Life’s Little Developments

Keeping it Clean:

So somehow I’ve been busy without being all that busy. Not sure how that works but it does. Mostly I’ve been keeping the house A LOT cleaner and it is amazing how good that makes me feel. I’ve been making myself make the bed every day and that small task does wonders for me. I’m normally not so obsessed with a spick-n-span house but these days I don’t feel complete unless it’s clean. Maybe it’s that whole nesting thing getting started? Who knows.

New Camera:

A few weeks ago I was able to get a new camera!! I can not tell you how excited I was about this. It is such a great camera. I bought a used Canon XT from my friends husband for a great price who wanted to exchange his camera for the same camera but for one that was only black instead of black and silver. Apparently camera snobs find this important. Maybe someday I will be cool enough to be able to be that picky. I was able to afford the camera by selling our Kodak one on Craigslist and selling a few things on eBay. I’m so happy to have a camera that will take non-blurry pictures and has a faster shutter speed so I won’t miss all those great shots. I still need to learn to use this thing though. My friends husband also gave me a photo editing software called Bibble that is on the professional level but I have NO IDEA how to use it. Need to learn that as well. I would post pictures but our computer is not cooperating. See below.

Dumb, Ancient Computer:

The upgrade of our camera has very poignantly highlighted the need for a new computer. Our computer is about 8 years old. This dinosaur bohemeth runs more slowly than I am able to waddle these days. And now EVERY time I try to upload a picture to the blog it FREEZES my computer. Grrr. It makes me so mad. I have been attempting to write this blog post for a few days now but kept getting frustrated and giving up because I hate not posting pictures with the blog. So, um imagine things I guess. Until further notice I don’t think there will be any pictures posted. Must get this fixed before baby arrives. On a funny note my friend Emeth joked with her husband that she was going to give his computer to me since I needed one and he believed her. He gave her a deer in the headlights, shocked look and paced a little but didn’t say anything. Yes, she definitely wears the pants in their family and no, I would never let her actually do that. But very funny.

A Close Call & First Lies:

So I had a midwife appointment on Monday in Hermiston, Oregon which is about a half hour drive from here. During the appointment Camden was playing outside with one of the midwifes sons (it was his 8th Birthday) and they were playing with a new baby goat that they just got. Innocent enough, right? They’re outside so I don’t worry about anything and just relax and chat and enjoy my appointment. As we are leaving and I am buckling Camden into her carseat she asks me an odd question.

“Mommy?”

“Yes?”

“Do cupcakes have nuts in them?”

What a weird question. “Well, sometimes. Sometimes even though the cupcake doesn’t have nuts they are made in a kitchen that has nuts so you can’t eat them…” As I’m saying this my voice trails off because I notice a light yellow crust all around her lips. “Camden, what is on your face? Were you playing with the Dandelions?” It really looked like she’d been rubbing dandelions on her lips. Then before she could answer the “duh” light went off. “Did you eat a cupcake?”

“No.”

“Then what is on your face?”

“I don’t know. Nothing.”

“There is yellow all around your mouth. Is that yellow frosting? Did you eat a cupcake?”

“No.”

“Then what is on your face?”

“I don’t know.”

She’s totally lying. My heart is a little heavy and worried and I’m really ticked at myself. “Camden, it is more important to tell the truth to mommy. You will be in more trouble if you don’t tell me the truth. It’s very important that we’re honest with each other. What did you eat?”

She sighs. “I ate a cupcake.”

I then proceeded to lecture her for about 10 minutes about why it is so important that she NEVER eat food unless her dad or I give it to her or unless we say it is OK. We talked about what would have happened if there were nuts in the cupcake (she is severely allergic to them) and how we’d have to go to the hospital, etc, etc. On an annoying note the cupcake was also bright yellow otherwise known as containing food dye. I am happy to report that I did not notice ANY behavioral side effects afterwards (she has a dye sensitivity) which is promising. She is mostly sensitive to red but I was happy to see that she tolerated the yellow cupcake. Doesn’t mean I want dyed concoctions in our house but it is nice to know she may be able to have them on occasion. Mike was really, really mad at me. I’m only somewhat mad at me. Really, there is only so much you can watch your child. They were outside playing and there was no food outside. The little boy had snuck inside during our appointment and snuck cupcakes for them. I just need to drill it into her head that she can’t eat food from other people since realistically I can not always know what she is doing.

