Friday, May 31, 2013

Vinegar Friday and why you should avoid fabric softener at all costs!

On Monday morning, I was enjoying time on my back porch, until I was assaulted. Now, it wasn't an intruder, burglar, rapist, or any such monster. No. It was an assault by a seemingly innocent airborne toxin -- dryer sheets in someone else's dryer. And, yes, it was an assault. 

Within minutes, I started to develop a headache. I had no choice but to pack up my laptop, grab my coffee cup, and retreat into my house, where toxic fabric softener is banned. I can't tell you how upsetting it is for me to have to breathe in someone else's poor choices. Of course, everyone is aware of the dangers of secondhand smoke. But no one's saying much about the dangers of secondhand dryer sheets, which, I believe, are just as harmful to our health.

I addressed this issue several times on the blog, as well as in my book, Vinegar Fridays, but I feel so strongly about it, I'm writing about it once again. If you are still using fabric softener (liquid or dryer sheets), I beg you, for the health of your family and the environment, to stop! Fabric softener is one of the most toxic products in homes today, and its use can result in mild to devastating physical conditions. The chemicals in fabric softeners have been linked to central nervous system disorders, such as 
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Dementia
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Multiple Schlerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Would you wrap her in toxins?

SIDS!! While you may never dream of blowing cigarette smoke in your baby's face, have you laid her down on a sheet coated in fabric softener or dressed him in a snuggly soft onesie? The danger is real, folks.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, here is a list of chemicals found in most fabric softeners, followed by the disorders and diseases linked to them. You will notice there is more than just the CNS disorders listed above. 
  • Alpha-Terpineol
    • Pneumonitis or even fatal edema can be caused by aspiration into the lungs
    • Ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), CNS, excitement, headache, hypothermia and respiratory depression
    • There are warnings to avoid repeated or prolonged skin contact -- umm, wouldn't that be exactly what was happening when you wear clothing coated in fabric softener containing alpha-terpineol?
  • Benzyl Acetate
    • Pancreatic Cancer
    • Eye irritation and irritation to respiratory passages from the vapors
    • Systemic effects from skin absorption
    • Warnings involve not flushing this into the sewer
  • Benzyl Alcohol -- Again, we're seeing CNS disorders:
    • Upper respiratory tract irritation
    • CNS depression
    • Dizziness
    • Drop in blood pressure
    • Headache
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Respiratory failure leading to death (that cute little bear isn't look quite so snuggly now, is he?)
  • Camphor -- CNS disorders. This one's on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list and there are warnings to avoid inhaling the vapors. Here is a list of symptoms caused by exposure to camphor:
    • CNS stimulant
    • Local irritant
    • Absorption through body tissues
    • Eye, nose, and throat irritation
    • Confusion
    • Convulsions
    • Dizziness
    • Muscle twitching
    • Nausea
  • Chloroform -- Another one on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list. It is important to avoid inhaling the vapors which can lead to headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract, and loss of consciousness.
    • Neurotoxin
    • Anesthetic
    • Carcinogenic
    • Warning to "Avoid contact with eyes, skin, clothing. (Remember, we're talking fabric softener here!)
    • Warning: "Inhalation can be fatal."
    • Overexposure can cause chronic kidney and/or liver damage
    • Aggravation of the following medical disorders: heart, kidney, liver, and skin
    • Warning: Avoid heat 
  • Ethyl Acetate -- Yet another one on the EPA's list. This is a narcotic that can
    • Irritate the eyes and respiratory tract
    • Cause headache and stupor
    • Cause anemia with leukocytosis and liver and kidney damage
    • Warning: Wash thoroughly after handling
  • Limonene -- Another carcinogenic substance
    • Warning: Avoid contact with skin and eyes
    • Warning: Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking ... and applying cosmetics
    • Warning: Do not inhale vapor
  • Linalool -- This narcotic is linked to CNS disorders
    • Respiratory disturbances
    • Attracts bees
  • Pentane -- "Danger -- Harmful if inhaled... Avoid breathing vapors." Wonderful.
    • Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract, and loss of consciousness. Repeated inhalation of vapors may cause CNS depression.
    • Possible eye irritation with contact
    • Dermatitis possible with prolonged exposure
CNS exposure symptoms include: aphasia, blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness, headaches, hunger, memory loss, numbness in face, and pain in neck and spine.

Are you feeling sick yet? 

So, what do you do? First, STOP USING FABRIC SOFTENER!!! I cannot stress that enough. Even if you don't care about your own health, stop and think about the health of your neighbors who end up breathing the toxic vapors released into the air through your dryer vent.

