Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What Sponge Bob has been hiding...

Potty time this morning: 

Lil Sergio is washing his hands (still groggy) and concentrating intently on the Sponge Bob foaming soap dispenser at the sink. 

Finally his rumbly little sleep voice pipes up...

...a combination of wonder with a hint of confusion,

(as in, "You're NOT gonna believe this). 

 "MOM. Sponge Bob is a.....CHEESE!"



Coming clean...I mean, really clean!

 (from the Coming Clean Campaign



Checking a Shampoo Label The word "organic" is not properly regulated on personal care products (example: toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, etc.) as it is on food products, unless the product is certified by the USDA National Organic Program.

Due to this lax regulation, many personal care products have the word "organic" in their brand name or otherwise on their product label, but unless they are USDA certified, the main cleansing ingredients and preservatives are usually made with synthetic and petrochemical compounds.

This is why the Organic Consumers Association recommends consumers look for the USDA organic seal on personal care products that claim to be organic. If it doesn't have the seal, read the ingredient label to find out how many ingredients are truly organic and how many are synthetic.

Mary here: Well, it's about time!

Three years ago when my son was just a tiny tot, I made the decision to switch out all my traditional household cleaners and replace them with Shaklee Get Clean natural products-- made by the greenest company in the world, Shaklee Corporation. Little did I know that commitment would soon extend to every other area of my home.

Let me just tell you, I'm SO GLAD I DID. We use organic and natural personal care products exclusively now. And whatever I can buy from Shaklee, I buy from Shaklee. It is one of the very few brands I trust to put on my kids' skin and hair. They don't have leftover synthetic chemical fragrances or phosphates in their clothes and towels. I'm not stressed about chemicals burning their little eyeballs, and I don't worry about them swallowing the toothpaste and having to call poison control. (Yes, take a closer look...there is a WARNING label on your toothpaste!)

** Funny story I have to inject here: a fellow Shaklee mom unknowingly used Shaklee Baby Gentle Wash on her hands (kept the bottle right next to the sink) religiously for months before realizing she was using the Baby Wash and not Baby Lotion. She said her skin was softer and her cuticles and nails got stronger. Rubbing her hands with shampoo, no less! She was even a little bummed when she realized she couldn't use the wash for lotion anymore! **

Not only that, but Shaklee holds itself to a higher standard than organic regulations require. Did you know that there is no testing required for "organic" ingredients before they go to market to make sure they are toxin & chemical free? The only thing required is to show they were grown according to organic standards.

Bear with me here.

You have a field of organic sunflower growing....

...beside a 4-lane superhighway. Although those sunflowers are never treated with chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides (or any other -cides) it stands to reason that they could be tainted with fumes and contaminants from passing cars. Incredibly, those raw materials are NOT required to be tested for purity. They can be certified organic because they were grown in an organic to a superhighway with thousands of cars spewing pollution and hazardous runoff spilling directly into the fields and water supply.

Shaklee tests its materials before, during and after manufacturing to ensure the highest level of purity & quality. Sometimes you won't find the USDA Organic symbol on their products. That's because Shaklee's testing is more stringent than USDA regulations. And it will be more pure than USDA Organic-- even if it's not made from "organic" ingredients.

Because I think it is SO important for people to have this information, I want to include a list of some of the companies who claim to be organic and are not. Do your research and decide what's best for you and your family!

(Pssst...If you haven't figured out yet, I highly recommend Shaklee!

A Few Fake Organic Brands

Type these brands into the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetics Safety Review Database where you'll find a hazard score for each product and ingredient. (

Environmental Working Group:

Coming Clean Campaign:


Recommended Reading: 

The Hundred Year Lie by Randall Fitzgerald:

Green Goes with Everything by Sloan Barnett

Beauty to Die For: The Cosmetic Consequence by Judi Vance

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Putting on my big girl panties...

    Surrendering into my commitment: Pottytraining. 

    My 20-month old daughter is in big girl panties-- no diapers, no pull-ups.

    Big girl panties + big time risks = big time rewards!

    And you better believe my Shaklee Basic G disinfectant is handy....

