Knowing Better….

In the latest installment of Things I Didn’t Know But Now Know And You Should, Too….. y’all. The skincare and cosmetics industry is regulated at the federal level by 1.5 pages of legislation that was passed back in ye olde 1938.

That might be all well and good, rah rah low regulation and pro business and whatnot, but you can see the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (read it here) and clearly it could use some updating.  Allow me to summarize: there’s lots of FDA regulation authority in various chapters that often end with a cute little clause noting that the chapter doesn’t apply to cosmetics. On the aforementioned 1.5 pages, the FDA kind of has authority on some adulterated and mis-branded cosmetics issues and exempts some things. The FDA can’t even authorize a recall of a product. They leave that to the companies at their leisure. This is Special Interest Abuse 101.

(We interrupt this blog post to alert you that in the Ease of Navigating Statutes competition between Texas and the Feds, Texas wins again. One of my favorite parts of working at the Texas Capitol was diving into statute, but this federal stuff is insane! So hard to understand and navigate! #whyarewenotsurprisedbythis)

Ahem.

In 1938, this was undoubtedly awesome – I don’t know, they didn’t have Instagram so how can we be sure? The FD&C Act came on the heels of a pharmaceutical drug that went on the market and killed a bunch of people because it hadn’t been properly vetted. They realized they needed to rein in companies in this market. Fast forward to present day. The United States regulates or bans a whopping 30 chemicals in the cosmetics industry. Thirty. Canada bans around 600+. The European Union bans 1,400. Shout out to Beautycounter for voluntarily banning over 1,500 potentially harmful chemicals: see more about our Never List here.

beautycounter_neverlisttm-logo

 

A crazy exemption allows companies to mask THOUSANDS of chemicals – many potentially harmful – behind the word “fragrance.” They’ll say it’s a proprietary concoction that’s a trade secret. Others could easily argue that it’s a concoction of harmful chemicals that are not safe for consumers, but allow companies to use subpar ingredients on the cheap. So if you really want to see what’s up, go check your makeup, skincare, and household products for “fragrance” listed in the ingredients, then do a massive purge, for the love.

And it’s hard enough to know what chemicals to look out for on the ingredients they DO share! I do try to be an informed buyer, but my eyes glaze over when I start reading all the ingredients in many household products. I took Chemistry in high school. The teacher was a male, so we called him “Coach” even though he wasn’t a coach. Because Shiner, Texas. And I broke the beaker several times when I tried to move the experiment so then I didn’t get to do experiments with hot liquids anymore.

Ahem.

Here’s the deal, folks. The goal is not to eliminate the competition. The goal is that all skincare and makeup companies would have higher standards for the products they promote. Life’s too short. The exponential increase in developmental disorders, infertility, cancer, hormone disruptors… it’s nuts.

So what do we do? Thankfully, there are organizations like the Environmental Working Group who are dedicated to helping move the needle toward safer products. They have a Cosmetics Database that goes in depth and ranks many products for safety – check it out! They also have an app. They also have a Children’s Health Initiative that’ll get you all kinds of fired up – I hope to post more on this another time. There are companies like Beautycounter that work hard to get safer products into the hands of everyone – so check us out. And you can swap products that are questionable and use harsh chemicals for products that are safe for you and your family – I’m currently loving Young Living’s Thieves line of cleaning products, not to mention their amazing essential oils… a post for another day, but here’s the link to my site with YL.

We have choices, but it’s not always clear what the right choice is. This is something I’m hoping to help with as I sit at home and do nothing all day as a SAHM ;). Thanks for reading.

 

Inconveniencing Jeff Bezos

Y’all. I’ve spent a good portion of life thinking I could make a decent dent in not being an inconvenience to other people. Lessening my footprint, if you will. Being I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T do you know what that mean, man. Yeah, yeah, if you’re a human you’re automatically an inconvenience to at least one other person, and yeah, yeah I’ve been to counseling more than once to deal with this and other things over the years, but this has been a theme that repeatedly rears its ugly head in the strangest of ways. I’m weaving this in with some thoughts on Amazon, so I ask for your patience.

Before I get into the trying-not-to-be-a-burden bit, let’s ask ourselves a question: are you truly living your best life if you do not have an Amazon Prime membership? It started innocent: free shipping all year if you pay the membership fee. I was a grad student so I got 50% off the fee the first year. And I ordered my required reading/books/textbooks.

Then they automatically renewed my membership. No longer able to prove I was a student, I was charged the full amount. But it was so worth it, because #freeshipping. Now I’m buying other things. Because there’s free shipping on gifts for out of town relatives and such.

