Isn’t it Time to Put Pre-Prom Tanning to Bed?

I don’t know a mom or dad who doesn’t remember tanning before prom- or even just to feel some “sunshine” during a long New England winter. When I was a teen, I signed up for tanning in packages of 10 or 12 sessions at a local fitness center, at a price easily afforded on a teen’s meager budget, and I enjoyed baking in the bed or dancing in the heat to the too-loud music in a booth for 8-12 minutes.  Having never sunburned in my life, I didn’t give a thought to the dangers of the concentrated UV rays penetrating my young skin. No parental permission was required and, although that has changed in some states, it’s not enough.

At the Massachusetts Conference for Women in December, I met Meghan Rothschild, a vibrant and beautiful Marketing & PR Manager and Melanoma survivor. Meg told me the frightening story of her diagnosis and treatment. At age 19, she mentioned to her doctor that a mole on her abdomen was itchy. The doctor thought it looked “a little funny,” so it was removed and biopsied. Two weeks later, Meghan was told that she had Stage 2 Malignant Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Her head reeling from the news, she headed in for surgery to remove eight lymph nodes, which left her with four disfiguring scars. Luckily for Meghan, her cancer was caught early and she was declared cancer-free after her surgery. She was now a survivor, but also a 20 year old covered in disfiguring scars, knowing that her own choices- her own pursuit of beauty through tanning- had led to her nightmare. Meghan is as tough as she is beautiful, so it’s no surprise that her next step was to share her experience to help spare others. Eleven years cancer-free, she is an outspoken advocate for Melanoma education and prevention and is the spokesperson and marketing & PR manager for Melanoma Foundation New England.

According to a 2014 study by Wehner and colleagues, more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer may be related to indoor tanning in the United States each year.

On July 29, 2014 the Surgeon General issued a Call to Action to address skin cancer as a major public health concern. Lawmakers are taking notice- at least 41 states have already passed some type of legislation that regulates minors using tanning beds. Just last Wednesday, New Hampshire’s House of Representatives passed a bill that will ban tanning beds and booths for minors, but leaving it up to states creates too much gray area. National legislation, like the laws that regulate alcohol and tobacco, would be the best way to reduce teens’ exposure to the dangerous UV rays in tanning beds. Today, Meghan is in Washington DC, with over 100 other survivors, working with MFNE, Melanoma Research Foundation and the American Cancer Society to push for national tanning legislation to protect others from Melanoma and other skin cancers.

As parents, it’s our job, not only to apply sunblock to our babies, but to educate our teens and ourselves about sun safety. As my 16 year-old excitedly plans for her prom- she already has her gorgeous dress!!- I’m happy to say that tanning will never be on her to-do list!

Check out your state’s tanning laws here. To learn more about preventing Melanoma, visit MFNE or Melanoma Research Foundation.

Meghan Rothschild, in DC to speak about Melanoma and push for tanning legislation.

Meghan Rothschild, in DC to speak about Melanoma and push for tanning legislation.

How to Not Build a Closet (Or, as Babble Titled it, Do We Unconsciously Pressure Our Kids to Grow Up Straight?)

I’m honored to be published again on Babble.com. This is an important topic and I’m anxious to hear about your thoughts and experiences, so please read, share and post in the comments!

❤M

 

We Fell in Love Online

I know plenty of people who have successfully found love through online dating. I even know some folks who have grown their families by starting the adoption process or the search for a sperm donor online. It never occurred to me that we would fall in love online, but we did.

To complete our family, I had envisioned a picturesque sunny day- our whole family walking into a shelter and playing with pups until the perfect little girl- playful, sweet, tough, but not mean- would shine through the rest. That never happened. Instead, as I dreamed of the pitter patter of little paws and the giggles I knew I’d hear as my children played with our future family member, I stumbled onto petfinder.com and shared pictures of cute canines with my husband (who wasn’t yet 100% on board.) On the third or fourth night I spent this way, I literally fell in love at first sight with the cutest little brown-eyed face- and I couldn’t get her off of my mind. Andy felt the same tug at his heart and I jumped at the chance to make something happen.

