Our Purpose

Our purpose is to generate awareness, education, and support for holistic parenting and to provide a nurturing, open-minded and respectful community for parents to share these ideals. We serve to encourage moms (and dads) in their efforts to parent naturally and to raise their children holistically, to help holistic moms find others with whom they can connect and to continually educate ourselves and our families about alternative health, mindful parenting, natural healing and environmental stewardship.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October Monthly Meeting Recap: Environmental Toxins

Tuesday night's meeting was a great one.  Our guest speaker, Linda Kincaid, shared some important information on testing your home for major environmental toxins.  While Linda is knowledgeable on many chemicals commonly found in the home, she chose to focus on radon and formaldehyde for Tuesday's presentation.

Radon is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. Its presence in your home can pose a danger to your family's health. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America and claims about 20,000 lives annually (EPA).   Radon is naturally-occurring and can be found in many areas of the country.  Linda has found that it does not often occur in high levels here in the Bay Area flatlands, but has found dangerous levels in homes located along the mountain range from Monterey to the North Bay.  One member from San Carlos was highly recommended to test for radon due to her location in this range.  She handed out free radon testing kits to ensure that your home has safe levels of radiation.  Linda cautioned that radon comes not only from  what lies beneath our homes, but also from what we bring into our homes.  She passed around a radon detecting machine with some samples of marble and granite counter tops.  The granite (especially red granite) emitted elevated levels of radon.  This is something you may want to consider when renovating your kitchen. 

Linda is currently working on a research project focusing on formaldehyde levels within the home.  We have all heard about the chemical off-gassing of common household items like mattresses and carpets.    Formaldehyde, a common chemical in new wood products and finishes, is an irritant and an asthma trigger. Other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) cause similar symptoms (Kincaid) .  New building materials emit substantial amounts of these chemicals initially, with emissions decreasing over time.  Linda brought a new topic to light many of us had not considered;  furniture made from particle board.  Particle board (MDF) is now commonly used in place of natural timber.  The reasoning for this is that MDF is much cheaper to produce as well as reduces the falling of virgin timber.  The downside to MDF is that it is created by mixing sawdust with formaldehyde-containing resins and pressing them into boards.  This material is the basis for most laminated furniture, flooring and cabinetry.

Linda told a tale about a client of hers that had collected a house full of such furniture from Pottery Barn.  For years, the formaldehyde gas emitted by this furniture didn't seem to bother the family.  Their home was drafty and had a high turnover of interior air.  This flushed out much of the gas.  The family decided that it was time to upgrade their home by making it more energy-efficient.  They added insulation as well as double-paned windows.  While this upgrade certainly reduced their heating/cooling bills, it also reduced the air-exchange in their home.  They effectively sealed in the formaldehyde gas.  Within a few months, the family members became so sick (lung irritaion, fatigue, sore throats) that the Father needed to take a leave of absence from his job.  As the medical bills piled up and no cause for their maladies was found, they decided to hire Linda to evaluate their home for toxins.  What she found was levels of over 300 parts per billion (ppb) of formaldehyde in their home.  Just 100 ppb of formaldehyde will cause illness in most adults.  The family vacated the house and put the furniture in storage.  After properly ventilating the house, the formaldehyde lowered back down to levels of 20-30 ppb.  Linda recommends shopping for furniture at thrift and antique stores in order to avoid the formaldehyde present in modern, MDF-based products.  

Another interesting point that she brought up is that new homes acquiring a "Green Point Rated" standard, tend to have the highest levels of formaldehyde amongst homes she has tested.  This is due to the "sealed" nature of the homes for energy-efficiency as well as the high concentration of manufactured wood products in the homes.  

If you would like to test your home for formaldehyde, the process is pretty simple.  Check out her Formaldehyde Testing 101 Article for instructions.  In the meantime, open windows and doors at least once a day to bring outside air into your home and try to reduce/eliminate any purchases of pressed particle board in the future.

If you would like to read more about Linda Kincaid's research, she has a treasure trove of articles available at The Examiner.

Next month's meeting topic is "Fighting Commercialism."  This is an especially challenging topic during the approaching holiday season.  Bring your ideas for less commercial modes of celebration.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our trip to Arata Farms Pumpkin Patch in Half Moon Bay

We all had a great time at the Pumpkin Patch yesterday.  The first words out of T's mouth this morning were "I wish I could go to the pumpkin patch one more time."  With not much in the way of crowds, we had full run of the little park.  They really have some great spots for fall photo taking.  The colors are so crisp and vibrant.  After everyone worked up an appetite, we went up to the brewery at the marina for fish and chips.  Mmmmm. . . the calamari was fantastic.  My husband is not a fan of calamari, so I rarely get to order it when we go out.  I got to order it yesterday and didn't even have to share!  Actually, I did have to share because it was way too much for one person to consume in a sitting.  The kids loved having their own private room in the restaurant where they could play fort under the tables without too much opposition from their overstuffed parents.  I must say that both the farm owners and the restaurant manager were more than accommodating to our group.  They really went out of their way to ensure that we had great times in Half Moon Bay.  I really recommend both of these establishments and will certainly return next year.  Here are some photos of our wee members:

I've deleted the captions because I realized that I really shouldn't post the names of the kids online.


L is seriously considering whether she wants a hayride-induced labor.

And this wasn't taken at the farm, but some Liederhosen on this beautiful boy will brighten your day.