Next thing you know I’m walking the aisles of Target with my Amazon app opened up, comparing prices on fun things like diapers and eye contact solution. Amazon is consistently just a liiiiiiitle cheaper, so I opt for the latter – look at me SAVING MONEY.

Then there are the movies and shows to watch for free. And my umpteen stations I’ve carefully curated (gosh I feel so artsy when I use that phrase) on Amazon Music.

Now I’m purchasing things through Amazon on ibotta (you can too! Click here!) to get some extra cash back (once I hit $20 then they’ll release the money to me, so please sign up so you and I both get referral rewards! Yay! What does this even mean!? What are you doing with my information??)

Most recently, I caved and bought the cheaper option of trash bags. Amazon brand trash bags. Two cents less per bag than Hefty (Hefty Hefty Cinch Sack! Does anyone else have this old commercial playing in their head when you opt for a Hefty brand pantry item?). Haven’t tried them yet…. will review the purchase later this year.

IMG_2943

And this is what Scott Galloway who wrote The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (thanks, Amazon, for selling this) mentioned when he was interviewed on NPR earlier this year. Amazon, by offering their products at a just sliiiiightly lower cost than competitors, will eliminate the competition and be all that’s left. How droll. How Atlas Shrugged of you.

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(thanks for sharing this epic tweet with me, Tabatha. Had me rolling.)

And I thought about that NPR interview as I clicked “buy” on the slightly less expensive trash bags. And I think about that when given the choice between #supportingsmallbusinesses for a lot of money or #spendingless through Amazon. It’s like Amazon is the beans and rice that Dave Ramsey talks about! Following my logic? Alas, I should have divided this post into a few different ones, but we’re running with it.

Aaaannnnd scene.

Now here’s the part about the inconveniencing of Amazon.

There’s the decision to choose shipping speeds. Pay $5.99 or so for same day? Bought so much stuff you can get free next day shipping? Free two day shipping? Choose no rush and get a $5 credit toward your next Whole Foods purchase?

I chose the no rush option – not because I wanted the Whole Foods credit (because I’m more of an HEB/Central Market shopper), but because I didn’t want to be a bother.

To Amazon.

To the delivery folks who, though gainfully employed, seem to be frantically in a hurry every time they drop something off on our doorstep.

To Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world.

With my $40ish purchase of Amazon trash bags and diaper pail refills and dishwasher detergent.

Let that sink in, would you?

[Cue awkward, self-conscious laughter.]

Let’s spin it this way: I am disciplining myself to not go for the instant gratification of next day deliveries. That’s it! I am exercising delayed gratification and becoming a model citizen in the process. So non-millennial. YES. Reframing is a specialty of mine.

Now back to my Primehouse cleaning and Primemeal cooking…..

 

 

gosh pam, control your child.

So after 6ish months of being a bonafide SAHM, I’m finally venturing out beyond my standard cattle trails to Starbucks, Target, and the library and am exploring some of the fun kid-things that this wonderful city offers. I’ll be chronicling the more noteworthy experiences here as time and mental capacity allows.

Today: Book People children’s storytime.

Y’all.

I love me some Book People. Back when there was freedom, I’d spend hours there, reading interesting books and accidentally running into Brene Brown at her event (met her, she signed the Daring Greatly book I decided to buy after listening to her, we ended the night practically BFFs #lifegoal) or getting a chair massage from a hippie masseuse or picking a new country/destination for the next big trip, so I was predisposed to have an awesome time at this children’s shindig.

But no.

We (convinced two sweet mama friends who each have two kids to join A and me) got there a few minutes early to ensure decent seats, and the people already there were hovering over their kids and marking their spaces. Clearly everyone was wary of everyone else’s kids and whatever germs they were carrying. This was the responsible crowd.

By the time the storyteller began, the delinquents had showed up, crowding all over the place and letting their sniveling children roam wild and free. There was now no semblance of personal space or volume control or acknowledgement of the storyteller for that matter. It was CHAOS.

The storyteller tried to make small talk with the adults, but all I could think of was GET ON WITH YOUR BOOK, LADY. She asked everyone who was a nanny to raise their hands, and over half the adults in room shot their hands in the air. Okay, then. Now that that’s settled we can begin.

Feeling neither young nor sprightly, my legs were falling asleep as I strained to hear her tell these stories with pictures I couldn’t see. Relatedly, I could barely see the words to the songs, and the songs went too fast for us to use the sign language she was trying to teach us. She meant well – maybe she was trying to get this thing over with. This whole ordeal lasted 30 minutes but felt more like an hour – we would have left sooner, but there were SO MANY children we couldn’t escape. Like fire hazard level of people, or maybe I’m just more protective of my personal space than the average human.

So that’s what you can expect if you are planning to attend such an event. You’re welcome. (a simple fix would be to simply limit the number of people after who can enter!!)

