Healthy Mom

This year's shirt design.

I got my Race for the Cure shirt in the mail yesterday, which means it’s almost time for the big event.  This year’s event is October 16th.  It is my third year to run in the Little Rock Race for the Cure, a race that I am absolutely in love with.  I’ve blogged about it before here and here. The big draw for me is the purpose of the event (fighting breast cancer via screenings and research), which creates an electricity in the crowd that is palpable.  Over 40,000 women came downtown last year to take part.   You’ll float from the race expo with tons of cool giveaways (and the fanciest port-a-potties you’ll ever see), to the stage with the bands, through the mass of estrogen at the starting line, past three miles of men (including firemen, bikers, shriners, musicians, and of course all those kids and daddies) cheering along the way, and on to the grand finale: the pink wave of the survivors’ parade moving down Broadway.

This year I’m running as part of the KTHV/ team.  It’s a great opportunity to join up with other moms for a great cause.  I’ll be running the race, but other team members will be jogging or walking the 3.1 mile course, and others will be doing the 2k family walk/run with their kiddos in strollers.  If you’d like to join the team, you can get more information here, and register for the event here.  If large events aren’t your thing, or you just can’t make it, you can also donate to the Komen Race for the Cure through my fundraising page.

There are tons of other fun events surrounding Little Rock’s Race for the Cure.  Here are a couple you might like to know about:

Wednesday, September 22nd 6:30-8:30 @ Go! Running: GET YOUR PINK ON! Ladies Night Out.  Come on out to the Go! Running store for a fun evening of fashion, food, and facts (about Race for the Cure)  Go! Running will be offering some great discounts on their apparel and shoes, and you’ll even have a chance to win a pair of New Balance shoes!  If you’re on Facebook, you can learn more and RSVP here.

So, maybe you’re not into running or walking, but we can all spit, right?  Spit for the Cure recruits females 18 years and older to contribute a DNA sample (by spitting into a tube) and answer a short questionnaire.  This will be used to create a “bank” of information for future studies.  You can Spit for the Cure at the race, or you can contact Dr. Martha Phillips if you would like to participate via phone at 501-526-6413 or via email at mmphillips at uams dot edu.

Dillards is hosting Fit for the Cure at various locations across the state.  A $2 donation  will be made for every Wacoal & b.tempt’d bra fitting, plus an additional $2 donation for every bra or shape wear sold.  Check with your local Dillards to see if they are participating.  In Central Arkansas, the McCain Mall Dillards’ event will be October 7th.  Park Plaza Dillards’ event will be October 8th.

Cutting yourself on the lid is no longer the scariest thing about canned goods.

Yesterday, my friend Nicole sent me an email asking if I knew that most aluminum cans used to store food have linings that contain BPA, a chemical that’s been linked with cancer and other health problems.  I responded that I did know, and then started to feel guilty that I knew and didn’t tell her. On the one hand, the studies on BPA are somewhat controversial – some say BPA isn’t harmful at all – but still, I’m the mom who immediately bought BPA-free bottles and shelled out the big bucks for metal sippy cups when the BPA frenzy first broke.  So, EVERYONE, please know that the majority of the aluminum cans in your pantry contain BPA that could be leaching into your food.  Do what you will with the information, but if you decide to throw out all your canned goods, please donate it to a food bank,  (Is possibly BPA tainted food better than no food?  I think yes.) or at least recycle the cans.  If you want more information on BPA in aluminum cans, you can start here.

As if that weren’t enough, today I found out that an environmental group in California has found that several brands of juice and packaged fruit contain illegal amounts of lead.  These brands range from small local juice companies to national giants and include both organic and non-organic products.  All the products tested are marketed towards children. You can see the list of products tested here and get more information on the now formal case here.

So, another couple reasons to support local foods.  And avoid buying canned goods, or anything in a plastic bottle.  And start searching yard sales for a juicer. And figure out a way to grow your own apples.  And make one of your kids major in chemistry so you can understand all this stuff.