And now here is where we fit this post into a Vinegar Friday -- substitute fabric softener in your wash cycle with distilled white vinegar. Sure, it doesn't smell like a mountain stream, but rest assured, the smell of vinegar in your wash dissipates quickly and your laundry will not smell like vinegar once it is dry. It will simply smell clean. Adding a half cup of DWV to your rinse cycle will soften and whiten your laundry, and significantly reduce static cling. 

Toss some dryer balls into your dryer for added benefit.

If you are still using fabric softener after reading this post, I can only wonder what it will take to convince you of the dangers and risks, not only to you, but to all the people around you. Do you care? I certainly hope so.

Keeping it green and healthy with vinegar,

For more tips on reducing your exposure to toxins, check out my book, Vinegar Fridays, available through Amazon or Lulu.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ella Bella Bum Giveaway!

Welcome to the Ella Bella Bum Giveaway 

Sponsored by Ella Bella Bum

Organized by Mom to Bed by 8 

and co-hosted by Iowa Mom.



At Ella Bella Bum you can find traditional solid pul and printed pul pockets, embellished pockets, scrappy pockets, hand dyed (lwi & swirl) & boutique print pocket fitted diapers, swim diapers, hand dyed wool covers and longies, hand dyed lovies, pillowcases, blankets, lovie teethers, and much more! Each Thursday a new stocking on Hyena Cart can be found of Sam's unique cloth diapers creations.

I am so happy to say that my three grandbabies are cloth-diapered babies/toddlers. I cannot imagine how I would feel if I knew my daughters were putting toxin-laced disposables on my grandbabies' bums! Unfortunately, my daughter, Bethany, became someone of a cloth diaper addict (is there a support group for that?), so I will warn you that once you experience the cushy softness of these diapers, coupled with the amazing designs, you just might join her in this addiction! 

A Message from Sam - Founder of Ella Bella Bum:

First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for your interest and for taking the time to learn more about Ella Bella Bum Cloth Diapers. With the help of so many wonderful supporters, Ella Bella Bum has experienced a steady growth over the past 3+ years and I’m so proud to tell you about the businesses humble beginnings and bright future! About the EBB Team Sam Campbell is the founder, owner, and creative designer of Ella Bella Bum Inc. Her husband Courtney is very supportive of the business venture and has been a strong driving force behind EBB from the very beginning. Courtney is a trade carpenter and has been instrumental in the building of the production space and selflessly aids wherever needed. Together they have four beautiful children. The EBB team at present also includes 3 production assistants and 3 local WAHM seamstresses. 

*FREE* North American Shipping on all items! 

One lucky reader will receive a 

$100 Ella Bella Bum Gift Certificate!

Giveaway ends June 20th at 11:59pm, 
open to US and Canada residents, ages 18+. 
To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. 
Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Green Grandma is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. Please contact with questions or to see your business or blog featured on the next big event!

Supermom! How I birthed my baby -- Part 9

Today, in Part 9 of our birth stories' series, Sara Pearsall shares her experience with natural childbirth (despite the pain), thanks to a birthing plan she and her husband came up with ahead of time.

Ellie Sara   JP Photog-gra-fee
Our story starts about ten months before we welcomed our daughter in to the world. We were living in Hawaii, on the island of O’ahu. At this time our close friends were ready and waiting to meet their little boy. He arrived a little bit ahead of schedule and was a true blessing! We hurried to the hospital to meet him (and congratulate them). As soon as I held that little one in my arms I knew I was ready to have a baby of our own. However, we had already decided we were not going to take the road in to parenthood. It took a little bit of soul searching and some convincing, but eventually we agreed to give it a try. 

A few weeks later, as we were driving across the country (from Hawaii to Virginia) we discovered some amazing news; we were having a little one of our own! It was a little intimidating for me because it happened very quickly after we had decided to try. I feel very strongly that the reason it was so quick for us is that I had been seeing an acupuncturist for over a year. I feel that, thanks to her guidance in helping to make my body healthy, it was ready for some baby making!

After finding the best doctor in our new hometown and confirming that we indeed had a bundle on the way, we headed to the bookstore to buy all the books we could to prepare us for pregnancy and beyond (my favorite were the Ina May Gaskin books). We signed up for Bradley Birthing classes and immediately started being more cognitive of my eating habits (which were always healthy, but thanks to the nausea, I had lost my appetite). I was trying to stay active by walking every day and taking prenatal yoga classes.