So that was her second “lie” if you want to call it that. Not sure what constitutes an active lie by a child and at what age they are capable of lying. But it used to be that if you asked her a question no matter if she was going to get in trouble, she’d be honest. For example if Camden was standing next to a small crying child looking suspicious I could ask “Camden, what happened?” and she’d say “I pushed her” or “I took her toy.” Looks like those days are gone.

Her first “lie” was last weekend. I was on the computer working on her scrapbook and Mike was showering and she was supposed to be watching a movie. Mike came out into the living room and I hear him getting mad at her. He comes into the office and told me she was out there painting her fingernail. Big no, no. He goes to wipe off her thumb and notices her whole other hand is painted. “Did you paint those?” he asks. “No,” she says. “Then who painted them?” “Mommy did,” she says. They both come into the office and he asks if I painted them. Nope, I didn’t. She is sent to her room. Once she is in her room we both laugh. She did a really, really good job painting her nails but she knew she wasn’t allowed to do paint by herself and she was painting them on the couch. But it was also the first time she lied to us. After she came out of her room we talked about honesty. Sigh, this is only going to get more complicated. I can tell.

30 Weeks:

At my last appointment the hearbeat ranged from 132-146 bpm. I was measuring 33 weeks and the baby was head down in the posterior position. I will be 31 weeks on Friday.

Busier:

So I started this blog post earlier in the week and now I am busier because we are having a garage sale at our house on Friday and Saturday. Some other families are combining their stuff with ours so we’ll have enough stuff. I was going to put this off for a few more weeks but it is only going to get hotter and I am only going to get bigger so I am scrambling to get it done. Originally I was hoping that the money we made could go towards something fun like a new computer but like always it looks like the extra money will go towards bills. We are hoping the garage sale traffic will spur some interest in our house. I am going to have flyers ready. Cross your fingers for us.

I am also taking care of my friends little girl because she has been put on bedrest for the next week. She is not due until July 16th but is having a ton of contractions. They are wanting to try and hold off birth until at least next Wed when she will be 37 weeks that way she can have her baby at home, as planned. Otherwise she’ll need to deliver at a local hospital.

Weird Things I’m Looking Forward To:

So I’m really excited to mother a newborn again. It still hasn’t sunk in that there will be a new little person in our lives but I’m slowly starting to wrap my mind around it. Some of the things I am really looking forward to (yes I’m weird) are:

-Cloth Diapering: I didn’t start cloth diapering Camden until she was 13 months old but I am really looking forward to using cloth with a newborn. I received some very cute fitted’s from Nanipoo Diapers today and they are absolutely adorable. I’d post a pic if I could but they are just too cute. I also received some diaper covers today. We also have an assortment of pockets, prefolds and a few AIO’s. I’ll have to post pictures later. It is a wide variety of boy and girl prints since we don’t know what we’re having. I’ll just have to sell the ones we don’t wind up needing.

– EC: We will be practicing Elimination Communication with this baby. I’ve all ready had a little practice with this on a baby I used to watch and it is really amazing plus all the mothers that I hang out with on a regular basis practice this with their children so I’m totally over the “weirdness” factor. I think it’s awesome when a small baby can tell you when they have to go potty, and then do. I was amazed that it actually worked with he baby I used to watch who was only 2 months old.

-Happy Hangup: When I first became pregnant I found an awesome deal on a used Happy Hangup that I found on craigslist and was able to sell some stuff to get it. It hangs from the ceiling and is an infant hammock bed. I need to get Mike to install the ceiling hook and I just can’t wait to see our little bub sleep in it for the first time.

-Parenting Minus the Nervousness: I don’t consider myself a very nervous type person but I am looking forward to parenting this newborn without the all the second guessing. I loved parenting Camden as a newborn and am really looking forward to doing it again.

