Tuesday, May 17, 2011

GF Playdough...& Ingredients to Avoid

Found this recipe for GF Playdough:


• 1/2 cup rice flour
• 1/2 cup corn starch
• 1/2 cup salt
• 2 tsp cream of tarter
• 1 cup water
• 1 tsp cooking oil
• Food coloring, if desired

Mix ingredients. Cook and stir on low heat for 3 minutes or until mixture forms a ball. Cool completely before storing in a sealable plastic bag.

I created this list for a friend whose daughter has eczema.  Thought I'd share it on the blog.  These are ideas for people just starting out, not meant to be the end-all list, so don't yell at me that 'x' isn't on the list. We do more than this at home, and some of the items aren't the best options, but all are easily available at Target and Vitamin Shoppe, and are a good place to start from scratch. (Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or health professional and this is not medical advice, just ideas from a mom.) : )

Allergy-free To-do List

Purchase at Target:

Arm and Hammer Free Detergent
Seventh Generation Cleaners: Or just use Dawn!
Alba soap-free face wash
Loreal sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, or Alba brand
Lubriderm hand lotion: sensitive or fragrance free
Burt’s Bee’s Whitening Toothpaste: fluoride free

Purchase at Vitamin Shoppe:

Vitamin Shoppe brand Multi-Enzyme ($18 for 300). Take one with each meal, or two for a large meal or something you know you’re allergic to.

Barlean’s brand Flax Oil or Fish Oil (cold liquid). Once a day or even every few days.

Probiotics: preferably cold. At least 10 billion. Once a day. I take all my supplements at night before bed.

To Do:

No candles, plug ins, or other scents. Throw them away. Natural oils only.

No bleach: only on hot loads if needed, ¼ cup, double rinse (rinse until you don’t smell bleach. If you smell it, it’s getting on your skin.) You shouldn’t need bleach unless something has body fluids or mildew on it.

Instead of bleach I add some Oxy Clean to each load, and a bit extra to the hot loads. It's better for your skin than bleach.

Use ½ the amount of detergent recommended. Smell your clothes when they come out of the wash, and adjust if needed. I add more soap for muddy socks. If you see bubbles in the water when the washer starts, you’ve got too much soap.

Use Dawn to wash your bathroom instead of strong-smelling cleaners. If the cleaner smells strongly, that’s bad for allergies and asthma. Dawn does just as good a job and doesn’t have bad chemicals to get in your skin and lungs.

Everyone in your house should start taking the enzymes, probiotics, and fish oil. Even if you don’t do it every day (we don’t), you’ll start feeling better in just a few days.


When I first started trying to "go natural" with our soaps and cleaners a year ago, I kept reading that you should avoid this or that product because it had 'x' chemical in it.  But I had a hard time finding an actual list of chemicals that were bad.  I'm pretty sure I found the following list on the Skin Deep website. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/  This site is really cool. You can search for or put in your product name (Ivory liquid soap, Cover Girl mascara, etc.) and it will give the product a rating based on its published ingredients. This helped me pick new products to use at home.  It's hard to find products that
a. have a good rating
b. are available at nearby stores (or any store)
c. are not $15 a bottle (literally).
d. have a good rating but actually work

I've therefore decided to compromise on some products, do a few expensive items at a time, and add to my arsenal as I go.  Here's the list of common ingredients to avoid. When I look at labels, easy words I look for to avoid are "sulfate, fragrance, propyl, butyl, and paraben." Or, look for "paraben free" and "sulfate free."

Benzalkonium chloride: Biocide, preservative and surfactant associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies, … read more benzalkonium chloride is a sensitizer especially dangerous for people with asthma or skin conditions like eczema. It is found in many household disinfectants and cleaning supplies. Regular use of products containing antimicrobials such as benzalkonium chloride could lead to development of resistant bacteria.

BHA: The National Toxicology Program classifies butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” … read more It can cause skin depigmentation. In animal studies, BHA produces liver damage and causes stomach cancers such as papillomas and carcinomas and interferes with normal reproductive system development and thyroid hormone levels. The European Union considers it unsafe in fragrance. It is found in food, food packaging, and personal care products sold in the U.S.

Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients (including Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine): Coal tar, a byproduct of coal processing, is a known human carcinogen… read more, according to the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Hair stylists and other professionals are exposed to these chemicals in hair dye almost daily. While FDA sanctions coal tar in specialty products such as dandruff and psoriasis shampoos, the long-term safety of these products has not been demonstrated.

DMDM hydantoin & bronopol (2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol): Cosmetics preservatives that decompose and release formaldehyde… read more, which the International Agency on Research on Cancer lists as a known human carcinogen. The preservatives and their decomposition products, including formaldehyde, can trigger allergic reactions. About one-fifth of U.S. cosmetics and personal care products contain a chemical that releases formaldehyde. Not surprisingly, more Americans develop contact allergies to these ingredients than Europeans.