AllYouNeedIsLoveAndADog

It turns out, this sweet girl was a rescued pup, staying with a foster family in Tennessee. The rescue organization was really helpful. We all wanted to make sure that this pup was placed with the right family. We had 3 children and 2 cats and needed everyone to be happy and comfortable. Not only did they send photos and video via email, but Ginger’s foster mom and I had several phone conversations and then we received more video footage. Because she had been in a foster home, the organization was able to tell us a lot about her temperment and confirm that she was good with cats, small children, and other dogs.

On November 19, 2011, we drove to NH to meet the truck transporting Ginger and the other dogs who were rescued from high kill shelters. She instantly became part of our family- snuggling and playing with the kids, enjoying long walks and hikes and eliciting endless giggles from ALL of us with her silly antics and playful personality. My son would snuggle her after a long or hard school day and feel better about whatever had been bothering him, and since we lost Josh this summer, she has helped us all through. She’s extra snuggly when she knows we need the extra love and she’s silly and playful to make us laugh and smile. I can not say enough how thankful I am to have this sweet pup as part of our family.

This dog never runs out of kisses!

This dog never runs out of kisses!

If your family has a little more love to share and you’re thinking of adopting a dog, consider adopting through a rescue organization. Check some out here or use Petfinder, Rescue Me or Adopt A Pet.

-M

One of My Favorite Quotes…

ItAlwaysSeemsImpossible

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. As a mom, it speaks to so many things. Some days, it refers to the dishes or laundry. Right now, in Boston- it’s the snow removal.

-M

You Asked; I’m Answering! My Recommendations to Replace the Plastic Items You’re Afraid You Can’t Live Without.

I am asked everyday for product recommendations. What do I use for cleaning products, which deodorants and lotions are safe, which brands of shampoos are safe, what do I send to school for lunch- and what do I pack it in? I am always happy to be asked these questions because it means that people are paying attention and wanting to make safe choices- for themselves, their children, their pets, and the planet. Since this article hit our Facebook newsfeeds, lots of people are wanting to ditch plastic- YAY!! (Please don’t rush to throw away in the trash though- recycle, reuse, or donate!)

Let’s tackle things in order of importance- For parents, that means:

Baby Bottles & Milk Storage
There are “safe” plastics but I really don’t trust that any plastic is safe, so I chose glass Evenflo bottles. I pumped and stored milk in Evenflow 4oz glass bottles- but you could also use Ball jars! They would stack really well, but you might lose some of the ease of pouring or just popping a nipple on a bottle. Cap rings and sealing disks are made of plastic, but I don’t worry because they won’t really have any contact with the milk. These bottles also pack well with the Medela ice pack (which I still use to pack drinks and snacks for long trips or outings!) For baby and kid food storage, glass is an obviously great choice- tiny Ball jars and plastic lids (for easy use and washing!) are more budget friendly than these adorable Wean Green sets, but sometimes cute is called for! Stainless steel is another great option. If you have a severe nickel allergy, or if you just want to add some color to your tot’s lunch, use silicone baking cups to hold the food in place. I love LunchBots Trio and LunchBots Cinco for packing lunches and snacks. My kiddos have food allergies, so we bring food pretty much everywhere we go (except Chipotle, Blue Dragon, and Lime Leaf, where they can easily accommodate our allergies!) If I’m sending food that needs to be kept cool, I sit the LunchBot container on top of a slim ice pack. To send hot/warms foods, Thermos’s Foogo Line is great. They come in basic blue and pink!

