Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Eco Emi - May Box

I have recently begun the gentle conversion from 'mainstream' products to more 'natural' products.

For me, this is a very slow and laborious process. It is hard to sift through the marketing, lobbying, bullying and misinformation to get to actual facts, and even harder to sort out those facts into something I want to make a decision based on. And after the decision is made there is quite a bit of defending to be done to other people who happen to be on the other side of that particular fence.

And even after I've decided, and defended my position I must find the money to support the purchase and use of 'natural' products which generally run 2x-3x the price of the main stream alternative. And what happens when I buy the organic all natural body wash only to have my skin break out in some crazy rash because I didn't know I had an allergy to mumbi-bumbi root?!?

Recently I found a solution. It's a company called Eco-Emi. Eco-Emi is a great way to test the waters on green, organic, natural and eco-friendly products. For a small fee you can get a monthly subscription for samples of eco-friendly natural products ranging from food to beauty products to household cleaners. So, I got myself a subscription to see what it's all about.

May was my first month to receive a box. Here's how it looked and what I got:

Nail Polish - by Suncoat
Shimmer Eye Shadow - by Lauren Brookes
Mongo Kiss Lip Balm - by Eco Lips
Aqua Sport SPF 30 Sunscreen - by All Terrain
Seaweed Bath Powder - by
Pomegranate Bar - by Athena Bars
Herbal Armor Insect Repellent - by All Terrain
Shampoo - by Beauty Without Cruelty

Also in the box were coupons/discounts for some of the products (like the eyeshadow) if I wanted to order online.

The card that was included in the box also contains information about each product, including if it is certified as vegan, or specially sourced (the lip balm ingredients are sourced from Africa as part of an endeavor to raise the standard of living in some rural villages). It even gives details on how much the product costs in case you are interested in buying the full version.

I unpacked my box and read about each product on the card. As I went down the list I realized that I had not received the mascara listed on the card. This was disappointing at first, but I simply sent an email to Eco-Emi and within 2 days I received the missing mascara along with a personalized note and another free sample of the nail polish! I'd say for customer service that's top notch.

Boo ate the Pomegranate bar and declared it to be quite good. And I've already tried the lip balm, nail polish and the mascara. The lip balm is great; it moisturizes without being too heavy or shiny, and the vanilla/honey scent is really pleasant. The nail polish dries fast (which is great considering Baby doesn't really ever let me sit for 10 minutes for my nails to dry) and doesn't have any fumes at all. My toes are looking quite stylish in a snazzy, sparkly shade of pink, another plus :). AND I'm in L-O-V-E LOVE with the mascara. It coats better and stays on longer than my 'traditional' mascara, and comes off completely with only water. I'd have to say my old mascara probably isn't going to be making the cut anymore.

It's been cloudy a lot lately, so I haven't had a chance to test the sunscreen, but I'm hoping to have a chance in the next few weeks. It would be nice to find a natural sunblock that isn't harsh on skin. Baby is for sure a product of Boo and I, and therefore being in the sun with no sunscreen is not an option.

I just put the shampoo in the shower for tomorrow. Maybe something more natural will help with my sensitive skin issues...who knows! I'm saving the bath powder for my next killer workout. The card promises a relaxing and therapeutic bath experience which I will need after N tries to kill me this week. :)

All in all I'd say this box was well worth my $15. Even the decorative felt underneath the products made it into the craft basket. I'm sure I can turn it into something. For $15 I got samples that would have cost over $85 to try the full size version. Plus, if I decide I don't like something I don't have to throw it out (wasting even eco-friendly products isn't my favorite) or feel bad that I spent a lot of money on it.

I'm really looking forward to what's coming in the June box.

If you're interested, check Eco-Emi out for yourself at or on Facebook at 


Monday, May 20, 2013

Gentle Parenting

I've noticed lately a lot of my blog posts are coming in response to other blog posts that I've read. Some solely because of what the post was about, and some in conjunction with other situations I have observed. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the other parents and bloggers out there who give me so much food for thought.

