Baby Power: What You Can Do to Protect Little Lungs and Demand Cleaner Air

Breathing.

It’s something we all do, every day, thousands of times. Our lungs expand and shrink, our chests rise and fall, and we breathe 12 to 20 times a minute. Breathing is one of those things you don’t think about often; but when you realize you’ve taken it for granted, it suddenly becomes a gift. Every mother listens for their child’s first breath. My first daughter was delivered quietly into the world; she didn’t make a sound as they lifted her to my chest, pink and squirming. She nursed for the first few minutes of her life, and then, suddenly, her rosy color faded to dusty blue, and she was whisked away to a bassinet, surrounded by a flurry of tubes and machinery. She had momentarily stopped breathing — and in that moment, I again understood the profound importance of breath. My second daughter, now just four months old, also was delivered quietly, but with a less traumatic start. Her breathing problems begun only recently, sniffling and congested, her skin breaking out in angry red patches, her milky, chubby baby arms and legs incredibly sensitive to texture and scent. She just tested positive for a milk protein allergy. At least once a night, I tiptoe into her room and stand near her crib, watching for the reassuring rise and fall of her chest. These breaths fill me with life.

I have learned to be grateful for the gift of breath after years of suffering from severe environmental allergies. I’ve endured a collective four years of allergy shots, going to the allergy clinic twice a week, pricked with five injections of a rising dose of what ails me. Many things make up that list; trees, grass, pollen, dust, dander, mold. I live my life in a constant state of congestion; always carrying a spare Zyrtec in my purse, armed with tissues and prescription eye drops. I am grateful it isn’t worse, that I don’t have to worry about asthma or food allergies, but as a dweller in one of the most polluted cities in the world, I’m keenly aware of the pollution and stuff that enters my lungs on a daily basis. According to Lung.org, Los Angeles is the number one worst polluted city in terms of our ozone layer. It is well-known that ozone pollution affects irritants and response to allergens, and worsens chronic inflammation in Asthma patients. Now — at 32 years old, I’m hardly in my golden years, but never mind my lungs — how about my daughters’? At 2.5 years old and 4 months, my daughters breathe about 40 times per minute as compared to my 20. Children don’t just breathe more rapidly, they breathe more air than adults. Children have a larger lung surface area in proportion to their weight. They breathe 50% more air in proportion to their weight than adults. These little organs are working especially hard to help our children grow and thrive. Children also spend more time outside than adults, which makes clean air especially important for your child’s health. I’m writing this today on behalf of Baby Power, and have become one in one million parents in America who are demanding clean air for our children.

What can we do to help little lungs not just survive, but also thrive? To start, you can take 20 seconds of your day and use your name for good. Click this link to easily email the EPA and demand a plan that will reduce harmful pollution and protect future generations. 

What else can you do? According to MomsCleanAirForce.org, you can do a lot!

Remove or reduce allergens such as roaches, pet dander, mold, and dust mites. (For us, this means making the switch to laminate floors when our budget allows, and vaccuuming as often as I can to reduce cat hair.)
Do not smoke tobacco products in or near your home. Support measures to make all public places tobacco-free.
Prevent mold growth by lowering the humidity in your home with exhaust fans in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms, or a dehumidifier.
Increase air flow (open windows and doors) to give your house better ventilation.
Store harmful products like pesticides and paints in a shed that is not attached to your home and always dispose of them properly.
Avoid using scented candles or products with odor-hiding fragrances.
Install and check regularly your smoke, carbon monoxide, and radon alarms.
Use a HEPA filter, if you want to use an air filter. Do not use air cleaners that emit ozone, which is a lung irritant.
Check daily air pollution forecasts on local media outlets or at airnow.gov.
Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high. Limit the amount of time your child spends playing outdoors if the air quality is unhealthy.
Do not exercise near high traffic areas. Even when air quality forecasts are good, the vehicles on busy highways can create high pollution levels up to one-third mile away.
Save energy: Use ceiling fans, replace light bulbs with CFL bulbs, turn off computers and appliances when not in use, and insulate your home.
Don’t burn wood or trash.
Don’t idle your car or truck engine. If you will be sitting still for more than 10 seconds, turn the engine off.
Use hand-powered or electric lawn care equipment rather than gasoline-powered. Old two-stroke engines like lawnmowers and leaf or snow blowers often have no pollution control devices.
Get involved. Talk to your neighbors and friends about why clean air matters to you.
Reach out to your lawmakers to let them know you care about air quality. Support measures to clean up the air at the local, state, and national levels.

I know that after reading more about this initiative, there are things I can do starting right away — like getting rid of our scented candles, running our HEPA filter more often, and turning the car off when my husband and I run errands and one of us sits in the car with the kiddos. Want t0 d0 more? If you’re near Chicago, Charlotte, Philadelphia, or Orlando, meet the Moms Clean Air Force at Mommycon! Don’t forget to add your name to the petition — and if you do, you could be entered to win a copy of Every Breath We Take and a child’s t-shirt.