-Baby Wearing: I wore Camden when she was a baby too but I only had a Baby Bjorn and that thing was super uncomfortable. I am looking forward to using a wrap with this baby and a sling as well. I am loving knowing that I will be able to carry baby around and get everything else done that needs to be done.

-Birth: Yes, I really am looking forward to birth. Which seems fairly odd since I had quite a long, knock down drag out first experience. For those who don’t know I labored for over 56 hours with Camden. Not ideal, to say the least. There are many factors that contributed to that and I feel that this time things will go much different. We are having this baby at home and my friends are planning on attending the birth which will make this a really different and fun experience. I am really looking forward to it. Mike is thrilled with this idea because it takes the pressure off him. I thought he wouldn’t like the idea but he loves it. And I love the idea of being surrounded by women who have all given birth naturally and who are all funny and upbeat. I think we will all have a lot of fun and what a wonderful atmosphere for a baby to be born into.

Halloween in Crunchville – Dye Free Candy

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I grew up celebrating Halloween like millions of other kids in America. I enjoyed it. Probably for no good reason other than it was fun to dress up and I like candy. Is that a good reason to perpetuate the Holiday? I don’t know but frankly I’m not ready to morally question Halloween yet. I like it and for now that is enough. Rather than a moral dilemma, I have had a bigger concern with how to allow my daughter to participate in Halloween without being bombarded with artificial dyes and flavors that turn her into a raving lunatic as well as peanut containing products which could send her to the Hospital in anaphylactic shock.

I was VERY happy to have stumbled upon Yummy Earth candies. We purchased their 5lb bag of Organic Assorted Lollipops at a 50% discount since we are Feingold members. We received the suckers within days and let me just tell you these things are DELICIOUS! They taste way better than any store-bought suckers not to mention they are all natural. The flavors in the assorted bag are delectable – pomegranate, watermelon, tango mango & lemon. They are literally the best suckers I have ever had.

So for those of you also concerned with how to get your artificial dye sensitive child some safe candy you can purchase lots of different varieties online. We just plan on letting her Trick-or-Treat like normal and at the end we will exchange all of her candy for the “safe” candy. If I had more time and felt like it I would just pre-visit my neighbors and ask them to reserve the safe candy for her.

Here is a list of all natural and dye free candy:

Yummy Earth

Jewels of Denial

Squirrels Nest

Pure Fun

Divvies

Dolphin Natural Chocolates

Simon’s Candy Company

Sunspire

CrispyCat Candy Bars

Glee Gum

YC Chocolate

You may also have good luck finding dye free and natural candies at places like Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods.

It’s About Time

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The immature side of me wants to say “neiner, neiner, neiner” and “I told you so!” But instead I will clap my hands and be thankful that finally some scientific studies that corroborate what observant parents have known for a long time and that is that food additives (food coloring and flavoring) can cause far reaching effects in children’s behavior and health. This study simply addresses a short term exposure of 6 weeks and explicity examines hyperactivity but it is a good start.

Here is the article on the study:

New study links food additives to hyperactivity in children
23 hours ago
PARIS (AFP)
A cocktail of artificial colours and the commonly-used
preservative sodium benzoate are linked to hyperactivity in children, according to a ground-breaking study published Thursday by The Lancet.
The implications are far-reaching, say the investigators, who suggest that by
vetting their child’s diet, parents have a simple tool to help them tackle
hyperactive behaviour.
Researchers at Southampton University recruited 153 local three-year-olds and 144 children aged eight or nine and assigned them to either of two groups.

One group received an ordinary fruit juice and the other was given a drink
identical in look and taste that contained common commercial additives. Both
drinks were supplied to parents in identical, sealed anonymous bottles.

The “additives” group itself was split into two batches. Some children were given “Mix A,” a drink which contained artificial colourings typically found in a couple of 56-gramme (two-ounce) bags of sweets.

Others were given “Mix B” which had a higher level of colourings, equivalent
(in the dosage for the eight-year-olds) to consuming the additives in four
such bags of sweets.