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Extreme Home Workouts: Yard Care Edition

    My new invention is P90X: Yard Care Edition. Exercise One) Lawnmower sprints: Run with pushmower as fast as possible across the yard, back and forth for half an acre in 85 degree weather. Calories burned: A gazillion and counting. Caution 1) Wear good shoes and whatever you do, don't trip and fall on top of the mower. Caution 2) if you're rockin' a sports bra (which I highly recommend), expect honking from passing cars.
    Yep, I'm callin' Tony Horton right now!
    P.S. DO stay really hydrated during this workout, or you'll be sorry later! I highly recommend Shaklee Performance Hydration drink. 
    You can find it at

    In the interest of healthy breasts everywhere...

    Ok, so I know there are gobs and gobs of conflicting information swirling around the issues of breast cancer, radiation, mammograms, cancer prevention and alternative cancer treatments.

    I feel it is really important to be connected with viable sources and studies you might not find in the mainstream media.

    I don't have a history of breast cancer in my family, so this is an "outsiders" view-- but one I hold very dear simply because of its vital importance to women's health. AND because of a growing body of evidence which supports prevention strategies and alternate treatments to traditional medical cures.

    I'll tell you right up front: I am very selective in which cancer causes I support, especially given the compromised standards of some really big cancer research organizations which have recently come to pass.

    (Prime example: The Komen Foundation's partnership with KFC in "Buckets for the Cure." For more info read and 

    Sorry, but I just cannot get behind promoting buckets of deep fried chicken as a way to find a cure for cancer! )

    This following an enlightening article supported by medical research by prestigious institutions, and I highly recommend taking a minute to read through it and maybe learn something new. 

    Read on:

    (NaturalNews) It's well-established that exposure to ionizing radiation can trigger mutations and other genetic damage and cause normal cells to become malignant. So it seems amazing how mainstream medicine frequently dismisses the idea that medical imaging tests from mammograms to CT scans could play much of a role in causing breast cancer. Take this example from the web site for Cornell University's Program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors:

    In answer to the question "Is ionizing radiation a cause of breast cancer?", the Cornell experts say "Yes" and note ".. female breast tissue is highly susceptible to radiation effects." But then they pooh-pooh the possible hazard from mammography x-rays saying the risk …"should not be a factor in individual decisions to undergo this procedure. The same is true for most diagnostic x-ray procedures."

    If that's not confusing enough, they turn around and state: "Nonetheless, unnecessary radiation exposures should be avoided and continued vigilance is required to ensure that the benefits associated with specific procedures outweigh the future risks."

    Why radiation causes breast cancer

    Common sense suggests there is plenty of reason to be worried about radiation causing breast cancer. And now there's a new reason to be concerned. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered that radiation exposure can alter cells' microenvironment (the environment surrounding cells). And that greatly raises the odds future cells will become cancerous.

    The reason is that signals from a cell's microenvironment, altered by radiation exposure, can cause a cell's phenotype (made up of all its biochemical and physical characteristics) to change by regulating or de-regulating the way a cell uses its genes. The result can be a cell that not only becomes pre-cancerous but that passes this pre-malignant condition on to future cells.

    "Our work shows that radiation can change the microenvironment of breast cells, and this in turn can allow the growth of abnormal cells with a long-lived phenotype that have a much greater potential to be cancerous," Paul Yaswen, a cell biologist and breast cancer research specialist with Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division, said in a statement to the press.

    "Many in the cancer research community, especially radiobiologists, have been slow to acknowledge and incorporate in their work the idea that cells in human tissues are not independent entities, but are highly communicative with each other and with their microenvironment," he added.

    For their study, Yaswen and his research teams used human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs), the cells that line breast ducts, where most breast cancers start. When placed in a culture dish, the vast majority of HMECs display a phenotype that allows them to divide between five and 20 times until they become what is known as senescent, or unable to divide. However, there are also some variants of these cells which have a phenotype that allows them to continue dividing for many weeks in culture. Known as a vHMEC phenotype, this type of breast cell arises spontaneously and is more susceptible to malignancy because it lacks a tumor-suppressing protein dubbed p16.

    To find out what radiation exposure does to the cellular environment and how it could impact the future of cell behavior, the Berkeley Lab scientists grew sets of HMECs from normal breast tissue in culture dishes for about a week. Then they zapped each set with a single treatment of a low-to-moderate dose of radiation and compared the irradiated cells to sets of breast cells that had not been irradiated.

