Noa’s Ark

A place to start. A little something for everyone. Something to do while killing time at work.

No Toys For Christmas, Part II

The No Toys For Christmas  post received a comment asking about age appropriate American made toys, which is a good question. Something soft and plushy for a real little one is always nice and yes, all the ABC blocks I have seen are rather expensive. The softer stuff is hard to find if you are looking for the made in the USA stuff.

I  will do some investigating and post what I can find. I know that craft shows around this time of year are a great place to get softer, plush type toys that are handmade. If you know someone who sews, maybe approach them about putting a fabric book together that has things like zippers and shoe strings attached to them. My daughter will play with the zipper on my jacket for over a half hour, seriously. Just make sure that everything is fastened on well and is not a choking hazard. Also – there are a lot of places you can get “memory” bears made. You can take in one of her baby blankets or even some baby clothes she can not wear anymore and have them made into a teddy bear. That may be a cheaper alternative to Vermont Teddy bears which are made in the USA but rather expensive I believe.

If I find anything else online, I will let you all know.


Recalls Revisited

Beacuse so many people have hit on the original lead paint recall post, I decided to revist the topic. Another list has been issued.

Here is a pretty comprehensive list of recalls:

An interesting spin on the story, though, that a lot of people may not have thought about is the impact this will have on Toys For Tots and other donation drives this holiday season. This is from a TV station in Indiana.

Toy Recalls Impacting Local Toy Drives

 This story comes from the Ventura Star and is a really good in-depth look at the trouble with toys and the upcoming holidays.

Recalls force consumers to reconsider toy purchases

One thing I have been thinking about, too, is – with everyone so interested in “GOING GREEN” these days…why not “GO AMERICAN MADE”.

I found this site that is a great resource for products made in the USA.

Gee- what a novel concept. If you’re going to help the environment, why not help the economy of that environment. Now I know that buying American could actually hurt the American economy, but you gotta start somewhere if things are to be turned around, right?

This Christmas will be the first for my daughter. We’ve already decided as a family to do American-made toys for her. Some peope we know have had toys made for her. Something as simple as a fabric book with strings and zippers and buttons on it will thrill her for hours as the store-bought fancy toys sit collecting dust and unplayed with.

Think about it.

Can we recall parents?

The really great Bumbo Babysitter seats have been voluntarily recalled in order to update the safety warnings and packaging…what I hate is that a really great product has had negative light shed on it due to user error.

Here’s the story:

I know that as a parent – even for the smartest most responsible parents – that accidents happen…I stopped using the seat when I saw that my child had started to rear back and could pop her little butt out of the seat. She couldn’t really “get out” of the seat fully, but she was workin on it and if done right, could probably throw her weight and topple the seat over even if it was on the floor.

Almost everyone I know that has had one of these has placed it on the counter while doing dishes or something. I just feel that as a parent, it’s your job to know your child. We want everyone else to think for us and tell us what is safe and what is not safe. What happened to common sense? If your child shows signs and the strength to be able to manipulate that chair or her body in a way that might result in injury, it’s YOUR job to make the call and end usage of the product.

Yes, McDonald’s coffee is hot.

Yes, knives are sharp.

Yes, when it’s cold and wet, ice can form, you can slip and fall.

Think for yourselves people. You bring a product into your home, you need to be responsible for its usage.

It says on the box, don’t place on countertops – best if used on the floor.

Bumbo – you have a great product. My child loved it. I started using it before she was 6 weeks old because she could hold her head up. She kinda got to chubby for it, so we couldn’t use it much past 4 months, but it was great. I took it everywhere with me and she loved it. I hope user error does not ruin another great product.

Infant medicines

Infant Drug RecallAs a new parent, or the parent of a toddler – there are so many things you could choose to worry about. Finding out that something in your medicine cabinet, something made and marketed specifically for your little one, is one of those things to worry about, is so unsettling. However, I am not at all surprised.

This is just one of the many many stories out right now about this:

One thing that struck me in the story was:

“The FDA did not approve these products based on the basis of evidence of safety and effectiveness in children,” explained Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, with the Baltimore Health Commission.

But the manufacturers say the medicine is safe and insist the recall was announced out of a quote, “abundance of caution.”

So – it was based on studies done on adults? OK, yet another reason why I feel we are really just on our own here folks. We’re supposed to trust the FDA approvals…and then things like this happen. So, they make a mistake, no biggie, so your kid dies, no biggie??

The other thing that bothered me that was said in the story was:

“Parents must read the labels carefully and use the medicine as directed, and store the medicine safely away from the reach of children.

But some say these warnings are not enough.”

So, you’re saying parent’s are too stupid to follow directions? Unfortunately, on the whole, I have to agree with that. But stupidity is not something I want to tackle in this post, or ever really. Too involved.