At 24 weeks, I started to feel some back pain, but wrote it off as my body changing to carry the weight. As a couple more days passed, I started feeling some tightness across my belly, but knew Braxton-Hicks contractions were not unheard of at this point. After another day of back pain and tummy tightness, I finally called the doctor and was quickly admitted to the hospital for early labor. It took two days to get the contractions under control. Thankfully, there was no progress otherwise, but none-the-less I was put on bed rest. It was awfully boring! Following several weeks of appointments with our doctors and midwife, the bed rest was relaxed to allow me some light “around the house” activities. At 34 weeks, all restrictions were lifted and my doctors encouraged that I try to be “reasonably” active.

Listening to the advice of our Bradley instructor we did some research and came up with a birthing plan. We kept it simple (as was suggested by the Labor and Delivery nurse in our Bradley classes). Our basic desires were to have a natural birth without being offered any medications, formula or pacifiers. We asked that my husband be informed at all times of labor progression because we knew I may just be a little preoccupied to make the best decisions should an emergency arise. Our doctors and midwife were very supportive of our choices. We knew, since I had already spent three days in the labor and delivery unit, that the nursing staff would be caring and understanding as well.

As the end was drawing nearer, I found myself becoming more and more anxious to meet our little lady. I began nesting as much as was possible in our small apartment. So, on Sunday, February 26, to prepare for the arrival of our little one, I was trying to get our living room in order. We went out looking for a clock to hang on the wall. We moseyed about several stores and enjoyed a wonderful lunch. Returning home without any good finds, I decided to put my feet up and just relax on the couch. I was worn out, but otherwise felt pretty great. According to the doctors’ proclaimed delivery date, I was at 36 weeks. Within twenty minutes of sitting down, I felt a pretty strong contraction. The time was 5:45 p.m.

About an hour later, the contractions were coming irregularly but were increasing in strength. Naturally I did what any person in labor would do; I called my Mom (my entire family lives in Ohio). We knew from our Bradley classes that if you cannot continue to talk through a contraction, they are becoming pretty serious and you should prepare to leave soon, or ready your birthing area if you chose to do it at home. While on the phone with my mom, I had to stop talking more than once. Here was our cue to call the doctor. I was just leery because of the irregular time between each contraction as well as the length of each. We knew we could get sent home if it wasn’t true labor. Well, that thought was completely thrown out when the nurse on duty found out my laboring history. We were told to head in immediately.

Of course, we had not packed a bag yet so I was running (more like waddling quickly) around throwing stuff in a suitcase while my husband was worrying about the important stuff like doing a load of laundry and making sure he put the baby swing together (all by my request of course)! At this point it had been about an hour and fifteen minutes. My contractions were ranging from 30 seconds to 1 minute in length and were happening randomly every 3-10 minutes.

After what felt like the longest walk down the flight of stairs from our apartment to the truck (we had to stop twice for contractions), my husband helped load me in the front seat and off we went. The birthing center was about 20 minutes away, depending on traffic in the tunnels. Now, most people would exceed the speed limit to make the journey a little faster. Not my concerned man. Nope. He drove at the speed limit the entire way. He was making all of the important phone calls to our parents letting them know what was going on. About 10 minutes into the trip, we both realized my contractions had regulated and they were every 3 minutes or less and were lasting about 1-2 minutes each. Because of the contractions, it took some time walking into the birthing center once we arrived. At this point, I was having visions of delivering on the doorstep!

Once we got signed in and shown to our birthing room, the nurse asked the obvious questions about my progress, took my vitals and started hooking me up to the contraction monitor. We talked for about a minute regarding our birthing plan before she checked to see how far I was dilated, which at this point had been the worst part of this entire process. The look on her face was enough to tell us we were going to be staying a while (I was 8 centimeters dilated). She left to call the doctor. My contractions up this point had not been unbearable, or even bad really, it just took some concentration to get through them.

Meanwhile, my husband was being very supportive and attentive. He was coaching me through the contractions, massaging, and trying to draw my focus to positive thoughts – especially the one about meeting our daughter soon. Then transition hit. I don’t remember much about this phase because everything was happening so fast it sort of blurred together. I know I was very scared. I know that I asked for an epidural, which my husband continuously reminded me we had decided we did not want. We both knew I could have this baby naturally. He tells me I got a little feisty a few times between contractions, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle. Thankfully transition was quite short! The nurse had been back to check on us a few times and we could tell she was getting antsy to see the doctor. We joked about her delivering the baby, but it seemed like it was going to be reality pretty quickly.