Formaldehyde: A potent preservative considered a known human carcinogen by the International Agency on Research on Cancer.… read more Formaldehyde, also an asthmagen, neurotoxicant and developmental toxicant, was once mixed into to many personal care products as antiseptic. This use has declined. But some hair straighteners are based on formaldehyde’s hair-stiffening action and release substantial amounts of the chemical. Many common preservatives also release formaldehyde into products (like DMDM hydantoin, quaternium, and urea compounds).

Fragrance: It may help sell products from face cream to laundry detergent, but do you know what’s in it? … read more Fragrances are in everything from shampoo to deodorant to lotion. Federal law doesn’t require companies to list on product labels any of the chemicals in their fragrance mixture. Recent research from EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name brand fragrance products, none of them listed on the label. Fragrances can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. Our advice? Buy fragrance free.

Hydroquinone: A skin bleaching chemical that can cause a skin disease … read more called ochronosis, with blue-black lesions that in the worst cases become permanent black caviar-size bumps. In animal studies, hydroquinone has caused tumor development. The National Toxicology Program is conducting reproductive toxicity and dermal carcinogenicity studies of this chemical.

Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone: Preservatives, commonly used together in personal care products, among the most common irritants, sensitizers and causes of contact allergy … read more Lab studies on mammalian brain cells suggest that methylisothiazolinone may be neurotoxic.

Oxybenzone: Sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber, found in nearly all Americans… read more, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In human epidemiological studies, oxybenzone has been linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies. A study of 404 New York City women in the third trimester of pregnancy associated higher maternal concentration of oxybenzone with a decreased birth weight among newborn baby girls but with greater birth weight in newborn boys. Studies on cells and laboratory animals indicate that oxybenzone and its metabolites may disrupt the hormone system.

Parabens (Propyl, Isopropyl, Butyl, and Isobutylparabens): Parabens are estrogen-mimicking preservatives, read more found in breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied. The CDC has detected parabens in virtually all Americans surveyed. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens like propyl and butyl paraben and their branched counterparts, isopropyl and isobutylparabens, may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders.

PEG/Ceteareth/Polyethylene compounds: These synthetic chemicals are frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which the U.S. government considers a probably human carcinogen and which readily penetrates the skin. … read more Cosmetics makers could easily remove 1,4-dioxane from ingredients, but tests documenting its common presence in products show that they often don’t.

Petroleum distillates: Petroleum-extracted cosmetics ingredients, commonly found in mascara. … read more They may cause contact dermatitis and are often contaminated with cancer-causing impurities. They are produced in oil refineries at the same time as automobile fuel, heating oil and chemical feedstocks.

Phthalates: A growing number of studies link this chemical to male reproductive system disorders. Pregnant women should avoid nail polish containing dibutyl phathalate. Everyone should avoid products with “fragrance” indicating a chemical mixture that may contain phthalates.

Resorcinol: Common ingredient in hair color and bleaching products; skin irritant, toxic to the immune system and frequent cause of hair dye allergy. … read more In animal studies, resorcinol can disrupt normal thyroid function. The federal government regulates exposures to resorcinol in the workplace, but its use is not restricted in personal care products.

Retinyl palmitate and retinol (Vitamin A): Vitamin A is an essential nutrient, but excessive amounts can cause severe birth defects if women are exposed during pregnancy… read more New evidence shows that when applied to sun-exposed skin, for instance, in sunscreens, lip products and daytime moisturizers, these compounds can break down and produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and cause skin cancer. Recent date from the federal Food and Drug Administration indicate that when retinyl palmitate is applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, it speeds the development of skin tumors and lesions.

Toluene: Volatile petrochemical solvent and paint thinner and potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing and causes nausea … read more A pregnant woman’s exposure to toluene vapors during pregnancy may impair fetal development. In human epidemiological and animal studies, toluene has been associated with toxicity to the immune system. Some evidence suggests a link to malignant lymphoma.

Triclosan & Triclocarban: Antimicrobial pesticides in liquid soap (triclosan) or soap bars (triclocarban), very toxic to the aquatic environment….read more often found as contaminants in people due to widespread use of antimicrobial cleaning products. Triclosan disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones. American Medical Association and the American Academy of Microbiology say that soap and water serves just as well to prevent spread of infections and reduce bacteria on the skin. Overuse may promote the development of bacterial resistance.

Oh, Hayden...