The morning was redeemed tenfold by a trip to Steel City Pops afterwards, the best popsicle (or “poppy-sicle” or “popsicabable,” depending on which toddler you ask) joint in Austin. Life goes on. So glad we had some friends with us on this morning’s adventure!! Next time we might stick to somewhere outdoors with a tad more personal space.

Till next time..

steve and if you love chick-fil-a, you should be driving a toyota.

It’s true. Anyone who drives a Toyota already knows what I’m talking about, but for you other sadly uninformed folks, allow me to enlighten you.

toyota and chickfilaExhibit A: the holding area in the 4Runner console is the perfect size to snugly fit a kids meal* container and two dipping sauces.

*Yes, because sometimes all you need is a little kid-sized snack that is a) comparatively more affordable than an adult-sized meal (look at that, husband! There I go saving gobs of money again!) and b) doesn’t make me feel like I’m stuffing my face (because that lovely sensation was lo those 2 hours ago for a different meal. Live in the present, y’all. Here’s to now).

For Exhibit B, I have no photo but imagine with me the console of the Tundra with a long, narrow rectangular cutout that is the PERFECT SIZE to house three Chick-fil-A dipping sauces end to end.

THIS MUST HAVE BEEN PLANNED. I love a good conspiracy theory and those “aha! these things are connected!” moments. Can anyone help me verify here?? In other parts of the country, Toyota dealerships have Chick-fil-As in their waiting room/lounge area – Charles Maund, please take note and act accordingly.

In related news, I love drive-thrus and will unabashedly go out of my way for the convenience. I also love apps that make me feel like I’m more productive or am saving money, so I downloaded Chick-fil-A’s One app. Ordered our food on the app, let them know on the app when I had arrived, BUT THEN had to go inside to pick up the food. I somehow thought there were parking spots reserved for One app customers, and the nice employees would bring out your food, Sonic-style. But no.

It was rough. No makeup, in “workout clothes,” and carrying a squirmy toddler, I didn’t know what to do with my hands as I stood in an awkward area to the side of the packed out registers with Steve.

Oh, Steve.

Older guy pretending to be hip and cool who was incensed that he was having to wait to receive his food. Hands flailing, elongated sighs, shooting better-than-thou looks at the employees who were frantically trying to fill orders while he looked around at the rest of us patient souls with “can you believe it?!” exasperation.

Dude. Did you just order your fried chicken and french fries and whatever likely lame sauces you chose from an app in your air-conditioned car, using money you didn’t have to touch, transferred from your bank, and the food is ready to pick up faster than you were able to get inside?! (This is how I know his name – they called, “Steve?? Steve??” minutes before he was hovering over the counter) Are you able-bodied enough to walk into the franchise to pick up your food and take it back to your comfy car?

Don’t be like Steve. Work together, like Toyota and Chick-fil-A. Here endeth the lesson.

oh houston.

I’ve been trying to come up with a useful post, but I’ve got nothing. Seeing and reading about the catastrophic flooding in the greater Houston area is heartbreaking. Rebuilding efforts will be monstrous, but it somehow isn’t overwhelming: if any group of people can do it, it’s my H-town crowd.

Praying for those without power, those without homes, those who were able to escape and don’t yet know if their home was flooded, for exhausted law enforcement and first responders, for the selfless souls who are helping with rescue efforts.

Here’s a good link to ways we can help.

Let’s all be gentle with each other today, ok? Life and health and wealth are fragile, fleeting things.

pray for houston

put your phone down, people.

LET IT BE KNOWN that I am by no means a model citizen at what I’m about to get all preachy about, but after what I witnessed today, I’m making a massive change in how and where and when I use my smartphone.

I decided that A and I would have lunch at the Cafe Bistro inside Nordstrom today. It was a lovely treat; food was SO good, and A was immensely well-behaved, cheesing it up to the kind waiter and the neighboring tables and not throwing food. We were in the middle of an intense game of tic-tac-toe (kidding: she was taking the crayons out of the box and putting them back in ad nauseum) when I looked up to see FIVE tables around us with inhabitants on their smartphones.

Five.

It was gross.

Four of these tables consisted of moms with their kids. One lady was by herself so I’ll give her a pass. Acknowledging the irony that I was joining their ranks when I whipped out my phone to snap a photo of the perpetrators, I tried to sneakily capture as many tables as possible. Should have used the panorama function. Will work on stealth mode for doumentation in the future.

people on their phones at cafe bistroA and I shared some fries. Don’t judge.

Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion. I clearly have no clue what’s happening in their lives. They could have all been corresponding with a dear family member or checking in on a sick friend….(one was perusing photos, so no excuses for her – girl yes I saw your screen)…. but I know what’s happening when I’m usually on my phone.

