Caution: May Cause Blindness

First, let me say that I am like a child before Christmas, I’m so excited for this eclipse. In fact, I’ve cursed a lot over the last few months, after realizing that it would take place while I was scheduled to be on vacation with my husband’s family… in MA… very far from the path of totality. That said, most of you know I’m a big fan of keeping my kids safe, and that includes their vision. So, when I read an Astronomy Magazine article this morning, I was a little irked. His headline, calling an eye expert “dead wrong” is a bit crazy, and accusing him of “attempting to deprive people the spectacular, life-changing view” is irresponsible and a little over the top.  I’ve read several other articles over the last week, supporting the notion of close supervision for children viewing the eclipse, and I think that Michael Bakich at Astronomy Magazine was a bit irresponsible in publishing his article with the headline and tone he chose. In his article, he references a post made a few days ago by optometrist Michael Schecter, and essentially calls it BS. I call it good advice. (We’ll still be viewing with NASA recommended viewing glasses, after I put the fear of blindness into my kids!) Read on below for Dr. Schecter’s thoughts.

“As an Optometrist, I want to express concern that I have about the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug 21. There are serious risks associated with viewing a solar eclipse directly, even with the use of solar filter glasses. Everyone should keep in mind if they or their children are considering this.

Nasa.gov

We have to keep in mind that some people will encounter the inability to control every aspect of this exercise. For instance, true solar eclipse glasses are made for adults, do not fit children well and should not be used without direct parental supervision. If the solar glasses do not filter out 100% of the harmful UV rays, if they are not used absolutely perfectly, or should there be a manufacturing defect in any of them, this will result in permanent and irreversible vision loss for any eye exposed. Just like sunburn to the skin, the effects are not felt or noticed immediately. I have a great fear that I will have patients in my office on Tuesday, Aug 22 who woke up with hazy, blurry vision that I cannot fix. It is a huge risk to watch the eclipse even with the use of solar glasses. There is no absolutely safe way to do so other than on TV.

The biggest danger with children is ensuring proper use without direct parental supervision. As the eclipse passes over many places, including Columbus, the moon will not block 100% of the sun. Because so much of its light is blocked by the moon, if one looks at it without full protection, it does not cause pain as looking at the sun does on a regular day. Normally if you try to look at the sun, it physically hurts and you can’t see anything. During an eclipse, however, it is easier to stare for a bit….and even less than 30 seconds of exposure to a partially eclipsed sun, you can burn a blind spot right to your most precious central vision. With solar glasses you can’t see ANYTHING except the crescent of light of the sun. Kids could have a tendency to want to peak around the filter to see what is actually going on up there. One failure, just one, where education and supervision fail, will have such a devastating consequence.

Please, please be safe. Watch it on television”

Wherever you’re watching from, please be careful AND ENJOY!!


 

MSTK bio picMelissa Kaye is a Boston-based green living expert, writer, radio personality, food safety advocate, mom, and wife. She is currently working her way through grief and learning how to live without her would-be 12 year old son, Joshua, who died July 7, 2014 of E. Coli. With her husband and two daughters, she has founded Joshua Kaye Foundation, which honors what was important to Josh- community, fairness and animal welfare. 

Connect with Melissa at mommybusiness.net  on Twitter @mstkaye and @mommybiz7 or Instagram @mstkaye or @mommy.business 

The Allergy Table

I don’t get it: A kid has an allergy. He/she has to sit at a separate table with other kids who have food allergies and eat allergy safe foods. The rest of the kids will sit wherever they darn well please and eat non allergy safe foods, (greasy, oily, hard to clean, poisonous foods like peanut butter.)

PBJ

PBJ

So, the kids with the poison (the sticky, slimy, oily poison) can drip, leak, and smudge it all over every other table, seat, and floor in the cafeteria.  While the kids with the safe foods are banished to an outcast table.

Has anybody ever watched a kid eat?  Kids can walk around with red kool-aid ‘staches for days and not notice.  They can have chunks of food on their faces, shirt, hands, hair…  all over their body, really.  These are the kids who get to sit wherever they want, eating potentially deadly poison and spreading it all over the cafeteria.

Messy pbj

Messy PBJ

Then they go back to class, touching pens, pencils, books, folders, and everything else in the classroom with their poisonous, oily, chunky, peanut butter hands for everyone to come in contact with, food allergy or not.

