Friday, August 31, 2007

It Takes a Village... or 10 Thousand

If you have never been to a Ten Thousand Villages store, find out if there is one in your area and check it out. One of the largest, oldest fair trade organizations in North America, Ten Thousand Villages works with more than 100 artisan groups from over 30 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. They now have over 160 locations in North America that sell quality items from diverse cultures, including cute items for youth.

These gorgeous mobiles comes from the Yayasan Mitra Bali artisan group out of Indonesia.

These puzzles are made from renewable albizia wood and painted with nontoxic paint in Sri Lanka. The Animals of the World 3D puzzle can be put together so that the stars and moon arc over standing animals and central tree, or can lay the pieces flat to make a circular puzzle bordered with stars.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Can't Believe It's Not a Breast

Feels like a breast, and even sort of looks like one... the Adiri Natural Nurser. This polycarbonate-free bottle is designed to mimic the female breast in its super soft, pliable feel. The leak resistant bottle has a special vent to reduce gas and colic. Adiri explains how the bottle's design mimics breastfeeding,

"high quality 100% polycarbonate-free materials that warm to a child’s cheek, like a breast, when filled with warm milk. A patented nipple design helps alleviate nipple confusion for breastfeeding babies. Shaped like a breast, they encourage the same type of open-mouthed latching that is required for breastfeeding, making bottle and breastfeeding more easily interchangeable."

The bottle is opened from bottom- you simply "Fill, Twist and Feed". Filling is so easy they claim you can do it with one arm. Available with three different flow rates, each holds 8 oz. of fluid and is thermally sturdy- you can boil it, sterilize it and put it in the dishwasher.

Do You Cradle to the Left or Right?

A recent study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry reports that mothers who cradled their babies in the right arm showed signs of stress and could be at higher risk of depression than those who tended to cradle their baby in their left arm.

The study was small and only looked at 79 mothers, but the results showed a significant trend. The new mothers were asked to pick up and cradle their babies and then complete a survey which asked them about their mental state.

Of the mothers who showed no signs of stress or depression, 86 percent held their babies to the left. Among stressed mothers with 32 percent cradled to right.

Nadja Reissland, a developmental psychologist at Durham University, who lead the study said that that there was no connection between side preference and whether a person was right- or left-handed.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Paul Frank Adds Baby Apparel

Paul Frank, who does cute teen and adult clothes, is going to add an infant line to his clothing empire this spring. His line will continue in it's current style of bright colors and hip cartoon characters (you probably recognize his signature monkey Julius) and build off the success of his toddler line, Small Paul. The clothes will come in sizes 0-24 months and will be presented this week at a trade show in Las Vegas.

To give you a taste of Paul Frank, here are some of his adorable Small Paul items:

Potty Training Your Infant

In case you are looking for underwear for your 3 month old- be warned, it may be hard to find. But that is not stopping a growing number of parents who are skipping diapers and attempt to potty train their babies from birth. The real question is not where to find 3-6 month size underwear, but rather how in the world do you potty train an infant?

The answer is "elimination communication" a.k.a. EC, or my favorite "potty whispering". The infant doesn't really get trained- the parents do- in figuring out exactly when the baby is about to go. Yes, that is correct. Instead of wrapping your baby up in a diaper, you stare at his face and little body and when you think he is ready to go, you carry him to the bathroom and hold him over the toilet. Glamorous, right?

Adults figuring out when babies have to go really isn't all that new, parents can often tell anyways. The difference with EC, is that you whisper a watery sound such as "sssss", "psssss" or "tssss" to the the baby at potty time. This way the child can learn to associate that sound to the sensation of going to the bathroom. The idea is that if it is nearly time to go, they will then release on cue. Ready, set, tssssssss. Right over the toilet.

When the child is slightly older, they can use sign language to tell when they are ready to go. Erinn Klatt who was interviewed by MSNBC said of her experience with EC, “I don’t have to wake up at night and change diapers or have wet sheets anywhere. That’s really nice. And being able to travel without a big, bloated diaper bag is terrific”. The other major reason you hear parents excited about EC is the environmental factor- no throwing away of diapers at all.

Many doctors remain skeptical about the practice, saying children under 12 months have no control over bladder or bowel movements and only little control for the 6 months after that.

Dr. Mark Wolraich, professor of pediatrics and editor of the American Academy of Pediatric' book on toilet training insists that, “to be truly toilet-trained, the child has to be able to have the sensation that they need to go, be able to interpret that sensation and be able to then tell the parent and take some action... And that’s different from reading the subtle signs that the child is making when they have to go to the bathroom.”

