AquaDots Recall

This is just too much. The kids have been begging for these- and I came thisclose to buying them last week. 

If you have the toy AquaDots anywhere in your house, or know anyone who does, go READ THIS right now. It seems the dots, if ingested, can convert to gamma hydroxy butyrate also known as the Date-Rape Drug.

Not joking here.

The CPSC recalled all AquaDots sets in North America and in Australia. Five children have been hospitalized after eating the beads. The chemical from the toy (which, once again, originated in China) can cause unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

Poison Control, Chapter 2

Yet another reason to use only natural products to clean your home! Honestly, you can’t turn your back for a minute…

59.jpgToday was housecleaning day, and I was on the warpath all day- so just before dinner when Abby came in the kitchen sucking on a squirt bottle of spray cleaner, I completely freaked out, dumped her in the sink, and speed-dialed Poison Control. Turns out, the cleaner I use, EcoSense Tough n’ Tender by Melaleuca is absolutely safe. Not that I suggest letting your kid drink it, but the Poison lady was amazed that nothing in it was a danger. Hooray!

So mamas: get that Poison Control number plastered by your phone! Oh, and switch to non-toxic cleaners for you home- because while in an ideal world I would follow Abby around gazing at her marvelousness and never evereverever leave a spray bottle on a window sill when the phone rings, the truth is, well, it’s not pretty. My brain doesn’t always work, and sometimes I do dumb stuff.

Pracitical Application and CF Bulbs

When I first wrote the post on CF (compact fluorescent) lightbulbs, it was from more of a “Hey, this is interesting and might merrit some thought” point-of-view. Today, I learned first-hand what cleaning up one of these little toxic nightmares really entails.

While taking down the kitchen (ceiling) light, where I though they would be safe, nice and high- and trying to be extremely careful, I dropped the bulb. Hitting the kitchen tile, the bulb blasted into a gazillion pieces, and all three of my kids were standing there watching, within three feet. (now, if you want to fault me for having them nearby, go ahead, but should a mama have to vacate the house just to change a lightbulb? Evidently, yes.)

Immediately swooping up Abby and Bean, I rushed all of them outside. I went back in to, a) open the windows (the only thing I could remember from the EngeryStar website) and b) pull up the website to see what I should do next.

Here is what it said:

How should I clean up a broken fluorescent bulb?

The following steps can be performed by the general public:

  1. 1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  2. 2. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealed plastic bag.
    1. 􀂃 Use disposable rubber gloves, if available (i.e., do not use bare hands). Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.
    2. 􀂃 Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

  3. 3. Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.
    1. 􀂃 Place the first bag in a second sealed plastic bag and put it in the outdoor trash container or in another outdoor protected area for the next normal trash disposal.
    2. 􀂃 Note: some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a local recycling center.
    3. 􀂃 Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.

  4. 4. If a fluorescent bulb breaks on a rug or carpet:
    1. 􀂃 First, remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner, following the steps above. Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
    2. 􀂃 If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.

OK, Mamas, does that sound like a safe and fun activity for your family? Empty the house, dont touch the debris, and double-bag it all. For. A. Lightbulb.

For about half an hour, I played outside on the kids swingset with them, then I went into my toxic waste-dump of a kitchen and began the tedious job of cleaning up without using a vacuum, broom and having no rubber gloves. I used the wet paper towels, per instructions and a stiff piece of paper. Then the Swiffer thing. Disposable pads are ok, I presume. Double bagged all the danger-shards and then, finally, did run the vacuum, just in case I missed a shard. (Paranoid about glass slivers)

So, why do I buy organic laundry soap, organic dish soap, natural and locally grown veggies, use cotton diapers, canvas grocery bags and natural fiber clothing if my lightbulbs are going to constitute a minor Chernobyl when they (and they will, don’t kid yourself!) break? What’s the point?

I’m sorry, but it just seems too dangerous. These things are not welcome in my home. If we are trying to save the earth for our kids, what’s the point if my kids get mercury poisoning or can’t have children of their own someday?

