Good to be paraben free? pt. 2 – The haul

Following on from my earlier post on parabens, I decided to see what paraben free products  I could find in my local stores. I love an excuse to go shopping!

So while my aim was to see if I could replace my current products with ones that were paraben free, I decided not to panic if I couldn’t. Lucky for me, I found a wonderful range of paraben free products, brand names included!

Check ’em out:

1.  JASON Kid’s Only – Bath Gel & Shampoo – 99p each at my local 99p store

Verdict: These were the bargain of the day and my first purchase. They smell delicious and are also wheat/gluten free. I only wish that the shampoo was a bit more moisturising, but overall a great find!

2. Original Sprout – Natural Curl Calmer & Leave-In Conditioner – £10 &  £6 from afrotherapy.com but can also be found in John Lewis

Verdict: I love, love, love these products! Like I said before I plan to one day devote an entire post to Original Sprout. Not only are these products paraben free, they are also free of just about every other chemical as well as being vegan! They have a lovely smell and leave my girls’ hair soft and silky – especially the Curl Calmer which is a must for curly-haired kiddies. I use it in my hair too!

3.  Amie – Morning Clear Purifying Facial Wash – £5 from Waitrose

Verdict: Amie is a range of products formulated especially for pre-teen and teenage skin. I thought what better way to keep my face looking youthful? Haha. This face wash was creamy, moisturising, and a scrummy cotton candy pink color. I’ve been using it for 2 weeks now and I have to say my skin is completely glowing! Can’t fault it at all. It is also free of mineral oils, sodium laureth sulphate, GM ingredients, and is vegan.

4.  Mixed Chicks Kids – Leave-In Conditioner – £9.95 from afrotherapy.com

Verdict: I haven’t actually purchased this product but I wanted to include it nonetheless. After discovering that my favorite hair styling product Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner was chock full of parabens, I was thrilled to see that their kids version is completely paraben, alcohol, and fragrance free! Win!

5. Nature Baby Care – ECO Sensitive Wipes w/ Aloe – £2.55 from Boots

Verdict: A good, strong wipe. Not as thick as the Huggies wipes I used to use and not as moist. They are fragrance free, chlorine free, paraben free, and biodegradable. I have to honestly say I much prefer the Huggies wipes to these and will probably be looking for an alternative brand to this one.

6. Sanex Zero % – Dry Skin Shower Gel – £1.30 from Waitrose

Verdict: Awesome shower gel. Really delicate almost citrus scent and left my skin feeling clean and smooth. It is paraben, phthalate, and color free. It is also eco-friendly and has a biodegradable formulation. Very good price too!

7. Tresemme Naturals – Nourishing Moisture Conditioner – £5.50 at Superdrug

Verdict: The conditioner of the gods! Seriously. No other conditioner makes my super curly hair as soft, moisturised, and silky as this bottle of creamy goodness. Smells great, contains organic aloe and avocado oil,  and is paraben and silicone free!

Good to be paraben free?

Well I’ve wanted to do this post for a while now, especially after I stumbled across this report which made me raise an eyebrow. It’s about parabens. Big word there. Here’s a definition:

Parabens are a class of chemicals widely used as preservatives by cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries

– thank you Wikipedia

My first reaction after reading the article was “great just one more thing that’ll kill us, just like all the cell phone waves that are turning our brains to jelly”. But then I remembered those three little anklebiters that call me “mum” and I that thought if I could possibly do my part to expose them to a few less chemicals, where is the harm in that?

Mind you this was also following on the back of the revelation that the red stuff my mom used to paint on my scraped knees back in the ’80’s (called Mercurochrome) actually contained mercury. Yeah. True story.

So, armed with the knowledge that I had managed to cheat a mercury-induced death (I was a real tomboy) I started to Google around the place looking for more info on these parabens. I found a couple of interesting articles:

What Are Parabens and Why You Should Avoid Them

Paraben Free Products

These articles (as you may have guessed) are in support of avoiding parabens, if you can, on the basis of “why risk it?” This is pretty much my stance on the matter. To gain a balanced view, however, I found some articles that stated that the concentration of parabens that are used in various products are of such a low level they are unlikely to be harmful to humans. Here is one mainly for concerned parents:

Parabens

I had a gander at the FDA website and they state that:

FDA believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens. However, the agency will continue to evaluate new data in this area.

