What to do with the misfit toys?

misfit toys

Having a baby who puts everything (and I mean everything) in his mouth right now, I’ve been thinking more and more about the toy recalls and decided to take a closer look at the toys we have to see exactly where they were made and to make sure we don’t own anything that’s included in the recalls.

We don’t really have much in the “character” toy department, so I felt pretty confident that the recalls didn’t affect us. However, I went to Fisher Price’s recall page and found one of our toys – the Little People Animal Sounds Farm – on the list! I was a little panicked because Julian loves to chew on those darn farm animals, but I checked our model number and it was not affected by the recall (which was for loose screws on the stall doors anyway, not lead paint). Whew!

Anyway, as I looked through the kids’ toys, I was surprised to see that the vast majority were made in China, including brands like Fisher Price, Lamaze, and even Melissa & Doug (which I wrote about here). (I’m not sure about Ryan’s Room toys yet. I sent an email to the company to ask where they are made.)

We have a few HABA toys that were given to us as gifts and those are nearly the only thing I feel good about letting 8-month-old teething Julian chew on these days.

Ava and I decided to weed out some of the old made in China toys, including all of her plastic play food and dishes (another favorite of Mr. Julian to chew on), and filled up an entire Vitamin Cottage bag. Piling the dishes, food and other toys into the bag, I couldn’t help but think of the Misfit Toys from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” I could picture all of these made in China toys ending up on some island somewhere singing softly, “We’re on the island of misfit toys…” Almost makes me feel sorry for them. (Hey, I’m a softy and a dork.)

So my question is what should I do with our misfit toys. They weren’t included in any recalls, so I don’t feel the need to toss them into the garbage and clog up the landfills. They are just toys that I don’t want in our house any longer. Ones that I hope to eventually replace with some better-quality wooden toys. Should I give them away on Freecycle or try to sell them? There’s a huge community baby/kids’ sale coming up next week at our fairgrounds, so I could try to sell them and make some money to help buy new toys. I’m already planning on consigning a ton of clothes (though I need to find the time to prepare them all of the sale still – eep!).

What do you think? What would you do or are you doing with any of your made in China AKA misfit toys that you want to get rid of?

Don’t forget to sign the MomsRising online petition to tell Congress and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): “Testing children’s products for toxic chemicals must be a priority. No more toxic toys and children’s products!”

P.S. I’m having another contest soon. Will post details later today. πŸ™‚

New nursing necklace

I’ve been on the lookout for a jade necklace (specifically for the properties jade is supposed to possess) for a while now, but was unable to find anything I liked until recently.

Back when I had the “I make milk…superpower” t-shirt giveaway here last month, a woman named Paty (who I know from a “crunchy” message board) submitted a picture to me of her child nursing while playing with a nursing/breastfeeding necklace around her neck. I noticed from her signature that she sold necklaces so I took a look at her site – Paty’s Loveys. I emailed her back and told her that I was looking for a jade necklace specifically and she tracked one down for me in no time. Paty provided great customer service and was very prompt in responding to me.

The necklace is just what I was looking for, is adjustable and very sturdy and should hold up as a nursing necklace (i.e. something for Julian to play with while he nurses) wonderfully. πŸ™‚

Mommy likes it and Julian enjoys it too!
jade nursing necklace julian chews on the nursing necklace

In addition to nursing necklaces, Paty also makes and sells waterproof bibs, changing pads and wet bags (for cloth diapers), as well as blankets.

Tots, toys and toxic paint don’t mix

As parents, we do the best we can to ensure our children have the very best start in the world. We may breastfeed them, make their baby food from scratch, buy organic and whole foods, childproof our homes, teach them not to talk to strangers, and a myriad of other things. We trust that when we buy age-appropriate toys for our children, that they will be safe and not pose a choking hazard nor contain toxic elements like lead-based paint. Apparently we are trusting the wrong people.

Photo courtesy juhansonin
Photo courtesy juhansonin

Stephanie of Adventures in Babywearing wrote an interesting post yesterday about her desire to start making homemade gifts for children in light of the recent toy recalls – first with Thomas & Friends and lead paint, then with Fisher Price toys and lead paint and now with Mattel and a concern over magnets and again, lead-based paint. (Are you sensing a disturbing trend here?) All of which, I must add, are made in China. She then brought up the possibly lesser-known fact that Melissa & Doug toys are also made in China.