What, exactly, are we saving?

Latest Project: The Phoebe

Here is my thrift store find- Actually, it came from Stephen King’s thrift store, if you’ve been reading awhile, you may recall that post. Looking at it now, I wish I had taken a picture beforehand. It was ugly, dark brown, scratched and missing it’s legs.


This is the piece that was marked as a “dresser” for short people. That’s what the guy told me- one look and I knew it was a buffet, only missing the legs. Some ninny cut the legs off once upon a time, and all I did was go to Lowes and buy six new legs and the hardware to attach them. It required a little elbow grease and some patience, and about six trips to the hardware store to get all the right pieces, but it was a good learning experience. Now I know how to put legs on things, using dowels, t-nuts, clamps and some glue. Everyone needs to know that, right?

Some cream paint, a little polish and a rubbing of the hardware… Voila, a new, country French, kinda shabby but way cool, one of a kind buffet.

I’ve decided to use it in my dining room as a major photography statement. I like it totally crowded with all my black and white photography and hydrangeas from the yard.

Next time you are at a yard sale or a thrift store- start looking at the “bones” of things- sometimes something really ugly is actually a swan waiting for a little TLC- this was one of those times. Look for solid wood, dovetail joinery, solid construction, few to no staples or brads, and at the overall silhouette- it’s amazing what a coat of paint or a little stripping and sanding can do. Give it a try.

Oh, and p.s.- this little gem cost $28 bucks.

Second Hand Rose

Some days, I pop into our local second hand/consignment kids shop, and I find absolutely nothing. Not today, baby! Um, “mother-lode” is the word that comes to mind…

I stopped in on a whim after dropping Jeffrey at school, and I don’t know what’s going on in the universe today, but everything was perfect for me, me personally. All the sizes, all the colors, all the styles, all the seasons, and the complete lack of anyone else in the store. Here is what I scored:

1 Laura Ashley sheet set, pink checks and polka dots. 1 pair of LL Bean snow boots and a new pair of snow pants for Jeff. 2 dresses from The Gap and 2 from Hannah Andersson for Abby. 6 pairs of Gymboree wiggle pants, like new, $2 each (!). 2 shirts and 2 sweaters for Abby. 2 new all cotton sleepers for my chunky girl who fits none of her old stuff anymore, which I noticed this morning when she had elastic marks on her Kankles. 3 long sleeved cotton shirts for the boys.

The most expensive thing on this list was only $4.00! Doin’ a little mama-joy dance… I feel like a bargain queen! Hooray for second hand shopping, and hitting it on just the right day- if I was a gambling mama, I’d go buy a lottery ticket!

Clothed in Sacks

When I go into an antique store, the trinkets and china and tchatchke’s are not what catch my eye. In every antique store I have ever gone in, I am looking for one thing, and one thing only- old linens. Pillowcases, tablecloths, napkins, hankies, dresser or piano scarves… any and all aging textiles.

There is just something about the fine, fine texture of old cotton, or of linen pressed with starch and edged in cotton crochet. This love affair started early for me- my pillowcases growing up were always crochet edged and embroidered, and usually old hand-me-downs. I loved having birds nesting, embroidered by aging hands, French knots tied with love, and trimmed out in delicate cotton crochet. Just loved them.

So now, almost all of our pillow cases are ones I have furrowed out at church tag sales, antique shops, rummage sales and neighborhood estate sales.( It kinda bugs my husband- not that he sleeps on old-lady pillowcases, but that every one of them is “old”. He’s more of a “new” guy…) But, as old things tend to do, every once in a while, I loose one of my beauties. They wear out, the cotton thins, and the seams tear. (This isn’t such a problem for the aprons, tablecloths, napkins and dresser scarves, but they all get far less use than my pillowcases)

So when one of my lovlies is retired, I have stashed them away in my fabric shelves, not sure what to do with them. The seams are worn out, but the embroidery is often still perfect; I cannot bear to toss them. And recently I had an epiphany….

