Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

January 30, 2012

Interesting Looking Not So New Children’s Books

Filed under: Books — by dsuzuki @ 10:40 pm

I went away for the first time for a girl’s weekend away leaving my two kids home with my parents and my husband.  I have to admit it was strange being away from them for two days and a night but it was a lot of fun.  They were always there in the back of my mind though and as we explored the wonderful little stores in downtown historic Sonoma I found the most interesting looking books that I really want to pick up for my four year old.  Have you read any of these?  What did you think?

This is the Way We Go to School by Edith Baer

Summary from Goodreads.com: Some children walk to school; others ride a bus. Children go by ferry in New York, vaporetto in Italy, trolley car in San Francisco, and helicopter in the Alaskan Tundra. With fun-filled rhymes and colorful illustrations, children will discover just how much fun getting to school can be.

Somewhere in the World Right Now by Stacey Schuett

Since my daughter has been on her space/solar system kick she has found it fascinating that while it’s night time here it is actually day time on the other side of the world and vice versa.  So when I browsed through this book I immediately wanted to get it to read to my daughter.  It talks about all the different things children around the world are doing at the same moment whether it be getting ready for bed or getting ready to go to school.

On the Same Day In March: A Tour of the World’s Weather by Marilyn Singer

This was another book I thought my daughter would enjoy as it will surprise her that on the same day it could be cold and snowy somewhere and warm and sunny somewhere else.

Let’s Do Nothing by Tony Fucile

Summary from Goodreads.com: Frankie and Sal have already played every sport and board game invented, baked and eaten batches of cookies, and painted a zillion pictures. What’s left to do? Nothing! Ten seconds of nothing! Can they do it? Can they act like stone statues in the park? Can they simply hold their breath and not blink an eye? With a wink to the reader and a command of visual humor, feature film animator Tony Fucile demonstrates the Zen-like art of doing nothing…oops! Couldn’t do it!

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January 26, 2012

Lead in Crockpots?

Filed under: Child Safety — by dsuzuki @ 4:19 am

In my effort to raise the family a little healthier and greener one of my baby boards at Babycenter.com got me started on researching various concerns regarding things like lead in dishes, melamine dishes, etc.  I will try to post what I find on each topic here once I’ve completed my research.  Here are the posts I’ve put up so far:

Today I’m looking into lead in crock pots.  I’ve never been a big crock pot user but everyone I know swears by them and being a full time working mother of two if it can save me time in the kitchen I’m all for it.  So imagine my dismay when someone mentioned that not only do some crock pots contain lead but this is even more disturbing than lead in dishes because crock pots are on for extended periods of time with our food sitting in it.

Here’s some info I posted about lead in dishes:

I looked up the lead guidelines posted on the FDA website back in 2010 here.  It mentions that lead can be present in glazes or decorations covering the surface of traditional pottery and this lead can leach into food and drink prepared, stored or served on these dishes.  These lines freaked me out

“infants, young children and the developing fetus can be affected by chronic exposure to amounts of lead that may not result in obvious symptoms of lead poisoning. A child with lead poisoning may not look or act sick.

Lead poisoning in children has been linked to:
  • learning disabilities
  • developmental delays
  • lower IQ scores”

Here is some information I came across about the dangers of lead “once you have ingested lead, the FDA estimates than an adult will absorb around 11% of the lead ingested, and for kids it can range from 30% to 75%.  It should also be noted that once in your system, lead hangs around for a long time.  Lead’s half-life is 20 years, so that means that in twenty years from now, half of the lead that you absorb today will still be there in your body wrecking havoc on your system.” (From the Prosper Organics website)

So my main concern here is that even if the FDA regulates that only a certain amount of lead leaching is ok but that lead stays in your body for decades then it could be accumulating into toxic levels right?

Again one of the most common sites I found was the KUTV investigates article about how

“Gephardt took several slow cookers to Data Chem lab in Salt Lake City to be tested. He found that 20 percent of the cookers were leaching out measurable amounts of lead into food. When ceramic ware is heated to just 80-degrees, it releases nearly 10-times the amount of lead as a plate at room temperature. (Something to keep in mind when you heat food in the micro-wave on ceramic dishes.) Crock pots can heat up to more than 250-degrees.” (Lead Poisoning and Crock Pots)

I don’t know how many “several” was but he took one of the Rival crock pots in to be tested and found the Rival slow cooker leached lead at .085 parts per million. Anything below 2.0 is considered acceptable by the FDA.  But like I mention above lead can accumulate in your system.