The practice we had chosen had two doctors and a midwife on staff. Throughout the pregnancy we met with each of them several times. We knew that any one of them could be helping us to deliver our little one. When Dr. Lee walked into our room just a short while later, we were both so relieved to see her! We knew we were in good hands. At this point, my water had not yet broken. Dr. Lee broke my water, which was pretty uneventful. I felt a little trickle, not the massive gush I had heard about from so many other women.

My husband, Dr. Lee, and the two nurses who were in the room did an amazing job of coaching me through the first two series of pushes. I was not quiet. There was definitely some moaning and yelling. During the third series our daughter started to crown. I was having a difficult time breathing so I was given some oxygen to help. Dr. Lee told me to get ready to push again. I remember telling her rather bluntly “No.” She gave me an understanding look, told me to take another couple of breaths, and then we would continue. My husband, to be encouraging, told me he could see our daughter’s hair. This stopped everything for me. I yelled out, “She has hair!” which apparently everyone else in the room found rather funny. One more series of pushes, and our daughter was fully delivered, followed by a huge gush of fluid that, sadly, covered everyone in the room except my husband. I felt horrible about this, but was so distracted by the beautiful little girl in my arms! The time was 10:32 p.m.

While our daughter was laying on my chest, she peed, which I thought was pretty funny, amazing and beautiful all at the same time. I tried nursing her right away. She suckled for a couple of seconds but not much more. Eventually, Dr. Lee said we needed to cut the cord because the placenta was about to be delivered (we had previously discussed delayed cord clamping). Delivering the placenta felt very weird. I remember thinking about Jello right about that time. After that part was over, I needed stitches (9 total) due to a second degree tear. For me, this turned out to be the most painful of the entire labor and delivery. My body did not have enough time to naturally “numb” that area so I could feel everything and it hurt pretty badly. Dr. Lee administered more than one shot to numb me, but it didn’t seem to help. I had to hand our daughter to my husband (they did all of her vitals and checked her length and weight at this point).

After everything was over, one of the nurses came in to help me shower off, then moved me to the room I’d be in for the rest of our stay. It was determined our daughter was 38 weeks old and absolutely perfect in every single way! She was 5 pounds 7 ounces and 21 inches long. We spent the next couple of days, with the amazing support of the hospital staff, beginning the process of nursing and getting to know our little one.

Our choice to have a natural birth was met with a lot of questions along the way. Why would you want to do that when there are drugs available? We had our reasons. The top of my list was that women are designed to birth babies. Our bodies can do it and we can take it. We are made that way. I did have some reservations at times wondering about my own tolerance level, but I received some amazing advice from my aunt at my baby shower. She told me that when she birthed all three of her girls, including my twin cousins, it hurt… a lot. She said it was the best feeling in the world because that short bit of pain was bringing her beautiful babies into their lives. She told me to stick to my decision and not let anyone tell me otherwise. I think it helped most just to be supported so openly for once. Along your journey to birthing your little ones – however you chose to do it – I hope you find the same adamant support for your choices. Stand by them. You can do it! You are strong enough!

* * *

While Sara was able to follow through with her plan, I realize it doesn't always work out that way, as is evidenced by some of the other stories in the series. Click the links below to read some amazing birth stories from our group of Supermoms!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

DefenderPad Laptop Radiation & Heat Shield Review and Giveaway!

What do brain cancer and infertility have in common? Perhaps nothing, but there is growing evidence that exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) may contribute to both in some cases. But we’re specifically talking about laptops here folks. Along with a bunch of other electronic mobile devices. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have classified RF EMF as possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for a malignant type of brain cancer called glioma. You can read the results of their study, published in May 2011, here.

What seems to be more certain, based on multiple research studies, is the fact that placing your laptop or other electronic device on your lap for extended lengths of time can lead to infertility. Maybe that's no longer a concern of yours, but what about your teenagers who are spending countless hours exposed to RF EMFs? Shouldn't you be concerned about their future fertility? As a grandma, let me tell you, you don't want to deprive yourself of that blessing, simply because you ignored the warnings.

According to Dr. Yefim Sheynkin, "An elevation in heat has been known for years to cause fertility problems... and the heat from laptops is very localized, with exposure repeated often, depending on work use."

Dr. Andrew Weil agrees: "... if you are a man with a fertility problem, it would be better to keep your laptop off your lap."

And it's not just your reproductive organs at risk. If you are pregnant, the exposure of RF EMFs to the fetus can be equally dangerous. Consider this warning from well respected physician, Dr. Joseph Mercola: "Use caution with any laptop use, especially if you're a pregnant woman, and if you choose to use it on your lap, only do so with a lap pad or cushion that is about one foot thick."

