Jan 30, 2009

Laundry Lazy?

(Note: The baby gates we use to keep the youngest out of the older kids' rooms takes the paint off of the door jams, and I have no idea why Dh's sweatshirt is hanging on the linen closet door. I just stumbled upon this sitting there.)

I think you can figure out which member of my household this bad habit belongs to......leaving the laundry in the basket......by process of elimination......

I had the 2 older kids (I have 3 and the youngest is 3) time me on how long it would take to put these towels away. It took 45 seconds to put this basket of towels away, and I had to briefly fix up the contents of the linen closet so they would fit, and I had to refold 2 of them and walk a bib into the baby's room - 45 SECONDS!

I should have taken a picture of the pile in each room of our 4-bedroom home, but this one should be sufficient.

It doesn't take long to put laundry away at all. Unless you are walking it upstairs folded, then there is really no reason to put it back in the basket once folded. Just fold it, make the piles according to drawers and person, then pile it up according to drawers for each person, and take 2 stacks at a time and put them directly into the drawers. THE FOLDING IS THE HARD PART - YOU HAVE IT BACKWARDS DEAR! (talking to my husband -- oops! Did I give it away?)

Jan 29, 2009

Uninformed Yet Commenting on the CPSIA?

Well, I've been saying it for a long time....until you can truly be heard and speak in such a way that the standard Joe or Jane can understand, they will NOT hear you, nor will they take time out of their precious day to try to understand you. See this blog entry: Uninformed

I admit it. I'm still trying to decipher the whole deal, but I have the basics down, after reading that entire document.

This is why I love my friends and family - they won't even take MY word for it. Even after breaking it down, a few came back and said "I checked Snopes and they said......" or I listen to C. Howard's show, and he said everything was fine, and I believe them." It makes us all look harder and find all sorts of interesting pieces of information.

In their quest for fast information they failed to note that Snopes referenced only thrift shops and blindly passed over the liability the wording still holding them accountable and they also failed to see a little blurb indicating this legislation was not written with small business in mind on the other website.....that's right, it wasn't, but that does not simply mean it does not apply to small businesses! lol.

It is yet another uninformed (which really isn't meant as an insult because it can admittedly be hard to be informed) viewpoint. This is what is truly being battled....those having a blind faith in their government to do what is right to protect them and just believing the shared synopsis, and in this case it is, "We'll protect your children from tainted products." only. They are also running on limited time, so if you don't provide the links and routes for them to read themselves, they probably won't.

You should never publicly criticize someone or another group unless you've done your homework and are sure you have the full facts.

At any rate, I posted a comment. Not sure if it will appear there or not, as it remains an uncommented-upon blog entry currently.

I basically indicated that 2 of the many issues are the unnecessary testing of products known to not contain lead or pose a threat such as those in the natural products sector and the redundant testing of components unnecessarily raising consumer prices, just for a start. If the poster wants to pursue it further, they should; if not, then they won't. I clarified that it is NOT about American small businesses wishing harm to our children in lieu of making a buck.

Jan 28, 2009

Time Saving/Thought Evoking Laundry Tip

The time has come! My 3 older children, husband included in this number, have been taken by surprise. It's actually a bit comical and it only took one explanation......if you turn your clothing inside out and then throw it down the laundry chute that way, then that is the way it stays. If one arm is inside out and the other right side in, while it makes for an interesting fold, that's the way it stays. If your socks are inside out, then that's the way they stay.

I politely asked everyone to pay more attention to this aspect of removing their clothes a few weeks ago. I explained how it shows that mom gets thought of just a tad as the person who has to spend all that time fixing what is really inconsiderate. Didn't work. I even showed them a very easy way to remove each item to avoid this happening.

The first day, my daughter came out in a huff...."Mom! I almost went to school with my shirt like this!" (inside out AND backwards). She gets it now. My husband denied up and down that he turns his items inside out.......guess what.....he is guilty of the one-arm/one-leg thing. He now swears that it must happen during the washing cycle, but I make a mental note of what it looks like going in, and I don't count undies because they can and do turn inside out in the wash cycle. My oldest took it in stride, just as he does everything in life -- it makes sense so there is no arguing it with him. I sooooo love this about him.

The only family member safe from this mommy madness is the youngest at 3, even if it is DH turning them inside out when changing him.

Jan 27, 2009

Have You Had a Vitamin D Test in the Last 2 Years?

I've encountered more than a few people lately sharing their vitamin D levels were too low and that they were therefore instructed to supplement.

If you are like me, you don't get to watch much TV or have time for reading a newspaper to keep abreast of the latest headlines, so when I hear something that is worth sharing, I'll share it, especially if it touches people I know, so here it is......an article in the NY Times indicating there has been erroneous lab results pertaining to vitamin D levels -- taking too much=negative consequences and not getting enough=negative consequences, so if there is a possibility you may need a recheck, by all means go and get one!

Vocabulary Adventures - Anatomy

The age of 3, what can I say? It's my third time experiencing the age of 3 with my children, and I'd have to say that while it is one of the most frustrating ages, it is definitely one of the funniest. Terrible 2's? Didn't have them at my house. Don't know if we are just blessed or what.

I seem to still be in denial that a 3-year-old must absolutely interact with me verbally every moment of every day, whether it be "Look at this mom.", "What's this mom?", "You be this guy.", etc. There is no getting away with an "uh-huh" or a head nod, it absolutely MUST be accompanied by eye contact in order to convey a true connection. I'm just grateful the stage where I had to actually repeat what he says to convey to him that he was truly heard seems to be passing.

Why can I still say after 11 years that being talked to all day long is frustrating? Because it is. I guess it doesn't help that I hear doctor voices in my head all day long through dictation, that my husband has to talk to me, and that he, combined with the children, seem to be yakkin' away AT me all at the same time a good part of each day......by the end of the day, I just want to cover my ears, slouch down against a wall onto the floor, and holler "No more voices! No more voices in my head!" (Then I would actually look as crazy as I feel most of the time.)

