Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CPSIA: Awareness & Action

Disclaimer: This law is being scrutinized daily. Keeping up with day-to-day happenings and changes is difficult for a busy mom of three wee ones. If you have new information or articles to add to this post, please email me at teachertools at gmail dot com. Thank you!

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it. The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too. How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students: Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader: Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all. Article from the American Library Association and from just yesterday, read here:

To the Lover of All Things Handmade: Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist: Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper: Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits. (I thought an addendum had been added to CPSIA on second-hand sellers, so I'll try looking for this tomorrow).

To the Entrepreneur: Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector: Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy: Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy: Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

Etsy recently put together a CPSIA Action Kit, which is packed full of information, and ways you can help. Please see this article:

CPSIA Action Kit and Community Chat

Please join the CPSIA "Blog in" going on this week. Even if you missed the Jan 28th day, it's not too late to blog this. However, as of February 10th, this law will be finalized. To post this message, verbatim, go HERE.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Going TV-free isn't nearly as cut n' dried as it used to be. It goes something like this:


Note to reader: Caller ID shows this number calls several times a day and has already called three times in the last hour. I've Googled the number and know who it is. I've even called their service and asked to be removed from their calling list, but that apparently takes "up to" 30 days to work. Exasperated, I answer.

Me: Hello?
Them: Hello, is Brandon there? (Ugh, they obviously don't know my husband goes by "Lee." I consider putting my 3-year-old, Brandon, on the line just to mess with them.)
Me: No, I'm sorry, he's at work.
Them: Is this Mrs. Miller? (man, I shoulda put the kid on the line)
Me: Yes, it is.
Them: Well, we're just calling because we noticed you dropped your TV service. We're wondering what your reasons were.
Me: We've decided it's not something we need. We hardly watched it anyway. With prices going up across the board, it's nice to be able to lessen our load and drop something we didn't need.
Them: We can certainly understand costs being a factor. Prices really are sky high and everyone's having a hard time. That's why we're calling today to offer you another DishNetwork package. You could start again today for only $22/month. That's $180 savings over the entire next year!!!!
Me: (thinking: that's not nearly the savings we get if we don't have the service at all) No thank you. We're happy about our decision. We really don't need a TV.
Them: And we'd also like to offer you FOUR premier channels at no cost to you for your first three months starting back up. If you decide you don't need those channels after three months, all you have to do is call us back and tell us to cancel them.
Me: No, thank you.
Them: And because we know everyone is hurting a little bit after the Christmas holidays, we're happy to tell you that you won't have to pay anything for your service for the first two months. Those first two months will be absolutely FREE!
Me: (laughing quietly) Seeeeeriously, we're good.
(wondering if I should launch into all of the other reasons we're cancelling--you know--talk about all of the trash on TV and the horrible commercials and how my children quickly turn into mindless, lazy zombies after just one hour of TV-watching)
Them: And...if you still have your equipment at your home, we can start you back up right now. You'll have your entire service back up TODAY! Can I get you started right now?
Me: Look, I can appreciate what you're trying to offer, but no thank you. We're confident in our decision. Please put us on your "do not call" list, immediately. Goodbye.

We've made tremendous sacrifices to make it possible for me to be home with our children. It's a huge responsibility and living on a shoe-string budget is all worth it ONLY if they have a present and active parent. We've discovered that the little metal box full of tubes and wires really changes who we're destined to be if "we are what we think." So, for now, it's gone. We're even selling our TV and just keeping one TV up in our guestroom for family movie nights or other special shows on DVD/VCR. What a RELIEF!

I'm happy to say that these last two weeks without traditional TV have really been fun. We've built indoor cabins, baked cookies and cakes from scratch, taken middle-of-the-day baths, played board games, invited friends over, created doll worlds and even written books. this exact moment our darlings have turned the sofa into a pirate ship and my daughter is drawing a treasure map (to a previously hidden treasure in our house) for my son to find. They're active, imaginative kids, once again, and we're finding far more quality time in the ordinary day. I'm excited--can ya tell?!

We have been experimenting with Netflix the last few days and have found it's a much better alternative for our family. It allows us to watch what we want to watch, when we want to (you can connect it to your TV, too). And there's definitely full parental involvement, which is important to us. These are commercial-free television shows (or even movies) that the kids can watch whenever we get in the mood.

The following picture was shot before we figured out how to put it up on the TV. But the nice thing is that once the show is over, it turns off.

I'll keep you updated on how this goes. :)

By the way, the TV we're getting rid of is a pretty nice (and big) RCA television and only 2 years old. So if you don't live too far away and you're in need of a spare TV for a bedroom or den, email me (teachertools at gmail dot com) for details.