If you are intrigued, check out a nonprofit that supports infant toilet training. They call it "a natural approach to responding to babies' elimination needs". also has information about EC and a store that sells those tiny undies. At you will find DVDs, books and other resources.

Other good reads onEC: an Op-Ed in the NYTimes by Meredith Small. conventional wisdom column by

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Celebrities Who Sling

Liev Schreiber slinging his new son Alexander.

Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger

Kate Hudson with son Ryder, proving that slings aren't only for infants.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday's Nursery Idea

Nature lovers enjoy. Ferm Living US has some great wallstickers and wallpapers for a classy non-camo way to put nature in the nursery. This is a great way to get a simple sophisiticated room that can feel relaxing and no too 'kiddie'.

Check out Family Tree (how appropriate!) and Wildflower:

These adorable sea life wallstickers are easy to put on and, more importantly, to take off. Feel good about this purchase too as 10% of the proceeds are donated to UNICEF.

A Toddler in Heels?

I was at both a wedding and a wedding shower this weekend and I saw two interesting ends of the toddler shoe spectra. At the wedding there were twin girls in Crocs, one had pink Crocs and the other had purple. I thought this was a little casual for a wedding, I didn't wear my Crocs, but then again, they are sturdy, slip resistant shoes for little girls to be running around in. At a wedding shower the next day, I saw a 3-year old in wedge sandal heels. While I understand perhaps she was trying to be 'dressed up' I couldn't help but think 1. that's ridiculous and 2. seems like we are pushing gender stereotypes even younger nowadays.

What is amazing to me is not only that some company would make wedge heels for children who are two feet tall, but that parents would actually buy them! The toddler ran around in them just fine, I didn't see her trip or fall at all, but I couldn't help but thinking that she would eventually twist an ankle in them. I have looked and seen many options for formal footwear for children, they need not be in Crocs at a wedding or in heels.

The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society's recommendations for wee ones include the following;

Look for shoes with rounded toe boxes to give the toes more room for movement

Children's feet perspire greatly, and the upper part of their shoes should be made of breathable materials

Choose a light-weight shoe, since children use a lot of energy walking

Toddlers do not need heels on their shoes. Flat outer soles make it easier to begin walking.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

One Size for All Behinds!

Happy Heiny's has introduced a new wonder. Cloth diapers that grow with your child; one size fits all. The reviews on, the main hub for cloth diaper reviews and chat rooms, are overwhelmingly positive. The best part is that since you no longer are buying many sizes, cloth diapering is now that much cheaper than disposables.

Just a preview of what other moms have been writing:

"I love these diapers. They are the cutest I've seen & they fit my son perfect! I don't have a problem with leaks/wicking & I recommend them to everyone! These make up 90%+ of my stash!" -smidgin

I don't know why it took me so long to try Happy Heinys, but I can offically say I am very upset I didn't try them sooner! I could have wasted a lot less money on a 'one sized' diaper product that stopped fitting ages ago and never really 'fit right' to go with HH's that fit perfectly from the start." - jmama24

Congratulations to Bridget Moynahan

Bridget Moynahan welcomed a baby boy yesterday in Los Angeles. Proud Papa Tom Brady is trying to get time off from practicing with the New England Patriots to see the new baby. It her first child.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

High Blood Pressure in Children

A new study released authored by David Kaelber in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reports that more than a million American children have undiagnosed high blood pressure. If left untreated, high blood pressure puts children at risk for developing organ damage later in life and possibly early artery and heart damage.

The researchers looked at 14,187 healthy children aged 3 to 18 in northeast Ohio. Using the blood pressure, height and weight recorded at 3 separate doctor visits over the last few years, they calculated 3.6% had high blood pressure. Of those patients that did have high blood pressure, only 2.5% had the condition diagnosed.

Extrapolating the results for the whole U.S. population, doctors believe that 1.5 million children have undiagnosed high blood pressure. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend having blood pressure at every doctor visit. If you child is overweight, make sure your doctor takes the next step to calculate if it's too high.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Packing Lunches Part II

Now that you've got a healthy menu, let's check out clever waste reducing ways to pack it. On average a school age child using disposable lunch packing materials generates 67 lbs of waste per school year. For the average size elementary school, that adds up to 18,760 lbs a year!

Sandwich containment:
Wrap N Mat is a great alternative to plastic baggies. It is designed to securely wrap around your sandwhich to ensure the contents stay put, plus it doubles as a place mat in case that cafeteria table or park bench isn't the cleanest. The mats are machine washable and rather fashion friendly. $4.99 to $6.50

All In One:
Laptop Lunches are American sytle bento-boxes designed to be practical and Earth friendly. The boxes themselves are made from corn starch. No PVCs here! The containers fit neatly together and to display your lunch beautifully and eliminate the need for aluminum foil or plastic baggies.

