May Discoveries

Can’t believe May is practically over. Although there’s still a week and a half left of school, I think everyone’s already checked out and ready for summer. There are no more math homework sheets or spelling tests to prepare for. Just the RAH-RAH (“Read At Home” daily reading of student’s choice), and even that seems optional.

Oddly enough, the Princess seems to want to play “school” when she’s at home—she prompts me to ask her math and spelling questions. I can’t help but laugh inside when I think, wait and see what Meanie Mommy has in store for you this summer…bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.

So what did Mama Sophia learn this month?

Sunscreen. I learned firsthand that SPF 100 is not going to keep you from getting sunburned if you don’t reapply frequently enough—especially if you happen to be in Miami and in the water for a good chunk of the time. Let’s see if I’ve learned my lesson when the Princess and I go to Miami again sometime this summer. (HB is currently on a project that requires him to travel to Miami, and we get to tag along every now and then to keep him company.)

Just read an interesting article from the Chicago Tribune on children and sunscreen—the fact there’s not much data on its effect on children’s health. For example, although oxybenzone is approved by the FDA, the Environmental Working Group cites lab studies suggesting it has an estrogenic effect and can be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. In her article, Julie Deardorff points out that test subjects are healthy adults in the middle of life. She quotes Dr. Alan Greene, the author of Raising Baby Green: The Earth Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth and Baby Care: “Permanent changes of puberty happen with one drop of sex hormones…We don’t know the impact of kids and babies who get at least three times the concentration as adults.” Lesson: avoid using sunscreen with oxybenzone for kids.

Also, although zinc dioxide and titanium oxide (and even oxybenzone) are generally considered safe by the FDA, they can be dangerous when inhaled as nanoparticles (which is possible when in spray form). Lesson: avoid nano-sprays or powders altogether, expecially near the face.

Also learned from one of Cybele Pascal’s fans on her Facebook page that if your child is allergic to soy, watch out for tocopherol (a medium used for vitamin E), which is usually derived from soybean oil. (Pascal is an author of two fabulous food-allergy cookbooks and columnist for Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Daily.)

Some sunscreen guidelines: look for SPF ratings of 30 or more with broad-spectrum protection that protects against both ultraviolet A and B rays; reapply sunscreen to avoid burn every 1.5 hours—and use enough (3 tsp for average toddler; 6 tsp for an 8-year-old); avoid the bug-repellent and sunscreen combo as bug repellent isn’t known to be safe for frequent application.

And finally, the best protection is to keep covered!

Daiya, a great vegan cheese substitute (no dairy, nuts, gluten, or soy—yet it tastes and melts great). The Princess has a new favorite after school snack. I just sprinkle some shredded Daiya on a slice of bread and microwave it for 30-35 seconds, and voila, we have melted faux-cheese bread. She likes to dip it a little in ketchup (thankfully smaller than a hole punch size).

Side note: cheese bread was my favorite snack when I was in fifth grade. After trying it at a friend’s house, I convinced my parents that they absolutely needed a microwave. Back then my attitude was “Radiation-schmadiation. It tastes good.” Thankfully microwaves have improved since then.

A New Exercise Craze in the Making—the Swiffer Workout. Some time ago I bought the wet mop refills from Costco thinking that they’d go with my WetJet, but they didn’t. Unfortunately, my actual Swiffer dry mop was too big for the wet mop pads. So what was I to do, especially as I was in no mood to deal with the crazy Costco parking lot and returns counter? I figured out that if I put the wet mop pads on my croc slippers, I can still use them to clean the floor while getting a workout.

Here are some of the moves:

  1. Side-to-side Glide. Pretend you’re a short-track speed skater racing for the gold.
  2. Lunges. Do isolated front and back lunges. Bonus points for striking the “Superstar” pose (like SNL’s Molly Shannon’s character, Mary Katherine Gallagher)
  3. Side Shuffle. Do quick shuffle steps (sort of grapevine-like, but dragging both feet along the floor).
  4. Ballet Leg Stretches. Standing tall on one leg while moving other leg front, side, back, side, front; and then switch sides.

By the way, if you don’t have the Swiffer wet mop pads, you can still do the same with rags and floor cleaner.

I don’t have the Swiffer duster, but if I did, I could probably use them to work on the batwings and shoulders. In the meantime, I’m sure I can do the “wax on/wax off” movements on the patio windows, mirrors, and counters. Who says housecleaning has to be a chore?

Don’t get me wrong—I still think exercise and cleaning are evil. But I did learn something interesting from all this. Cleaning is quick way to get rid of writer’s block, as well as justify what I was doing all day. (As if writing was nothing…hmph.)


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