Even though I expected my children to talk a lot at the age of 3, I don't think anything really prepares you for just how much some 3-year-olds can really talk. ALLLLLL DAAAAYYYYY LOOOOOOOOOONG. It seems to accompany that strong will to do things for themselves, to take a crack at hanging with the big guys, and attempting to act like anything other than 3 years old. With it, however, are those hilarious moments when they attempt trying the "big" words out in a sentence - just gotta love them. They elicit laughter out of me every single day, even in moments of frustration.

Not too long ago, G asked what those balls were "down here." I told him they were called testicles. Fast forward a couple of weeks later wherein the word was never uttered again.....I noticed G checking out his stuff in the tub. I asked him, "Whatchya doin'?" He said, "I'm touchin' my knuckles mom."

It brings back a memory from my first. His version of testicles was teck-a-skulls, and they had been referred to as skulls ever since, until, that is, they magically became knuckles. I remember back then in the "skull" era when my son and daughter were still young enough to bathe together and he asked me what her's was called. While she didn't have the ability or desire to ask yet herself, she understood the answer.....as soon as I said "Vagina," she started skipping through the house sing-songing "annnngiiiiiina, angina....." I just let her go. She was a singer and sang all day long with any word she could form or think up, and the last thing I wanted was to have to explain why she turned the word vagina into a song strewn together with any other random word. Oh, the possibilities!

(For those of you upset that we don't encourage or force them to say the words the right way, chill out. No, I'm not scared of the real words, and neither are they, and they do know them. We call hands patties, feet dogs, and heads noggins, and we aren't scared of those either.)

When I was little, my grandmother, born and raised down South, had us calling our stuff possums. You should have seen the look on our faces, all girls, when we asked our mother what that dead creature in the road was, and her answer was "A possum." It's still good for a laugh, and I predict the same reaction from my son the first time he hears the phrase "You wanna knuckle sammich?"

Jan 26, 2009

Food for Thought....Reap What You Sow?

We were discussing consumerism and companies who design products to fail quickly so that you have to buy another sooner.....

In discussing it with my husband, he shared with me an article he read in National Geographic about where all of our electronic waste goes. I wanted to read it. I found it easily enough on a search of my own. Click the link and be sure to click the other links within this article, such as the Photo Gallery link.

While I don't buy the latest cell phone models, printers, monitors, etc. because I am the woman who should be embarrassed of her outdated equipment that she begrudgingly finally had to buy for business. I have bought 1 new of each when the other failed. I tried to find out how to properly dispose of these items. I decided to allow my toddler to use the old cell as a toy. I still have the old printer; I just need to find someone to fix it so that I can pass it down to my kids. The 4 giant monitors I had, however, was another story.

Those monitors and 2 CPUs had been sitting in my storage room for years. I thought I might be able to use them as servers someday...a technology I'm not all that in the know about. One computer was in my ownership alone for 15 years and was one that I had received free when a business I worked for shut down. I had worked with that computer for 3 years prior to it becoming my own personal computer. It had also suffered a motherboard failure at the hand of lightning and I paid $1000 to get a new one installed (that's how much that cost way back then). It started out as a Compaq 486 but turned into something else entirely with new disc drives, 3.5", etc. throughout its lifetime. The monitor went on it and my brother-in-law gave me one of his, but even larger...so large I could barely pick it up. When I needed access to speedy internet access, my cousin gave me his brother's old computer (he had passed away), and the monitor that came with it; this one was in my possession for about 7 years and was about 10 years old. I can't even tell you where the 4th monitor came from. I remember one starting to blink, so someone had to have given it to me.

Now we fast-forward to where my home business is now successful and requires more--I order a new computer with 2 monitors with a dual-monitor function to help my production and I now needed something to accommodate CDs and all of the new equipment I need that requires more from my computer, as well as the serial ports versus the USB ports. lol. I now needed fancy sound cards, etc. Then I needed to be mobile so I needed a laptop so I could take a vacation and still work, as I don't get any days off. I've had the desktop for 8 years now and the laptop now for 7.

Last year it was time to get the old equipment out of the storage room, "clean house" so to speak. I contacted my garbage service, as I had heard it was illegal to dispose of computer monitors in the trash. They told me that they weren't supposed to pick them up, but that if I put them in the trash, they would take them. I asked them what they did with them, and they told me that they put them in the landfill. In amazement, I shared that I was told that was what we should be trying NOT to do. Some conversation followed with a giggle--what else can you do? She said "You'd be amazed at what we take that we aren't supposed to." I called my City to see if they had a hazardous material pickup date for these things - they didn't know anything. I called computer repair shops too. I can't remember who else I called that day, but many, many sources. I was somehow referred to a charitable organization. Success! They said they DO take used monitors. I dropped a "Well, at least someone else can actually use them." comment out of relief my search had finally ended, but he replied with "Oh no, we don't actually resell them or donate them, we give them to XXXX. I think they have a recycling program or something." Oh brother. I opted for saving them until our Spring Cleanup Day where people drive around and pick through the items on the curb and find treasure in another woman's trash. I kept the cords in the house and put a sign up indicating they should ring the bell for the cords, as some people cut cords off of the items you put out there. Someone took one of the CPUs that I had removed the hard drive from, but that was it. I finally took the remainder to the place accepting donated monitors. I figured I did my best.

Finding and reading this article in the midst of trying to keep us with what CPSIA really means.....it suddenly hits me.....Do We Reap What We Sow? It implies that at least some of the lead in items from overseas is from our electronic waste that made it back to us in the form of products -- could it have been a material from one of MY monitors poisoning a child in ANY country? I pray that it was not.

It makes me wonder whether it is the country as a whole that reaps what it sows....afterall, they just keep buying newer and better models for items there is really nothing wrong with, no? They allowed this practice of dumping toxic electronics in other countries, no? At least some manufacturers believe it is better to build products planning them to expire and to be irrelevant more quickly so we "need" to replace them sooner. What is the price of convenience? Was it not convenient enough the model prior? Are we, even those who believe the CPSIA law is nothing but a good thing, actually hypocrites? Is it okay to destroy other countries and entire villages, their residents, their children--just not our own?