Lunch boxes:
If you are looking to avoid plastic lunch boxes, stainless steal ones are still around.
Fabric is fabulous too, try Mimi the Sardine which offers acrylic coated cotton bags with nylon lining. Made is San Fransisco and produced in accordance with strict environmental laws.

Sigg and Nalgene are the most popular, and for good reason. SIGG bottles are manufactured in an ecologically-friendly environment and are 100% recyclable, non-toxic and dishwasher safe. SIGGs lining is resistant to fruit juice acids and won't carry the taste of your last drink. The liner reduces the chances of bacteria build-up and will not flake or chip even if dented.
Nalgene bottles are extremely durable, resistant to retaining odors and staining. They are top rack dishwasher safe and
withstands temperatures from -211ºF to 275ºF. Yup. They've been up Everest and back.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Please, Please, Don't Look Up to Paris

This poor little girl. She is already imitating Paris with her hip sticking out and her hand placed on it. Do you see the logo for Hilton's denim and sports brand? It is a P that has devil horns, a horned tail and a halo. Talk about mixed signals! This girl is awful.

Back to Packing Lunches

Have a tough time packing healthy lunches in a hurry and getting the kids to eat them? Perhaps remembering what actually goes in a Lunchable (mainly sodium, fat and sugar) will inspire you to try some of these healthy tips.

Make Fruit Fun! Apples are easy and if you use a nontoxic dry-erase marker to draw a face on, maybe your little ones will be more likely to eat 'em. The marks are safe to eat and flavorless. Think variety too! If you little one hates bananas but digs apples, switch it up with Granny Smiths one day, Golden Delicious another and McIntosh the day after that.

Fruits not the only thing that is easy to pack and isn't packaged. Hard boiled eggs, almonds (they have calcium!), baby carrots, raisins, c
raisins- any dried fruit really, edamame, are all easy to pack, tasty and healthy. Keep some small (think 1 cup size) Tupperware around for quick as a snap packing.

'Divinely D'lish' Granola Bars. These bars come in lots of great flavors and are packed with essential fatty acids and dietary fiber. Served in a recyclable wrapper you will happily find them without refined sugar, trans fat, or wheat and low in sodium.

Kettle Valley 100% Real Fruit Snacks are made only from 100% real fruit and contain one whole apple in every bar. They are flavored from natural purees and juices and certified kosher. They contain no preservatives or added sugar, artificial colors or flavors and are available in 7 flavors.

O.N.E Coconut Water. 100% natural and with five essential electrolytes, more potassium than a banana, no added sugars, no fat, no cholesterol and no preservatives. Packaged in a juice box, but really this drink was the water inside a young green coconut just the other day. Doesn't that sound refreshing?

A little treat never hurt anyone. Small portions of graham crackers, baked chips or bite-size candy bars are perfectly fine. It keeps them happy and is still better than squeeze cheese on salty mystery meat.

If you are tempted to buy something prepackaged, check out Slate writer Dan Kois' review before purchasing. He tasted and had a nutritionist review a bunch of store bought varieties.

Green Backpacks

Looking for a backpack that doesn't contain PVC or is made from recycled or natural materials? Look no further.

Kids' Cordura Wheeled Backpack from Lands End
All nylon and PVC-free wheels. Rollerpacks are recommended if your children are toting around more than 15% of their body weight in books and supplies.

School Backpacks, Sports bags, Baby packs, Diaper bags, Computer bags, Duffle bags, Fanny packs, Fashion bags and outdoor gear all made utilizing fabric made from recycled soda bottles (PET 1) and Made in the USA. Thanks to IdealBite for recommending these great products.

Hemp Backpacks from GreenFeet or Utopian Living
Hemp is the most environmentally positive crop, actually improving the condition of the ground. It requires no herbicides and is naturally resistant to insects, fungus, and other pests. Hemp provides an ecological alternative to environmentally destructive cotton production and non-renewable, non-biodegradable synthetics.

Recycled Rubber Messenger Bag from Abundant Earth
Tires are recycled into high grade rubber sheet that is stitched into these sturdy bags. Stylish in either black or brown, water resistant and reducing the number of old tires in our landfills.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Parents Talking About P-o-t

Talking to children about drugs is definitively not an easy or fun thing to do, but being armed with facts always helps. A study published this July is offering new reasons for abstaining from marijuana.

Medical Research Institute of New Zealand found smoking one cannabis joint is as harmful to the lungs as smoking five cigarettes. The researchers found that smoking cannabis "damaged both the lungs’ small fine airways, used for transporting oxygen, and the large airways, which blocked air flow".