PB gets all over the classroom

PB gets all over the classroom

I will never forget the first day I sent my adorable 3 year-old, peanut/tree nut allergic daughter to pre-school.  It was 8:30-11:30, but since it was the first day in 3 years she had been away from me for a few hours, I decided to get to school early and take a peek at her on the playground.  I spotted her instantly. She was holding hands and skipping with the most adorable little 3 year-old boy.  My happiness turned to terror when I realized he could have had peanut butter toast for breakfast and a peanut butter cracker for snack and he was now holding my daughter’s hand!!!  Her hand!!  Her hand that goes in her mouth.  Her hand that she uses to feed herself.  Her hand that could rub her eye and get that poison in her body and cause her body to swell and her throat to close.

poison on hand

Poison on hand

I knew that day would be the last day for her to attend a school that allowed nuts.  It wasn’t worth the risk. The reality is that, even in a nut-free school, kids could still have peanut butter for breakfast and then walk into school with clumps of poison dangling from their bodies and touch my precious daughter, but getting rid of nuts during school is lowering the odds of her coming in contact with them, and that is what mattered.

I will also never forget the day my oldest son told me about the allergy table at his school. It took a few minutes to register what he was saying. There is a kid in his grade who has a nut allergy. This kid has a bunch of friends who don’t have allergies but sit with him at the allergy table for support. Sweet, right? It took another couple of minutes for me to process that he was saying these friends bring in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school everyday and eat them at the allergy table!  Does this make sense? From an allergy parent’s perspective, this is terrifying. I have a sneaking suspicion it happens more frequently than we think.

pbj

PBJ

I have four kids, three with food allergies. I would love to just make the world nut-free, but obviously that isn’t going to happen so, I have another idea.

Why not create a new allergy table?  A table where kids can sit if they bring in the sticky, oily poison. A table where kids can sit down, eat their greasy peanut butter and then get up and wash their hands after. The table itself can be washed properly, the chairs and floor can also be scrubbed. It is so much less overwhelming and so much more manageable if all the nuts are kept to one area.

Soap and water go a long way!

Soap and water go a long way!         **shutter stock image

I know this article will anger a lot of people. How dare I call peanut butter poison?  I know it is the only thing that some kids will eat.  If they can’t have peanut butter for lunch the child won’t eat anything else!  Yes, peanut butter is considered “healthy.” But for me, in my world, it is poison.  It is a poison that could make my children unable to breathe and, therefore, I have no choice but to do everything in my power to keep it away.

I have never understood the allergy table.  Don’t you think it’s time to try something new?

 

 

 

Why I Take Ticks Very Seriously

One spring evening, when my youngest daughter was 2, my husband came home from work and asked if Little A had a sunburn on her face. I thought we must have missed a spot during her squirmy sun-blocking session, and I didn’t think much of it until the next day. It looked almost like she had been whipped in the face with something, but I knew that hadn’t happened. We gave it a couple of days, but the blotchy, rashy patches on her face didn’t go away, they seemed to fade and brighten, and they became more pronounced. And she was a little cranky and warm. When I finally brought her to the pediatrician, several days after her “sunburn” appeared, her doctor walked into the room and knew immediately that it was Lyme disease. Wow. Holy shit, right? 2 years old with Lyme disease and we had only been playing in our own back yard! She started antibiotics, and we avoided the outdoors while I hunted for a solution to our tick problem. I was obviously afraid of more tick bites and more Lyme disease for the rest of the family, but I was also concerned about chemicals being sprayed where my kids play (or anywhere for that matter!) Luckily, I found a non-toxic company to help. Pure Solutions sprays an organic, non-toxic solution all around our yard and our property stays tick free! (BONUS- it also kills mosquitoes!)

MB PS Lyme info pic final

Since Little A’s diagnosis of Lyme disease in 2011, I have learned more than I ever cared to know about ticks and tick borne illness. Even the coldest New England winter won’t kill off all the ticks, and deer aren’t the only carriers of “deer ticks.” Mice, chipmunks, squirrels and other small animals carry them around- so even if you have a fenced-in yard, you aren’t in the clear!

We’ve partnered with Pure Solutions this month to bring you important information about ticks and keeping your family safe from tick-borne illness. Watch our FaceBook for more tips and stay tuned for a podcast in the coming weeks! Please like, share and comment with any questions you might have!

Happy (and safe) spring!

M

 

Getting Down to Business With Rosie Pope

In honor of National Poison Prevention week, Tide and Gain asked Rosie Pope to chat with fantastically cool mom bloggers like Jenn and me! (I’m sure it had a little something to do with this.) To be clear- we did not receive any compensation, but we did get the opportunity to FaceTime with ROSIE POPE and she is all kinds of awesome. Like, I want to have her over for tea and let our kids make messy artwork once a week awesome. She is sweet and genuine and really REAL about being a mom and an entrepreneur. If you don’t know who Rosie is, check her out here.

We had a lot of fun chatting and we even set up our screen to record the FaceTime interview, but we didn’t get the audio!!! (QuickTime, it really is not cool that a new screen recording, defaults to no audio!) So, while we have this adorable screenshot for you, we don’t have the fun video we had planned.