Today's reflections are on "Gentle Parenting".

Last week I met a friend of mine for lunch. She is also a new(ish) mom, and her little one is just one month older than Baby. As we were catching up she was telling me about life, and juggling a baby and a new part time job. As is common when you have an infant, the topic of baby sleep came up. She asked how Baby was sleeping (to which I replied "just fine") and then told me about her own situation. Her son's sleep patterns changed drastically at 4 months when they could no longer swaddle the baby to sleep. At the end of their rope she and her husband hired a baby sleep consultant who put them on a strict bedtime and naptime routine. It seems to be working well. But she mentioned that sometimes her boy doesn't sleep during nap time. He just lays in his crib, sometimes crying for the whole 90 minutes. She checks on him every so often, but per the consultant's advice she does not remove him from the crib until nap time is over.

I have a second friend who's daughter is about 15 months old. She and her husband have just enrolled their daughter in a montessori daycare beginning in August. My friend was telling me they will have to work very hard to meet the minimum requirements, which include walking, and DD being able to sit in a chair (albeit a child sized one) by herself and feed herself with full size silverware. These requirements for enrollment allow the daycare to 'teach' children to be self sufficient from a young age.  

On Saturday I read an interesting blog post about 'gentle parenting'. The post was advice on how to better reason with a small child/toddler so that a parent wouldn't have to 'resort to spanking'. The author suggested phrases such as 'I won't let you do XYZ' rather than simply saying 'No' or 'You can't do XYZ'. She also said right out that patience and love would allow you to be a gentle parent without spanking. From which I inferred that being a gentle loving parent and using spanking as a form of discipline are mutually exclusive. 

Each of these examples have given me pause for consideration over the past week. When my friend offered me the contact information for her sleep consultant I politely declined. When my friend was talking about the hassle of finding a daycare, and finally settling on one she and her husband thought best for their child I was thankful that Boo works hard so that I have the privilege to be home with Baby. But the blog post really got me thinking.

I grew up in a home with spanking. And I truly believe I am a better person because of it. But I would also say that the discipline my parents enforced was both loving and gentle. But on the other hand I know plenty of people who grew up in homes where discipline included hitting that was neither loving nor gentle. But I think there is a huge difference between hitting a child and spanking a child. I also believe it is possible to be a loving, gentle parent and believe in spanking and to never raise a hand to your child but not be loving nor gentle. So I have taken issue with the implication that spanking = unloving and no spanking = loving. I have observed so many parents call their child a name without raising a hand. But that is no less abusive than hitting outside the realm of discipline and love.

I have always thought that I would be a gentle parent. And I knew that I would need to work on being a bit less Type A and a bit more patient but I want to be a good mom so those were challenges and self-growth that I looked forward to. I knew I would need to learn to be a parent, and I am still determined to learn to be a gentle and loving mother. When Baby was born, I had no idea how quickly I would need to learn. I think by the time he was 2 weeks old I had ditched the day planner (well mostly) and had stopped caring if my floors had little dust bunnies. And I have found that I am so much happier because of him. And oh the patience I have now. I never would have thought I could be so calm. What a wonderful teacher a baby can be! But every day presents new challenges, and my role as a mother is constantly changing.

Baby changes every day. Last week I didn't need to know how to teach him to be gentle because last week he didn't bite at the breast or pull my hair. This week is different. Who knows what lesson he will need to learn next week. I certainly don't. But I do know that parenting challenges will arise. And I know that in everything I do I want to communicate love to my son in a way that he understands and that will help him grow.

Mom says "You can always learn from every situation. You can learn what to do, or you can learn what not to do". I choose to let the examples above teach me. I do not think my 5 month old baby understands that naptime is from from 9-10am everyday. Therefore letting him cry in his crib for an hour even though he is not sleepy does not communicate in a way he can understand. That is not the kind of gentle parent I want to be. I do not want to rush away his baby moments to hurry along to the next milestone of walking or feeding himself. I want to cherish every moment that he is dependent on me because I know they will already pass too quickly. My kind of gentle parenting has a different way to teach him independence. And if or when it is necessary I will spank my child. I will teach him the rules and the consequences, and I will be faithful to follow through with discipline in a gentle and loving manner.