I mindlessly turn to my phone to fill the time, to numb my emotions, to distract me from annoyances, to feel important and check likes/follows/comments, to escape from the monotony… Sure, there is a great deal of good that these fascinating pieces of technology can foster, like facilitating meaningful, authentic connections with others, but I get sick to my stomach when I think of the hours I waste scrolling through other people’s lives when my life is passing by right on the other side of the screen.

Back to the restaurant. Holy cow, moms. Can you please pay attention to your children for the brief 30-45 minutes it takes to eat lunch? Summer is nearly over and your kids will be back in school. They, as you well know, grow up entirely too fast.

And we aren’t promised tomorrow, you know?

I’m thinking of people who have lost loved ones, who would give their right arm to have a child of their own, who missed their chance to apologize, who ache when they look back at how half-awake they lived their lives…

WHAT ARE WE DOING??!?!

Andy Crouch has a book called the Tech-Wise Family (here’s an article about it and here’s where you can get the book – I’m reading through some detailed book notes – shoot me a note and I can forward the notes to you!) that is gently convicting and contains practical ways to appropriately incorporate technology in our families.

So yeah. Lunch today was an odd and eerie look into other people’s lives and I couldn’t quite stomach it. This is a strange time! We are becoming programmed to be so incredibly dependent on our smartphones and many of us are missing the lives that are right in front of us. After today’s observation, I’m massively curbing my smartphone use, especially in front of A.

Does anyone have any other tips or tricks for being available but not glued to their phone? I need some help in this department. And some mental discipline, big time.

that’s enough.

Y’all. I promise this isn’t going to turn into a political, polemical blog. I hate politics. POLICY is exciting and challenging. POLITICS makes me sick at my stomach. But this is really about something else.

Human decency.

This heartbreaking thing made the news today. Sadly, this happens more often than we care to admit. Before you start rehearsing your cleverly compelling stance on comprehensive immigration reform in the mirror, would you just take a moment with me to imagine what it was like inside of that truck? What it’s like to watch people die right in front of you? What it’s like to go in and out of consciousness, your body on the verge of heat exhaustion as you are banged around in the back of a truck, then sit cooking in a parking lot for hours? Wondering who is going to pick you up and if you’ll be in any better a situation than where you came from? Wondering if you’ll even make it out alive?

It’s hard to imagine because many of us have things pretty dang easy in America compared to this. And it’s apparently pretty dang easy for us to jump to conclusions, assuming these people were on a joy ride, heading for our sanctuary cities like they were on their way to some pathetically gluttonous hot dog eating contest.

Maybe these poor souls were trying to escape horrendous conditions and start a new life. Maybe they’d been trafficked (THAT IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR SLAVERY, PEOPLE) from their homes and families. Maybe they were taking a massive risk, trying to provide for their family the only way they thought they could. Or maybe they were wanting to enroll their kids in our public school system, ranked 43rd in the US. Yeah, that’s probably it.

And maybe the driver knew what cargo he was pulling. Maybe his heart is more evil than we can fathom. Maybe he’s in the trafficking ring. Or maybe the cartels have threatened his loved ones and in making this trip he was just trying to keep his own family safe from harm.

The point is, there are lots of unknowns. In this tragedy and in countless situations in our world. ENOUGH of rushing to cover our tails or make ourselves or our legislative initiatives look great or passing judgement on others without knowing all the facts. What if we would first take a deep breath and imagine just for a moment what it might be like to be in someone else’s shoes? And not posture or make things political? Can we please try that?

“When I was a boy
and would see scary
things in the news,
my mother would
say, ‘Look for the
helpers. You will
always find people
who are helping.'”
~ Fred Rogers

There are a number of brave people across the globe that are committed to helping. In the story above, I’m thinking of San Antonio Police Chief McManus and Fire Chief Hood  – good men who do hard things every day to make their community a better place.

Here are some other helpers: International Justice Mission is an organization that partners with justice systems around the world to help victims of violence. They fight slavery. Learn more here.  The Polaris Project works to eradicate modern slavery and they have a big focus on the United States. Check them out here. There are so many ways to get involved: you can donate your time or money, work for them, learn about how to spot a victim of trafficking, contact your state and federal legislators to let them know your stance on various pieces of legislation, and you can always tell others about these groups. There’s the National Human Trafficking Hotline. in Austin, there is Refugee Services of Texas and Allies Against Slavery. These are just a few off the top of my head – please let me know if there are others I should include!

This is bigger than Republican vs. Democrat, Liberal vs. Conservative, Texas vs. Everyone Else. This is about human decency. And that’s enough.

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