism in our children. (The Ecology Center published a report yesterday showing test results on various household items in a similar vein. You can find their database of tested products on their site, healthystuff.org).

We all know BPA is the devil, but that’s just the one that gets all the buzz.

Luckily, though, there are things we can do. We can use “green cleaners.”  (For a good list go to: Healthy Child Healthy World.) We can use natural beauty products on ourselves and kids (I listed a smattering of recommended products on my article.) We can buy organic foods.

We can vigilant without draping ourselves in hemp all day and living in a tent.  And best, we can talk about it, create more awareness and try to get companies to get the toxins out of their products. (And try to get Sigg to give us a freaking explanation for what’s going on with their BPA-laced bottles!)

If you guys have any tips about this topic, I’d love to hear it as well.

HFCS in our food: an update

I rarely use my blog to wax poetic about various causes as you all probably know. I’m just not that deep. But there are a few causes that I will advocate for:

And…

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup in our products (No blog post, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care.)

Since Liz first posted about HFCS in our food, the dangers of HFCS and the brands that were doing things to eradicate it from their products, I’ve been vigilant about checking labels and weaning out HFCS from our home. (The candy Dots aside, because, hey, I’m pregnant and not perfect.)

I thought I had been doing a good job until recently, when I went to eat my high fiber breakfast of champions (remember the anemia-induced digestive problems?) – presented by Kelloggs Raisin Bran and Frosted Mini Wheats – only to find that they both have HFCS in them. So does Post Raisin Bran. (Yes, I like sugar cereal).

I was so pissed. As Liz points out in her post two days ago, marketers and big name brands like Kraft and Pepsi have responded to consumer demand and have taken the HFCS out of their big name products. We’re making progress.

But, as with all major movements, we still have a ways to go to get more big brand names on the anti-HFCS bandwagon. And g-ddammit, I need my fiber, so please, Kelloggs and Post, please step on it?!

P.S. next on my activist watch, endocrine disrupting chemicals… watch for my interview with Dr. Karp in next month’s Babble. You won’t want to get your nails done ever again.