Both mixes had the same amount of sodium benzoate.

Before the six-week trial began, the researchers asked parents and teachers
to assess the child for overactive, impulsive and inattentive behaviour — the
hallmarks of hyperactivity.

A third yardstick was given by trained observers (in fact, psychology
graduates), who sat discreetly in the classrooms and noted each child’s behaviour according to an international set of measures.

For the first week of the trial, the children followed their typical diet.
After that, sweets and drinks with additives were withdrawn, and parents were asked to substitute with the trial drink instead.

The amount of the drink given to the child was in proportion to the amount of
artificial colouring removed from their usual diet. The parents did not know
whether the drink was Mix A, Mix B or the placebo.

Six weeks later, the children were assessed again for hyperactivity.
Mix A had a “significantly adverse” effect on the three-year-olds, although
Mix B made no difference on this group. In the older children, both Mix A and
Mix B had a strong effect.

“Overall, children who took the mix moved about 10 percent closer to the
definition of being hyperactive,” lead author Jim Stevenson, a professor of
psychology at the university, told AFP.

“We now have clear evidence that mixtures of certain food colours and
benzoate preservative can adversely influence the behaviour of children,” said Stevenson.

“However, parents should not think that simply taking these additives out of
food will prevent all hyperactive disorders. We know that many other
influences are at work, but this at least is one a child can avoid.”

The first caution about food additives and their impact on child health were
made more than three decades ago, but evidence to give flesh to this warning has been scant or contested as unscientific.

In the past decade, hyperactivity has — apparently — ballooned into serious
proportions in some countries, stirring controversy along the way.

US doctors commonly see hyperactivity as a medical condition
(attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD) and prescribe a potent drug, ritalin, to treat it.

Other experts speculate that hyperactivity has social causes such as home
instability and poor education, and say use of powerful, mind-altering drugs is
dangerous.

In the new study, Mix A comprised 45mg of sodium benzoate and 20mg of
artificial food colourings, namely sunset yellow (European food code E110),
carmoisine (E122); tartrazine (E102); and ponceau 4R (E124).

(P.S. neiner, neiner, neiner!)

Here are other things I’ve written about food additives and artificial dye:

Eating a Rainbow

Bathing in a Rainbow

Dangerous Popcorn

Dangerous Popcorn??

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There was an article posted today by the Associate Press warning consumers that the fumes from microwaved popcorn could actually cause cancer. It has been known for sometime that exposure to workers in popcorn plants can lead to “popcorn lung” which has actually spurred lawsuits from hundreds of workers. The chemical in suspicion is diacetyl which is used in the artificial butter flavor.

This is, however, the first case of a consumer being affected by the lung disease by consuming popcorn. Keep in mind this person consumed an extrordinary amount of popcorn (several times a day) but then again I used to work at T-Mobile where co-workers had microwaved popcorn at least once a day.

So, the chances of the average microwave popcorn consumer have to be pretty minute when it comes to contracting this lung disease. I think the bigger issue to consider is what exposure to this chemical (and the thousands of other chemicals in processed foods) does in tiny amounts over a long period of time. I feel like the additive nag over here but I can’t say enough times how bad artificial colors and flavors are. And the interesting thing is that all of these things are approved by the FDA to be safe. I won’t get started on my opinion on that.

Whatever your opinion, think twice about taking a big whiff of that popcorn when you open the bag…

Bathing in a Rainbow

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My daughter woke up from her nap and walked over proudly displaying a lifted shirt. “Look at my spots!” she declared. I ignored her at first. She had said something about her spots the night before and I hadn’t seen anything. Then I looked again and saw little red spots all over her torso. My heart panicked. I pulled her close to inspect her. She had raised red spots all over. Chicken Pox? No, definitely not. Rash? Doesn’t look like it. Hives? I think so. My heart is doing loopdey loops while I do a mental check of what she’s eaten the last several hours. You see, my daughter has a fatal peanut allergy that we carry an Epi Pen for and I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be needed. I removed her clothing and checked out the location of the hives. Stomach, back, thighs, butt. Hmmm? I snap some pictures. I’ve learned that if I need to take her in, the medical world really likes pictures. It helps to confirm you’re not crazy (well, maybe not – but my doctor’s enjoy using them to collaborate allergies).