FDA.gov

However, I did note that the paraben page on the FDA site hadn’t been updated since 2007.  So what was I going to do about all this mild paraben panic? Well I decided to inspect my cosmetics, toiletries, and those that I used for the kids. Imagine my complete lack of surprise when I found that just about everything I owned contained these preservatives. Even my super expensive Dermalogica face products. Great. Just my luck.

My plan of action? Simple. Throw them out. Seriously. I just binned it all. Most of the products were down to the last drops of liquid anyhow — things like the kids’ L’oreal shampoo and my Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner (man I was pissed). The hair products I used for the girls were already paraben free (Original Little Sprout – omg, I could do an entire post on them!) as were a decent amount of other products I use like my Dove Invisible Dry deodorant.

The next day I went shopping. A little experiment to see just what kind of products I could find that were paraben free.

Stay tuned for the details of what I found!

Bad Mommy Moment #258

Yesterday, instead of cooking dinner, I bought the kids a bucket of KFC – extra fries, extra gravy. And coleslaw. Lots of it.

Today, instead of cooking lunch, I microwaved the leftover chicken and fries. Extra ketchup.

That is all.

*Disclaimer*

They got porridge for breakfast and shrimp with rice, steamed broccoli and green beans for tonight’s dinner. That should balance it out.

Critical theory, political economy, and Marxism, oh my!

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post but it made me laugh when all I want to do is pull my hair out...

 

“What does a ‘political economy’ approach to study of the Creative and Cultural Industries involve?  What are its advantages and disadvantages?”   (word limit: 5,000)

What, I ask you, did I do to deserve such punishment? Political what now? I’m not even sure if I am reading English, though it is far better than one of the alternatives:  “What is cultural hegemony?  Is it ubiquitous and insurmountable?” Huh?

I’ll tell you what is insurmountable — this essay! I am up to my eyeballs in textbooks grappling with the delicate issues of critical theory and analysis in relation to the cultural industries, economies, and all sorts a fancy crap that is going way over my little writer’s head. I write stories. I try to avoid politics and complicated theoretical stuff at all costs. Sigh.

When I was in high school I loved the sciences. I adored balancing chemical equations and had a perverse affinity for the Periodic Table. I could tell you all about the process of osmosis and enjoyed rolling “deoxyribonucleic acid” off my tongue. Science I can handle. English Literature I can handle. Heck, I’m not even too bad at math…

But this? Ideological hocus pocus? It surpasses me. Just… can’t… get it.

And it isn’t for lack of trying — I keep reading and reading and the more I read, the dumber I feel! Lol. It is truly a cruel joke.

So I’ve emailed the tutor for a desperate sit down session so that I can somehow grasp these utterly foreign concepts. I have a deadline on the 23rd and all I have so far is a stark blank Word document and a splitting headache.

Anyone out there in cyberworld have a clue about any of this?? Honestly, I can’t be the only one mystified by this… can I?

The First 29th

I spend so much time organising parties for my kiddos, that I’ve never thrown one for myself! This year I thought why the heck not?!

"Wish" tile lovingly made by Emilie (mummy helped with the letters)

Soooo, despite my birthday being on New Year’s Day (terrible day to be born, honestly the whole world is hung over) I arranged to throw my little shindig on the following Friday.

My budget? Non existent.  So I improvised.

I recycled, reused, and repurposed items from the kids’ recent birthdays. The cupcake stand, glass jars, and mini pails from Zoie’s 1st birthday all got a new lease on life.  Vases and dishes from Emilie’s 4th birthday were again put to good use.

My theme? Why, rainbow of course! (because of my indecision and inability to choose just one or two main colours haha)

I found super cute plates, cups, table cover, and bunting for only 99p per pack. I also draped brightly coloured streamers everywhere – again only 99p for about a zillion of them. I scooped up some red napkins that were on sale after the Christmas rush and some bright cupcake cases to match.