Tylenol’s web site has more information:

 However, the FDA’s site doesn’t seem to have any information out right now on the topic. I could be missing it, there is a lot of things on the site and it’s navigation leaves a little to be desired I think.

So, what is safe? No toys, no meds. I all for going back to home remedies, take us back to the good old days. So what if the life expectancy drops back down to 40. Why would you want to live to be 100 if you’re body is riddled with maladies caused by too much decongestant as a child and a brain that doesn’t function because your favorite doll was painted with lead paint?

I’ll take some chicken soup (made with organic, free-range chicken of course, and vegetables grown on my own farm with no pesticides, too) and a hot cup of tea. I don’t think they have found anything harmful in tea, yet….have they?

Oh that’s right, that takes too much time and energy, something no one has these days. Fine, a Big Mac, fries and some Sudafed it is.

Suffer the Little Children…

“Republican opponents argue they want to be sure the program is focused on poor children and does not become a stepping stone for government-run health care.”

Without getting TOO involved in a political rant, I just want to say a few things.

One – what is so bad about government-run health care, or socialized healthcare rather? OK, I know that is a whole can of worms there, and that a US-government-run healthcare system is probably bound for failure, but look at other countries…do the benefits outway the costs? I can’t answer. I have been covered by healthcare in Germany and have nothing bad to say about it. Even as a foreigner living, working and studying overseas, it was easy and I was covered for everything I needed, which ended up being a lot at that time.

Two – if the money from this is coming from taxing tobacco products more heavily, isn’t that a win – win situation. I know many people who quit smoking due to the ever-rising price…and I see that as a good thing. Money for children’s healthcare – more expensive to smoke…hhmmm. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Am I missing something? Can someone explain the downside here?

Yes – people abuse the system

Yes – the goal should be to get people off state assistance

These are seperate issues. For once, I feel directly effected by this veto. I am who this harms, or my child rather. I am in that middle ground, that fun gray area where you make too much to get any kind of assistance (be it for education, healthcare or otherwise) yet you can’t afford to foot the bill completely on your own. So you suffer and your children suffer.

I was frightened when I got a letter in the mail saying my child was no longer (at 7 months old) eligible for Medicaid because I was working. “Transitional Medicaid” would cover her in the time between now and when I could get health insurance through my employer.

I have never been on any kind of state assistance, ever. Not my family, no one in my family, nothing. This was a first and I was thankful for the institution being there when I needed it after the baby was born and my husband left.

It’s scarey. If it were not for county health departments and such organizations, immunizations (required for daycare and schooling) would cost $1000s in the first year alone. The first six months, even.

For the first time in my life I stepped off the fence and signed a petition. If I didn’t have a child, I would have signed it anyway.

Why not just hand the children packs of cigarettes Mr. Bush? Cut out the middle man. They can’t afford to go to the doc for their cough anyway…so why not?

Thursday should be an interesting day to watch the news.

Breastfeeding for sanity

I am willing to make the statement that breastfeeding saved my life.

Now most people know there are a gajillion benefits to breastfeeding and it seems to becoming more widely accepted in the often backwards United States society…but I am not here to talk about that.

What I am interested in discussing is the fact that I believe the choice to breastfeed and to continue doing so after a really rough start with my child, probably saved me from very deep depression.

The scientific data is everywhere. Here are just a few examples:

“Breastfeeding protects maternal mood by lowering stress. When stress levels are lower, the mother’s inflammatory response system will not be activated, thereby lowering her risk of depression,” she said. “However positive these results, I must issue one caveat: they only apply when breastfeeding is going well. As noted earlier, when breastfeeding that is not going well, particularly if there is pain, it becomes a trigger to depression rather than something that lessens the risk. Mothers’ mental health is yet another reason to intervene quickly when breastfeeding difficulties arise.”

“Mothers’ moods become more positive during breastfeeding and less positive during bottle feeding. The effect is not permanent, but it may explain why breastfeeding mothers become so devoted to the act of breastfeeding. Ref: Health Psychol. 2002 Mar;21(2):187-93”

When Noa was about 4 days old she stopped breathing and was unresponsive. This was due to dehydration. Now, most hospitals have lactation consultants and the hospital I delivered at had good consultants. I will say though, that not all consultants are created equal and they all have their own ethics. I think the ethic in this particular hospital was to avoid formula at all costs and unfortunately it cost me an ambulance ride and a very scarey incident.

The first days after birth are the most important time for new mothers or mothers deciding to breastfeed for the first time, to get help and consultation about nursing.

Ask questions! I just took the information they gave me and ran with it. I thought I was doing everything right, but truth be told, I should have been supplementing with formula, I could have avoided the emergency. My daughter was severely dehydrated and critically jaundice. The jaundice cropped up over night it seemed and at the same time the tests came back, nearly the same moment the doctor called to tell us to take her to the hospital, was when she stopped breathing.