From what I can tell crock pots are similar to dishes in which they may contain lead but the manufacturers all say they are sealed and meet FDA lead guidelines.  Of course this still means if your crock pot has a hairline crack, scratches, etc the lead could leak through and considering how long your food is in there pose a greater risk than dishes.  Also there is the fact that more people are likely to keep using a crock pot that looks to have only minor damage like a chip rather than toss it and buy a new one.

One thing I found is “The Australian Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts warns that ceramic products with fractured or corroded glazing is dangerous. This corrosion is identified by a easily identified chalky-grey residue on the product that persists after washing.”(How Dangerous Is Lead in Crockpots & Dishes? | eHow.com) I know my crock pot looked like it has some sort of residue left on it no matter how much I scrub so you can bet I’m off to go check that asap.

So which crock pots do contain lead in their enamel?  Apparently it hasn’t been easy to find out.

Lead Free

Essenergy (VitaClay): the cookware is mineral-rich and chemical-free – no lead or non-stick coatings! Meals are easy to create and a snap to clean up. (From their About page) One concern here mentioned at one site is that the clay itself might contain lead so even if they are not adding any lead it could still potentially contain lead. Not sure how accurate that is.

Proctor Silex: Does the crock contain lead? No. There is no lead or cadmium in the crock. (From their FAQs)

KitchenAid: I did an online chat with KitchenAid customer service and it looks like their crock pot is lead free:

Agnes M.: Thank you for contacting KitchenAid! My name is Agnes M.. I will be with you momentarily.
Debbie: Thank you Agnes
Agnes M.: Hello Ms. Suzuki, How can I assist you today?
Debbie : I have been searching for a slow cooker that does not contain any lead included lead enamel that is sealed and was wondering if the KitchenAid slow cooker was lead free?
Agnes M.: Yes it is.
Agnes M.: What else can I assist you with today?
Debbie : so the enamel is also lead free?
Agnes M.: Yes,
Debbie : great, thank you so much!
Agnes M.: You’re Welcome and Thank you for contacting KitchenAid. You have a good evening.
Debbie : you too

Contains Lead But Within FDA Guidelines

Rival: Several people mention calling Rival and basically being told they meet FDA guidelines which I suppose we can take to mean they do contain lead but as long as your crock pot has no cracks, crackles, etc then they are safe. Otherwise they may leach lead.

Hamilton Beach: Hamilton Beach specifications applicable to all slow cookers and their components (including the earthenware crocks) prohibits the product from containing any measurable amounts of lead. Furthermore, the factories that manufacture the earthenware crocks for Hamilton Beach are certified ceramic production facilities whose ceramic ware is deemed to satisfy FDA heavy metal requirements. Hamilton Beach takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the earthenware crocks accompanying our slow cookers provide safe and satisfactory service to our consumers. (From their website)

West Bend: The most visible surface layer of stoneware, called the glaze, is a protective coating for the vessel. Glazes for cooking vessels are designed for food contact. Glazes are inspected for maximum allowable amounts of trace elements in accordance with the United States Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines. If the glazes are chipped or cracked, the vessel should not be used.

Small areas, typically on the bottom rim, may not receive a coat of glaze. This is a normal manufacturing process. Unglazed areas, tiny pits or other cosmetic defects do not pose any unsafe food concerns. If any area of your stoneware vessel appears to be cracked, it should be replaced.

Please refer to the instruction manual included with your product for specific care and use guidelines. (From their FAQs)

 

January 22, 2012

Raining Rainbows

Filed under: Science Activities — by dsuzuki @ 10:55 pm
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I came across this experiment on Pinterest as usual and since my husband had some cheap shaving cream we decided to give it a whirl.  We used an empty plastic candy jar, filled it with water and then the shaving cream.

Initially I put the food coloring in measuring spoons since my four year old daughter tends to get food color happy when squeezing the bottle but I finally caved and just let her add it as she wished.

It was very cool watching the food coloring slowly make it’s way through the shaving cream and “rain” down into the water.  (I have to admit I probably was more excited than she was though) lol. Though she did have fun trying to predict which color was going to seep through next.

While my husband and I were busy watching the colors rained down she was raring to go and start mixing things up and it was pretty neat watching the swirling, cloudy look at the shaving cream started to mix with the water.  On a side note-I found it funny that as her grandpa walked by he asked very warily what were we making and if that was dinner.  Heehee.

My 18 month old wanted to get in on the action as well.