One of my favorite ways of decorating is with flowers. They bring such a great burst of colour and freshness to any party and you can find flowers to match just about any colour scheme. I bought a simple, multicoloured £5 bouquet at the supermarket and separated and trimmed the flowers to fit my various sized jars, vases, and mini pails. I gave the vessels some pizzaz by wrapping them in bright lengths of yarn that I bought (also 99p) in a kiddie cross stitch activity pack. Oooh… and I can’t forget the super shiny silly straws I scooped for, you guessed it, 99p!

And what about the menu? I hit up the frozen food section baby! Everything from spring rolls to chicken satay sticks — just popped them in the oven and it was party time! The cupcakes (Funfetti!) I made earlier in the morning, frosted, and adorned them with colorful mini chocolate buttons. Dessert was ridiculously simple: freshly sliced strawberries with Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread for those who are not familiar with this glorious concoction)(I zapped the Nutella in the microwave for 10 seconds to make it a gooey dippable consistency… heaven!)

The party itself was honestly the most fun I’ve had in years. Since (secretly) I knew the party was as much for the kiddies as it was for me, I made sure we played a rousing game of Pass the Parcel (everyone got a prize!) and the requisite Pin the Tail on the Donkey. And of course there were copious amounts of dancing, even some of the, ahem, more vivacious Caribbean variety.

So my 29th birthday was a great success and a fantastic time was had by all.

Can’t wait until next year when my second 29th rolls around. Because we all know, there’s no such thing as 30! 😉

The First 29th

I spend so much time organising parties for my kiddos, that I’ve never thrown one for myself! This year I thought why the heck not?!

"Wish" tile lovingly made by Emilie (mummy helped with the letters)

Soooo, despite my birthday being on New Year’s Day (terrible day to be born, honestly the whole world is hung over) I arranged to throw my little shindig on the following Friday.

My budget? Non existent.  So I improvised.

I recycled, reused, and repurposed items from the kids’ recent birthdays. The cupcake stand, glass jars, and mini pails from Zoie’s 1st birthday all got a new lease on life.  Vases and dishes from Emilie’s 4th birthday were again put to good use.

My theme? Why, rainbow of course! (because of my indecision and inability to choose just one or two main colours haha)

I found super cute plates, cups, table cover, and bunting for only 99p per pack. I also draped brightly coloured streamers everywhere – again only 99p for about a zillion of them. I scooped up some red napkins that were on sale after the Christmas rush and some bright cupcake cases to match.

One of my favorite ways of decorating is with flowers. They bring such a great burst of colour and freshness to any party and you can find flowers to match just about any colour scheme. I bought a simple, multicoloured £5 bouquet at the supermarket and separated and trimmed the flowers to fit my various sized jars, vases, and mini pails. I gave the vessels some pizzaz by wrapping them in bright lengths of yarn that I bought (also 99p) in a kiddie cross stitch activity pack. Oooh… and I can’t forget the super shiny silly straws I scooped for, you guessed it, 99p!

And what about the menu? I hit up the frozen food section baby! Everything from spring rolls to chicken satay sticks — just popped them in the oven and it was party time! The cupcakes (Funfetti!) I made earlier in the morning, frosted, and adorned them with colorful mini chocolate buttons. Dessert was ridiculously simple: freshly sliced strawberries with Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread for those who are not familiar with this glorious concoction)(I zapped the Nutella in the microwave for 10 seconds to make it a gooey dippable consistency… heaven!)

The party itself was honestly the most fun I’ve had in years. Since (secretly) I knew the party was as much for the kiddies as it was for me, I made sure we played a rousing game of Pass the Parcel (everyone got a prize!) and the requisite Pin the Tail on the Donkey. And of course there were copious amounts of dancing, even some of the, ahem, more vivacious Caribbean variety.

So my 29th birthday was a great success and a fantastic time was had by all.

Can’t wait until next year when my second 29th rolls around. Because we all know, there’s no such thing as 30! 😉

I Write at 2am

My internal clock is out of whack. Since the holidays, the sun has begun to rise and the birds have commenced their incessant chirping before my tired head has even hit the pillow. Even then I only sleep due to sheer exhaustion. In the daytime I rise reluctantly and zombie-like from fitful 4-hour slumbers… I must find a better way.