Just because I believe in spanking does not mean that I cannot be a gentle and loving parent.  To me gentle parenting is not the absence of spanking. Gentle parenting is teaching, guiding, disciplining and raising a child in love. Always in love. If I am thinking anything other than 'this action is what is best for my child, and I will do this because I love him' I am not being a gentle parent. The beauty is that my brand of gentle parenting could never be used universally. No other person could love another child in the exact same way that I love mine. And, I am sure I will have to learn a new way of being gentle when Baby gets a little brother or sister because there is no doubt that two different children will learn and understand differently. I don't take issue with the idea of gentle parenting. I take issue with a single definition to define every parent and child.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eat Organic or Die!!

I'm sure this particular post will not make me popular in some of the circles I have been running in lately, but I have to write it anyway. And by write I mean rant.

I am so tired of being preached at about 'eat organic or die'. Seriously.

I understand the benefits of organic food, really I do. And even more, I understand the necessity of supporting small independent farms. But I have to say this: eating something that isn't organic, or was grown from GMO seed does not qualify as a crime against humanity. The fact is, without GMO crops, and subsequently GMO derived food products millions of Americans (not to mention people around the world who depend on US exported foods) wouldn't be able to feed their families. And I'm not just talking about poor people or the homeless. If GMO foods were banned (as many all-organic activists lobby for daily) food prices for everyone would skyrocket. It is simple economics; price is driven by a balance of supply and demand. Demand is high because people are hungry. When supply is plentiful (ie when GMO crops have higher annual yields because they are resistant to disease, drought, and famine) prices are reasonable. If supply plummets, prices soar. It is how the world works.

On a more personal note, I don't give two anythings about whether or not someone chooses to eat organic foods. What I do care about is any person directly or indirectly judging me because I don't. Truth is, whatever evils you think they may have, if I'm the one eating them what do you care?!?

Two months ago I stopped eating dairy. It wasn't an action for animal rights, or because I stopped liking cheese. Let's be serious, I love cheese. It was an experiment to treat a skin rash on Baby through a change in diet. It wasn't (and isn't) easy, nor is it really enjoyable, but I am doing it because I believe it is best for my baby. But I didn't make a sign and start beating people over the head with it. It's a personal decision, and therefore I don't see the need to press others into following suit.

About two weeks ago someone (in a group setting) asked me to tell them about it, and whether I had observed any improvement in Baby. I told them about the struggles, and how I had to wean myself slowly, one dairy product at a time. I also mentioned that I had switched to soy milk, and that surprisingly I quite enjoy it. Almond milk, not so much. At this point in the conversation a third party IMMEDIATELY 'warned' me that I shouldn't be drinking the brand of soy milk that I had chosen, and that I should be REALLY careful about soy products because soy is the #1 GMO crop. Today, several weeks later, I am thankful that I said nothing in response, although I was quite irritated. (I have to rejoice in the moments when I really do think before I speak, because they are few and far between). I don't care if the soy is a GMO. That particular soap box doesn't rile me up. Well, not the first poke anyway...

But then this morning I read another blog post in which a woman called out Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo as containing a known carcinogen, and said that it was a 'mommy fail' to use those products on a baby. Excuse me?!? Don't even get me started on the number of other everyday products that I'm sure have known carcinogens. I hope that blog writer doesn't drive a car, drink diet soda, steal little bottles of shampoo from hotels, or eat in restaurants. Ever. A stance as rigid and extreme as 'eat/drink/breathe/live organic or die' is nonsense. I'm sure that woman isn't as big a natural saint as she seems on her blog.