The mom I babysit for suggests that maybe its location would be indicative of a reaction to laundry detergent. Hmm? I consider it. Perhaps. We did use a new laundry detergent a week and a half ago, while camping. I ponder on that one for awhile and then conclude that’s not it. We used it once and she hasn’t worn any of the laundry in the recent past. I consider a bubble bath she had the night before. Would a bubble bath irritate her skin that much? It was her first one.

My daughter is itching like crazy. Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. I call my really knowledgeable mama friend that knows everything about natural remedies and herbs. Not home. I bound to the computer to pop off an email to my AP support group and then I wait. Yes, they confirm it looks like hives.

Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. I need to do something about this scratching. I look at her again looking for any signs of swelling, difficulty breathing, anything. She’s fine, just scratching. I rummage through the cupboard. We’ve got nothing topical. I conceed and decide I will give her some Benadryl. I was hoping for something more natural. At least it is dye free. Dye free. Wait a minute.

The wheels start to spin. I had grabbed the bubble bath out of my cupboard because Camden didn’t have any. It was pink. Oh man! I didn’t even think about it! The soap had been a gift years ago so I had never bothered to check the label, never even thought about what might be in it while I poured about 4 TBSP in her bath. I was used to reading the labels of food, not bath products. I went to get the bottle knowing what I would find.

There it was: Blue 1, Green 3, Red 4, Red 33, Yellow 5, Yellow 6

Ugh. Well, at least I had confirmed I wasn’t crazy about my daughter reacting behaviorally to consuming artificial dyes. If she got hives all over her body from soaking in them then certainly it isn’t unreasonable to assume she will have a very negative emotional reaction to eating them. What I found strange is that the bath was given the day before.

I ask my trusty AP group if a reaction can be that delayed. They think so. I google hives. Yep, delayed reactions. Well, I guess that makes sense. My daughter has delayed reactions when she eats dye too.

So there you have it. Conclusion? Don’t bathe your children in a rainbow either.

Eating a Rainbow – Red #40 and it’s Sidekicks

Lucky Charms

We all know rainbows are beautiful. They are always a treasure to discover and a sight to behold. What is not beautiful is the rainbow of crap that we allow this country to feed to our children every single day. American children consume more chemicals in their food then you’d care to believe. Our young children whose bodies are most at risk during these important years of growth are inundated with processed foods that contain little to no nutritional value.

There was a point where I didn’t really care and I didn’t really see any harm in it. I grew up on eating boxed snacks and I got fruit snacks in my lunch and I enjoyed an occassional bowl of Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch. I knew they weren’t really good for me but I didn’t see them as being *bad* for me.

Once at a La Leche League meeting I overhead some mother’s discussing their child’s sensitivites to food dye. My daughter was about a year old at the time and I was a little floored by this conversation. This mother shared how she systematically discovered that many of her childrens behavioral problems had been caused by eating foods with artificial food coloring and most especially red #40. The whole thing sounded rather complicated and totally not fun. Who wouldn’t want to let their kids eat blue frosted cupcakes at a Birthday Party or enjoy Halloween candy? Who would want to spoil childhood?

But I am lucky that that conversation stayed in the back of my head, it saved my daughter a trip to the Emergency Room.

My daughter was 20 months old. Just before bed she became hysterical. It started small, not wanting to get pajamas on but quickly escalated into something I had never, ever witnessed from her and I know my daughter very well. She was screaming and crying and was completely inconsolable. She also became physically violent and was trying to hurt me – a first in her life. This went on for about an hour and she finally became delirious enough that she allowed me to nurse her to sleep. My head spun and I couldn’t quite figure out what that was all about. Little did I know that was just the beginning.