This actually makes me relieved to know that those very children and adults who are literally killing themselves stripping the barely valuable components to fetch a dollar to feed themselves and their families probably don't have a TV or exposure to the hypocrisy of what we are worrying about right now.

I absolutely hate it when this usually proud American feels like an ashamed American. We've apparently been shipping toxic products by the tens of millions a year to other countries and now we're all upset about it being done to us when some of those products complete a cycle we've actually started - it started with us and is ending with us, and now we're mad about it? I'll keep fighting the battle to stop unnecessary and redundant testing, although now with a little voice in the back of my head.

I know this doesn't apply to every toxic product in question here, but it still bothers me to think that even one child has suffered because of what WE have allowed to happen elsewhere. I am angry it happened to "us," but I'm also angry it has happened to others as well. I believe that needs to stop as well.

Jan 25, 2009

Inventor Spoof

Jan 23, 2009

Should I Be Worried?

Should I be worried that at just over 3 years of age he still thinks I can't see him if he can't see me? It's still too cute to care.

G in a muffled voice: "Come and find me momma!"

Me: "K. Where ever can my handsome boy be?" (seeing him immediately) "Hmmmm, could he be over here by the door? No. Over here by the table? No....." (as I grab the camera on the fridge right next to him)

G still muffled: "I'm on the floor!"

Me: (snap picture and then tickle foot) "I found you!"

Jan 22, 2009

Lead or Not?- Item in Question #2

I bought these for my 3-year-old as a stocking stuffer for Christmas this year. I got it out of the $1 bin at my local Target without a second thought.

What do you think? Lead threat or not? Should this item be tested or not? I think children's eating utensils should be tested.

Questionable Item #1

Jan 19, 2009

CPSIA Touching Many...Racquet Girls Plans to Adapt to Sustain Business

Mary Diaz of Racquet Girls recently indicated that while the original vision for her company was to offer hip, fashionable, and modernized athletic wear geared for children, tweens, and teens, she now fully expects to have to include a disclaimer clarifying her garments are not intended for children under 12.

With her products not being intended for use by children 12 and under, she will have to focus on the appropriate sizes for teens 13 and older instead.

Mary's fabrics are basic 100% cotton and cotton/spandex blends. Her surface decorations include embroidery, screenprinting (from a professional screenprinter), and fabric appliques. She had originally planned to use some heatseal rhinestones, but dropped those designs in anticipation of the additional costs the CPSIA testing requirements impose. If testing requirements for her athletic fashions designed for adults are more reasonable, she may be able to implement her plans for using further embellishments.

Mary said, "I've also considered altering Racquet Girls should CPSIA go forward. My size range right now is for 7- to 14-year-olds, but I may have to change it to 13-18 and specifically state that the products are not meant for children 12 and under.

Looks like mothers with children 12 and younger are going to be having a VERY difficult time finding boutique-type clothing and toys for their children. Only the big-box retailers will be able to afford the testing."

Mary has followed and is also following all available avenues to bring reform as well, i.e. petitions, sending letters, etc.

If you decide for yourself that this product poses no threat to your child(ren), regardless of their ages, please read my post discussing what you can do!

My non-tennis-playing 9-year-old daughter just looked over my shoulder and announced she wanted this outfit. She is 9, which means this outfit will be deemed hazardous to her health next month unless subjected to extensive testing for each color and print found within this garment--the threads, the labels, the cotton/spandex (green, navy, white, and polka-dotted pieces), and the decorative screenprinted design.

Make sure to visit www.RacquetGirls.com to see all of the adorable outfits they have to offer!

Lead or Not?

Soooo, now that there has been all this talk of lead and phthalate testing, I find myself pinpointing questionable items as I look at all things and try to imagine the extensive testing on the items already in my possession (Legos and Transformers--all those shapes and parts--I can't even imagine how much more expensive these items will become, as they are already expensive. I don't even know for certain if these items will require testing or to what degree....I just keep analyzing everything. Will every single shape and color of Lego need testing, or would it just be based on which batch of resin & color is used rather than every single shape?)

Today, my 3-year-old found a necklace that was given to my oldest last year, who at that time was 10. It was given to him by his great grandmother. No special story behind it really, and I had never really given it any thought. They frequently hand over little items they think the kids will enjoy. My 3-year-old likes to wear it whenever he comes across it. He doesn't put it in his mouth though either, and my 11-year-old doesn't really wear it. He likes to hang it from his mirror in his bedroom in a pack-rat sort of way.

Personally, I don't think ANYthing with lead in it, other than that contained in electronic devices, should be found in ANYthing for either me or for my kids. Shouldn't we fight against putting it into ANY jewelry, paints, etc. at all?

What do you think? Toss it and bum out the 11-year-old, as I'm inclined to believe this thing is loaded with lead. It could really only be made out of copper, but it sure feels heavy to me. Do I want to go purchase a lead-testing kit that is rumored to be inaccurate? Nope. Is it safe to keep around because I watch my kids, i.e. I don't just leave it on my 3-year-old unsupervised simply because it has a small part on it. Is there a risk from touching it? Thoughts, comments? Personally, I think there should be NO lead in jewelry, for adults or children, and I think children's jewelry in particular should be tested.

Jan 14, 2009

Act to Bring Reform to the Negative Effects of the CPSIA Lead-Testing Regulations

I'm asking that as many people as possible circulate the following information via e-mail ASAP to reach as many people as possible. Thanks for your help if you are so inclined.

This is important to note: The following information is in no way a call to reform the current Consumer Product Safety Information Act legislation in a way that promotes harm to, encourages harm to, or ignores those who do in fact harm our children by way of lead-tainted or phthalate-tainted products. I no more wish harm to my children in any way, shape, or form via exposure to harmful products than you do. Once you are sure you have an understanding of this, please continue reading on, and if you find yourself in agreement, I ask that you cut/copy and paste the letter at the end or write your own covering any of the below topics that concern you personally and send it onto your congressman/woman and senators to help save small business from the CPSIA. Please also take a moment to read the “What You Can Do” section.