It’s easy to take breathing for granted. Most of us don’t even think about breath unless we’re in yoga, trying to fight off the never-ending mental to-do list, or when we’re sniffling our way through a work day when we should have stayed home. But what if we all made a collective effort today to give some thought to breath — in gratitude, in support, and above all, in defense? Make the effort today, because our future and our children, are counting on it. 

This post was sponsored by Baby Power, and is endorsed by the author of this blog as a cause that matters.

All the things (kind of) – Pic’s Peanut Butter, Shiftcon Giveaway, Momming, etc.

I finally have five minutes to catch my breath so here I am – whewww! Being a working mama, blogger, wife, friend, and somebody trying to get in charge of their health means there’s barely any time for anything anymore. But, I’m not going to preach to the choir because I know we are all busy, busy, busy! I wanted to share a few things with you today that have been on my mind lately!

  • The first is, this article that my friend Melanie shared about being a mom. I’m almost one year into this whole being a mom thing (how is that even possible?!), and I love it, but it IS hard. You’re in charge of raising a person – and if you want that person to be kind, smart, sensible, curious, and funny, it’s a whole lot of work. This article is something I feel like every parent needs to read, and remember, that it’s ok if dinner is a mish-mash of whatever’s left in the fridge or if you relied on Sesame Street a little too much last weekend. It happens. Be kind to yourself. I’m seeing a lot of my friends tackle parenthood too, and we all need to remember it’s ok not to be perfect or not to know what the heck you’re doing. None of us do 🙂 Read and enjoy!
  • I walked the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 5k Walk a few weekends ago with my dear friend AJ. I am humbled and overjoyed to say that with your help, we raised over $3,000 towards mental health awareness and suicide prevention in America. Heck yeah! You all know I’ve “come out of the darkness” about my struggles with anxiety, and now it’s time for me hold up a light for anybody who is struggling and doesn’t feel like they can come forward. You matter, you count, and you can do hard things.
  1. I shamelessly stole this from AJ's blog. She won't mind. Or maybe she will, but either way, her epic fanny pack and our beautiful team just must be shared.

I shamelessly stole this photo from AJ’s blog. She won’t mind. Or maybe she will, but either way, her epic fanny pack and our beautiful team just must be shared.

  • A few weeks ago, I was gifted some Australian Pic’s Peanut Butter to try out and report back on. Pic’s stomps the competition (cough cough Jif and Peter Pan and Skippy) because they use hi-oleic peanuts. I can’t explain what that is very well, so I’m going to use the wonderful copy from their homepage: “Living, as you do, in the spiritual home of peanut butter, you can, if you poke around a bit, find an extraordinary variety of peanut butters and peanut oil. So why on earth should you buy peanut butter from the other side of the world? Because you won’t find any American peanut butters quite like ours. Despite the fact that our Hi-oleic nuts were developed in the US, they just can’t be grown in America. It’s something to do with cross pollination with ordinary peanuts that makes them revert within a season. The trick is to declare your whole country Hi-oleic, which is what Australia and Argentina have done. Argentinian Hi-oleics are, however, harvested younger than their Australian cousins, making them sweeter, but with a less intense flavour.” Ok, so that’s all well and good, but let’s talk about how it tastes! In one word: PURE. When you try Pic’s, you get that uncontested, 100% smooth and silky peanutty flavor. There’s literally nothing in this peanut butter other than peanuts and salt. That’s it! Two things! So when our pediatrician wanted us to start Holly on peanuts before her one year birthday to prevent allergy, we started with Pic’s. The lil’ dear loved it, of course, and now I’ve been having a delicious peanut butter toast for breakfast each morning. It’s non-GMO, 30% pure protein, with no preservatives, elmusifiers, flavorings, or weird stuff. The website is adorable, and you can score Pic’s for $8 a jar. I have a recipe I’ll share soon for no-bake Oat truffles made with Pic’s, but it’s not perfect yet, so you’ll have to wait  a bit. But you know what is perfect? Pic’s. Get you some!  (In the spirit of honesty, I was sent the three jars below for free, but as usual, I only write about stuff I actually like on my blogs!)

peanuts

  • I’m going to New Orleans in December for Shiftcon, and I’ve been chosen as a Shiftcon Leader. Basically, a Shiftcon Leader means I’ll bring people together at the conference and help us all make connections, because despite our ‘shades of green’ (I’m light green, for example), we all have so much to learn from each other. Leah, the founder of Shiftcon, is generously giving away one FULL CONFERENCE TICKET to a Double Chin Diary or Lalalyssa reader! You’ll have to pay for your own transportation and lodging to New Orleans (Dec 1 -3), but you’ll get paid back in tons of information, networking, amazing swag (my sister April still raves about the swag she got in 2014), and time to hang out with me and lots of other wonderful online people. Join us! Want your chance to win? Easy, folks – just tell me in the comments section why YOU want to go to Shiftcon! This giveaway will end at 12 AM on Saturday, 10/29. So that’s soon! Hurry up and leave a comment now!
ShiftCon

 

  •  I can’t wait for the election to be over. #ImWithHer, but if you’re not, fine, but make sure you vote! It wasn’t that long ago that women didn’t have the right to vote. Do your part, your civic duty, and make sure you go to your polling place or get your ballots in by November 8. (Also: My daughter will start the first day of her second year of life with a new president elect! Cool! I just hope it’s not Trump.