Once that was all said and done it seemed like such a waste to toss it out right away.  So I pulled out a cookie sheet and let the kids finger/hand paint on it using the colored shaving cream.  Little did I know how messy it would get because my son got so excited and started clapping his hands which sprayed the shaving cream all over the kitchen.

We ended up doing it twice mostly because I think they kiddos enjoyed the playing with the cream with their hands more so than watching the rainy rainbows.  But hey, as long as they have fun right?

January 19, 2012

Melamine Dishes

Filed under: Child Safety — by dsuzuki @ 4:45 am
Tags:

In my effort to raise the family a little healthier and greener one of my baby boards at Babycenter.com got me started on researching various concerns regarding things like lead in dishes, melamine dishes, etc.  I will try to post what I find on each topic here once I’ve completed my research.  If you missed my post about lead in dishes you can check that out here.

“What Is Melamine?

  • Melamine is an organic compound, created by combining urea with formaldehyde to produce a hard and sturdy resin. Melamine resin is fire and heat resistant, durable, and versatile. It is used to produce tiles, whiteboard and a variety of kitchen items, including melamine dishes.

History

  • Melamine was first developed in the 1830s. It was first regularly used for plastics and laminates in the 1930s. Melamine dishes were used on U.S. Navy ships during World War II. In the 1950s, amidst a desire for everything new and modern, melamine or “Melmac” dinnerware became both a stylish and practical addition to the American home. Melamine dishes scratched easily and fell out of favor in the 1970s. Read more: Is Melamine Safe in Dishes? | eHow.com

  • The scare a few years ago pertained to melamine actually being added to baby formula which is toxic and can cause many issues such as kidney stones and renal failure.

Leaching

On SafeMama.com they mention:

“a report from the National Toxicology Program that states,Melamine resin, a hard thermosetting polymer made from melamine and formaldehyde, is widely used in the US in the form of kitchenware, including plates, bowls, mugs and utensils. Reports in the literature indicate that some kitchenware based on melamine resin leach considerable amounts of melamine monomer. A migration of up to 2.5 mg melamine/ 100 cm2 was observed under conditions that simulate an exposure to hot acidic foods…”

In my search for what is a safe level of leaching I came across this study in PubMed, Survey of the migration of melamine and formaldehyde from melamine food contact articles available on the UK market, which states
“Melamine is restricted by a specific migration limit (SML) of 30 mg/kg (equivalent to 5 mg/dm(2)) and formaldehyde, along with hexamethylenetetramine expressed as formaldehyde, is restricted by a total (T) SML(T) of 15 mg/kg (equivalent to 2.5 mg/dm(2)). In all cases the migration of melamine was much lower than the SML for this monomer. The migration of formaldehyde exceeded the SML(T) for 5 of the 50 samples tested. The failure to comply with the SML(T) was accompanied by a number of visible surface effects including discolouration and/or pitting of the simulant contact surface and cracking of the articles.”
The FDA also posted about their testing:
“It has been found that melamine does not migrate from melamine-formaldehyde tableware into most foods.  The only measured migration, in tests, was from some samples (three out of 19 commercially available plates and cups) into acidic foods, under exaggerated conditions (that is, the food was held in the tableware at 160 oF for two hours).  When adjusted for actual-use conditions (cold orange juice held in the tableware for about 15 minutes), the migration would be less than 10 parts of melamine per billion parts of juice. This is 250 times lower than the level of melamine (alone or even in combination with related compounds – analogues – known to increase its toxicity) that FDA has concluded is acceptable in foods other than infant formula (2,500 parts per billion); in other words, well below the risk level.  In addition, such highly acidic foods make up only about 10% of the total diet, so the dietary level of melamine in these scenarios would be less than one part per billion.” (Melamine in Tableware: Questions and Answers)
Now I’m horrible at converting measurements but so far most of what I found says that eating from melamine dishes is safe as long as you do not microwave them, place very hot food on them or leave acidic food on them for long periods of time.

Precautions

The common recommendations to limit melamine leaching appears to be:

Conclusion

So the overall consensus appears to be as long as there are no defects (cracks, buckling, chips, etc.) in your dishes melamine dishes are safe provided you do not microwave them.  Some caution that while the FDA does say the low levels that do leach into food will naturally be excreted by the body “safe levels” can always change and if you are really worried you should err on the side of not using them.

Up next…

I’ll be moving onto researching what I had hoped to start utilizing more this year, my crockpot!