Raise your hand if you thought “Well, it’s about time someone protected our kids from this idiocy!”—Me raising my hand. As usual, there’s much more to it.

February 10, 2009, is being called National Bankruptcy Day. Companies with hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars worth of inventory will see their current inventory become illegal on February 10, 2009. They cannot possibly afford testing of all current inventory. Stores are also prohibited from selling any untested goods in their existing inventory as well. See: National Bankruptcy Day

The current CPSIA wording is too broad and will actually hinder American-based innovation and close small businesses due to testing and retesting on the same product components at various stages of the manufacturing process, the destruction of one-of-a-kind items, unnecessary testing on items unlikely to contain lead in the first place, and due to the exorbitant costs involved with testing multi-component items.

This country desperately needs to promote and encourage innovation and small business rather than making it difficult. Small business drives our economy. Many of these small businesses’ products were created as THE healthy and safe alternative that the business owners wished to have available to their own children, an alternative to the very products that were harmful. The legislation, as it is currently worded, throws countless more businesses “under the bus” equating to many more economic casualties than presently.

The CPSIA is a piece of legislature drawn up quickly in response to the lead-tainted products infiltrating our borders from China last year. As with most quickly-formed Acts, the big picture and the ripple effects of enacting this law will result in undesirable and far-reaching negative consequences for ALL of us—those with and withOUT children – US as CONSUMERS and our economy.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has good reason to be content right now, does not seem to be worried about the consequences to business or the ripple effects. Their budget was increased from $80 million in FY ‘08 to an authorization of $118 million in FY ’10, and the Commission is to receive $20 million to modernize its testing laboratory according to my Congressman’s website here.

An example of a product that will become illegal to sell on February 10, 2009, as innocuous as they are (as this would require 2 tests, costing around $300-$500 total, for the 2 different color yarns)from Curious-workmanship.com

Even the rubber stamps I bought for each of my kids, ages 11, 9, and 3, last summer to participate in a community scavenger hunt to stamp their books as we founds clues will be outlawed. As if I would dare dream of leaving a 3-year-old alone with an ink-covered stamp, let alone long enough for him to eat one.

Below is a list of the reasons revisions are needed to this piece of legislation, while still protecting our children by way of certification:

Is this a matter of someone trying to buck the system by whining about not being able to afford testing? Is it a case of Americans wanting perfection until it is expected of them as business owners, and at a cost? Is it a matter of American businesses being unconcerned about lead exposure in relation to our children? No, not at all.

“Small business drives the American economy,” said Dr. Chad Moutray, Chief Economist for the Office of Advocacy. “Main Street provides the jobs and spurs our economic growth. American entrepreneurs are creative and productive, and these numbers prove it.” and “Small business drives the U.S. economy by providing jobs for over half of the private workforce.” and “Office of Advocacy funded data and research shows that small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms, they create more than half of the private non-farm gross domestic product, and they create 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs.” For a full statement view this article from the Small Business Administration. Many small businesses are entrepreneurial work-at-home crafters, artisans offering one-of-a-kind/unique items from clothing to furniture, specialty manufacturers, low volume specialty items for the blind, deaf, and disabled markets, and specialty educational items, as well as entrepreneurial innovators bringing new products to market.

Most of these companies purchase the components that they will assemble into a product of their own from other manufacturers who are required to test their goods for compliance before they sell them to the manufacturer. The manufacturer forming a product made from 5 other components, even those components that have already passed compliance testing, will be required to test them again, although individually now all at their expense. If a decorative T-shirt comes in 3 sizes – 1 of each size, and all of its components, must be tested. If they offered something as simple as towels in multiple patterns or multiple colors, each pattern and each color on the same item must be tested, as would the thread, any appliques, dyes used, etc. These companies tend to have smaller manufacturing runs of goods, with each run requiring testing, per component. One-of-a-kind products cannot be tested without being destroyed—it’s a one-of-a-kind product! Work-at-home parents with products to offer such as cloth diapers, crafters, artisans, and entrepreneurs who are inventing things such as new infant towels or burp cloths, as well as many other child-related products, planning on manufacturing on their own to get a start to pay for larger manufacturing runs will now not be able to afford testing whatsoever to get that start.

Part 1 Video

Part 2 Video

Part 3 Video

POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO REDUNDANT TESTING ON THE SAME COMPONENTS OF A PRODUCT ALREADY DEEMED COMPLIANT ONCE AT THE FIRST POINT OF SALE: Allow the use of certified components and component testing without retesting. Set the system up to promote compliance rather than assuming all products are tainted by dividing products that are compliant and those that are not. In the case of the business who wants to source products to make decorative T-shirts or Jeans with decorative threads, colors, dyes, snaps, zippers, patches, or appliques, allow them to easily choose a manufacturer who offers either “Certified Lead Free” materials or items identified as “Meets CPSIA Lead Standards.” (Did you know zipper pulls and metal snaps are already tested for lead? Why test them again just because someone used them on their product when that person made it a point to buy that component already meeting or exceeding the standards?) This manufacturer can then label their product accordingly, indicating which components meet or exceed the standards. Same for the paint that the furniture manufacturer chooses—why should they retest a paint that has already been through and passed the certification process?

The risk of making the end manufacturer responsible for proving their end product is compliant is that not all source manufacturers will be honest about whether or not their component is compliant – how is the end manufacturer supposed to know without testing PRIOR to assembling their product in the first place? Will they be able to get that $50,000 they just spent on that source material back from the supplier that turned out to in fact not be compliant? As the law is worded now, the $100,000 fines for noncompliance and federal prison terms will be directed at the end manufacturer of the end product, i.e. the wood-worker who thought he bought some compliant paint with which to paint his furniture, not the manufacturer of the sourced component, i.e. snaps, zippers, paints, dyes, or appliques.