I'm pretty sure we were laughing at boobie jokes. We are super classy.

I’m pretty sure we were laughing at boobie jokes. We are super classy.

Instead, I’ll tell you all about it! We asked Rosie for her favorite advice for moms and here’s what she said:

“Remember, it’s all about phases! There will be different things to balance at different stages.”

She went on to explain that as much as we all love (some more than others) the sweet newborn phase, we would never make it out of those first few months if we didn’t all know that that phase doesn’t last forever. I can tell you, the same goes for terrible two’s and threenagers, homework hell, tween angst, etc. This woman is a sage.

Another bit of wisdom that Rosie really seems to take to heart is that (and it’s totally tweetable!):

“You can’t find balance alone” 

We all need a little help to keep things in balance. I know I need some down time on occasion, or a few hours to finish work that otherwise would be interrupted too many times to count, and I cherish the mom and dad friends of mine who host playdates, or drop their kids with me to give Little A some playtime- and me a few moments to focus. Same goes for my amazing husband, my 16 year old sweetheart of a daughter and countless neighbors and friends with whom we trade favors and rescues.

When conversation turned to National Poison Prevention Week, Rosie got down to business with really practical advice. With specific regard to cleaning products, Rosie points to Tide & Gain’s safety campaign slogan “Up, Up, and Away”

Keep all cleaning supplies – including laundry pacs – Up, Up and Away seal pacs up, store pacs up and keep pacs away.

But, it’s the advice that Rosie shares from her experience working with families and her own children that really hit home for me-

You may have heard when you were baby-proofing that you should get down on your child’s level and look at the world through their eyes. Most parents and grandparents apply this technique when child-proofing outlets, sharp corners and breakables, but Rosie reminds us to KEEP DOING THIS at each phase. When your first child starts to crawl and the house is baby-proofed, your worries are few. When baby #2 crawls into older sister’s room and finds legos and marbles, it’s a different story.

Even as a mom who gives out parenting advice as part of her daily life and work, it surprised me how strongly this last bit of advice struck me, it is that important-

Be aware of the risks in other people’s homes. Don’t be afraid to ask other parents and educate your kids.

Of course I feel comfortable asking friends and other parents if they have guns in their homes. I know there are no drugs, cigarettes or alcohol within reach of my children and their friends. I know that the few homes where I leave Little A for playdates are aware and careful of her allergies. But I have NEVER asked another parent where or how they store their cleaning supplies or taken a walk around with eyes peeled for cleaning products or other potentially dangerous chemicals. So many parents- great parents!- wouldn’t think twice about leaving the laundry soap out while they put away the rest of the groceries. Or perhaps they ask an older child to dump the dirty hockey bag into the washer while they get dinner going, and the laundry pods are left out absent mindedly. It is so very easy for accidents to happen- and even if your home is chemical-free, most homes are not. If we are comfortable enough to leave our child in the care of another person, we need to feel comfortable asking about what dangers might be in the home. And giving information or a reminder about keeping kids safe.

Please share this with your friends and family and tell us what you think in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

I’m Sad to See Another Child Poisoned by Laundry Pods!

Brightly Colored Tide Pod
Below is a post I wrote in September of last year. I was horrified to see a similar story in my Facebook feed today. It sounds like the mom of sweet, little Cate was generally very careful with the pods, but it only took one moment, one time. I wish I could reach every family to fill them in on the safer options available! Toxic chemicals just don’t belong in our homes.

Courtesy of Jill Koziol 8 month old Cate in the ICU

Courtesy of Jill Koziol
8 month old Cate in the ICU

My original post from September, 2013, with safe suggestions:

As I was going through my email this afternoon, I saw an email from change.org- a mom asking people to sign a petition to make Tide laundry pods look less like candy so more kids aren’t poisoned like her son was.

Read the story and petition here

I felt instantly torn- so sad for her that they had to go through that and so irritated that companies don’t think these things through, or make changes when almost 6000 children have already been similarly sick from accidental ingestion. BUT, what made me pause is that the author of the petition (and mom to that little boy) was fully aware and did not seem to mind that there are dangerous chemicals in the laundry soap. I do not mean to imply that this was her fault- accidents happen even to the most careful parent, but WHY are people so OK with using chemicals to CLEAN their clothes? Why are so many parents so complacent to use chemicals that we KNOW are dangerous to our health? This is the bigger issue for me. So, I hope this mom gets the attention of Proctor and Gamble, but I’d like to see it taken one step further- get rid of the nasty chemicals and the toxic dyes so that there is no risk of poisoning another child, or the environment!

Bi-O-Kleen makes a safe laundry soap, but my favorite is Eco-Me. I love their natural fragrances and they offer fragrance-free as well.