January 18, 2012

Little Oink by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Filed under: Books — by dsuzuki @ 11:39 am
Tags: , , , ,

When I went shopping to buy two children’s books for our children’s holiday book swap with some of my friends I felt bad not picking up anything for my own daughter.  We love Little Pea and Little Hoot from Rosenthal so when I saw Little Oink I had to pick it up and browse through it.  It is the most adorable book!  We finally made our way to it last week and both my daughter and I love reading it together at bed time.  It’s about poor Little Oink who is envious of all his friends who get to clean up their rooms, put away their toys, etc. where as he is forced to turn his room into a pig sty before he is free to go play.  It cracks my daughter up when his parents say they still see toys in his toy box because I’m always telling to make sure she puts her toys back in her toy boxes.  In the end after his room is a proper pig sty Little Oink rushes off to play his favorite game, clean up house!  If you have little ones who are fans of the other “Little” books definitely pick this one up.  I think it is our favorite of the three we have read so far.  The kids will definitely get a kick out of a little pig who WANTS to clean up but can’t.

January 14, 2012

Lead Free Dishes? BPA free? Melamine? My Head is Spinning

Filed under: Child Safety — by dsuzuki @ 8:47 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I have a little confession to make.  You know that saying about “burying your head in the sand” to avoid something?  That has always been me about all these scares about BPA, mercury in vaccinations, lead in dishes, etc.  There always seems to be something new to be afraid of and then people saying it’s being blown out of proportion and why don’t we all just live in a bubble.  Now that I have two kids and I even find it strange that it seems like kids today have all sorts of allergies I don’t recall being as common when I was growing up and autism seems to be on the rise (a doctor friend mentioned this is because diagnosis are more accurate and likely to realize kids are autistic) but I still wonder.  A discussion about lead in dishes on one of my bargain discussion boards finally made me get off my butt and start looking into this.  A lot of this information came from them and sources they posted and my own online sources.  NOTE:  I don’t claim to be an expert, to have done an exhaustive search or have verified every source I mention.  This is all just food for thought.  As some people have pointed out replacing our existing dishes can be expensive & honestly with one parent out of work and the other possibly being laid off later in the year we can’t afford to go on a spending spree BUT I am definitely going to try my best to minimize my kids exposure to as many of these iffy things as possible.  Thanks to the wonderful ladies on the BabyCenter Coupon Deals For Bargain Hunters board for all the great info and for getting me started doing my own research!

Lead in Dishes

At the pediatrician one of the first questions we were asked after the birth of each child was do we live in a home with lead paint, is the paint chipping, etc and about possible lead exposure in older homes.  Not once did anyone mention lead in dishes to me and I naively assumed that if the dish is on the market it must be safe.  I looked up the lead guidelines posted on the FDA website back in 2010 here.  It mentions that lead can be present in glazes or decorations covering the surface of traditional pottery and this lead can leach into food and drink prepared, stored or served on these dishes.  These lines freaked me out

“infants, young children and the developing fetus can be affected by chronic exposure to amounts of lead that may not result in obvious symptoms of lead poisoning. A child with lead poisoning may not look or act sick.

Lead poisoning in children has been linked to:
  • learning disabilities
  • developmental delays
  • lower IQ scores”

Here is some information I came across about the dangers of lead “once you have ingested lead, the FDA estimates than an adult will absorb around 11% of the lead ingested, and for kids it can range from 30% to 75%.  It should also be noted that once in your system, lead hangs around for a long time.  Lead’s half-life is 20 years, so that means that in twenty years from now, half of the lead that you absorb today will still be there in your body wrecking havoc on your system.” (From the Prosper Organics website)

Now in this day and age you assume everything should be lead free BUT for folk pottery some of the old kilns may still have the residue of the lead glaze that can unintentionally contaminate the piece.  FDA regulations state that these types of ceramics must have a warning on them that they may not be safe for food use but I think I will still stay away from these.

Low-lead Enamels

The other tricky thing dishes can contain lead up to a “safe level”.  I read an explanation of Proposition 65 in California which from what I gather is supposed to be more stringent than the FDA guidelines and it says that warnings have to be placed on products that contain any of the elements listed in the prop unless it is below the stated guidelines.  For example,

“For chemicals that are listed as causing cancer, the “no significant risk level” is defined as the level of exposure that would result in not more than one excess case of cancer in 100,000 individuals exposed to the chemical over a 70-year lifetime. In other words, a person exposed to the chemical at the “no significant risk level” for 70 years would not have more than a “one in 100,000” chance of developing cancer as a result of that exposure.” (From the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment page “Proposition 65 in Plain Language“)

So this means companies like say Corelle can side step answering the question if their dishes contain lead by saying:

“All CORELLE® stoneware products and glazes are made of clay-based materials and glazes used throughout the industry. Decorations, if present, are made from low-lead enamels and fired at temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees F, which binds any heavy metals both physically and chemically so that their release is minimized.” (From their FAQ page answering the question Does Corelle contain lead?)