THE “BUTTERFLY EFFECT/JOB LOSSES ACROSS THE SUPPLY CHAIN: Manufacturers of children’s products have clients, which are the retail stores, online stores, and boutiques. When they are forced to close down, their clients (the retails stores, online stores, and boutiques) will have less options for product replacement to keep their stores competitive, so they in turn may be forced to cut back or close down. The manufacturers also purchase their source materials from other manufacturers, and with fewer orders from them, prices will rise and there will be further job cuts and cut backs. This results in loss of jobs and business closures across the supply chain. These manufacturers and retailers also retain the services of accountants, web designers, advertising firms, marketing firms, public relations firms, etc.—more loss.

MORE EXPENSIVE PRODUCTS/DIMINISHED PRODUCT CHOICES/LIMITED PRODUCT AVAILABILITY: Not only will the source manufacturer who already tests their products to be CPSIA compliant have to raise their prices to cover their overhead, so will the end manufacturer utilizing those materials to form their own product, either both before and after they manufacture—once to ensure the materials they purchased are in fact compliant, but again to prove to the CPSC that each component of their product is in fact compliant—or after. This means you could possibly be looking at double to triple the overhead increase in pricing you currently pay. This does not take into account the overhead increases in the cost of doing business from higher insurance premiums to protect against the destruction of items should a mistake be made and noncompliance is the ruling, if even a mistake, the extensive legal fees involved in fighting such a battle, the $100,000 fines and possible federal prison terms involved, etc. As jobs are lost and companies cut back, prices will go up from Point A to Point B.

DIGESTIVE TESTING=DESTRUCTION: The term “digestive testing” refers to the fact that the testing process itself can destroy the very products being tested. One-of-a-kind and unique products will not survive. THE ANSWER: XRF testing should be adequate to test for lead content, a nondestructive testing process, and if the product fails this testing, then, and only then, should it be moved into the digestive testing category.

ELIMINATE OR REDUCE TESTING ON ITEMS THAT POSE NO REAL THREAT: Testing should focus on those items that usually contain lead and offer exposure hazards such as metal zipper pulls, pearl-looking or opalescent buttons, vinyl (often stabilized with lead), crystals, and paint—things that children can actually touch that infer exposure from hand-to-mouth actions or that they may actually ingest, but not items such as: wood, papers, undyed fabrics, etc., which currently also fall into the products requiring testing.

SAY GOODBYE TO CRAFT SHOWS/FAIRS: Independent crafters of items such as pageant gowns, flower girl dresses, decorative little girl outfits for dressup, books, homemade items, crafts, wall art, etc. will not be able to afford testing to prove compliance, as they sell in very small volume. It will be illegal for them to sell those items, unless they could prove the component materials they used were in fact compliant instead.

DONATIONS TO CHARITY AND SECOND-HAND SHOPS: While the CPSIA legislation was recently amended to exempt these types of resale shops and charitable organizations, they also included wording indicating these people should avoid selling any items known to contain high levels of lead or suspected items – how can they tell? How do they avoid making a VERY costly mistake? The answer to many is to go out of business entirely. The risk is too great.

ANTIQUE/TOY COLLECTORS: E-bay and collectors groups everywhere will be prohibited from selling antique items geared for children age 12 and under and antique collectible toys unless they are tested. Since testing can destroy the items…..

LIBRARIES/BOOK STORES, INCLUDING SCHOOL AND PUBLIC: Are currently attempting to get clarification as well. They will either have to scrap every book on their shelves or refuse to admit or sell to anyone under the age of 12.


BRIEF BACKGROUND/HISTORY ON CPSC & RESTRICTIONS ON LEAD: Here’s an article indicating the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission made it illegal in 1978 to use any paint containing more than 0.06 percent lead for residential structures, hospitals, and children's products. – so why are we having this issue today? Due to lack of enforcement capabilities or subpar testing compliance protocols? How are they going to accommodate the huge chunk of goods requiring testing today? Is the answer to simply put most small business out of business? See: Why Add Lead Paint to Anything?

“Small businesses – defined by the government as having 500 or fewer workers – are a key portion of the country's commerce food chain. They account for more than 99 percent of all employer firms, according to federal statistics, pay nearly 45 percent of the country's private payroll and produce almost a third of the nation's export value.

That means when they hurt, everyone feels the pain. Closures affect communities, where friends are co-workers and customers, and the cost-cutting creates a hard-to-stop cycle. Charitable donations wilt. Storefronts sit empty. Cities and towns get less tax revenue, and have to cut their budgets. And people wind up spending even less as those who are unemployed – or those who worry they will be – trim their own budgets at the expense of other businesses, large and small.
While falling sales and the credit crunch have made headlines, the small business owners left standing are facing problems as varied as the businesses they run. Manufacturing is slowing. Layoffs are looming. Financing is hard, if not impossible, to come by. Vendors are being skittish about extending credit for inventory. Rents are rising. And profits are falling – or vanishing altogether as sales slip.
”See full article here.

Article describing negative effects when small businesses fail.


1. Register at Change.org, wait for your confirmation e-mail, go back via the link or by copying and pasting the link into your browser and then login. Click the white Ideas link at the top right corner of the screen and then click the Top Rated Ideas link lower on the page. Choose to vote for the “Save Small Business from the CPSIA”. Hurry on this one though. Voting ends tomorrow, Thursday, January 15.

2. Write your United States Congressman and your senator and share your concerns. You can use the sample letter in #4 and tweak it to make it your own or formulate your own letter. You can locate the name, address, and telephone number for your congressman here and by typing your zip code into the “My Elected Officials” box to the left of your screen. When the results appear, you want to contact the person listed under Representative for your congress person, and the state senators are listed accordingly.

3. Contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission here backing up the changes recommended by the National Association of Manufacturers 15-page plan, which can be viewed here.