For those of you unfamiliar with Melissa & Doug, they make educational (including several wooden) toys. We only recently discovered them, but are big fans of them in this house.

I bought Ava the Melissa & Doug Cutting Food set for her birthday this year. She likes to play with it, as does her 8-month-old teething brother Julian, who loves to chew on the pieces of food. I figured they are made of wood, so they’ve got to be better for him to chew on than plastic (with who knows what kinds of chemicals in it). But in light of this scare over toys made in China perhaps I am wrong to assume that.

I checked the label on the bottom of the Melissa & Doug Cutting Food crate to verify that they were made in China (which is true) and also saw “All Melissa & Doug* products are carefully crafted by hand, using non-toxic coatings, and meet or exceed all U.S. toy testing standards.” That is a relief. However, the fact still remains that even the toys you are buying because you think they seem more natural, like wooden toys from Melissa & Doug, are being mass produced (under apparently sub-par safety standards) in factories in China. According to an MSNBC article, “…about 80 percent of toys sold worldwide (are) made in China.” 80 percent!

So where do we go from here? What can we do to product our children?

1) Stay on the lookout for product recalls Since most of us can’t afford to get rid of all of our children’s toys and start anew, we need to be on the lookout for any new toy recalls. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission site is a good source for recall information.

2) Sign petitions to help bring about change. After the recalls for the Thomas toys and then the Fisher Prices toys, MomsRising created an online petition to let Congress and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) know that, “Testing children’s products for toxic chemicals must be a priority. No more toxic toys and children’s products!” You can sign the petition here.

3) Buy “green” or Made in the USA toys — Here are a few resources to help you get started. Willow Tree Toys sells European Waldorf wooden toys that encourage creative, imaginative thinking. While some of their toys are made in China, they state, “We have received safety assurances from the toy companies represented in our store. The products are lead free, non-toxic and have passed all European and American safety tests.” You also have the option of searching their site for toys made specifically in the USA or in Europe. Green Toys Inc. “makes a line of classic childrenÒ€ℒs toys constructed of bioplastic made from renewable, sustainable resources like corn (yep, you read that right). This will help reduce fossil fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improving the overall health and happiness of the planet. All Green Toys Brand products are manufactured and assembled in the USA!” Still Made in USA is a site with a list of several toy and game companies that are Made in the USA. I’m bookmarking this one. What a great resource!

4) Test for lead paint This might seem a bit extreme, but it’s always good to know your options. If you want to test any of your children’s toys (or anything else for that matter) for lead paint, there’s a kit – LeadCheck Lead Testing Swab Kits – that you can purchase. I’m sure other kits are on the market as well, but this is the first one I came across. Also thanks to Steph, I found out about a new blog called Not China Made.net“an exploration into the dangers of trading with China.” There is a lot of eye-opening information over there (some of which I’d already heard about) that will certainly make me think twice about buying China-made products. To help spread the word about the blog, they are currently having a contest and offering a $50 gift card to AmericanApparel.net. Remember, whether it be toy recalls or anything else in the world, knowledge is power. Be vigilant, arm yourself with information and help protect your kids.

*Edited to add: I wrote to Melissa & Doug last night to express my concerns about toys made in China and lead paint and here’s what they had to say about their product…

Hi Amy – Yes, we definitely appreciate and understand your concern. Please be assured, we test for lead VERY frequently. It’s quite possible to make great quality children’s items in China, which meet all safety regulations, but the key point is that you have to test and inspect very frequently to be sure that your factories are always following your instructions explicitly. I assure you that’s exactly what we do. From our experience, the key to doing this correctly is not simply to insist that your factories follow your instructions, but then to go one step further and to AUDIT, INSPECT, AND TEST very frequently. That is the most important part of the process, and it’s something our company has always taken VERY seriously. Thanks again for asking, and for your support also. Your Dedicated Customer Service Team Melissa & Doug, Inc. 800-284-3948 Monday-Friday 8:00-5:00 EST

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I’ll take “Things you don’t expect to see on a Walgreens’ sign” for $200, Alex

“Honey, can you run up to Walgreens and pick me up some Tylenol, a Snickers and, oh yeah, a breast pump?” Apparently, it could happen!