The news is scary. That's why I was thrilled when the kind folks at DefenderPad contacted me and asked if I would be willing to review their protect. Yes. Absolutely yes!

They sent me the DefenderPad Laptop Radiation and Heat Shield at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. Now, unlike an eye cream or a shampoo that I can evaluate because of its effectiveness, the DefenderPad is not an easy thing to review. There are no monitors letting me know that my exposure to RF EMFs is greatly reduced or virtually eliminated when the DefenderPad rest between my lap and my laptop. I can only go by what the research tells me. And that is that the DefenderPad is the only laptop radiation shield that protects from both ELF (extremely low frequency) and RF EMR. Basically, what it does is eliminate the ELF EMR and the RF EMR heat radiation from
  • laptops
  • iPads
  • tablets
  • other portable electronic devices
By virtually eliminating ELF emissions up to 150 mG, RF emission up to 3.5 V/m, and heat radiation up to 115 degrees F, the DefenderPad seriously reduces health risks caused by the above listed devices.

Experts recommend limiting ELF exposure to below 2 mG and RF exposure to under .6 V/m.

What I like about the DefenderPad, other than the obvious reduction in harmful exposure from my laptop, is its design. It weighs next to nothing and has a slim profile, which means it slips easily into my laptop case, without adding additional bulk or weight. It's made of durable materials offering state-of-the-art patent pending protection and uses FCC certified lab tested technology. The rubber-like surface keeps my laptop in place, so there's no chance of it sliding off. I'm telling you, this is an A+ product and I'm giving it two green thumbs up.

Now here comes the fun part! The company has offered to give a DefenderPad Laptop Radiation and Heat Shield to one lucky GG community member. There are lots of ways to enter on the Rafflecopter below. Pick the ones that suit you best, or go for all of them and gain an extra 10 entries!

Contest will run from today through midnight on June 9th (in honor of my daughter, Bethany's birthday and is open to residents of the US and Canada. Winner will be announced on Monday, June 10th.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer vacations and International parental child abduction warning signs

Saturday was the 30th International Missing Children’s Day. Many of us are not aware of the serious problem of international parental child abductions. When a child is taken out of the country by one of his or her parents, the child rarely makes it back home to the other parent, who is devastated and virtually helpless.

Peter Thomas Senese, the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation, writes:

According to United States Federal Law, the illegal removal of a child from the country without consent of a court or the child’s other parent is a criminal act of kidnapping. The conspiracy that leads up to the child snatching is generally filled with a host of illegal activities, including false allegations toward the targeted parent of abuse toward the child or other parent… However, one thing more than anything else should be clear: parental child abduction is not just an act of kidnapping against an innocent child, but inherently, an abducted child becomes a prisoner of the kidnapper forced to follow and obey the predators instruction under the deplorable acts of parental alienation that the kidnapper deploys as they need to rationalize their behavior toward the child-victim.

Generally, the vast majority of abductions are well-planned and are orchestrated so that the other parent is off-guard when the abduction occurs. Blindsided by the act of international parental child abduction – that tragically is treated very differently than a stranger abduction by law enforcement despite the act being a federal crime of kidnapping – parents who attempt to reunite with their child often enter a dark and dangerous world that will change their world forever.

Filicide – a term you may not know - is the act of child murder by a parent. In the United States, hundreds of children are murdered by their parents each year. This is not a phenomenon – parental child murder is a reality that knows no borders.

In cases of parental child abduction the kidnapper uses the child as a pawn to cause hurt and suffering toward the other parent. Denying that parent access to the child is a common theme and often the reason why abduction occurs.

The fear is – the reality is – that many abductors exhibiting sociopath behavior often believe that if they can’t have sole custody of a child – nobody will. Additionally, there appears to be a strong correlation of adult suicides connected to child abduction victims.

None of its easy to discuss yet we’re all only three degrees of separation from knowing someone who may be a target of abduction.

In the course of events leading up to the actual abduction or attempted abduction there are clear warning signs that may allow a parent to protect themselves and their children. And with the summer months upon us – the time of year when most child kidnappings take place – I hope that some insight I will share may be of use to you.

Make no mistake; the reality is that tens of thousands of children living in cities and on farms across our nation are targeted for kidnapping each year. It is carefully estimated that only 10% of these children will ever come home when we consider the ‘reported’ and ‘unreported’ cases of abduction.

For more information on this devastating reality, please click here to read the rest of Senese’s article.

For the safety of our children,


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