Sample: I would like to see component testing mandated at the level a manufacturer, crafter, small business, independent artisan, or entrepreneur can purchase CPSIA-compliant materials that meet or exceed the new standards rather than seeing the end-manufacturer utilizing those components have to retest them again. I do not want prices to unnecessarily rise due to redundant and unnecessary testing. I feel that one-of-a-kind items should also be eligible for XRF testing rather than digestive testing procedures, and I would like to see less resources put toward the testing of items that pose no real lead-exposure risks, such as wood, paper, and undyed fabrics.

4. Write a letter to your local paper, see sample below:

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsourced their production to China violated the public's trust - selling toys with dangerous lead content, toys with unsafe small parts, and toys that made kids sick.

The Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in 2008, which bans lead and phthalates in any item geared toward children ages 12 and under that also requires permanent labels on each item with a date and batch number. This even includes goods known to not contain lead such as paper, wood, and undyed fabrics, threads, yarns, etc. Small business cannot afford to retool equipment to accommodate this demand for multi-component items for each run.

The far-reaching impact of the new CPSIA legislation wording is so broad that it means many negative things on the horizon for us over and above simply feeling relief that our children are finally being looked after, which admittedly was my first thought, being the mother of 3 children.

Everyone needs to write their congressman and state representatives expressing that the wording be narrowed so that unnecessary testing on items known to pose no lead risk, such as wood, paper, and undyed fabrics, does not occur and so that repetitive testing does not occur.

The law deems any inventory prior to February 10, 2009, noncompliant and illegal to sell with penalties of $100,000 and makes it a federal offense. The inventories that companies and stores currently have will cost too much to test. Therefore, many businesses are already planning for their demise. February 10, 2009 is being referred to as National Bankruptcy Day.

The extremely expensive repetitive testing is going to ruin small business and put them out of business, as it will crafters, independent artisans, entrepreneurs, antique/collectible dealers, etc. It will also unnecessarily raise prices of goods for all consumers, as well as schools and disabled individuals, unnecessarily and diminish product selection. One-of-a-kind items will no longer exist, as testing will destroy them.

Small business makes up approximately 99.7% of all business, providing more than half of the nonfarm gross domestic product, and creating 60-80% of net new jobs. We need to ensure that these small businesses can buy sourced, already-compliant components, with which to make their own product by way of encouraging the SOURCE manufacturers to certify their products, i.e. either certified lead-free or certified as meeting the new standards. Forcing them to retest components of their product that have already been individually tested is wasteful and unnecessary, as the end manufacturer will have to retest every component of their item to prove THEIR compliance. For example, a decorative baby onesie will need to have the t-shirt material, the thread, decorative thread, snaps, appliques, dyes, colors, and patterns all tested, despite them all being tested for compliance upon purchase to assemble them INTO a decorative baby onesie. Should this onesie be offered in multiple colors, each color will need to be tested. Each SKU, each size/style, will need to be tested.

We need to find a way to keep our children safe while ensuring compliance in the most effective way and keeping our economy, our small businesses, thriving. Remember, almost every tainted product that prompted this legislation came from China!

Jan 10, 2009

Organized Cleaning Schedule

Here it is......my organizational anal tendencies at their best.....my cleaning schedule.

This schedule helps me to have a house that appears clean at all times, minus toys/activities the kids are currently engaged in at the moment. I thought it up one day when a neighbor's little boy needed to use the bathroom. I was so worried about what the underside of the toilet seat looked like due to having a potty-training boy toddler myself that I told her it was too messy. I wasn't quite sure when the last time I had cleaned the toilet was! I felt terrible, despite the fact they lived right across the street.

I was just starting my transcription business, was working long hours and into the wee hours of the morning and therefore napping with the kids whenever possible, had a baby who was refusing to nap during the day on most days, and was pretty much operating as a single mother due to my husband's schedule. I knew it was no excuse so I figured I needed to come up with the answer that wouldn't make me want to crawl into a hole every time I had an unexpected or unannounced visitor......my life-saving, or at least guilt-saving/make-me-feel-not-a-total-housewife/mother-failure schedule, and it works....

It might gross some people out, but not me at this stage of my life. As you can see, the rooms that need attention more than once a week for certain are the main living areas of the house, i.e. the bathrooms, the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen. I've "scheduled" them twice. I do occasionally deviate from the schedule if necessary too though. Also, the kitchen....the dishes get done every day, or at least every night, but I don't believe dishes in my sink for a day equates to a dirty home either.

WEEKLY: On the assigned days, each room gets a light cleaning, something that keeps it simply presentable. If it needs dusting, then dusting occurs. Vacuuming occurs. Light pickup and quick organization occurs. Bedding/linens are cleaned if needed and switched out. For the more "used" rooms that require disinfecting, the same thing.....these rooms are disinfected and cleaned appropriately on their assigned days. The kitchen floor....it gets swept almost daily because it's needed, but for the most part, I spot clean anything that is "stuck" on the floor rather than cleaning the entire floor, which is saved for the monthly round instead.

MONTHLY: On the first day each room is encountered per month during the first week of each month, I take a good look around from floor to ceiling. If there are cobwebs on the ceiling, they're removed. If the light fixtures need to be cleaned, they're cleaned. If the walls need cleaning, they're cleaned. If there is dust on the floorboards, furniture is pulled out and they are all wiped down, and vacuuming under all the furniture occurs. If the windows look dirty, they get cleaned. Old clothes are removed from drawers for donation or storage. Drawers are organized. Toys are sorted and organized. Walls get washed if needed. Curtains are taken down and washed if needed - ALL of it....top to bottom, or bottom to top. For the rooms requiring disinfecting, medicine cabinets, walls, washing of trash bins, etc. for the deep cleaning. For the kitchen, it means wiping down chairs if needed, floor washing, stove cleaning, etc.

Believe it or not, there isn't a room in the house that actually looks dirty nor is technically dirty at any given time, especially since the main rooms are hit at least twice a week, approximately every 3 days at the most.

This means I don't need 5 hours to clean the whole house, a whole day to do only windows, or a whole day assigned to only moving furniture to dust floor boards. This means I get all my cleaning done in under 1 hour daily too. I don't mind pulling out the window cleaner each day rather than once a week, as I only clean windows for 5 minutes rather than for 2 hours on one day. This also means that I don't have to bother with spring cleaning AT ALL!