Now someone pointed out this is fine and dandy if your dishes are pristine and have never been scratched, have crackles, cracks or chips.  But if they do then it’s possible for that lead to begin leaching out and into your food.  So after years of exposure what would the affects be?  Especially for kids who I know at least for myself we use Corelle because they are so durable and withstand the kids dropping them.

What Are the Chances?

Now if you are like me you are probably thinking ok but what are the chances that their is lead leaching in my dishes AND that this is going to have a negative affect on me or my children?  Well, check out this article about one couple’s daughter who was having trouble concentrating and after being tested for heavy metals was found to have elevated levels of lead.  Water tested out ok.  House was newer and no lead paint. Then they tested their dishes. They found their dishes contained 27,600 parts per million of lead.  Is this a lot?  Well according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission it’s illegal for toys or other children’s products to contain more than 300 parts per million of lead.

13 Investigates in Indianapolis obtained an Innov-X Systems XRF analyzer and received training on using it to test other dishes. “Of the 315 plates, bowls and mugs analyzed, 113 (36%) exceeded the CPSC lead limit of 300 ppm used as a benchmark for children’s products. One out of ten dishes contained more than 10,000 ppm of lead, and several of them topped 100,000 ppm.”

The Marion County Health Department said that their is no reason for consumers to worry because it’s not the level of lead in the dish that matters, it’s the amount that leaches out into your food and into your body.  The FDA believes that glazing does provide an adequate barrier to protect people from the lead in dishes. (Article here) But with lead levels possibly as high as mentioned above should we risk it?  One woman who found her daughter had a high level of lead said:

“Those plates may be fine for a couple of years, but then when you’re cutting things on them, day in and day out, heating them up in the microwave and it’s breaking down that glaze, then what happens?” and the article goes on to say “Even industry insiders admit, that’s still a question.”

Just in a very brief search about testing lead levels in dishes I was surprised to see how many of those news investigate segments were done about lead levels in dishes and how most of them did find higher levels of lead than is safe.  Here are a few if you want to check them out and they also list labs where you can get your dishes tested:

What to Look For?

Unfortunately trying to figure out what dishes are safe isn’t easy.  Just because a dish is white doesn’t mean it’s lead free.  Here are a few guidelines I’ve come across during my research:

  • Lead in dishes wasn’t regulated until the 1970s so dishes made before then are much more likely to contain lead
  • Dishes that have crackles, cracks, chips, scratches from using a steak knife on them, etc could potentially allow lead to leach through.
  • Traditional folk ceramic dishes from other countries are also more likely to test high for lead levels

What Companies Have to Say

*NOTE there are a ton of companies out there and this is in no way an exhaustive list.  These are just some of the companies I came across in my research or from other discussions.

Companies Who Are Lead Free

Apilco: I couldn’t find anything on the William & Sonoma website but I checked out a few of the descriptions for various Apilco products on Amazon.com and they liste “It’s also lead-, arsenic-, and cadmium-free” or something to that effect. (Amazon.com)

Bennington Potters: Their site highlights a quote “Thank you, thank you, thank you for still making dinnerware proudly made in the USA and without lead or cadmium.” and under their Everyday Dinnerware section it states “Choose from 10 beautiful shades. All lead-free and microwave safe!”

Dansk: I couldn’t find information on their website but this blog author states that she contacted the company and they claimed to be lead free. (Wild in the City)

Denby USA: Feel at ease when using Denby as we have provided a safe product for you and your family. NO LEAD or cadmium is used during the manufacturing process of any Denby product. (From their Why Choose Denby page)

Hartstone Pottery: All body, glaze, and paint raw materials are lead and cadmium free. Our product is California Proposition 65 compliant. (From their About Hartstone page)

HF Coors: HF Coors dishes are lead free, microwave, oven, broiler, freezer, dishwasher and even BUSBOY safe! (From their About page)

Homer Laughlin China Company: Specializing in high-fired, lead- free glazes with an Alpha Alumina body, Homer Laughlin remains the largest domestic pottery employing over 1100 skilled workers in a 37 acre facility. As a leader in the china design and manufacturing market, Homer Laughlin has pursued the issues that matter most: lead-free dinnerware, durability, contemporary design and timely delivery. (From their Company Information) They are probably most well known for their Fiesta line of dishes (note this is for their newer line so if buying older dishes from flea markets, Goodwills, etc it’s not guaranteed they are lead free).

