Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Problem with Big Business

I really want this blog to be informative, but entertaining. However, I've had issues with looking at the funny side of things lately. I seem to be stuck in this very non-humorous rut and am taking everything WAY too seriously. My feathers get ruffled easily and my husband asks me every day if I think I'm pregnant... which would be a serious achievement considering all the natural steps we've been taking to prevent pregnancy at this particular moment. So, this is what is eating me alive. Big Business. Now, I know that we live in a land full of opportunity and capitalism, which I think it perfectly fine. But what I find horrendous is that in this Land of the Free, we are also able to harm others in order to make money. I have lots of cases in point:

Makes Mom Happy told us all about the evils of Medela and how they egregiously violate the WHO's breastfeeding code. They happily pay the fines because they know they can make more money by making an open breastpump that cannot be used for more than one mother.

Lansinoh is owned by Pigeon, another violator who promotes their products as being equal or better than the breast. Apparently the nursing rate in China is drastically falling due to all of the advertising efforts of Pigeon.

MamaNotes just wrote about 10 recalls for baby items. I found the whole list and was astounded that there weren't just 10, there were hundreds of recalled baby products (and I was too furious to even look at the toy list.) The purpose of the recalls was anything from "excessive lead" to fall hazards, laceration hazards, strangling and choking hazards, and other horrendous outcomes.

And most recently I found out that something as innocuous and lovely as new carpet is full of toxic VOCs which can harm your body. They can emit toxic off-gasses for an average of ten years!

Then you have the whole H1N1 vaccination debate (or vaccinations, in general). Did you read where you could take your child to have the H1N1 vaccine tested on them and receive a $40 gift card in return? Are you kidding me?? Dr Momma at Peaceful Parenting listed the article on her website. So, you have to imagine that in order to receive this gift card, you have to waive all rights to a lawsuit in the event that the thermerisol or other ingredients in this vaccine harm or kill your kid. But it's $40, right?? By the way, did you know that there are still pending cases in court from the horrible side effects (paralysis and death among other things) from the H1N1 vaccine from the 1970s? Did you know that Novartis has already got a stockpile of funds designated for lawsuits stemming from anticipated deaths and other catastrophic reactions to their H1N1 vaccine? And did you know that the manufacturers of the H1N1 vaccine aren't even going to take it??!?! Why should we?

I watched a funny video posted by one of my former students, a chiropractic intern. It was amusing, but thoughtful as well. Why are all food products required to list their ingredients, but nothing else is? Would you buy that toy if it listed one of its ingredients as lead? Would you buy that flooring if you knew it had VOCs in it? No! And perhaps that is why they don't list them.

Warning- I am stepping onto my soapbox.

How have we gotten to a place in this country where money is more valuable than life? Research and development costs are cut in order to advertise items on TV, and then the consumers become the buyers and the researchers. We have to call the manufacturers to tell them that their "safe" products (from cribs, swings, high chairs, co sleepers, carseats) are not safe, and in fact have injured, maimed, or killed our kids. We suffer the ill effects of toxins in our home's paint and carpet. Quality control is being sacrificed by sending these products to a faraway land for production and then the manufacturers don't oversee it properly. And then WE purchase those items because they are cheaper. Well, of course they are cheaper! Those folks are being paid $2 per day and have no health insurance and no 401K, so of course the products are less expensive. Not only are we sacrificing our families, we are sacrificing the lives of others whom we have never even met! We are in a terrible state when there is an inverse relationship between income and morals. It sort of makes me insane. I'm trying to do my part by carrying products that are environmentally and socially responsible in my little store. And by boycotting large stores who only carry cheap items made in countries on the other side of the world. If I can purchase an item that is $50 more expensive, but support fair trade and ethically treats its employees, I will gladly eat beans and rice for a week. It's about priorities. As a nation, we need to get ours straight.

Okay. I'm done now.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I was THAT mom today...

As I get more and more comfortable being a mother of two under two, I have found myself becoming much less critical of other mothers around me. No more than a few months ago I would have shot an untoward glance at a harried mother desperately trying to get her child to do something other than what that child wanted to do, feeling sorry for her but secretly gloating that I wasn't there and never would be. I got those looks today.