For other resources on talking to your children about drugs, check out:

The anti-drug PSA campaign
The Partnership for a Drug Free America

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Breast feeding and Painkillers

The FDA warns breast feeding mothers to exercise extreme caution when taking codeine. Doctors believe that it could pose a risk of overdose to infants. Codeine is metabolized into morphine in the body and therefore women who metabolize the drug quickly can pass morphine to the infant through their milk. However, the report claims that this only applies to a small percentage of women.

Mothers who are prescribed the drug take it in very low doses and should watch for signs of excessive sleepiness or limpness in their babies. According to the FDA the percentage of people believed to be ultrarapid metabolizers of codeine varies by ethnicity. For Caucasians about 1% to 10% fall in this category. Among African-Americans it is about 3%. For Chinese, Japanese or Hispanic heritage the rate is estimated at 1%. The highest rate observed in people of North African, Ethiopian and Saudi Arabian backgrounds where the percentage is between 16% and 28%.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Baby Einstein Makers are Angry

A few days ago the University of Washington published findings on the Baby Einstein videos, and now Baby Einstein is mad! They are demanding a full retraction of the study. They question the validity of the study and whether it was well executed. They go as far as to say,

"Our assessment, based on what we have been able to learn thus far, is that its methodology is doubtful, its data seem anomalous and the inferences it posits unreliable."

Looks like to me they hired some lawyers quickly and threw this letter together. Some of their counter arguments seem rather weak. Perhaps in their attempt to write a speedy responce they didn't take the time to really read. They write,

"That is to say, watching American Idol is better for infants than no television at all. Of course, such advice is absurd."

In reality, they wrote that in watching American Idol it is more likely that an adult would be watching along and therefore their presence would have an affect of engaging the baby-- and that engagement with an adult does have developmental benefits and hence is better than the infant watching programs alone.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Careful with Cough Syrup!

Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that the Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee will be meeting in October to discuss cough and cold drugs usage by children.

Until that time they are instructing parents not to give over the counter cough and cold medicines to children under 2 without a doctor's order. The FDA says that these OTC medicines,

"can be harmful if more than the recommended amount is used, if it is given too often, or if more than one cough and cold medicine containing the same active ingredient are being used... Too much medicine may lead to serious and life-threatening side effects, particularly in children aged 2 years and younger."

The FDA then stressed that these drugs are designed just to alleviate symptoms of the common cold, not to cure it. Children will get better in time.

Creative Inventions

Who is the best person to invent something for a parent? A parent! And not all these parents are moms, recently Dads have been inventing too.

Water Bottle Nipple Adaptor by Tommy Habeeb. Frustrated that he couldn't give his baby water while out on a hot afternoon in Dallas, he invented a bottle nipple that fits on most all water bottles.

Scott Shoemaker realized at a baby shower that everything the mother-to-be opened was for her- nothing for pops. He founded DadGear which messenger bad style diaper bags and diaper vests which have a portable changing pad hidden in a back pocket.

If you are a regular park goer, check out the Swing Scarf. Designed my a mom who didn't want to set her child in something covered germs and dirt.

Ingrid Carney came up with the Bella Band during her first pregnancy when she realized her old clothes didn't fit and she was still too small for maternity wear. After trying safety pins and rubber bands to keep her pants up, she improvised and used a tube top. A year later the Bella Band was born.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mom Blue? Dad's Turn to Step Up

St. Louis University released findings on a study that showed children with depressed mothers are less likely to develop problem behaviors if their fathers are active in family life.

The 10-year study is the first to look at the father's role when the household has a depressed mother. Previous studies have shown that having a mother who suffers from depression increases the likelihood of developing aggression problems, hyperactivity, depression and anxiety.

The father's relative role was determined by questioning children aged 10 and older. The researchers asked the children questions about their relationship with their father. Examples include; how often they talked about important decisions, how well the father listened, how often the father attended events or activities, and how close they felt to their father.

Dr. Jen Jen Chang, assistant professor of community health in epidemiology at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health commented on her study,"Once we factored in a father's positive involvement, I observed that the adverse impact of the mother's depression was attenuated. The father served as a buffer. He may have engaged with the children when the mother wasn't available due to her illness."

Chinese Year of the Recall

Not only the US, but countries world wide are forced to tell parents to check their homes for products sold with high levels of lead and small, powerful magnets that could fall out of the toys and be swallowed. 21 million products in total from Mattel are being recalled.

Baby bibs from Toys R Us are also being recalled for lead.
The vinyl bibs were sold under store brand names Especially for Baby and Koala Baby. They feature a number of illustrations including baseball bats and soccer balls and Disney’s Winnie the Pooh characters.