I had to do a double-take when we passed by Walgreens on our way up to Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend. I saw the word “breastfeeding” and I was like, “what? on a Walgreen’s sign?” I told Jody, who was driving and had his eyes on the road, that the sign said “Breastfeeding We Rent Breast Pumps” and he insisted we go back so I could take a picture. πŸ™‚

Walgreens supports breastfeeding

I wonder if they had this up because of World Breastfeeding Week? Perhaps the owner is a bit of a lactivist. No matter, I was glad to see it. Way to go, Walgreens! πŸ™‚

Shopping, hiking and good “clean” fun (with pics)

Looking for Best Shot Monday? It’s the post below. πŸ™‚

It was a marvelous weekend around here and it started early. Jody took Friday off of work so I could have a day to do things for myself. Woohoo! I started the day by running an errand to the post office to mail off my contest winners’ items. Then I hit up Kohl’s for their awesome end of the season clearance. Since the prices were so low, I figured I would pick up some things for the kids for next summer.

For Ava, I got 3 shirts, 1 skort, 1 dress, 1 pair of shorts and a pair of capri pants, all in size 5. (She’s wearing size 4T this summer, so I figure 5 is a safe bet.) It was the first time I’ve shopped for her in the girls’ department rather than the infant/toddler section and it was quite different. I guess once you are a girl, you want to start dressing like a little hootchie-mama. Ugh. I’m so not ready for that with a 4-year-old (which she will be next year). I managed to find some respectable things though and felt like I did all right. It just took more time to weed through the hootchie clothes.

For Julian, I got a bathing suit, 3 shirts, 1 sleeveless romper, 2 pairs of footed pajamas, 1 shorts/shirt set, and 1 long-sleeved romper all in size 24 months. I was surprised to see tons of cute little girls’ stuff left on clearance, but not nearly as much little boys’ stuff.

As I was walking up to the cash register, I thought about my own wardrobe which consists largely of green shirts this year and I decided to briefly look for some things for me. I found 1 t-shirt (in pink – woot!) and a camouflage skort.

All in all, I bought 18 items and, with my extra 15% discount coupon, it came up to a grand total of $94! Gotta love the bargains at Kohl’s. πŸ™‚

After my shopping spree, I headed home to nurse Julian, then set out later in the day to do some reading (in peace and quiet). I stopped at Starbucks for a Blueberries ‘n Cream Frappuccino and found out they are having a story time, as well as a craft free of charge there on Thursday, so we might try to go to that. After I had my cool beverage, I went to Border’s to hang out in a comfy chair and read. (More on what I’m currently reading another time.)

After about an hour, I picked up pizza for dinner and headed home.

It was a lovely, relatively kid-free day, and being away from them for a few hours made me appreciate them all the more. I think Jody should take the day off more often. πŸ™‚

On Saturday, I packed a picnic lunch and we drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park to do some hiking. We hiked to two lakes (Nymph and Dream). Ava rode in the backpack on Jody for part of the time and did a fair amount of hiking herself, and Julian rode in the Ergo on me the whole time.

Nymph Lake 8/11/07Daddy n the kids at Nymph Lake 8/11/07Ava & daddy hiking near Dream Lake 8/11/07Mama and Julian at Dream Lake 8/11/07
Ava having an apple 8/11/07Julian trying to have an apple 8/11/07Ava doing some bouldering 8/11/07Ava in the backpack on daddy 8/11/07

It was a beautiful day for hiking, and apart from not remembering how much elevation gain there was on that hike (which is all the harder when you are packing a kid – boy, was I getting winded!), it was a lot of fun. Ava really enjoyed hiking on her own and did well in the pack too. Julian started getting a little fussy at the second lake so we decided to call it a day and head back to the shuttle bus which took us to our car. Both kids conked out on the drive home, and I was close to doing so myself as well. πŸ˜‰

On Sunday, I tackled some of the clutter I complained about over the weekend, specifically cleaning up my “office” area. I filled an entire Vitamin Cottage bag with paper and receipts to recycle! Why I’ve saved every single receipt from the grocery store (and every other place) for the past year or so is beyond me. I’ve developed a new system and it involves only saving receipts on things I might actually need to return – not groceries. (So smart, eh?)

I should’ve taken a before and after shot, because my desk looks sooo much better now. I feel better about it too. It was good to make a dent in the huge decluttering task I have before me.

It was nice to have a relaxing, fun and productive weekend all in one. πŸ™‚

Best Shot Monday – 8/13/07

Just one pic this week, from Nymph Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The lake is full of lily pads and flowers.