Nicole put it best in her email response to me: “Ugh!  Is there anything I can buy that won’t harm my child??”

Dasani is a brand of water bottled by Coca-Cola.  I did a little research into the origins of the word Dasani and found that it originates from the Coca-Cola marketing team. There is no definition for it, although one exec tried to insinuate that the word Dasani conjured a “Roman God of Water”.

For me, though, Dasani conjures visions of home, of my kids playing in the bathtub, of my sweaty yard man (hubby) drinking from the water hose, and even, *gasp* of me doing the dishes. You see, Dasani is bottled here in Little Rock.  From tap water.  Sure, they filter it (so do I, with a Brita pitcher), and they add some salt and potassium chloride (you know, the stuff in the chemical cocktail used for lethal injections) to it for taste, but it’s essentially bottled tap water, bargain priced at $1.50 per 20 ounces. So, it’s not quite champagne, but if I want to get my yuppie on, I can boast that I bathe my children and wash my dishes in Dasani (without the salt and the criminal-killer).

On the other hand, on the rare occasion when I am caught somewhere without my reusable water bottle or with a whiny, thirsty child with no sippy cup, I feel like a hypocrite buying a blue-labeled bottle.  As soon as I open the cooler, I know there’s a big blue light flashing above my head as I make my way to the checkout and the PA blares the announcement “Attention shoppers, we have a compromised tree-hugger making her way to checkout number seven!” But I still have to do it sometimes.

Can you find your favorite brand?

So, my point here, mostly, is that the word Dasani is about as valuable as the product it’s stamped on: a definition-less word for a re-styled, up-saled product, as are MANY of the bottled waters you find on store shelves.  So, think twice before you reach for that fancy bottled water.

Also, my blue “compromised tree-hugger” light will go off again if I don’t point out the other problem with bottled water.  I know you already know what it is, but I have to say it anyway.  Americans alone throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.  If you like water on the go, get your own container and use it, use it, use it, but don’t throw it away.  In fact, if you’re hell-bent on supporting the local (Arkansas) contained water industry, I’ll recommend CynerGreen: a local, family run company whose mission is “saving the world, one bottle at a time.” In the long run, it’ll save you money and it’ll save your kids from having to live amidst heaps of plastic.

In case you missed it in the comments section of my Hungry Kids post, Brooke over at Parenting from Scratch tipped me off to this great event that addresses local food AND hungry kids.  Sounds like an excellent way to spend the evening.

Join the ROOT for a Friday Night Dinner on Friday, April 9th, 2010, at Christ Episcopal Church (6th and Scott in downtown Little Rock).  Enjoy a sit-down meal made from delicious local ingredients followed by a presentation from the Arkansas Rice Depot, Arkansas’ only statewide food-bank network, about their 28 years of important work combating hunger in Arkansas.

Dinner will be served at 6:30 pm.  Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for kids.  Please RSVP to and specify meat or vegetarian option.  Five percent of ticket sales will be donated to the Arkansas Rice Depot to support their mission of finding “sensible solutions to hunger in Arkansas.”  Guests may also arrive early for an art exhibit opening and reception in the Christ Church Gallery for artist Lynn Bell starting at 5:00 pm.

Friday we were running a little behind in getting ready for school.  Carina generally doesn’t like to eat breakfast until she’s been awake for an hour or so.  When it came time to leave, we had run out of time for breakfast, and Carina wasn’t hungry anyway.  I handed her a granola bar and asked her to please eat it on the way to school. 15 minutes later, as I unstrapped her from her car seat, she took the first bite out of the granola bar.  I wasn’t about to send her in to her teachers (and 10 male classmates) toting a big chunk of stickyness, so I put her granola bar on the seat.  I knew she would have a mid-morning snack and I hoped it would be enough to tide her over til I picked her up at 11:30.