Hayden makes me laugh so much!  Some new Hayden quotes:

So I've been teaching him about his birthday, and that he will be 5 instead of 4.  On Grandma Rosie's birthday (my mom), I told him to go up to her and say "Happy Birthday." As he always does when you tell him to go say something to someone, he went up to her, turned sideways, looked down, and whispered "happybirthdaygrandma" (all one word).  She said "thank you Hayden!" Then he said, "How old are you going to be?" because that's what I had been asking him.  I said, "well..." because usually I would explain to a kid his age that you're not supposed to ask ladies how old they are, but I knew he wouldn't get it, so as I said "well...." he turned to Grandma and said, "Are you going to be 5 too?"  Grandma said, no, she's not going to be 5 this time. : )

He didn't want to color Monday during art time. Michelle told him to choose a marker. He kept saying, "no, I don't want to color. It's not a good idea. Michelle, this is a bad idea."

In the car, on the way to daycare in the morning, he often likes to sing Little Bunny Foo Foo.  I tried to start it one morning and he said, "No. Stop, stop.  It goes like this.  'Are you ready to hear the story of Little Bunny Foo Foo?  He's a very naughty rabbit.  But he learned his lesson!' "

Me, pretending to be bad-guy WaLuigi: Can we hit Rylie?  Hayden: "No, he's breakable."

Hayden, who should we invite to your birthday party?
No, people to come. Like Shanae and Michelle.
Yeah.  Who else?
"And Shanae."
Anyone else?
"And Audrey. Yeah."
Ok. What should we tell Audrey and Michelle in the notebook? [His therapists and I write back and forth each day in a notebook.]
"I played fight with Michelle. And Gabe."
But what did we do tonight?
"And I play fight with Deon. Like this." [He pretends to fight with his arms.]
What should I tell them Hayden and Mommy did tonight?
"I just pee in the potty, and finish my episode." [he finished one of his reading lessons that day and was very proud.  And for the record, I'm very glad he's telling me what he did in his day, instead of just who he played with, even if it's Cornerstone and not home, because just a few months ago he couldn't do that!! I just think it's funny that he kept telling me about things that happened at school instead of home.]
Did Hayden and Mommy watch Blues Clues and eat spaghetti?
"Shh. Be quiet. It's time for sleep now."
"Shh! I'm ready for bed."
Ok.  [I tuck him into bed...]
"Where's Alex?" [his friend at school]
He's probably getting ready for bed, too.
"Where... where's his Mommy and Daddy?" [I had just asked him about his birthday party, and the only birthday party he's been to was Alex's, and Alex's Mommy and Daddy were there. Love the connections he's making!]
They're going to sleep too. It's night time, everyone goes to sleep.
"Oh. Ok." [And Hayden turns over and goes to sleep.]  : )

A few days later....
What do you want me to tell Michelle in your notebook?
"Oh, I don't know. I say 'I don't know.' "
What did you do this weekend?
"Oh, I jumped."
You jumped?
"Yeah, I just jumped a lot of times."

[I have no idea what he's talking about, because it had been rainy and we weren't out on the trampoline. : ) ]

"I want to play with my brother."
You don't have a brother.
"I wish I did."

[he just learned about wishes from Blues Clues.]

We hope to enjoy some more Spring days outside soon! (Jason's first musical was quite good by the way. Congrats to him on his hard work!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rainy Days

The water at tree-top level on my way to work.

It feels like it's been raining for months. Hayden is getting antsy to go outside and play. The White River is up to the tree tops at 144 and 37. The kids keep getting sick.  And I just want to get outside and garden! Today has been beautiful, but I'm stuck in the house with a sick little boy.  At 10 last night he started throwing up, and we got him a bath and changed his sheets.  Sometime in the night he did it again, and had a huge blowout of his pull-up, as well. Another bath, another bed change.  Rylie got into the fun by not wanting to go to sleep at all, and trying to eat her weight in formula. Hayden has been napping just now for almost 3 hours, so hopefully he'll feel better when he wakes up. I was supposed to take Rylie to get her shots today, but for one thing I wanted to let Hayden sleep, and for another I'm worried that Rylie might get the stomach virus, too, and I don't want to give her live viruses on top of that. She has a well-check June 3rd, so we'll do the shots then.

Smiling at Uncle Bill.

Fortunately it was beautiful weather for my birthday. I took the day off for myself. In the morning I shopped for some new work clothes, as I'm still losing pregnancy weight-- one size to go to be back to my normal size. : )   It was so nice to walk into Target with just me and my purse, instead of dragging myself into Target with a diaper bag, Hayden's juice cup, a baby in her car seat, and Hayden who runs everywhere else but insists on walking in and out of stores at the pace of an elderly snail. I truly think his feet get heavier when we enter a parking lot. "C'mon Hayden! C'mon!" This is me about 35 times.  He just moseys along, looking at everything but me, and talking to Mario about how we're going to the store.