Sippy cups & water bottles
These are a big source of leaching chemicals because the drink inside sits, exposed to the plastic, for long periods of time over varied temps. I’m a big fan of letting kids drink from real sturdy glasses at home. When your out and about, you can use glass with a Lifefactory silicone covered bottle. I have dropped mine from above my head, onto the pavement and not had a break, but if you prefer another option- I also love the thermos line of water bottles- they have sleek 16oz and 24oz bottles for grownups and cute Phases and FUNtainer bottles for the kids. The grown-up versions are great for water or coffee or tea! These are all super easy to clean with the OXO water bottle cleaning set or a soapy pipe cleaner if your feeling crafty!

Meal Time
Being a believer in trusting kids to learn to use real glasses, I also think stainless steel child size utensils are the best way to go- nobody needs to be chewing on plastic utensils! (If your kiddo has a nickel allergy and will be chewing on them, you can opt for this great wood set.) If you feel strongly about not risking your dinner plates, or if your little one insists you “keep it separated” try this cool divided dish. It’s sturdy and can go right in your fabulous dishwasher!

Food Storage
Plastic wraps is something I hear so many people say they can’t give up-but it’s not healthy and it’s terribly wasteful. I love covered glass dishes for food storage. My favorite is Snapware by Pyrex. You can see what’s inside, they’re stackable, and they just pop in the dishwasher to wash. If you must wrap something, opt for aluminum foil (it’s recyclable,) parchment paper or this nifty bee’s wax wrap. (*contains jojoba)  Instead of plastic snack bags, opt for unbleached paper snack and sandwich bags by If You Care or this really cool silicone sandwich bag!

Other Things to Consider

  • Choose restaurants whose take-out containers aren’t styrofoam. If they use solid plastic, transfer the leftover food to glass as soon as you get home. Opt for compostable take-out containers whenever possible. Read more, interesting info about chemicals used in take-out and food storage containers here.
  • Skip canned food and opt for jarred or frozen. It tastes better and won’t be soaked in the chemicals that line the cans.
  • If you’re a smoothie or juice fanatic, consider a glass vessel instead of plastic for your blender. Even if you’re ok with the plastic while you’re making your drink, store extra in glass in the fridge or freezer. I like the tall Ball jars. I also love to freeze smoothies in silicone popsicle molds like these.
  • Use stainless steel or cast iron cookware. I love the stainless steel pan the lives on my stovetop and my Le Creuset enameled cast-iron!. The less expensive Lodge skillet gets good reviews, too.

If I left out what you were hoping I’d answer for you, let me know. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have or recommend my favorite products in the comments below.

 

This is not a sponsored post, but Amazon Affiliate links are included in the text. All opinions and recommendations are my own. If you choose to purchase any of the products I recommend, Mommy Business will receive a tiny portion of the sale price at no additional cost to you.

New Post Published on Babble.com- Why I’m OK with a Messy House

I’m honored to have a new piece published on Babble.com today.

I’d love it if you’d read it and share it with anyone you think would find it helpful. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below- how much do you stress about keeping your home neat and clean?

M❤

Taking Down the Tree

Josh's ornament
We’re taking down the tree.

The tree that I delayed putting up. That A practically had to beg for this year. That we cried, decorating.

That Josh would have loved and sat near and gazed at with such joy.

The first tree without him.

We have lived through our first holiday season without our boy. Should I be relieved?

I’m not.

I feel like it would be better, easier, if we had melted down. Exploded. Imploded. If the world had just stopped.

It hurts more, somehow, knowing that we can go on without him.

Trigger Warnings & Facebook’s Year in Review

About a year ago, I read an article about high school and college students wanting trigger warnings for material on the syllabus. I was irritated and thought it was unreasonable. I understood that if someone had PTSD or had been raped, that certain material may trigger some awful memories and emotions. At the same time, I assumed that these students participate in the real world to some degree, if they are able to sit in a classroom and do homework. If that’s the case, these students are probably watching TV and skimming Facebook timelines, where they will see movie trailers, commercials, headlines and video clips that may cause similar distress. My conclusion was that if schools agreed to label the reading list with trigger warnings, it would become a never ending list. The best literature is often packed with the hardest things in life. Reading some of the things might be hard, but working through the book may be good therapy. Or not. Student’s choice at that point.