I'm also known to clean a toilet if needed while a kid plays in the tub, thereby deviating from the schedule, but that just means I usually don't have to do it on the assigned day (and YES, I wash my hands before touching a kid in the tub after the toilet @@).

I know laundry can be an issue, as it is for my husband, but if you just take a moment to NOT put it into the basket as you are folding it and instead fold it by family member and drawer for each member of your family, get up and walk it to the drawer, it literally ONLY takes 5-7 minutes to put a load of laundry away for a family of 5-not counting the folding, for which I've never timed myself. I divide laundry as I fold it and make piles according to drawer situations, i.e. undies/socks drawer, shirt drawer, jean drawer, sweaters, etc. for each member. I then stand up and pick them up for 2 rooms at a time or place them into the basket altogether organized the way they need to be delivered....walk right in and deliver them to the appropriate drawer. The kids sometimes take care of their own laundry, and when I'm not working on teaching them how to handle it themselves because I've decided it saves me time in keeping their drawers organized, I let them handle it; it's during these times that the drawer organizing happens more often, whereas it doesn't when I just do it, so it depends. Also, if you just make sure to do at least one load a day, in a family of 5, you won't spend a whole weekend or "off" day doing laundry!

I know that moms working outside of the home may not even be able to fit this in, but if you find a variation of this schedule that works for you, I'd love to hear about it!

Things that make me go "hmmmm"

I have many head-scratching moments that cause me to bite my tongue many times a day it seems.

Tonight, our whole family went out to eat at the new restaurant in town that has been too busy for us to put up with waiting for hours to be served. Really good snow day today meant it would probably be available. Before we left I asked my husband if he had any cash on him for tipping the waitstaff. He said "No, but we can just add it on that little line for the tip portion of the receipt." The thought entered my mind that they might not do that, but I didn't say anything. So we order, eat, and pay, and sure 'nuf - no line for tipping and no cash.

I asked the girl for her name so I could come back and give her a tip. I passed the bank, which is only about 1/8 of a mile away from this restaurant, if that, and was gearing up for a turnaround to hit the ATM machine. Hubbie announced there was no need, to just go home and get the cash. So, again, I think "Okay, it's further, but why take out money if we already have some on hand?" ya know? So I drive the 2 miles back home and as we pull in the driveway, I say, "Make sure you give me a $X and a $X. (we bought desert bringing another waitress to us that needed a tip). He then answers "I think all I have are 20's."

Hmmmmm.....the bank only lets me take out 20's from the ATM....You had me drive 6 extra miles and an extra 30 minutes for a 20 from home?" @@ (2 miles home to get it, 2 miles back to deliver it, and 2 miles back home again). Sheesh. It was a nice opportunity to turn the tunes up loudly all alone though I guess.

Jan 9, 2009

Save Small Business from the CPSIA!

I've been trying for weeks to find a way to formulate an informative post or e-mail that everyone can understand, everyone who believes the new CPSIA testing requirements are nothing short of awesome -- still working on it. In the meantime, for those of you who understand what it is and why you should be very afraid of it, vote! Get vocal! Find a way to make it applicable to an everyday consumer so they WANT to get involved!

Jan 8, 2009

The 3-Point Brownie Recipe (5 as a Sundae)

Recently I shared a recipe with a fellow Twitterer when they Tweeted about a brownie crisis of sorts, so I made myself some, even though I haven't technically restarted my program due to issues I need to resolve prior for more success, i.e. when I can focus on the diet specifically. I still cook the foods I discovered I liked when in the Weight Watchers program full force a few years ago, so as I prep to have another full-force go at it again soon, I thought I'd share as I get organized.

The thing is that some stores consider the candied cherries seasonal, so you still might have a chance to get some if that is the case in your area. The expiration date is somewhere around 6 to 8 months on the candied cherries, so buy enough to make your recipe until next fall. You may be able to freeze them as well extending their shelf life. If you can't find any, someone told me they use cherry pie filling. I imagine the pie filling would moisten the brownies a bit, which is very thick as the recipe stands. I haven't tried this yet, so you'll have to judge the cherry pie filling version on your own, as well as determine how it might affect your points.

I also make double and triple batches, cut them, wrap them up individually, store all in a container, and freeze them. You can take out as many as you need for that treat that the whole family will love!

Note: As this brownie recipe stands, it calls for regular butter. You may be able to reduce the points by switching out to a low-fat/lite butter or heart-healthy baking spread. To take this further, as this sundae recipe stands, using a regular brand of fat-free mint ice cream (1/2 cup), you may find that you can decrease the 5 points down to 4 and beyond since Weight Watchers now has their own 2-point-cup serving of mint chocolate chip ice cream available in the freezer section, and I find that 1/4 cup is sufficient for my own taste, half.



3/4 c. all purpose flour
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/3 c. chopped candied cherries
1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbs. confectioners' sugar (I never use this)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray.

2. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Combine the granulated sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract in another bowl. Add the sugar mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Fold in the cherries and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the baking pan. (Will be very thick)

3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, 28-32 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack 30 minutes. Cut into 16 bars. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with the confectioners' sugar.

PER SERVING (1 Brownie): 141 calories, 5 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 34 mg cholesterol, 86 mg sodium, 25 g total carbohydrate, 2 g dietary fiber, 2 g protein, 30 mg calcium.

FOR A SPECIAL SUNDAY STYLE TREAT: Place a brownie in a bowl and top with a 1/2-cup scoop of fat-free mint ice cream, a tablespoon of fat-free whipped topping, and a maraschino cherry (5 points per sundae). (We warm the brownie before adding toppings)

Hope you enjoy!

Jan 5, 2009

Resolving the Resolution Problems....