Toys included in the recall
are Barbie and her dog Tanner, Batman action figures, Polly Pocket play sets, Doggie Day Care sets and the army jeep Sarge from the movie Cars.

This is the 3rd post in the last two months about recalls. Just two weeks ago Mattel had announced a large recall of 300,000 toys in the US. In July another recall was issued for lead in for sorting toys sold at Wal-Mart, Target, Marshalls and Meijers. This is a bad trend we are seeing. Keep your eyes and ears open for we are likely to see more of these.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Power of Suggestion

A new study suggests that French fries, chicken nuggets, milk and carrots will get higher reviews from children if they are told the food came from McDonald’s.

Almost 77 percent of kids aged 3 to 5 preferred French fries served in a McDonald's bag over French fries served in a plain white bag. Even with carrots, an item not generally associated with McDonald's, more than 54 thought the branded carrots tasted better.

Walt Riker, a McDonald’s vice president, said “McDonald’s own ‘branding’ of milk, apples, salads, and other fruits and vegetables has directly resulted in major increases in the purchases of these menu items by moms, families and children.” Aha! The real secret, branding is key.

So what if it was served in a Disney bag or a Sesame Street bag? The study didn't look at the more general comparison of brand name vs absence of brand name. How often can you buy food in an unlabeled container? Rarely, at carnivals or amusement parks perhaps, but even those are slowly being covered with advertisements.

Another interesting finding interesting find the researchers reported is that,

"the more television sets in the house, the more likely a child was to prefer McDonald’s branded food, and that three-quarters of the families had toys from McDonald’s in their homes"

This I believe. In the Overspent American by Juliet Schor, many studies are complied to show that the number of television hours viewed directly correlates with spending. This shouldn't be too big a surprise, the more advertisements you are exposed to, the more you buy. Schor wrote another book after Overspent American in that same vain, Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture, which has some amazing statistics (none of which I can actually remember off the top of my head) about how many advertisements children see and process- even at a very young age.

While the McDonald's food preference study is mildly interesting, I think that the real point here lies in not only in packaging, but in brand recognition and advertisement awareness. I bet that kids will statistically favor items in packaging that they recognize over things in plain white packaging, just as the marketing industry has planned.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Congratulations to Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber! They were seen out today with their new baby, Alexander. The healthy little guy was born July 26th in Los Angeles.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The New IKEA

The new IKEA catalog arrived today! For those of you who are lucky enough to live driving distance to one of these fabulous stores- go ahead and do a little dance. For those of you who have not yet experienced the wonder that is IKEA, check it out online. Affordable, sleek, and environmentally conscious... I love this place. They ship a fair amount of items, but if you are up for the drive, I highly recommend checking out the store.

I'll give you a sneak peak of some new (and some old favorite) children's items:

Hermelin (did I mention everything has a funny name?) $119 adjustable crib

Ekorre- Rocking Moose $34.99

Himmelsk- Bed tent $19.99

NÖje- Hanging rocket storage $6.99

Friday, August 10, 2007

Is Baby Einstein a Lie?

A study published Tuesday in the Journal of Pediatrics shows that Baby Einstein movies are not beneficial to infants. The study goes as far to say it hurts vocabulary development for babies under 17 months of age. Researchers found that for every hour a day infants 8 to 16 months old were shown the videos, they knew six to eight fewer words than other children.

The study surveyed 1,000 parents and then tested the babies on 90 common vocabulary words. Frederick Zimmerman, lead author of the study reported, “The most important fact to come from this study is there is no clear evidence of a benefit coming from baby DVDs and videos and there is some suggestion of harm... The bottom line is the more a child watches baby DVDs and videos the bigger the effect. The amount of viewing does matter.”

So what makes Baby Einstein type videos less valuable than Sesame Street type shows? Well, baby videos have "little dialogue, short scenes, disconnected pictures and shows linguistically indescribable images such as a lava lamp". While Sesame Street type shows are "crafted and tested to meet developmental needs of preschool children". Plus, they are old enough to actively watch and comprehend what is going on, and even answer questions when questions are asked (like in Blues Clues).

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under 24 months, and perhaps that is something parents should aim for. A paper published last year found that parents are not doing a good job of limiting TV and video time. 40 percent of 3 month olds are regular viewers of television, DVDs or videos and by age two 90 percent are regular viewers.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I'll Call You During Recess!

When the movie Clueless came out in 1995 the idea of teenage girls having cell phones in high school was far out. Something only rich California girls did. Flash forward to 2007. I was standing in the aisle of an airplane waiting for the hordes of people to start moving the other week when I couldn't help but over hear a young boy and his mom, it went a little something like this:

"But Kyle got his phone when he was in 8th grade! And Sean got his phone in 8th grade too! And David's getting one soon! Mooooooooooooooom pleeeeeaase!"