A friend and I decided that a consignment sale was the place to be this afternoon. It was an overcast day, a little muggy, but the mud piles created by the last few rounds of rain made playing outside impossible. So a consignment sale it was. I love a good sale... 250 MegaBloks for 14 bucks, a piggy bank with heirloom glass tins for the first tooth and lock of hair for 10, a princess backpack for 4 dollars... what more could you want?! Petunia is strapped securely to my body with 5 feet of breathable organic cotton, wrapped expertly by yours truly and Piggy is sitting like a big girl in the stroller. We enter. All is well with the world. Until Piggy spots the thousands of stuffed animals and babies on the wall. "Baby! Baby! Baaaaay- beeeeeee! BAAAAAAAY- BEEEEEE!" I throw one to her- a lamb- to get her quiet. She says, "Oh weeee!" and snuggles it closely, while the thoughts of the unknown child's germs covering that baby disturb the peace it brought to the moment. I thought, "Okay, she'll love on her baby and if worst comes to worst, we'll have to buy it." A few minutes later, that little lamb is tossed to the floor and Piggy now wants out of the stroller. Stupidly, I had forgotten to strap her in, and she starts climbing up and out of the contraption, uninhibited by buckles or snaps. I gently tell her to sit down and she shrieks at the top of her lungs. I glance over apologetically to my friend who is chatting on the phone, seeing if this kid is as loud as I perceive her to be. She is.

We meander over to the official toy section that is laden with blocks and rings and VTech and other such goodies. Piggy is done. She has to get down to explore all of these new items. She finds a Winnie the Pooh play set and busily gets to work pushing the buttons and creating a general racket. Then she spots all the ride-on toys. A police car, a fire engine, a couple of scooters, a bicycle with training wheels, a bus, Thomas the Train, a motorcycle- it's a toddler's dream. She hops on and tries out each and every one of them, completely disregarding the masking tape covering the seats in the desperate attempt to keep children like mine OFF.

I place my massive box of MegaBloks in the stroller because it is currently empty and should be used for something. I stuff the piggy bank and backpack underneath and begin walking towards the front to check out. Thinking that my child would follow, I don't turn around. My friend, obviously more aware than I am, stops to watch as my daughter tries to get on the big girl bicycle. I leave my stroller, purse and all, and go to remove my child from the big girl bicycle. She goes limp in my arms and refuses to cooperate, screaming as loud as I thought she was able. We finally make it to the front and the lady asks if "this was all"? I say yes and ask if they take credit cards, really needing to speed up this process. Piggy then kicks and almost throws herself out of my arms, so I try to get her back into the stroller. Seeing that my attempts were futile, the lady at the register comes around and secures Piggy's feet in her hands and shoves them under the tray of the stroller. Piggy immediately becomes a limp noodle and slithers underneath and falls to the floor, shrieking and crying the entire way down. I look up and around and for a moment realize that every single person in that store was staring at us. So, I do the only thing I know how. I wave. At all of them. And I smile, while waving and announce, "Yes, we're here!! But we're leaving!" My friend and I move toward the door which is being held open by one of the workers. We arrive at the solace of the car. Whew.

Deciding that we had not had enough of this child's shenanigans, we head over to the local Chick-fil-A with the indoor play area. As we pull in, I am thinking about how to get the girls out of the car simultaneously. Since I wasn't going to bring in the stroller, I walked around and got Piggy out, and placed her in the front seat. She loves "driving" and then I quickly put Petunia back into the wrap. I opened back up the front door and said, "Come on, Piggy, let's go!" She immediately throws herself backwards into the "tantrum position," quickly and efficiently demolishing my styrofoam cup of Dr. Pepper and covering her head in it. I yank her up and out of the car to prevent further soaking of the sticky, syrupy liquid and lead her to my friend who holds her hand and says, "Piggy, what is in your hair?" "Dr. Pepper, of course!" is my reply.

We enter the Chick-Fil-A and another tantrum ensues which captures the attention of the staff and the four groups of diners. "Hello, everyone. We're here!" are the first words out of my mouth as I usher Piggy to the back left into the play room. She immediately goes to pick up a pair of shoes that have been carelessly thrown off by one of the children who is now eating her lunch in the dining area. "No no. Those aren't yours. Put them down, please." Thinking that my Dr. Pepper-soaked child has already caused all the ruckus she can, I begin to relax. My friend has ordered a milkshake and is enjoying it on the other side of the glass. A dad and a few kids enter the play area just as Piggy is squatting and grunting, making sure that everyone is around her, enjoying the stench of her newly poopy diaper. Oh yes. I was THAT mom today.