This past week, as each Facebook friend’s Year in Review popped up, I felt a little kick to my gut every time I read the words “It’s been a great year. Thanks for being a part of it!” In fact, the first time it popped up, I felt a little hurt- how could someone close to me say that it had been a great year? My son died on July 7 after a nightmarish 13 day battle with E. coli. It was sudden and shocking. We watched our child suffer in ways no person ever should and we witnessed things that replay in our minds every day, like nightmares on a movie screen as we try to live without him.

Trigger Warning
So, when I read a Huffington Post article yesterday, saying that Facebook had apologized to a dad who lost his daughter this year, I was torn. I feel for the guy. I know how jarring it was to see the automated prompt, with my boy’s smiling face in the middle and confetti all around. I knew what the last 6 months of my year have looked like and I didn’t want a replay. But, I did not have to look! I think the app was a great idea- it’s fun for most people. It wasn’t fun for me. It wasn’t fun to see everyone’s happy year end while mine sucks. But, that is my life right now. I don’t expect a trigger warning on Facebook, or on the radio before an ad for Whole Foods, where we bought the ground beef that made Joshy sick. I don’t expect companies like Folger’s to change their emotional commercials so that they don’t highlight, for me, the fact that I will never wake up at my adult son’s home and tell his children stories of his childhood. I can’t expect to avoid seeing adorable, blonde boys playing with sisters and friends, searching for bugs, walking their dogs. I shouldn’t expect to avoid the feelings that follow the most traumatic events and the biggest loss of my life.

Sometimes, life is hard. Sometimes it sucks and is unfair. Sometimes awful, unthinkable things happen. We can not expect the world to think of every terrible possibility and walk on eggshells to avoid triggering our nightmares. We must do the best we can to work through and live on, hopefully remembering the happy times more often than the worst.

Writing From Prompts (NaBloPoMo Day 9)

image
I’m having a really hard time with these December NaBloPoMo prompts. It’s not them; it’s me. It’s this time of year. It’s my life, this season, this topic- Joy.

I am trying. I’m trying to live. To be. Wife, mommy, boss, colleague, friend. Present. I’m trying to enjoy, while remembering; while missing. Constantly.
I’m trying not to cry when I hear Christmas music. Any music. To remember when it made me happy and go there instead. To dance and sing. To hug and smile. To write.

But, the majority of the December NaBloPoMo prompts just aren’t working for me. I’ll keep writing every day and I’ll try to publish my posts daily, but I’m trying not to be too hard on myself when I either don’t find/take the time or (more often) just can’t bring myself to finish or share what I write.

-M ❤

My famous recipes… Day 8 NaBloPoMo

Today’s prompt: What recipe are you known for amongst your friends and family?

We have lots of food allergies in our family. So, over the last 8 years, I have become an expert at allergy free cooking and baking. I’m of the mindset that people shouldn’t feel badly for my kids or me for not being able to eat certain foods. I’m also a firm believer that kids (and grown-ups!) should have yummy foods that bring comfort and happiness.

I’m known by family and friends- and just about every kid age 4-16 in the Boston area- for bringing yummy, home-made, allergy-friendly baked goods everywhere we go. It makes me happy to make taste buds happy. And it’s so awesome when everyone can enjoy the same treats!

I love chocolate!

I love chocolate!


I really need to post a few of my favorite allergy-safe recipes. For now, I’ll send you to my super yummy brownies! Please note, I didn’t have any safe cocoa in the house last time I made these, so I skipped the cocoa and added a handful of Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips. SUPER yummy and fudgey deliciousness! My apologies to the egg allergic- feel free to contact me for some great egg-free desserts. I promise to post soon for everyone!

Hope you ate something yummy today that made you happy!

❤M