I have made a single resolution this year, despite the fact that I want to lose weight, correct some self-defeating behaviors, and break some bad habits, etc. all at the same time. I really need to have about five resolutions. You see, this one single resolution will put all the other "usual" resolutions into line. My resolution is to set things straight, all the things that enable me to make what others view as "excuses," to eliminate the "real" problem. I don't consider the things that cause me to fail or to give up excuses, in the literal sense of the word, as they are real, very real. In fact, I rarely ever make a New Year's resolution--If I don't make one, I won't fail, right? In actuality my resolutions are made all throughout the year and mentally added to my to-do list. I don't fail really, as I keep trying too.

Not everything is simply an excuse to NOT do something, despite it appearing that way to the top-notch psychologists or merely to others. The day can simply be too full with all of the other things on our plates or simply with all of the other things that we feel are important or that we simply WANT to do. So the real questions become, "How do I fit THIS in? That which I really do WANT? How do I make it high on MY priority list?"

My intention today was to blog about what it is that makes you or I break our resolutions because I believe I discovered last year what my problem is, as well as the answer to that problem. My problem is addressing all the things that complicate life that aren't "excuses" at all thereby putting the things I actually WANT on a back burner.

I thought I would try to look up an approximate number or percentage of how many resolutions are broken, how long they are kept, etc. real quick. I came across a site with an article implying that there is a science behind keeping and breaking resolutions. I gave it a look/listen. (http://tinyurl.com/9k4sjx)

Apparently, the "willpower muscle" in the brain is weak and "tough" tasks can exhaust the willpower part of your brain, which can cause you to break a New Year's resolution, especially if you have more than one resolution.

When first coming across this audio clip, I almost turned it off after the first few seconds, as I was incredulous. Findings suggested that those who were assigned a 7-digit number to memorize over those assigned a 2-digit number to memorize were almost twice as likely to choose chocolate cake over a fruit salad.

I don't buy that I would choose chocolate cake over a fruit salad and break my resolution to not eat sweets simply because I was assigned a 7-digit number to memorize rather than the 2-digit number. In fact, I KNOW I would choose the cake simply because I wanted the cake. I would view the opportunity to have that chocolate cake as a wonderful or convenient opportunity to eat that piece of cake....that cake I don't keep in the house, make myself, or that isn't readily available to me....see, I would justify why I should eat that rare piece of chocolate cake at that moment. It would be a very real conscious decision for me. I don't EVER have a goal on my mind that doesn't play into my daily decision-making process--I just simply make the choice, consciously; rationalize it; justify it; etc.

However, after thinking on it for a bit, maybe I would chose that cake because the willpower portion of my brain is more taxed by another task, one that isn't necessarily a priority to me, albeit just not as trivial as memorizing a 7-digit number or the "cake." Translation: Despite this audio clip implying it would be a subconscious decision to eat this cake, maybe the fact that I have momentarily placed another task higher in priority or that I have assigned five more tasks an equal weight of importance on the priority scale would thereby render it a subconscious act, i.e. I chose to eat that cake by consciously deciding to, but maybe I might not have if it were my ONLY priority. It is a valid point.

Let me explain further.....let's say that my top 5 current goals, in no specific order, are to lose weight, get my invention to market, get organized from under the mess I allowed people to create around me when I got too tired and temporarily gave up trying, to exercise, and to eat right all an equal importance ranking on my priority scale. I could very easily let eating right slip down a notch from the others on the day I'm viewing accomplishing an invention task critical. I could also let exercising slip down a notch on a day that I need to spend that 45 minutes researching manufacturers instead. Keep in mind that these are all goals no matter what else occurs throughout my day(s) as well. I could see that if I focused on only one goal, there is much less risk that I would choose that cake because it would be first and foremost on my mind, possibly the ONLY thing on my mind.

My work needs to get done, my house needs cleaning (even if only daily pick-ups and not deep cleaning), my invention requires attention, my children require my attention, family members periodically call for attention, friends periodically require attention, my husband requires attention, my marriage requires attention, food needs to be purchased and cooked, errands need to be run, the dog requires attention, the cars need some recall work, dentist appointments, hair appointments, school appointments, bills need to be paid, end-of-the-year reports need to be generated, taxes need to be done, people need to be paid, invoices need to go out, filing needs to be done, etc. (See, I even still left off myself requiring attention, but this is what I'm working toward!)

So how does a multi-tasking mother manage to accomplish it all? We all know that we accomplish many tasks throughout a day, and when you think about it, it is very rarely that you accomplish more than one at a time. You can't simultaneously load the dishwasher and sew some clothing, and if you can, I'd love to meet you! We are also often pulled off task, interrupted in the middle of a task, etc. (says the woman who just absolutely HAD to find a bin for the Diego track that hubbie insisted MUST have a place right now pulling me away from the to-do list of tasks I've placed a priority on.)

To me, with some reflection, the answer is clear.....you may be making the wrong resolutions or setting yourself up for failure straight outta the gate! You need to put systems into place to fix the things that ARE pulling you away, messing up your priority scale, and blocking your progress. Put systems into place that streamline functions and simplify life. Make minor changes to accommodate these new systems to find success. This is what I plan to blog about for the next few months as I fix each and every issue that causes me to gripe or simply causes me frustration.

All five of my goals will remain of equal importance to me, but they are goals and not resolutions. I'm not trying to set myself up for failure, but rather set myself up for success, which is why my resolution is to fix many other things before attempting what I would rather be focusing on. I'm putting the gears in motion for success. I must address the clutter issue, my to-do list, the organization of my family members, their participation/contribution to it all, etc. before I will find even remote triumph or success in the majority of the personal goals I've set for myself, those I consider to be my ultimate resolutions.

This means it is an ongoing process, one I started last April that was sidelined by something I placed greater emphasis on that had a six-month lifespan (a conscious decision). I need to eliminate that which makes me gripe, that which weighs heavily on my mind causing me to feel that neglectful, guilty feeling as I do what I'd rather be doing...that which gets in the way. Care to join me?

What tactics or approaches work for you? How do you find success? What makes you fail? Are they really ONLY excuses? I would love to hear about all the success stories and tips and tricks for accomplishing this success!