At 11:30 that night just when I was heading off to bed I heard Camden start crying hysterically in her room (not typical). The whole ordeal lasted until 1:30 in the morning. She was crying and screaming in pure hysteria. It was truly insane. As a mother that practices Attachment Parenting I had never witnessed anything like this from my child before. It was the most difficult thing to watch my child who was in utter chaos and be able to do nothing for her. She was in a state of panic and rage. She was afraid of me and would not let me near her. She ran from me and hid in mine and my husbands walk-in-closet. Her body literally shook all over as she cried. She was not asleep, she was not having a “night terror”. This was so beyond that. She would cry out to nurse and then as soon as I’d reach for her she’d scream and push me away. She started banging her head on the wall. I was ready to take her to the Emergency Room. I literally thought something had gone wrong in her brain. I finally forced my way into the closet with her and held her against her will. She kicked and clawed at me and screamed. I sobbed with her. I was a broken mother. I was helpless. I was scared. I finally convinced her to nurse but she only allowed me to support her head. She layed on the floor and nursed while trying to touch me the least amount possible. When she was finally in a deep sleep I was able to get her back to her bed.

During this whole process I had naggingly remembered the stories that mother had shared with another young mother at that LLL meeting almost a year before. I thought about what had happened before Camden went to bed and then it hit me. Camden had eaten cherry Yoplait yogurt before bed. Could it really be that? I walked to the kitchen and grabbed a container of yogurt and read the ingredients. Red #40 bounced blaringly back at me. I ran to the computer and googled red #40 and sensitivity. I buried myself in reading until the wee dawn of morning crept into the office. My daughter really was sensitive to dye.

It took many months and many more exposures before we truly believed that this was not a figment of our imagination. The second reaction was worse than the first. In fact, it was so bad that my husband had to leave the house – he couldn’t bare to be around it. She was foaming at the mouth and slamming her head into the kitchen cupboards. It lasted for several hours and in the end I had to hold her against her will as she kicked and hit me with all of her little might. I sobbed that night with my daughter again. I vowed to stop using her as a chemical experiment. I prayed for the attack to subside soon.

After that I started reading a lot. I read:

The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry is Destroying our Brains and Harming our Children

Why Can’t My Child Behave?

Nourishing Traditions

I also joined the Feingold organization. This is where I learned the most information and received the most help. They also have a Yahoo Group that is free to join and I highly suggest checking it out if you can’t afford to join the Feingold organization.

It has been a long journey forward from that first reaction. We have made slow and steady progress. Every once in awhile I am tempted to let Camden eat some licorice or enjoy a candy cane. Every once in awhile I am amazed and horrified at what kind of unnecessary things contain food dye – hot chocolate, white frosting, cheese. Every once in awhile I wonder how many of our children suffer from various learning disorders and extreme physical violence and other mental disorders simply because their bodies are literally a dumping ground for chemicals. And for what? To make it look better.

Sometimes I feel like a victim and I play the “why me” card. Why can’t my child be normal and eat this crap like every other kid? Why do I have to be that weird parent that won’t let her child eat regular m&m’s? But you know what, I’m happy it’s me. I’m happy I have learned more about this nations food industry and how awful it really is. I am happy that I am learning about the role that nutritious and whole foods play in the development of the brain and in producing a happy person, in general. I am happy that I am learning.

Someday we will tell Camden about her sensitivity to food dye. For now we avoid it and simply tell her that some foods just aren’t good for us. Or even better, maybe someday America will tell the food industry that we refuse to let our children be the recipients of harmful and pointless chemicals. Maybe we will learn to speak with our dollars and demand that our food be just that … food.

UPDATES: Since this post gets a lot of hits I thought I would centralize some of my other blog posts that address the artificial dye matter.

It’s About Time: A random, double blind, placebo controlled study that was published in the Lancet in November 2007. Finally a break that links dyes and preservatives to hyperactivity.

Bathing in a Rainbow: My daughters severe hive reaction to her first bubble bath which contained artificial dyes.

The Natural Dye Alternative: Information on natural dyes that can be used for baking, cooking and fun crafts.

Halloween in Crunchville – Dye Free Candy: A list of sites that sell natural, dye free candy. It’s delicious too!