These past few days my feelings have been flitting between inner turmoil, quiet contentment, resignation, mild despair, acceptance, resentment, confusion, motivation, lack of motivation, excitement, disappointment, and generally feeling like crap. There must be a pill to fix that.

But the main thread of my tumultuous thinking is that I am feeling the squeeze of time. Counting down the days when I have to return to the “real” world and my life as a working mother. There is so much yet that I want to accomplish. So much to do, so little time…

I’ll admit it — I love being a stay at home mom. I relish the chance to spend as much quality time as I can with my kids. But reality has been slowly sinking in that soon I will have to return to the rat race once I finish this MA. There REALLY has to be a better way.

My goal for 2012 is to somehow crack the elusive work-life balance for my family. I have a slew of plans bouncing around in my head — little plots of how to take over the world  combine being a mom and having a career I absolutely love (because life is too short to do something you hate just for the money).

I suppose the next step will be to implement my strategies on how to achieve my goals. So much easier said than done.

In the meantime, I guess I better grab some sleep before the damn birds start up again.

Squeaky clean: a case for padlocking your cupboards

As I type this post I can look back and laugh… nervously.

Though it was no laughing matter when 2 days ago my 18 month old came thundering into the living room like the devil was on her heels. Her face was panic stricken and she gave an almighty retch. A sleek jet of purple fluid spewed from her mouth and splattered across the wood flooring.

Holy HELL!!

My immediate thought was, there is no way on God’s green earth that anyone’s vomit should be such a dainty shade of lilac. I rushed to her, horrified.

That was when I smelled it.  Jasmine and lavender.

I yelled for my parents and sister who whisked my crying, red-faced toddler into the hallway. The purple vomit kept pouring out of her, flecked with curdles of the pasta she’d had for dinner and the yogurt for dessert. I flew to the kitchen to find the carton of  detergent liquitabs we kept under the kitchen sink.

There was one left.

I flipped the box over, heart thudding in my chest, fear rising in my throat. “IF SWALLOWED SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY.”

I had 999 on the phone within seconds. “Police, fire, or ambulance?” a much calmer voice inquired. “A-a-ambulance?” I stuttered. The dispatcher reeled off a list of questions: was she breathing? turning funny colours? did she recognise us?

Yes, no, yes, I answered, and was told to wait as the ambulance would be arriving shortly. I hung up with tears coursing down my cheeks.

By the time the ambulance arrived, my little adventurer had upchucked just about every drop of her stomach contents. Vile detergent included. The paramedics decided to take us in to the A&E just to have her checked out as a precaution. As my sister and I sat in the waiting room with a very fresh smelling and much more lively kiddo on my lap, other parents regaled us with tales of the oddities their own children had swallowed:

A bag of mothballs, a cup of bleach, a full bottle of shampoo, an entire box of Lemsip Max capsules, and a 2p coin which required the Heimlich maneuver.

I felt a little less bad after that. A little.

Finally the nurse called us through. She took Zoie’s pulse, checked her oxygen levels then quipped, “Oh my son drunk that stuff twice. You look away for just a moment and then…” She shrugged and smiled. “It happens,” she sighed.  A few minutes later the doctor came in, listened to her chest, felt her tummy, and had a peek down her throat. All was clear. We were free to go home. “So you’re going to rethink how you store that stuff from now on?,” he inquired. “Absolutely,” I replied as we bundled up our stuff and headed out of the hospital and into the chilly midnight air.

So my little one snacked on a laundry liquitab and lived to tell the tale. It was really an awful experience, one I pray never repeats. I shudder to think of how much worse the outcome could have been if it had been drain or oven cleaner. Just horrible.

Parenting lesson learned: LOCK the cupboards. Even though we usually keep the one under the sink secure, the one time it was overlooked was the one time she decided to have a taste of the deceptively squishy, sweet smelling, brightly colored detergent capsule.

I will be buying powdered soap from now on.