What really gripes me is that the natural/organic movement is so negative and judgmental in their delivery. I mean honestly, if they want people to go organic and live greener don't you think it would be more productive to advertise the positive aspects of the organic item, instead of posting a picture of the mainstream item with a tag like "POISON" or "BAD SHIT". The post about Johnson & Johnson didn't cite a single source of information about the scientific evidence of carcinogens and I suspect you'd have to drink your body weight in shampoo every day for the next decade to be at risk. Nor did the post provide any real comparison between the two products. What are the merits of the 'natural' product that make it soooo much better? She didn't cite any, most likely because she doesn't know. She just knows the word 'carcinogen' is scary. This woman didn't further the cause at all. All she did was piss me off by saying I'm a bad mother. That was productive.

The truth is, for 90% of the population eating organic and going green is as much a fad as the Atkins Diet was in the early 2000's. For those people, 'organic' didn't exist before 2010. They never considered that even before crops were genetically modified they were sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers. No, for the masses it isn't about being natural or organic, it's about being on trend. And when you're just doing it to fit in the science or reasoning behind any of it isn't important. As is the American way, they just fall in line and spew whatever anti-GMO propaganda comes their way. For the other 10% being natural/organic is a way of life for socioeconomic or medical reasons. And in my experience it is rarely that 10% that is pushy about their choices.

I rant all that to get to this: just leave me the hell alone about your choices and your opinions about mine.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

Yesterday was my first ever Mother's Day as a mother. Much like birthdays of late I wasn't really anticipating feeling any different than I do every other day. And, while Boo got me a very sweet card and cooked dinner and let me do whatever I wanted all day, it was pretty much the same as every other Sunday.

As usual, Mom and I made plans to head to the grocery store. That is one chore that I don't mind doing alone, but is infinitely more enjoyable with her company. However, as she and I were discussing the day we came to a sad realization. For every note or acknowledgement that we had seen wishing a mom "Happy Mother's Day" we had seen another implying that one 'way' of mothering was better than another.

Let me give an example. I saw (as did Mom) posted on the internet a sign reading "Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids." While I have no doubt that there are good moms out there with all of the above I would wager there are equally as many out there who manage to have clean floors and ovens and equally happy kids. It didn't end there. Posts about stay-at-home moms loving their kids more than working moms. Breastfeeding moms loving their babies more than formula feeding moms. Moms with vaginal births being better than moms who delivered by cesarean. And those are just topics about moms!!

As we discussed this common attitude of 'better than' we, rather I, began to realize that it is not exclusive to any one topic. Upon reflection I realized that people are all too willing to express their own opinions and ideas as 'better than'. In the last 3 months I could list a dozen instances right off the top of my head, and that's without thinking too hard.

Perhaps Mother's Day was just the culmination of a series of those instances where I have observed this attitude. Unfortunately for me, I know that some of those were instances in which the opinions were my own! Have I not at least thought that my way is better. My way of mothering, of living, of ? My political views, or religious views? My ideas about diet and exercise, or of health and wellness? And I'm sure the list of my opinions doesn't even end there. I think a lot of it stems from a desire for someone outside the situation to validate the way a person chooses to live. If the rest of the world could just recognize that I do things 'right' then I will be confident in the way I live.

As Mom and I were walking into the grocery store I said to her "I would just like to find the way to have my opinions, beliefs and way of doing things, without needing to give offense to people who do things differently."

Today I spent quite a bit of time pondering if that statement will ever be possible. Can a person believe something, without implicitly implying that the opposite is wrong? After a day of thinking the best answer I can come up with is "I don't know". That's not the most impressive conclusion I've ever drawn, but I do think I can use it as a starting place.

I can consciously choose to change the way I think about other people's actions. I can indeed believe that the way I do things is right, so long as I qualify it with 'for me and my family'. And I can choose to hear the caveat "for me and my family" when someone else expresses their opinions to me. And if this does stem from a need to be vindicated in my choices, I can certainly look to God for fullness, instead of to the world. Perhaps then I will truly be confident in my decisions, and at least I personally will not need to express or defend my thoughts and opinions.  

I'm looking forward to the challenge of judging less and loving more. And I think if more people could take on the challenge we would all be a little happier and a lot more satisfied.