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  • Lastly, getting mail that’s not bills or store circulars is THE BEST! I laugh because my husband and I always ask “Did I get any good mail?”. Usually, we don’t, but once a month, I get a fabulous pink box and I know it’s my Pop Sugar Must Have box. The box is $39.99 and usually is filled with items that total well over $120. This month’s box came with a Lisa Sugar (founder of PopSugar) book, a Makeup Eraser, A Revlon Eyeliner, A Bath Oil, A tin of dark chocolate drinking powder, and an adorable mug. PopSugar sent me this month’s box to try, and if you’re interested, you can use code SHOP5 for $5 off by clicking this link. Here’s an example of what came in the June 2016 box, and I’m sharing some photos from this month’s box on my Instagram @lyssacurran. 175764eb_mh16_june_reveal_post_1456x1000

 

That’s all I have, friends! I’ve been wanting to put down a blog post about some of the things that helped us as new parents survive the first year of my kid’s life, so hopefully I’ll get around to that before another month passes. DON’T FORGET TO TELL ME WHY YOU WANT TO COME TO SHIFTCON! <3 Hope you’re all having the best October ever!

 

Alyssa

 

 

Some thoughts on motherhood.

12291840_1040558042673995_5846392439479838624_o“How much has your life changed?” is a question I’ve heard many times in the past five months. My husband and I were the first in our circle of friends to become parents. Most of our friends had the common exclamation of “Finally!” though a few had a sheer look of terror thinly masked by congratulations.

How much has my life changed? It has changed tremendously in some ways, but in many ways, not at all. I still spend too much money on Groupon. I still love eating popcorn and drinking sweet wine. I still procrastinate on laundry, paint my nails, buy flowers for my garden, see my friends, and cook dinner. I still blog (er, sometimes). I still go to conferences and have lunch and work my job. I still feel like for the most part that I’m very much Alyssa, the same old Alyssa I was 13 months ago before I made a human.

What has changed? My body. I creak, I jiggle, I sag, I ache. But even the changes in my physical self are minute, tiny and small compared to the most massive change of all, in my heart. I don’t mean there are changes to the vascular system of my body, but I mean symbolically, my heart will never be the same. My heart, my whole heart has changed, because now it is forever living outside of my body, shared with a delightful little girl whose smile is like glitter falling from the sky.

IMG_0844Having a baby is a lot like falling in love. The giddiness, the overwhelming desire to be with that person, to see them first thing in the morning and to miss them when they’re asleep, even if they’re right next to you, their tiny hand curled around yours, the sweetness of their breath gently kissing the same air you breathe. The way their lower lip trembles ever so slightly and then, a heart-bursting coo; the satisfied sigh of sleeping babies everywhere. It’s feeling love even when they’re screaming in fits, loud and abrasive, right in your ear, because who knows why; but you scurry around trying to fix it, to make everything right, because that’s just what you do.

I had a lot of anxiety about becoming a mom, as I think most new parents do. Will you be good enough for this tiny person, enough to make them happy and healthy, to thrive? Will you be mindful enough to accept that sometimes no matter what you do, how much of the world you give them, you can’t guarantee that they’ll be happy or healthy or thriving? But right as she was born and I exclaimed that she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, I knew that the best thing I could do for her was to just be there and be present. To be with them, to soothe their cries, to snuggle just a little bit longer even though you haven’t done laundry in three weeks and your hair is oily and there’s a stack of unpaid bills towering on your desk. Babies don’t last forever, but oh boy, chores sure do.

Beyond the fact that babies are adorable, I think what’s so magical about becoming a parent, whether it’s by biological birth or adoption or what, is that you get to see the world through brand new eyes. We forget a lot of the wonder of life, and really, every day is a miracle. The fact that we come out naked and helpless, unable to stand on two legs, is miraculous considering each and every day, new skills are growing. Every day Holly does something new, and that joy and intrigue behind the very simplest of things, like finding her feet, is too innocent not to adore. How special it is to shake off the dust of adulthood and remember that life is truly an adventure. Special moments are often hiding in the ordinary.

So what is hard about being a mother? Nothing is perfect, after all. There’s no break. Even if you manage to sneak away for a beautiful morning at a ritzy spa, free from iPhones or babies, you’re still a mom. You’re never not a mom, ever again, even if the unthinkable happens and you lose your child. You are a mom and will always be. You will never ever stop worrying or loving or wishing the world and the stars and every single planet for the child that has your heart. You will be tired. You will feel pulled in too many directions, like Gumby with more brittle limbs and a spongy tummy with overgrown roots. However, you’re not just a mom. You’re still you, complex like the solar system, individual and varied, rich in interests and hobbies. However, you need to work to remember that you’re still you and not just a mom. You’re a mom, and you’re your own person, you see?

How has my life changed by being a mom? My life has changed a lot. But it also hasn’t. I’m the same old Alyssa, just better. Happier, richer, renewed, more tired, content, achier, Alyssa.

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