So on Friday I went alone, and it was quiet, and I could look at things without rushing or buying a Transformer or hearing "I wanna go home. Are we going home now? I wanna go home" through the entire store. After Target I went to Lowes and bought some flowers for the front flower bed, and spent a couple of hours in the perfect weather weeding and planting. No little kids helped me dig holes or find worms or water the sidewalk.  Then Jason and I went to pick up Hayden and Rylie from school and stopped by the park on the way home to walk the trails and throw rocks in the creek. At home we had pizza, and the next day Jason took me out to the Melting Pot in Greenwood. We got a secluded table and ate a four course meal with different fondues with cheese, meats, and chocolate. It was a great birthday.

Rylie has become a real talker, telling anyone nearby the long, involved story about her day.  She also has been chewing her fingers to pieces and sucking on her bottle so hard she collapses the nipple, so I switched to the next level, but she just collapses those, too. It has become quite apparent that she's allergic to milk, like her brother.  We started her on Alimentum formula, which is made from milk but the proteins are so broken down that they aren't supposed to have a reaction to it. A few weeks ago another mom gave me some new bottles of milk formula that she had and wasn't using; this formula was still for fussy babies, but not as broken down as the Alimentum. When I added some milk formula to her bottles (one ounce of the milk formula to 4 ounces of Alimentum), she began throwing up, having blowouts, and got eczema on her arms. I stopped using it for a week and tried again, just to see if that's what really caused the issue.  Yup, it did.  So I'm throwing out what's opened and giving the unopened ones away. I'll pay $25 a can for a healthy, happy baby.  She's gaining weight since getting over RSV and is very alert. She likes to roll over onto her side, play with toys, and watch her brother in the car. She does not like her new bumbo seat or sleeping in her crib.

Hayden is doing fairly well in school. He has tantrums periodically, and had a rough week a few weeks ago, but overall he continues to progress with his behavior and school skills.  He still loves watching Mario on You Tube, and has learned some unfortunate phrases.  But, he is also very concerned with rules, so once you set out a rule that he's not supposed to do something, he's usually pretty good at following it. The problem is knowing what phrases he's learned before he repeats them at school, so that I can tell him we aren't allowed to say that.  I try to listen to his Mario videos and stop any that are inappropriate, but really they are all pretty good, and once in a while they sneak a curse word in there, so it's hard to keep a tab on.  I would completely ban You Tube, but since it's his favorite activity, that seems mean.  So, I have to have conversations like this:  "We don't say 'dammit,' it's a bad word."  Hayden: "No. It's not."  Me: "Yes. It's not nice, we can't say that." Hayden, looking down-trodden, like I just smashed his favorite toy. "Oh... Ok."  But then then next day when something happens and I say "Oh, crap" he's the first to say, "Mommy, we don't say that." "We don't say "Oh my God, Daddy." Daddy: "Yes, you're right Hayden, I'm sorry. I meant Oh my gosh."

Some recent Hayden quotes:

  • At the gas station: "What's gas?" (One of his first what questions of me.) As I tried to explain what gas was, saying it was liquid, made the car go, like food for your car, I finally said, "it's like batteries for your car."  "OH!  I see!" he says, like I just solved a huge mystery for him.
  • I'm trying to teach him about his birthday, and we made a countdown calendar. One morning we put a sticker on May 3 and talked about May 24th, and he'd get presents.  On the way home from daycare that evening in the car he suddenly said, "Where's my present?"  Me: "Well today is number 3, and you get a present on number 24. That's your birthday. What do you want for your present? (he's never asked for anything for birthday or Christmas, and usually says Robot because it's all he can think of.) This time he said, "Robot. and birthday cake. and new Luigi."  (His stuffed Luigi's foot was falling off.)
  • His therapist at school, asking him to choose between two things he didn't really want to do: "No, I can't choose. Zero choices."
  • His therapist, asking a 'what' question: "What is stinky?" Hayden: "My butt!"
  • After I asked him to sit at his own computer so I could use mine, he moved without complaining, then said "That's not nice to make me share. I'm sad. I don't want to share."
  • Using his Mario fruit snacks in pretend play: [Luigi]: "I have to go in Hayden's mouth now."
  • After school, unprompted about his day: "A storm's comin' in. I had fun Liz." (He means he had fun with his teacher Liz.)
  • Therapist: "Where do you get your hair cut?" Hayden: "The hair cut office."
  • Pointing to a word, "Ok, Smarty Pants, what's that word?"  (He's repeating this from an Arthur computer game at school, but still he's using it in the right context!)

So grateful for spring and new flowers! Looking forward to June when we'll have more time to spend with friends and family.