8th grade? Yowza. Some parents are springing even earlier- and there is market waiting for them. Disney announced just last month a deal with Sprint to offer wireless service targeted at 8- to 12-year-olds.

Kajeet is a cell phone company especially designed for youngsters. It is a pay as you go plan that has special parent control features like Time Manager, that allows you to control when the phone can and cannot be used.

What is often considered the original, Firefly is designed for the elementary age as it only has 5 buttons total, no number pad or text messaging here. Kids can call up to 22 preprogrammed numbers, and the phone accept calls from only numbers you approve.

The decision to get a child a cell phone is a big one, for many reasons. As NYTimes reporter Lisa Foderard wrote earlier this year, "For parents, the decision of when, or whether, to buy children cellphones — paralleling the age-old debate over the appropriate age for ear piercing — is emotionally charged and value-laden, raising ticklish questions about safety and status, maturity and materialism."

1. Busy parents, separated parents, families with complex child care situations - they can all have ease of mind. Dad forgets to pick up Annie at soccer practice? She can call Aunt Maud and the coach isn't stuck waiting around.
2. Medical reasons. Bobby very often forgets to take his insulin, you have to call and remind him when he's playing down the street at Joey's house.
3. Many phones have GPS just for tracking kids. In the rare instance that your child is missing, you can figure out where his phone is and hopefully he'll be there too. Or on the other hand, if you just want to know if he's really studying in the library, you can find out.

1. They can be hard to monitor. You have enough to worry about with raising children- why give them another outlet?
2. Too much freedom too early. High schools and middle schools are now feeling the burden of kids using phones at inappropriate times- namely during class. Cheating is also much easier with available cell phones. If they don't really need them, then why tempt them with unlimited access to gossiping?
3. Cost. It's not a one time purchase like a PlayStation or bike, it is the initial cost of the phone plus all minutes used and text messages sent. And if they loose the phone, do you buy them another?

Quoted in the NYTimes article, Phyllis Schneble, a marketing executive in Fairfield, Conn., summed up my opinion very well, “Generations survived with a dime tucked in their shoe... Ninety percent of the calls made on cellphones are not critical or even substantive — mostly pure fluff and nonsense. Where are the casual conversations on the street, in the halls, when everyone is plugged into their own world?”

Unisex Nursery Idea

For those of you patient folks who can manage to wait all 9 months to find out the gender of your baby, I applaud you. I also understand that finding unisex items that are cute can be hard... are you sick of yellow and green yet? After poking around for a while, and thinking back to the Seussical post I found an adorable nursery that is not saturated in yellow or green and relatively easy to do.

1. Pick your favorite Dr. Seuss book (or two or three)
2. Scan the images that you want to use in your decorating
3. Make an overhead transparency (can be done on most Xerox machines at Kinkos)
4. Borrow an overhead projector from church/school/work or rent one at Office Max or Staples
5. Project the images onto the wall or furniture, adjusting for size and position and trace with a pencil.
6. Paint! Try your best to stay within the lines.
(Click on images for more info)

If you really want to go full theme, you can add Seuss crib sheets, stuffed characters, and lamps.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Even Police Wear Hello Kitty

That's an odd punishment if you ask me. Members of the Thai police are now forced to wear Hello Kitty arm bands for showing up late to work, littering or illegal parking.

“This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor,” Pongpat Chayaphan, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok said. “Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It’s not something macho police officers want covering their biceps.”

This got me thinking, whatever happened to Hello Kitty? I know she was real big in the 1990s, but I haven't seen her in a while. Well, she is alive and well at, where you can find almost anything adorned with Hello Kitty and her friends -including a VISA credit card.

According to wikipedia, Hello Kitty was featured in an ad campaign for Target. I don't remember this at all. While I am not a huge fan of hers, I can see how young girls like her. What gets me is the profile of her given on wikipedia.
  • Height: That of five shiny apples
  • Weight: That of three shiny apples
  • Good at: Baking cookies, making pancakes for friends, Origami, bows, shopping for friends, shopping with friends, buying things, playing tennis
Who came up with that? Height of 5 apples, but weight of only 3. Not that little girls who wear hello kitty have any idea of her height and weight, as she is a cartoon, but is it necessarily to specify? And what about the things she's good at? Baking and shopping. How domestic and quaint.

Water Safety is Serious Stuff

A co-worker lost his 18 month old grandson this weekend in an accidental drowning. The boy wandered away for a few moments as the family was loading the car up for a camping trip, and when they went to look for him it was too late. I cannot stress it enough- water safety is serious stuff.

Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional death for children aged 1 and 14. It is the number one cause of death among young children in California and Florida.

Just being submerged in water without breathing is dangerous. The CDC reports, "For every child 14 years and younger who dies from drowning, 5 receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries."

"Non fatal drownings can cause brain damage that result in long-term disabilities, ranging from memory problems to learning disabilities to permanent loss of basic functioning"

The American Academy of Pediatrics insists that swimming classes are not to be "the primary means of drowning prevention for children younger than 4 years of age. Constant vigilant supervision and barriers such as pool fencing are still necessary even when children have completed classes".

They are making a very strong point. Even if young children are learning to swim they must be supervised. 88% of children who drown were under some sort of supervision according to Safe Kids USA.

Always, always remember:

Never leave a child alone in the bathtub, swimming pool or other body of water deeper than 2 inches.

Install fences and safety latches around pools. Pool covers and special pool alarms add more protection.

Whenever out on the water, be it in a kayak, canoe, boat or other water vehicle always have children wear life jackets at all times. Water wings or toy floats are not proper equipment in this case. Water wings can slip off, devices can deflate or slip out from the child's reach. If you are looking for a good place to buy children's life jackets try Wholesale Marine, good quality and price.

Enroll children in swim classes as soon as they are personally ready. But remember, even if they can swim they still need to be watched carefully! Kids can panic and forget what they learned.

Teach children pool safety pools. Never dive into shallow water (less than 9 ft), serious neck and spinal injuries can occur. Always look before jumping, kids sometimes get overly excited and will jump right on top of another child in the pool.

If you have not had CPR training, and have a pool in your backyard, you may want to consider a refresher. It is a good thing to know how to do and you will feel more confident doing it.

Katie Holmes Cruise with daughter Suri, properly wearing life jackets.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Whenever I think of back to school time, I think of that Staple's commercial where the Dad is running around throwing school supplies into a shopping cart with a huge smile and the kids are looking forlorn dragging their feet behind him. The National Retail Federation estimates that back to school spending will top 18 billion dollars this year. So as we slowly approach the first day of school, here are some shopping tips and please share your own as well!

Shop tax free: The following states offer no state taxes a few days this month for back to school shopping. Delaware has no state tax year round.
Connecticut, August 19-25
Florida, August 4-13
Texas, August 17-19
Washington, DC, August 4-12

Make a list, check it twice
Only buy what you really need. This may mean leaving the kids at home while you shop. If they have a tendency to ask for items ("But I really neeeeed a new backpack!"), get a sitter and go out on your own. Don't forget what you already have either. Leftover notebooks from last school year that only had 10 pages used? They still have 170 good pages left! Last year's lunchbox in good shape? Fantastic.

Cash Money
Leave the credit card or debit card at home. Yes it is convenient, but studies have shown that people spend more when they pay with plastic. Withdraw the exact amount you want to spend, when you run out of cash- go home.

Bulk Savings
If you are a member of Sam's Club or Costco, you already know how stocking up in bulk can be a money saver. But what if you aren't a member? Consider shopping with a friend or family member who is, or split a membership with another moms or two.

Internet Wonders
Not only can you find coupons online, but if it is books you are looking for there are lots of resources. Get textbooks at eBay's at Comparison shop at and find discounted merchandise at Don't forget for used items in your area such as clothing, and school uniforms a size too small.

Monday, August 6, 2007

EFPT... National Eye Exam Month

August is National Eye Exam month. The American Optometric Association recommends general eye exams be conducted at six months and three years of age, even if no symptoms exist. If the exam shows healthy vision, the next appointment should be made prior to the child entering first grade. AOA reports that those at higher risk are generally,

"Infants born prematurely, with low birth weight, or whose mother had rubella, venereal disease, AIDS-related infection or a history of substance abuse or other medical problems during pregnancy"

AOA offers free exams to those who qualify. If you have no vision insurance, live in a household with only one working member, have not had an eye exam within two years and live below an established income level, you may qualify. To see if you are eligible, call 1-800-766-4466 or click here.

Breast Milk Flying High

Over the weekend the Transportation Security Administration put out a new policy on breast milk. At security checkpoints mothers flying with breast milk should declare it, and mothers are allowed to carry more than three ounces. Also, you can carry breast milk now even if the child is with not with you. The justification for these changes lies in the fact that they have classified breast milk in the same category as "liquid medications".

From a Washington Post article we learn a little more,

Q. Do passengers carrying breast milk need to taste it to prove it is not a liquid explosive?
A. No. We will not ask a traveler to taste breast milk.

