December 14, 2007

Toy Recalls: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

Seriously, I am exasperated by all of the talk of lead in the paint on our child's toys. Thousands of toys being taken from the shelves because the toy industry has not been diligent about protecting our children from this poison. Until this past week, we had been pretty much untouched by the recalls. When the first recalls were made, I scanned through the lists and pictures. I found one item that we had but according to the dates, it should be safe. I threw away the Dora, backpack and puppy anyway. Just in case. I trusted that the watchdogs were doing their job and that if there was any more potentially sickening or deadly toys in my playroom, I would be aware.
Then this week I saw a story on our local news that talked about how a Fisher Price doctor set, just like the one we got our 2 year old for her birthday, had been pulled from shelves in Illinois because of lead paint on the blood pressure cuff. Sounds OK, but the story went on to say that these cuffs were still on the shelves in every other state. The industry says that it is because Illinois has stricter laws on the amount of lead allowable. The pediatrician they had on said that no amount of lead is safe. He also said that there is reason to believe that the elevated levels of lead in our toys could correlate to the increase in certain learning problems in kids like ADHD. Just great! The toys that I give my children could be causing them to have learning struggles in the future!!
So now I am just mad, and a bit paranoid. As I was walking down the toy aisles looking for stocking stuffers for the girls, I found myself wondering, "which of the toys that I am buying for Christmas will be taken away from my children in the coming months?" Each toy I look at with a suspecting eye. Is this little Strawberry Shortcake doll going to cause my children to have serious learning problems in the future? I have looked into getting a home test for lead but found that the Consumer Product Safety Commission found them to be highly unreliable. So for now, I just have to rely on recall lists and our government to get the information. I have to admit that that is really not very comforting.

Some Resources for Toy Recalls:

Consumer Product Safety Commission Recall Announcements
CNN Toy Recall News Page
Toy Industry Recall Page - not sure I trust an organization created by the toy industry.
Medical Kit Recall
Recalled Lead Toys

December 12, 2007

The Perfect Christmas

Is it just me or do you wish you could buy some extra time during the Christmas season? I tell ya, it is just too busy. This time of year there is an epidemic of hurry up disease and we all have it. What is the cure? Hmmm... SLOW DOWN! Seriously, do we have to take part in every cookie exchange, holiday party, etc. etc.? What would happen if we said "no!" Would the universe as we know it come crashing down?
Last year, I would say our family had the hurry ups pretty extensively. We wanted to take part in every new Christmas experience that Texas had to offer and we were back home in Washington for two weeks to fulfill our established traditions there. When Christmas was over and we were back at our home in Texas, we didn't know where Christmas had gone. With all the rush, we felt that we just flat out missed Christmas with our rapidly aging little girls. So we decided this year, we would take it slow.
We are not volunteering for every Christmas service project that the church is putting on. We are not going to every little event. We are not taking Christmas pictures at the portrait studio or with Santa, we are doing that with our own cameras in front of our own special tree. Not that we have checked out of Christmas. We are just narrowing our commitments. We have about 2 things a week that we are participating in, some more time consuming than others.
I think as a parent, mom or dad, we put some huge pressure on our selves to make the perfect Christmas experience for our kids. We want to create memories that they will take with them into adulthood. Step back though, think about it, what kind of memories are you creating? If your current Christmas schedule is symptomatic of your undiagnosed case of hurry up disease, you may be creating memories of stress and frustration from never achieving that perfect Christmas. I caught myself, well I guess my husband caught me, last week when I was making sugar cookies with the girls getting stressed because they weren't using the cookie cutters "right." I don't want my girls to think that "making Christmas cookies is no fun with mom because she gets grouchy." I really don't want my girls to think that Christmas is a time to be stressed and hurried when really, it is a time to be joyful and thankful for the gift that God sent to earth, wrapped in swaddling clothes. An imperfect Christmas, no room at the inn, no clothes for the new baby. But a perfect child sent to live and die for us. That is the cure for hurry up disease.