Companies Who Say Their Dishes Are Safe (You Decide)

Corelle: Like mentioned above they use low lead glaze but it’s supposedly sealed so it won’t leach. (Corelle’s FAQ page)

Emile Henry: There is no lead or cadmium in our products, all of the glazes meet California Prop 65, and all of the products are 100% food safe. Offered in a large variety of colors, the glazes will not craze, discolor or fade over time. (From their About page) I listed them here even though they say no lead or cadmium because of the first comment on this post that said theirs tested positive for lead.  I don’t know what the deal really is.

Pfaltzgraff: So the author of this blog says she contacted the company and the reply was “It is our Company Policy to use only lead-free glazes, pigments or decals in our porcelain, stoneware, china and earthenware products. We know of no company with a more stringent policy with respect to the use of lead, cadmium and other contaminants than Pfaltzgraff.”  However, the statement on their FAQ page says “Pfaltzgraff, a Lifetime Brands company, stands behind the safety and quality of all of its products. All of our products are tested by accredited, independent laboratories and meet or exceed all federal standards relating to lead and other contaminants.” As stated above federal standards don’t say dishes have to be lead free, just that they contain safe levels so I’m not sure on this one.

Sengware: Lead– and cadmium–free (From their About Products page)

Terra Keramik: I wasn’t able to get their US site to load but found a few articles that list it as lead and cadium free.  This article states “Combined with lead and cadmium-free glazes, the result is a lovely rainbow of cups, teapots, plates and bowls.” (Inhabitat.com)

Iffy

Lenox: I couldn’t find any info on their website but this blog author states that she contacted the company and they said “In response to your inquiry regarding the lead content in our products, lead can be found in our tableware, crystal products and hand-painted products.” (Wild in the City)

Noritake: if you check out the comments in this post by doing a search for Noritake you will see some very roundabout answers in regard to whether or not their products contain lead.  One post did say that when they ordered some dishes they did arrive with the California Prop 65 warning that the dish could expose a person to lead.  This was in regard to the Harvest line.  On the Macy’s site the description for this ColorWave plate from Noritake says “lead free glaze” so I’m not so sure about this company. (Macy’s site)

Pillivuyt: I also couldn’t find an official website statement but some of the items on Amazon do state “lead-free glaze” but not all the ones I looked at.

Other Alternatives

So it appears a lot of people recommend instead of taking chances you can also switch to glass ware.  Of course those like me with kids or who are just plain clumpsy themselves are a little hesitant to fill our kitchens with glassware.  Here are some other alternatives I’ve come across and am curious to hear from those who have tried them out.

Duralex: they list some benefits of Duralex to be “impact and chip resistant”, “shock resistant”, “safety” and “Hygienic” among others. (Benefits of Tempered Glassware page on their site).  They even have a line called Duralex Kids but from the few reviews I’ve read opinion is split on if they are any more durable than other glass dishes.  I also found it confusing that some people say when the dishes shattered they broke into sharp pieces while others said they broke into small pieces that were not sharp.  Anyone own any and have an opinion?

Green Sprouts: it’s a line from I Play that says it’s made of BPA free plastics, natural, non-petroleum materials, natural fibers and PVC-free materials. (From their About page)

Ikea: According to Safemama.com the Kala line is BPA, PVC and Phthalates free and is not made of melamine.  We have the plates and bowls and love them.  I need to go back and get the cups.  You can check out Safe Mama’s cheatsheet on BPA, PVC, Phthalates and Melamine free dishes for kids here.

Thermos: They’re containers are BPA free and we have used both the Foogoo and Funtainer cups for our kids to keep their milk warm.

More kid dishes suggestions at Smart Mommy Healthy Baby.

Testing For Lead

There are lead testing kits that you can pick up from Home Depot, Lowe’s, order from Amazon, etc.  Consumer Reports tested 5 different kits and you can read some of the comments here.  These kits only test for lead on the surface so it’s not a guarantee that your dishes do not contain lead.  It only tests if lead has leached and is present on the surface of the dish.

XRF Testing can tell you whether lead is present in your dishes.  I couldn’t find actual costs to rent a scanner because the websites I visited all said to contact them for pricing info which I take to mean it’s probably pretty pricey.

Phew, is your head spinning yet?  And I haven’t even looked too deeply into melamine dishes which I know are sitting in my cabinets.  Keep an eye out for more on that soon!