    The results, just published in the on-line journal Breast Cancer Research, showed that four to six weeks after the radiation exposure, the normal breast cancer cells had stopped dividing far earlier than they would have normally -- and this premature cell senescence had accelerated the outgrowth of vHMECS.

    "However, by getting normal cells to prematurely age and stop dividing, the radiation exposure created space for epigenetically altered cells that would otherwise have been filled by normal cells. In other words, the radiation promoted the growth of pre-cancerous cells by making the environment that surrounded the cells more hospitable to their continued growth," Yaswen explained in the press statement.

    The researchers pointed out that the levels of radiation used in their experiments were not as much as a woman would be exposed to during a single routine mammogram but were comparable to those a woman could receive during a CT scans or radiotherapy "and could represent sources of concern."

    Of course, women are often pushed to get annual mammograms, raising their overall radiation exposure through the years. And, as NaturalNews has reported, previous research has already provided compelling evidence linking mammography to breast cancer.

    For example, a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association's Archives of Internal Medicine found that the start of screening mammography programs throughout Europe has been associated with increased incidence of breast cancer ( And a Johns Hopkins study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded radiation exposure from mammograms could trigger malignancies in women at risk for genetic breast cancer (

    For more information:

    Also please see:
    The Gerson Institute is a non-profit organization located in San Diego, California, dedicated to the alternative, non-toxic treatment of cancer and other disease, using the Gerson Therapy.
    We understand that your body is unique. If you find that the cookie-cutter approach to health has not worked for you, let Dr. Bevacqua and her team help you explore the alternatives and discover the excitement of regaining good health and vitality.
    The Cancer Tutor website is a pro-natural cancer treatment website which has more than 130 articles and 3 free e-books which are designed to help advanced cancer patients. Natural cancer treatments are also commonly called: alternative cancer treatments. 

    John Deere Rocks my Crib

    Because EVERY North Carolina girl needs one of these!

    (I'd get me one if they had my size...)

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Mommy's bedtime

    I just had one of those nights. 

    Sergio and I wrapped up a serious discussion about finances, our businesses, and a dozen different possibilities for the future.

    Necessary, not necessarily fun.

    I'm having a Shaklee brunch tomorrow morning and my house looks like it just landed in Kansas
    after the tornado (without the dead witch underneath).

    I wanted to accomplish something useful, so I tried to put away the kids clothes and the !@#$%^&* closet door came off the runner for the hundredth time and stuck shut. I gave it a couple fierce, ugly kicks and threw the !@#$%^&* clothes on the floor.

    Was going to kick ass with a good P90X workout, but the boys have claimed the tv to watch Brasilian sports. (Why does a 4-year old need to go to bed before 11pm anyway? I'm tired of arguing that one.)

    It's too dark to go for a run and the YMCA is closed.

    Now I'm sitting at the computer with these !@#$%^&* little tiny ants still crawling up my legs and 
    all over the office floor, laughing at me. (I swear.)


    Let's face it: it's one of those nights. 

    Time to turn in.

    I'll handle it in the morning-- whatever "it" is.

    Sweet dreams.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Hypnobirthing: Reducing Labor Rage at a Birth Near You (this statement has not been evaluated by the FDA)

    My sister Grace sent me a blogpost today that talked about hypnobirthing, so I thought I'd take a minute and reflect on my own experience.

     Like most people, I didn't understand the concept of hypnobirthing AT ALL when I heard about it. Don't you do crazy things like punch yourself in the face while under hypnosis? Is chanting and a ticking stopwatch involved? Will the hypnotherapist feel you you up while you're off in la-la land? Would my eyes have red peppermint swirls in place of pupils, like in Tom & Jerry? If I had a hypnobirth in the water, would I drown? 

    Well, I heard rave reviews from those who had used the techniques, so I decided to give it a good ol' country whirl.

    After all, I had an awful (and I do mean AWFUL) first birthing experience: 27 hours of labor, induction, medication-- even with an epidural it was the worst pain of my life. And not a smidgen of maternal bliss did I feel when my baby was placed in my arms. I felt only relief, and I believe I actually uttered the words, "I will never, ever do that again as long as I live, so help me God."

    As for the sentiment: "As soon as you hold your baby, all the pain goes away..." PUH-LEEZE. I looked down at my dear son with an angry red stripe on his forehead where he'd been stuck in the birth canal for hours upon hours, lifted the blanket to ogle his sweet perfection, and discovered he'd already crapped black slimy goo all over me. Love at first sight, it was not.