Monday, January 19, 2009

First Day of School kids aren't old enough for school (and when they are, we will very likely home school), but Lee and I are both back to school full force as of this last week.

When I was a child, my mom always worked hard to make the first day of school very special for us. She spent the afternoon baking cookies! As we stepped into the house after that first LONG day of classes, the house smelled of delicious, sugary, chocolate-y, mouth-watering sweetness. So this semester, we did the same thing for daddy on his first long day (and week) back! He's always been a sucker for chocolate chip cookies. So that was definitely our dessert of choice.

Now...what recipe to use? Shall we Google one? Maybe just go directly to or Um, ya know, maybe the Nestle pre-mixed ones are enough considering my workload. Oh wait! My friend, Brittany, recently posted her very favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe along with amazing professional directions on how to bake them the very best they can be. She would know. Trust me. So I call her up and she gives me the recipe right over the phone.

I was not prepared to be amazed. This isn't a reflection on my friend--it's just that ever since moving to such a high altitude, I've had difficulty getting my baked goods to turn out just right. It's more work because everything is different. But can I just say WOW! These cookies are amazing! I thought I'd capture some of it in photos. Mmmmm...

Half-way there!!!!

I like to pull them out a minute or two early so they're a tad bit gooey. Mmmm...

These are my favorite plates in the world, by the way. They were my mother's before they were mine. And they were my grandmother's before they were my mom's. There's just nothing like a batch of fresh baked cookies on a plate of beautiful milk glass!

This recipe is so HUGE that you can roll up the rest of the dough, freeze it, and pull it out another day to bake more. I've already done this a couple times since the first baking day and the cookies are JUST AS delicious as the first time!!

Anyone want to try this recipe on for size? The original directions and explanation paper appears to be missing because it used to be HERE. It was totally delightful and extremely helpful (like I didn't know the best way to crack an egg or the best brand of vanilla or the best kind of semi-sweet chocolate or how best to measure flour, etc.), so I'm gonna have to get her to put it back up one of these days. But for the time being, I'll re-post the main recipe below. Enjoy! I'm off to make another small batch, myself. :)

Shaye's (ha-ha) Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/3 C shortening (she says to use real butter, instead)
2 C white sugar
1 C brown sugar
4 tsp vanilla (Mexican or wilton's clear is best)
4 eggs
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 + cups of flour (at the end you'll add the 4 cups and then add additional flour until you get the right cookie dough consistency)
1 - 2 bags of choc. chips depending on your desired amount (Ghirardelli’s are said to be best)

Without her fabulous written directions it's just not the same. But I believe you do the usual and add the ingredients in the order they are written (beating in eggs one at a time). Be sure to use a HUGE bowl because this makes a large batch. And, as mentioned, you can roll left over into little balls and freeze for baking later. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy 9 Months Brighton Lee!

I'm a little late on posting Brighton's 8 month photos, but as of December 27th, Brighton is 9 months old. This is a collage from the time he was 8 months old. You can click on the collage to see the photos bigger. And for family wanting to print any of them, you know where to find me for the full resolution shots.

This month, Brighton grew in his 3rd and 4th tooth. He was grinding them together for a while. Thank goodness the grinding stopped once they were fully in--it was HORRID sounding! He began talking even more to us. He's still cruising easily and we've just recently noticed him letting go of things and standing unassisted for just a few moments. Oh, and his crawl is still hilarious. He crawls with his left knee and his right foot. His hair is now long enough to see little curls on the ends and it's no longer stark blond--it's now strawberry blond, like Brandon's.

Brighton sounds like he's saying, "Hey!" a lot lately, but it's said without the /h/ sound. All day he experiments with different sounds. We're always shocked at his attempts to communicate. He has a hilarious fake cry--TOTALLY fake. We can't help but laugh at it just because it's too cute. He's also pointing to his mouth when we eat--letting us know he's wanting something that we're eating (he's still 100% breastfed and thriving). I've caught him with pieces of his siblings sandwich in his hand and mouth, so he at least knows a little bit of what he's missing.

He LOVES to play with cars. I mean, he really plays with them rolling them all around. And he also likes to throw things. Anything.

This lil' guy is still the gigglies baby we've had. People comment on how joyful he is all the time. When I wake him up from nap time and bring him downstairs, as soon as he sees his siblings he immediately begins kicking viciously with a HUGE grin on his face (often accompanied by a shrill, happy scream). He also goes CRAZY when daddy comes home from work.

We've been SO blessed to have such a healthy baby. He's not yet been sick even once. WOW!

Happy 9 months, Brighton! Look forward to a new set of shots on January 27th! And I should have some Christmas & New Year family shots up in the next couple days, too. It's good to be back!

Related Posts with Thumbnails