There is one old case in particular I especially love- it is torn near the top, but the edge is scalloped in a lovely pattern, and monogramed with a beautiful “M” – very shabby chic. Sitting in my sewing room,  contemplating what I could make out of it for Abby- thinking of maybe a smaller pillow or something, when it dawned on me that there is plenty of fabric in a pillowcase to make little girl dresses!

And what dresses they would be! Edged, fine old cotton, beautiful embroidery around the bottom of the starched twirly little skirts, maybe a pinafore if there wasn’t enough fabric for a full dress… oh how darling and totally beautiful they would be!!!

So, my old linens are going to have new life. And I’m tickled pink at my own engenuity, and with being able to finally give a home and use to old things I really value. I’ll have to let you know how it goes.

Hot Hot Hot!

According to the great and mighty Google, (… the modern equivalent of the Oracle of Delphi?) the whole country is smothering under a sweltering heatwave. Here in the great northwest, where we are more comfy in our LLBean sweaters, the 100+ degree heat is utterly stifling. And, I hate being hot. Hate hate hate it. Gets me grumpy.

My red heads fry and turn into little tomatoes outside on days like we’ve had lately, and even the spf45 doesn’t cut it.  Jeff’s swim lessons have been put off another two weeks, because for the life of me, I can’t figure out what to do with Abby in 105+ degree heat. That is what our kitchen thermometer says right now. Ugh.

So aside from having the AC on to maintain my cool, litterally and figuratively, I am trying to come up with things to keep the monkeys occupied. Here are some things I have come up with:

Bed-sheet forts. This is taking place in our play room right now. The boys have been engrossed all morning in making forts, and all I supplied were two bedsheets, some chairs and a baby gate. Voila, hours of instant fun.

Finger painting. I know, I know, the disaster potential is great, but I found a recipe for making my own- and they are fabulous. Takes about 5 minutes to make, clean up fairly easy, and cost about a quarter, so who cares if they mess them up or spill? E-mail me if you want the recipe…

Play restaurant. My boys love to play pretend kitchen. And right now, Jeff loves to pretend to write, even though he really can’t. So give them a tablet and pencil, an apron and some play food, and they have a ball. We have  pretend food, but you don’t need it. Eric serves me up handfuls of delicious air all the time, and I taste it with great delight.

Go to the public library!! Free air-conditioning, free books, free story time, free weekly science stuff… Free!

Our local movie googaplex has free movie day for kids all summer long. On Tuesday, they show a rated G movie, and on Wednesday, a PG movie. For free. So check your local theatre.

Make popsicles, slushies, smoothies and milkshakes at home. The kids love to help, and they get to see how fruits and juices turn into good things to eat. Just know ahead of time they will make a huge mess, and be prepared mentally and with lots of towels.

Anyone else have any fabulous ideas for beating the heat with a house-full of little kids?

Makin’ Ketchup

Today, of all days, we ran out of ketchup. How does a house with three kids under 5 run out of ketchup- I mean, sure Abby is out of the ketchup loop still, but the boys more than make up for her. How did I so completely drop the ball and shame my food-storage calling? Ketchup…. hangin’ my head in shame.

But! Ever the industrious mama, I thought, “Hey, I can MAKE ketchup!”. But alas, my cookbooks were all sadly lacking in ketchup recipes. So, turning to my trusty computer, and knowing my kids won’t eat just any ketchup, I Googled “Heinz Ketchup” and low and behold, the holy grail of kid manna, the Heinz Ketchup Recipe. And, I must say, it’s pretty darn close… they had a ball helping me in the kitchen, and ate it with gusto. So hooray! And thus, I share it with you:

Heinz Ketchup by Jan Taylor

  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup plain white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until well combined. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.

Remove pan from heat and cover until cool. Chill and store in a covered container.

Mama Raves

Here are some things I have come across, discovered or uncovered lately that I think are just swell.