What Will I Do?

In the end the one common company I saw mentioned over and over as lead free, BPA free, safe for kids, etc was Ikea so since money is tight I will definitely be starting there to replace the dishes my kids eat from with the Ikea Kala dishes.

Resources Used

BabyCenter Coupon Deals for Bargain Hunters

FDA: Questions and Answers on Lead-Glazed Traditional Pottery

Prosper Organics

Proposition 65 in Plain Language

WTVR CBS6 Investigates, Richmond, VA

13 Investigates, Indianapolis, Indiana

ConsumerWatch, San Francisco, CA

Target 11 Investigates, Pittsburgh, PA10 New I Team investigates, San Diego, CA

Bennington Potters

Why Choose Denby page

About Hartstone Pottery page

HF Coors About page

Homer Laughlin China Company Information

Corelle’s FAQ page

Lead and Cadmium in our dinnerware? How to find lead-free dishes

Emile Henry About page

Pfaltzgraff FAQ page

Sengware About Products page

Terra Keramik Sustainably Produced Swiss Tableware

Wild in the City: There’s No More Lead in My Dinnerware…I Think…

Benefits of Tempered Glassware Duralex page

IPlay.com (Green Sprouts)

Safemama.com

Smart Mommy Healthy Baby

Consumer Reports Testing the Lead Test Kits

Olympus Innov-X XRF and XRD Analyzers

January 13, 2012

Friday Feature-Sight Words from Preschool Prep

Filed under: Reading/Vocabulary — by dsuzuki @ 5:14 am
Tags: ,

There are only a handful of products I love enough that I really suggest to friends and family so I thought what better way to spread the word than mentioning here.  So for the next few Fridays I am hoping to highlight some of my favorite products for families with kids.

Normally I am pretty frugal (or cheap depending on how you want to look at it) but someone gave us the sight words dvd Words 3.  My dad put it on for the kids and initially it was mostly for my 4 year old.  Then my 18 month old happened to wander into the room while she was watching it and he was fascinated.  Once I actually watched through the introduction which I normally skip I found out these dvds are actually geared towards kids who are just learning to speak.

Now I don’t know if these dvds are really going to help the kids learn to read more easily but I am amazed how quickly the kids and especially my son picked up the words.  He actually recognizes the words as they appear on the screen before they say them out loud and after seeing how quickly he picked it up my dad asked me to order the other sight word dvds.  I found this 7 disc set on Amazon and figured out it was cheaper than buying the dvds individually.  My son soaked them up and between the dvds and a few letter and number puzzles he now knows most of his alphabet and he can count from 1-10.

I personally find these dvds mind numbing boring but Michael enjoys them so much and it’s fun to watch as he actually gets up to dance in excitement when we turn it on.  When his favorite parts come on he actually will start yelling “look! look!” and points at the screen.  My parents or I sit down with the kids and repeat the words with the kids and when we are out and about if I see one of the words I’ll point them out as well.  I was surprised when we were out walking and Michael starts saying “a, a, a” and I was confused until I see him pointing at the street sign “Alice”.  Now he does that with signs, magazines, books, etc.

For Kaitlyn, my four year old, she enjoys it but it’s harder to gauge how much she is getting out of it because she tends to have a more stoic face while watching and rarely says anything but then out of the blue will start rattling things off.  She is picking the words up a little more slowly but I am impressed now that while we read her bedtime story she can make out a lot of the sight words like “the, it, in, etc” and then is working on sounding the other words out.  So she can sometimes read parts of her books herself.  Generally we make it through 1-2 pages like this before she gets frustrated and I finish up the story but it’s progress.

So while I personally don’t enjoy watching the dvds both kids really like them and I am amazed how much they pick up from it.  The only one Michael seems to have a hard time with is colors.  He picked up the numbers, letters and sight words in no time but for colors everything is still “blue”.  🙂

Preschool Prep’s Website

January 10, 2012

Potions Lab

Filed under: Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 8:00 am
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This winter has been amazingly mild and not much rain in comparison to past winters so the kids were bursting to go outside and play with water (one of their favorite activities).  It was still a tad cold so I decided to make a mini potions lab using some warm water, different containers and food coloring.

The spray bottles were something relatively new to them so of course they went for those first.  Kaitlyn sprayed the water into the empty container and we compared the sound it made hitting the empty container vs when it started to fill up and was hitting water.