I was camped at the library across the street when the inevitable phone call came.  It was Carina’s teacher letting me know that Carina had a tummy ache and that she just wasn’t acting like her normal self.  When I arrived to pick her up, she ran into my arms and cried while her teacher testified, “You can tell she just doesn’t feel good.  She isn’t her normal happy self.  She wouldn’t even color!”  I thanked Carina’s teachers and headed to the car with her.  She was channeling some serious mama drama, sobbing and telling me how she “ate something yucky that has to come out” before her tummy would feel better.  I handed her the granola bar before I started buckling her in, and by the time I finished, it was half gone. She finished the granola bar on the way home, chatting and laughing between telling me that her tummy “rery hurts”. Once we got home, she ate half a turkey burger, a slice of tomato, a big piece of cheese, and a pickle.

Granola is to Breakfast as Ketchup is to Vegetable?

It seems the only thing affecting Carina’s tummy, her disposition, and her inability to color was her hunger.  I thought about the hundreds of thousands of kids that go to school without breakfast every day.  Kids whose tummies, dispositions, and learning abilities are never at their best, and whose mothers aren’t waiting across the street at the library when the teacher calls. Many of these children also go without dinner every night when they get home. The free lunches they get at school are their only real meal of the day.  Some schools have federally funded breakfast programs, and some schools have even implemented weekend back pack programs, in which needy children take home back packs full of easy to prepare food to get them through the weekend.  But, these programs have been repeatedly criticized for providing nutritionally deficient foods, further compounding the problem of hungry kids at school.

That night, after Carina was well fed and snug in her bed, I read an email from Senator Blanche Lincoln’s (D-Ark) office touting a new Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act.  The act provides more funding than ever before to federal school nutrition programs.  It seems like an exciting step in the right direction.  However, as the wife of a dentist who has stood before school boards to argue the need to remove soda machines from schools, I know that the word “nutrition” can be twisted to fit the needs of million dollar revenue sources (aka school contracts with beverage suppliers with names that start with COK and PEP). I see that Senator Lincoln’s plan has the endorsement of the American Beverage Association, but also the American Diabetes Association, the American Dietetic Association, and the American Heart Association.  So, we will have to wait and see if the act can meet its lofty goals for school food nutrition without corporate compromise.

I think it is very sad that it has become the responsibility of our educational system to provide caloric sustenance for millions of our nation’s children, but the alternative is even sadder.

As part of my quest to feed my family more local foods, I have been wishing for a garden. Not a big garden, because I have no idea what I am doing. Just a little garden that we can try out; a place to grow a few vegetables and maybe some flowers; a fun spot for the kids to use their little garden trowels and get dirty. I love to pick things, and I think the kids will get a big kick out of eating things they have grown themselves.

I have an awesomely handy husband who I am thankful for. He spent the bulk of this past weekend obliging my wishes by building a raised garden bed in the back yard.

The kids helped him too. When I explained to Carina that Daddy was building a garden bed for growing vegetables, she asked, “Are we going to lay down on the vegetables?” I know better than to try to share Craig’s workspace (two type-A personalities don’t mix well on home improvement projects), but I did help add in the dirt. The finished product is fantastic!

Admittedly, I am a little intimidated by this whole gardening thing. However, the more research I do, the more I find that gardening is not only a great project for kids, it’s a great project for type-A personalities. I stayed up way too late last night figuring out when our various seeds need to be planted and sketching out our garden “floor plan”.

Today Carina and I planted the carrots and radishes in neat little rows (we’re already behind schedule for those!), and then we made a garden calendar so we would know when to plant our other seeds and when to expect the seedlings to start appearing. The calendar became a necessity when Carina started asking me every 10 minutes if she could go see if the “carrots and those other things we planted, what are they called? oh, radishes, are ready yet.”  Tomorrow we are going to start our tomato and pepper seeds in fiber cups. Carina has her planting outfit all picked out.

Hopefully SOMETHING will grow, and the deer, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, and birds will save some for us. If anyone loves to hand out free gardening advice, I am happy to take it. How DOES your garden grow?