Blo-pens. Have any of you tried these things?? They are markers that have a special case, and your kids blow through them, like a whistle, and they spray ink like an airbrush. I know, I know, the catastrophe potential is enormous, but we used them for our FHE activity and they were so much fun. Other than the drool mixed with the ink on my two-year old’s picture, they were a blast. Cool beans.

Pajama-Gram. A friend recently sent me a Jammie-Gram, and I have to say, I think this is the coolest gift for a mommy. It’s a pair of pajamas or a robe,wrapped up in this fabulous hat-box, super pretty, and delivered to your door. It also includes a pretty, froofy daisy sachet- just for fun. My particular gift was a fluffy pink bathrobe, and I can’t wait for the weather to cool of so I can use it. A super girlie gift.

The new line of Kirkland/Borghese make-up at Costco. Oh, my, goodness. It is fabulous, and cheap, too!! I love the face cream and the liquid make up is wonderful, light and has sunscreen, too. The lip-gloss stays on, and doesn’t feel goopy and gucky, and the several colors offered are neutral enough for almost anyone.

Green Chile salsa for summer. Awesome new recipe, we can’t get enough of it. DH smothers his burgers in this:

  • On a grill or under a broiler, roast the following: 1 Poblano pepper, 1 jalapeno, 2 tomatilloes, 1 white onion, 6 cloves of garlic, 1 green bell pepper
  • peel and seed the cooled roasted peppers and garlic cloves
  • put everything in a food processor and pulverize
  • Add salt, pepper and 1/2 t oregano, to taste. Yum!

Haagen Daz white chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream. Nothing more needs to be said.

Sunscreen stick. Mustella makes a sunscreen for kids that comes in a twist-up container like anti-perspirant and it makes getting sunscreen on my monkeys not quite so miserable. And it’s easy to keep out of eyes but on the face.

The book “Raising Cain- Protecting the Emotional Lives of our Boys”. I am learning soooo much from this book. It was recommended by another MMW mama, and it’s a must-read for parents of boys.

The Silver Cross Mini stroller. I ordered it a few days ago, and I can’t wait for it to get here! Goodbye large, plastic, unruly, can’t steer for squat travel system, hellooooo sleek, lightweight, easy to push, hot little baby-mobile! (On sale, too!)

Making Jam with my kids. The catastrophe potential here is great, I know,  but when they help pick the fruit, it’s fun to show them how to preserve it too. Make freezer jam with them, and the risk of burns is gone. Just take a deep breath ahead of time, know the kitchen is going to be a disaster, and roll with it. It will be priceless, and they will want to eat all the jam.

Playroom Napalm

It has to happen every once in a while… there just comes a point where you cannot wade through any more toys, bits of toys, broken toys, neglected toys- you know what I’m talking about.

Tonight I opened up a can of you-know-what on our playroom. My unsuspecting children lie sleeping peacefully upstairs, and I go through their things like judo-mama. I’m brutal and unforgiving. Heaven help any toy that gets in my way when I do this- I toss it. Tonight I tossed the train table. Yes, I did. They never play with it- any of you who unwittingly shelled out the cash for one of these babies after watching your baby LOVE the TT at the store, you know what I mean. In a store, it is the magic, must have, will get years of play out of it toy. You bring the dastardly thing home, they never play trains again. And those Thomas trains are just about worth a college education in cash. Yowza they’re expensive. I’m holding onto the trains- figuring they might still have some play value, but the table and tracks- gone. I said I was merciless.

They might notice the table is gone. That is a big “might” though. It’s amazing- I can toss or donate an entire black giganormous trash bag of toys, and they never even ask where anything went. They don’t notice. You know what they will do in the morning? Cries of joy will ring out at all the toys they “haven’t seen in forever!”- never noticing the gaps in their treasures.

My kids, like most of us, have too much stuff. Too many toys. Too much indulgence of things. What they need is more time outside, chasing butterflies and looking at clouds. Things that don’t require a trip to The Giraffe. The best things in life are free, and all that. It’s true anyway.

Now if only there was a Napalm fairy to come into my kitchen as I sleep away upstairs. Ah, the dreams of a mama…