That was too slow for both kids so I uncapped the rest of the containers and let them start mixing things up.  I had a recycled Nesquik milk bottle, an empty olive oil plastic bottle, a plastic Snapple drink bottle, a condiment bottle and then gave them a couple funnels, a colander, mixing bowl and plastic eye droppers that my brother and his wife gave Kaitlyn for Christmas.  Both kids quickly got into the spirit of mixing the colors together and I found it funny that Michael kept insisting on trying to put the top of the eye dropper into the water instead of the tip.  Every once in awhile he would squeeze it just right that a jet of water would shoot out and spray someone without him even realizing it.

Kaitlyn initially started off mixing the colors slowly to see how the color would change but eventually it just turned into how fast could she start transferring water from one container to another.

The condiment bottle was another favorite as Kaitlyn found if she squeezed it really hard the water would shoot out really fast.

As always happens all the water ends up mixed together in one container and we were wrapping up the play when Kaitlyn begged to do the volcano experiment again.  Since daddy missed out the last time we did it she called him over and showed him how it worked.

Then the kids got a few more splashes in and off to the bath tub they went since the volcano experiment called for vinegar and both kids had hands that reeked of it.

January 9, 2012

Get Out and Play-Outdoor version of “angry birds”

Filed under: Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 5:42 am
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Since my parents bought our family an iPad2 for a group Christmas gift Kaitlyn has been hooked on Angry Birds.  I don’t want her to spend too much time on the computer and she loves being outside so I was trying to think of a fun way to bring Angry Birds to her without being in front of a computer screen.  Well, remember those cardboard boxes I mentioned that we had piled up from my online Christmas shopping?  They wouldn’t all fit in the recycling bin so they were piled up outside waiting for the next pick up.  I decided to start stacking them up and placing some of the kids’ foam bowling pins on them and let them have at it.

She loved it and was so excited.  She even got into making her own set ups with the boxes and pins.

My son also really got into it as he started off innocently enough picking up the balls she threw…

Then he decided it was a fun obstacle course…

Then it quickly turned into could Kaitlyn knock down the pins before he disassembled the boxes and ran off with the pins and boxes?

It was so much fun to do and it kept the kids occupied for a long time.  So if you need something to get the kids outside and away from the computer why not give it a try?  I think I’m actually going to miss the cardboard boxes when they are gone.

January 8, 2012

Light Table and Glow In The Dark Hide & Seek

Last year I made a cheap version of a light table using a plastic container, lined it with card board box scraps, put 3 tap lights inside and then taped some wax paper to the lid to diffuse the light a little.  It’s not the prettiest but it’s functional.  My daughter is still afraid of the dark so I’ve been trying to encourage her to get used to being in the dark so I whipped out the light table the other night.

For Christmas my daughter got this great magnet set from one of my best friends so I pulled out the translucent chips to let her and my 18 month old play with.  They both loved it.  I was storing them in a glass container and had a few smaller jars that I picked up from Ikea to store beads and other smaller items.  My daughter enjoyed sorting the different color tiles into different jars, mixing different colors together to see what color they would make and making pictures out of the circles.

My parents and I have been trying to work on colors with my son since unlike numbers, letters & sight words that he picked up with no problem he seems to be struggling with colors.  To him everything is blue.  So I tried pulling out different color tiles and going over the colors with him.  He quickly tired of this and instead preferred picking up each tile, putting it into a jar and then pouring one jar of tiles into another.  Not exactly what I had in mind but still it was great for his fine motor skills to pick up the tiles and get them into the relatively small mouth of the jar.  I was actually surprised how well he did pouring the tiles from one jar to another and how long it kept him fascinated.

Then my husband decided to break out the light sticks and I remembered an activity I saw on Pinterest about a glow in the dark hide and seek game.  I blew up a few balloons and stuck a light stick in each.  I didn’t turn on the flash so you can only see the light sticks in the picture but both kids loved throwing the balloons around in the dark and chasing after them using the glow sticks to find them.  One of the balloons had 2 glow sticks in them and that one looked really cool flying through the air.

Then I had my husband go into the living room and “hide” a few more glow sticks for the kids to find.  This is a picture with the flash on as my daughter found the first glow stick.

Once all of them were found we all joined in the fun of watching the effect of shaking the glow sticks around really fast.

This was my son’s favorite part and he was shaking that stick so fast and crazy I thought he was either going to knock someone out or at least poke an eye out.

These activities didn’t totally cure my daughter’s fear of the dark but at least she’s willing to try things with the lights turned out now and actually asks to play glow in the dark hide and seek now.  So maybe after awhile she will get used to it.  And if not at least we all had some fun with some new activities.

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