We drove up there for the afternoon on Saturday and did some hiking. It was a gorgeous day and was wonderful to spend some time in the great outdoors. πŸ™‚ (More pics from our adventure are here.)

Nymph Lake 8/11/07

You can see more of Best Shot Monday by heading over to Picture This.

Please sign Mister Linky below if you participated in Best Shot Monday! πŸ™‚

8 random things about amygeekgrl

Jen at One Mom’s World tagged me to tell you 8 random facts about myself. πŸ™‚ Since I have accumulated some new readers lately (hi, new readers!), I thought I’d share some things that the newbies might not yet know about me, in addition to some things that might be news to the old-timers as well (hi, old-timers!). πŸ˜‰

1) I had a planned home birth with my son, Julian in Nov. 2006. He was 9 1/2 lbs.

2) I am quite reserved and shy in real life until I get to know someone pretty well.

3) I’m the oldest of three kids. I have a sister who lives here in CO, and an estranged brother who lives in MI.

4) I met my husband Jody on the Internet.

5) Jody and I had our pictures taken with the Stanley Cup while we lived in Oklahoma. See? (Yes, that’s what Jody looks like with hair!)
Amy & Jody with Lord StanleyÒ€ℒs Cup

6) I won a piece of the Berlin Wall in a contest I entered through my German class in high school.

7) I’m seriously overwhelmed and bothered by the amount of clutter in my house, but I’ve yet to do anything serious about it.

8) I’m allergic to cats, some pollen and mold.

I tried to dig up more pictures to go along with this (to make it a bit more interesting), but it just wasn’t happening. We had a long day of hiking up in Rocky Mountain National Park and I’m going to bed now. Zzzzzzzzz.

I’m tagging :
Heather at A Mama’s Blog to do when she gets back from vacation
Chelle from Crazy Thoughts by Chelle
Elizabeth at The Whole Family
and Isil at Veggie Way

I apologize if you’ve already done this meme. Just let me know by linking to your post so I can go learn more about you (or come up with 8 more random things). πŸ™‚

A mother’s gift – the collage

“Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby and the earth.” ~Pamela K. Wiggins

Love that quote.

So do you remember when I said I was making a collage of breastfeeding pictures to share in honor of World Breastfeeding Week? Well, it’s a little bit past the end of WBW, but I received 62 pictures (plus one of my own I added in) and I finally have it together! πŸ™‚

Thank you all for sharing your beautiful, sweet, cute, inspiring, sometimes funny, but always wonderful breastfeeding pictures with me. πŸ™‚

(Click the collage to see it larger.)

Breastfeeding collage

What were YOU doing at 10 a.m.?

Synchronized breastfeeding worldwide - me and Julian 8/8/07

On Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007, at 10 a.m. in 24+ countries around the globe, mothers nursed their children to help set a new world record and participate in Synchronized Breastfeeding Worldwide.

We were just about to head out the door to attend a social with my midwives, but we took a few moments for mama’s milk and Ava (the budding photographer) snapped this picture. (Isn’t she getting good?) πŸ™‚

Did you get a chance to breastfeed at 10 a.m. yesterday? Were you in your home or out with a group of other breastfeeding mamas? If you wrote about it on your blog, let me know and I’ll link back to you. If you didn’t blog about it, but did participate, I’d love to hear about that too. Just leave a comment. πŸ™‚

Here are just some of the news stories about Synchronized Breastfeeding Worldwide making headlines from around the world:
Synchronized Breastfeeding Worldwide Kicks Off – New Zealand
Over 900 NZ mothers join breastfeeding record bid – New Zealand
Breastfeeding wave hits Putrajaya – Putrajaya
At a breastfeeding demonstration, 29 happy babies – near Boston
Seattle Moms go for Breastfeeding Record – Seattle
Roxas moms take shot at breastfeeding record – 261 moms in Roxas City, Philippines …

From the above article: “The synchronized breastfeeding worldwide last August 8 was a follow-up activity of the first Guinness World Record on Simultaneous in Multiple Sites in May this year.
Said activity, which was initiated by the Philippine Lactation Resource and Training Center, mobilized 16,000 mothers, as of the last count in more than 400 sites nationwide.”


Bloggers who wrote about it:
Half Pint Pixie – Ireland
When 2 became 3 – breast-fed in a group at her city hall in Moncton, New brunswick, Canada

Synchronized breastfeeding worldwide