My mother never breastfed; it was all new to all of us. Noa just wasn’t latching on well and was not getting enough to eat in those first crucial days.

All that aside, the nurses at the hospital she was taken to were amazing. Almost all of them had experience as nursing mothers and were very encouraging. I felt that I had failed as a mother already and the psychological fallout from this, I thought, I was not going to recover from.

But we made it, and I have a thriving, chubby wonderfully healthy girl. Through it all I enjoyed our time together, even when I was tired and she nursed almost constantly in the first three months. It was during that time that my husband and I seperated and I thought, there is no way I can do this alone.

But we made it. As her nursings fell shorter and less frequently, I looked forward to the times when she wanted to nurse. It was a quiet, peaceful time to sit and bond. It would have been easy if I was bottle feeding to hand her to someone else and say, here you do this, I am going to go lie down in a dark room and hide from the world, but I couldn’t. I was the source of nourishment and she needed me. Ultimately, it helped me step each day a little further AWAY from that steep slope of depression that is so easy to slide down after having a baby, regardless of any other life events that may be happening.

I did attend counseling sessions, but I believe breastfeeding was more beneficial and less costly! The hormones released during nursing helped me to remain calm, reduced stress and allowed me to be peaceful and reassuring to my child.

For more information about breastfeeding, or if you know someone struggling with the challenges of a new baby, go to  the La Leche League website:

No Toys For Christmas

In a way, it serves us right…we have paid a price for convienence. But I will also say that it is unfairly paid.

The reason I knew that one of my child’s toys had been recalled was kind of sad.

And let me preface this by saying Noa has very few toys, just because, and I think most people know this, small children will play with anything and given the choice between a brightly, lead-painted, toy that plays music and spins around, and a piece of plasticware from the kitchen cupboard, they will choose the plasticware, time and again.

Noa’s grandmother has been very carefully thinking over what she should purchase for her only gradndaughter’s very first Christmas. Since she knows I am not the “buy every new toy out there” kind of person, she was making sure it was a really good choice. And it was, till she saw a picture of it online under a headline about recalls due to lead paint in toys made in China.

After clicking on the story and dealing with the dissappointment of not being able to get that really wonderful item for Noa for Christmas, she was upset by another image.

There on the screen was a picture of the only thing Noa really plays with consistently and has been chewing on, nearly since birth. It was a gift at my baby shower and the only toy I had actually requested.

Baby Einstein blocks. They are soft and colorful and make a little sound here and there. We played with them often. Now, mind you, only ONE of the blocks, the blue one, was recalled and the company was offering a free replacement. But I just threw all four of them away. Gramma had actually left work and went home and removed them all from the play area until we decided what to do. I even called the pediatrician. After a scare recently when Noa stopped crawling and rolling over altogether after becoming very mobile, (it was due to imbalance from an ear infection), I had to check. We all, of course, had been entertaining the notion of lead poisoning, whether we spoke it out loud or not, we thought it. How could you not think about it!

Now, the fact that I simply threw the blocks out brings up another important aspect of the gajillions of toy recalls.

 I realize I have contributed to this problem, but in my haste to rid the house of possible hazards, I apologize, I ignored the rest of the planet.

As a family, we are making an effort to look for made in the USA toys for Noa this year. In looking, I was delighted to see some of my old favorites and come to find out, we still have some of them. Lincoln Logs! They appear under another name it seems, but still made in the USA and available online.

Also available at reasonable prices (which can be found, not all USA toys are expensive) are the good old colored and stackable rings that vary in size and go over a peg on a stand.

Here is more information on finding toys made in the USA:

 The last point I wish to address on this topic is: What happened Sam Walton?

Touted by many as the best businessman in America, the father of the almighty WalMart has failed in my eyes. Being the best businessman IN America, apparently doesn’t mean you have to stock your shelves with AMERICAN products.

I randomly plucked 10 toys from WalMart shelves recently and wouldn’t you know it…every single one of them was made in China.

Now maybe we get carried away with things, and the media can shoulder some of that blame, however, a recall is a recall and they are issued for a reason. I didn’t think about my child’s toys till this happened, because I knew – one: she didn’t hardly play with the ones she has and two: she didn’t have any of the varieties I had been seeing on the news.

Now, it’s almost a mission of my family to make sure we either make all her toys ourselves, which can be a fun bonding adventure, or we purchase American-made toys. It’s worth the time searching the net for what you want and the price you want. Support American-made toys and maybe, just maybe, they’ll make a comeback.

In the beginning…

This blog will be a place to come for various things. Social and political commentary, information for parents, stories about parenting and eventually a whole lotta information on the Noa’s Ark project.

Keep coming back, it won’t take me long to get started. And yeah, that cute little thing at the top of the page is Noa.