Q. Why is breast milk not a threat?
A. Breast milk is a medical necessity and it is being classified as such.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Free Seussical Theatre (NYC)

Theatre Works USA is putting on a free show for kids until August 17th for those in the NYC area. Seussical is 90 minutes long and designed for kids age 4 and up. Get there if you can!

Dr. Seuss's best-loved characters and stories hit the stage in this musical adventure by Broadway veterans Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, adapted from the Broadway version especially for young audiences.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

I Wear My Sunglasses.... at Recess

Children's sunglasses nowadays are cute and well fitted and now in parts of Australia they are also mandatory. This is to ensure that the children's eyes are being properly protected from harmful UV rays. Perhaps in Australia where there is a big hole in the ozone layer, the risk of UV damage is higher than in other parts of the world. Regardless, the kids down under are donning their sunnies (I love Australian slang) with glee and would be willing to wear them after school as well.

Another Toy Recall "Made in China"

China should soon see a hit in manufacturing if they continue on the way they have been going. The number of products made in China that have been recalled in the US has doubled in the past five years. Recalled toys are good for no one, manufacturer, retailer, consumer or business owner. New guide lines are desperately needed here.

So here it is:
Mattel announced today it is recalling nearly 1 million toys because of lead paint. This is the 2nd biggest recall of the year involving toys. The good news is that Mattel prevented more than two-thirds of the affected toys from ever reaching consumers. They contacted distribution centers and the toys never went on to retailers. That still leaves about 300,000 lead-laden toys out there. For a complete list go to or

Thursdays Nursery Idea

What goes in a nursery? Furniture. What furniture is most important? Well, considering babies spend 60% of their lives sleeping their first year I'd say cribs. So for the environmentally conscious, products that are pure and given the Green light-

Cribs: While all cribs currently being manufactured have to meet the Consumer Products Safety Commission guidelines, those guide lines don't include regulations on the materials going into the construction. For example, composite woods may have traces of formaldehyde, glues may off-gas, paints and polyurethanes may contain fungicides and other additives that you really don't want a baby chewing on (Ref).

IKEA- has lots of solid wood cribs that are sealed with clear lacquer. They also don't use trees from intact natural forests.

Pacific Rim Woodworking- made from solid maple from a company that is "committed to providing a product that is made with minimal environmental impact but constructed to withstand generations of use". They even recycle the saw dust produced when making their future. The cribs are left unfinished or finished with natural oils.

Crib mattress: From the Green Guide:
" Most conventional mattresses are made from polyurethane foam, nylon, polyester and vinyl—all derived from petroleum—and are treated with anti-microbial and fire-, wetness- and stain-retarding chemicals, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PDBEs). These chemicals, which Europe has already banned two varieties of, accumulate in breast milk and in fat, and have been shown to inhibit brain development in animals. As alternatives, there are crib mattresses made with organic cotton, wool padding and natural rubber and without chemical treatments that can irritate skin or off gas into the air."

NaturePedic No-Compromise Baby Crib Mattress- made from organic cotton that is to say it is unbleached, undyed, and grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. It has a nontoxic fire barrier made from baking soda and silica. It also has a waterproof food grade polyethylene surface that is easy to clean.

The Natural Sleep Store- Has a variety of natural cribs mattress made with organic cotton and natural rubber or latex covers.

Crib Bedding: The item that has the most physical direct contact with your baby.
Our Green House- has organic flannel, cotton and wool products including baby blankets, sheets, crib bumpers, mattress pads and quilts

The Natural Sleep Store- has organic cotton and wool products including sheets and bumpers

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

CDC's New Recommendations

A new campaign launched today encourages parents to get their preteens vaccinated for meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and HPV.

A tetanus shot lasts about 10 years, so if they haven't had one in a while it will need to be received again. Whooping cough and diphtheria vaccinations also wear off after some time so it too will need to be revisited, as they are both highly contagious and can be spread simply by close contact.

Meningitis, infection of the coverings around the brain and spinal cord, is highly recommended for kids going off to college, as close dorm living is an easy place for it to spread. Bacterial meningitis, the very serious kind that needs to be treated immediately, can be spread through coughing, sneezing or close contact. The vaccine is said to last three years.

The newly released HPV vaccine is a tad controversial. It is often referred to as the "cervical cancer vaccine", which is technically incorrect. HPV can cause cervical cancer and preventing HPV can therefore prevent cervical cancer via that route, but not all other routes (i.e. genetics). The reason some are against vaccinating all young girls is, as far as I can tell, because it involves sex. Some parents think if their daughters steer away from premarital sex, there is no reason for them to get vaccinated against an STD. That's a nice rosy picture to paint, but who knows what your daughter will or won't engage in for the next decade or so. Forget that sex is involved and get a vaccine that can't hurt, and may help in the long run.