My February One Small Change pledge was to use our cloth diapers more.  Easy enough – consider it done!  We’ve definitely been using those cloth diapers more, and thanks to the warmer weather, we’ve been using the clothes line to dry them too!  We’ve also made progress on our January pledge to use more local foods – we got our first Basket A Month (BAM) CSA, which included bacon, turnip greens, cheese, honey, rice, sweet potatoes, milk, and butter – all grown and made locally!  I also scored big when I met up with my blog buddy, The Park Wife, and she brought me 18 beautiful brown eggs fresh from her very own chickens!

Our March One Small Change is not so small – we’re planting a garden!  Hubby is going to build us a raised garden bed and we’ll make our first ever attempt at growing our own vegetables, and maybe even a few herbs.  We have no idea what we’re doing, but that’s what google is for.  I’m excited to try this out, and to watch the kids have fun in the dirt!

In January, I posted about the One Small Change project.  This is my February report.

In January, I pledged to start feeding my family more local food.  Turns out that January is not the most ideal time of year to  make such a change.  No farmers markets open, not much being grown locally, and my family was out of town nearly half the month.  I did sign up for the Basket a Month (BAM) program through the Central Arkansas Farmers Market, but due to weather and lack of production, the January basket was cancelled.  So, in the end, while I do have some local food scheduled to come my way via the BAM, my family and I have not increased our local food intake.  hum.  My short-term solution is that I’m planning to put together an order from either the CAFM online market or Petit Jean Farm.  I’m not sure which because I have a head cold that is making it hard for me to think about food.  I also have a plan to meet with fellow Arkansas blogger, The Park Wife, who runs a Farmers Market.  I’m hoping she can help me out with resources and tips.

For FEBRUARY, my One Small Change is that I plan on getting back into using my cloth diapers more on Callen.  Somehow, with all the travel, the cold temps that discourage me from getting them out on the clothes line, and just the general fast-fastness of life, I have not been using my cloth diapers as I should.  So, for February, less disposable and more cloth!  Hopefully this is one change that will become defunct by the end of this year because we won’t need ANY diapers.  A mommy can dream, anyway.

Nicole!  Are you out there cleaning something with homemade cleaner?  Post and let us know how your January One Small Change turned out.

Heifer Ranch

As I mentioned in my last post, there have been a few things preventing me from keeping up with my blog ramblings.  One of those items is something that I am quite proud to announce here – MOMcation 2010!  MOMcation 2010 is a retreat for moms – a chance to get away from the daily grind, connect with other moms, learn a few new things, and most importantly, relax. Heifer Ranch, located near Perryville AR (about 45 min. NW of Little Rock), will be the location of the retreat. You can visit the website to learn more:

The idea started with my own MOMcations (MOM vacations).  On a MOMcation with my friend Kristen, I hatched the idea of creating a series of retreats for women and families.  Several of my friends have asked me to include them in my next MOMcation. So, MOMcation 2010 was born.  Luckily, I have a great group of moms who have volunteered to be the planning committee, and hubby has put in tons of hours to make the website functional.

I’m very excited about this new project, and hope all you mommies within traveling distance will come out and join us for a weekend of fun and relaxation.

I just learned about a great blogger movement called One Small Change.  The basic concept is that between now and Earth Day (April 22, 2010), each participating household makes one change to be more earth friendly and blogs about each month’s change, so that by the time Earth Day rolls around everyone has made four changes and shared those changes with others.  I love this idea because it gives me a way to FOCUS (That’s my word for the year.  More on that later.) on greening our household, and also prompts me to do more blogging about environmental topics, which I’ve been wanting to do.

I’ve actually already told you about the first change for our household in my post about resolutions.  The first change will be to eat more local foods.

I would love it if you would join me in this adventure.  Check out the One Small Change webpage, and post about your change on your blog.  If you don’t have a blog, you can leave a comment on this post saying what your January change is.  Then, when I post in February, you can comment with your February change, and so on.

I’m headed over to the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market website to see about placing an order through their online market!

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