    So with the second one (yes, after 2 years the trauma faded sufficiently to take the leap again) I saw a certified hypnotherapist and we made a digital recording of the visualization/relaxation techniques. I had hypnotherapy training on a weekly basis and practiced the relaxation every day for the eight weeks before birth. I also used the Hypnobirthing CD's and affirmations by Marie Mongan in the evenings before I went to bed.

    There's really no magic or voo-doo in hypnotherapy, contrary to what you might have seen on reality TV. My hypnotherapist and I talked about a visualization that I felt was very relaxing. I laid down on a {very comfy} couch and closed my eyes. I practiced deep, calm breathing and Sonya began to speak the visualization we'd created, starting with a countdown. After about 20 minutes she calmly brought me out of the state of relaxation with a simple count. Over the course of time, my brain learned to go into an almost instant state of deep relaxation as soon as I heard Sonya's voice.

    Well, people, there's a reason childbirth is called "labor," and it is definitely WORK. No grinning stork hand-delivering a smiling, well-polished infant.  The real work for me was keeping the manic freak-out tendencies from sending me into an abyss of abject terror.  When labor began around 9pm, I was able to sleep through the night with the hypnotherapy recording right by my head. As soon as I heard Sonya's voice, I'd drift off to sleep. When it stopped, I'd wake up and play it again.

    When the contractions got to 2-3 minutes apart, it was already 9 in the morning.  We arrived at the birth center and I was dilated 8cm. I'd labored all that time on my own at home-- what a gift! Natalia was born at 1:30pm and we were discharged from the birth center by 6. On the way home we grabbed a pizza and champagne, and I was able to sleep in my own bed that night.

    The most critical thing I learned from hypnotherapy is to work with my body and not resist the pain. I mean, pushing an 8 lb. baby through a 10-centimeter space is  "hard labor," and its happening whether I like it or not. I was able to remain presenced and trust the process. It wasn't pain-free, but the pain was dulled-- it didn't have the same edge as the first time.

    Being able to compare a medicated birth and a natural birth, I'd say the hypnobirth was far better in every respect than the medicated birth-- even with an epidural.

    Having said that, there are many factors that go into an excellent birth experience. For starters, it was my second go-round. I'd had the experience of an airy-fairy birth plan that went down in flames when things got tough. This time I knew what was coming and my "Labor & Delivery Toolbox" was well-stocked. (We did Bradley the first time, and Hypnotherapy just layered neatly on top of that information.)

    Second, I was able to have my daughter at a free-standing birth center. (The Women's Birth & Wellness Center ROCKS.) 

    Third, I was able to labor and deliver her in the water. (Water birth ROCKS.) 

    Fourth, I had the hypnobirth CD in the background and candles lit (Ambience ROCKS). 

    Finally, I had an AMAZING birth team-- my partner (in the tub with me) my sister (an incredible coach) and my yoga/Shaklee  "sister" doing Thai massage, essential oil aromatherapy, and feeding me protein and hydration shakes all the while. (My significant other is pretty sure she was casting spells, but it worked so I didn't give a damn). Sergio, Chelsea and Amber all ROCK!

    Once my daughter was out, I remember only euphoria-- an incredible, primal, female force of nature-- I could have gone out and climbed Mt. Everest. That is the most priceless experience I took away from natural childbirth. I don't remember the second birth and think about pain. I still get chills when I ponder the power and beauty and the sacred task that my body accomplished. 

    In short-- I recommend hypnobirthing to everyone. There are so many styles and flavors out there, you're sure to find someone as clinical, professional, fruity or crunchy as you want. I think fewer women would be so terrified of childbirth if they were prepared with hypnotherapy.

    AND I still use a lot of the relaxation and breathing techniques in my daily life-- after all, I've got two young children, a business, full-time homemaking responsibilities, I lead a holistic moms group and pinch-hit in my hunny's business too. If I didn't have hypnotherapy training I'd probably be punching myself in the face anyway.

    Sonya Montgomery is a Nurse Practitioner & Certified Hypnotherapist at NC Neuropsychiatry in Chapel Hill, NC.

    The Womens Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill, NC, is the only free-standing birth center in the state. 

    Marie Mongan founded The Hypnobirth Institute and authored the book Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method. A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing.