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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Important CPSIA news for crafters

This is good, no? Let's hope a year will buy enough time to make some real changes to this regulation.


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Office of Information and Public Affairs Washington, DC 20207

January 30, 2009
Release #09-115

CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

CPSC Grants One Year Stay of Testing and Certification Requirements for Certain Products

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously (2-0) to issue a one year stay of enforcement for certain testing and certification requirements for manufacturers and importers of regulated products, including products intended for children 12 years old and younger. These requirements are part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which added certification and testing requirements for all products subject to CPSC standards or bans.

Significant to makers of children’s products, the vote by the Commission provides limited relief from the testing and certification requirements which go into effect on February 10, 2009 for new total lead content limits (600 ppm), phthalates limits for certain products (1000 ppm), and mandatory toy standards, among other things. Manufacturers and importers – large and small – of children’s products will not need to test or certify to these new requirements, but will need to meet the lead and phthalates limits, mandatory toy standards and other requirements.

The decision by the Commission gives the staff more time to finalize four proposed rules which could relieve certain materials and products from lead testing and to issue more guidance on when testing is required and how it is to be conducted.

The stay will remain in effect until February 10, 2010, at which time a Commission vote will be taken to terminate the stay.

The stay does not apply to:

  • Four requirements for third-party testing and certification of certain children’s products subject to:
  • Certification requirements applicable to ATV’s manufactured after April 13, 2009.
  • Pre-CPSIA testing and certification requirements, including for: automatic residential garage door openers, bike helmets, candles with metal core wicks, lawnmowers, lighters, mattresses, and swimming pool slides; and
  • Pool drain cover requirements of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act.

The stay of enforcement provides some temporary, limited relief to the crafters, children’s garment manufacturers and toy makers who had been subject to the testing and certification required under the CPSIA. These businesses will not need to issue certificates based on testing of their products until additional decisions are issued by the Commission. However, all businesses, including, but not limited to, handmade toy and apparel makers, crafters and home-based small businesses, must still be sure that their products conform to all safety standards and similar requirements, including the lead and phthalates provisions of the CPSIA.

Handmade garment makers are cautioned to know whether the zippers, buttons and other fasteners they are using contain lead. Likewise, handmade toy manufacturers need to know whether their products, if using plastic or soft flexible vinyl, contain phthalates.

The stay of enforcement on testing and certification does not address thrift and second hand stores and small retailers because they are not required to test and certify products under the CPSIA. The products they sell, including those in inventory on February 10, 2009, must not contain more than 600 ppm lead in any accessible part. The Commission is aware that it is difficult to know whether a product meets the lead standard without testing and has issued guidance for these companies that can be found on our web site.

The Commission trusts that State Attorneys General will respect the Commission's judgment that it is necessary to stay certain testing and certification requirements and will focus their own enforcement efforts on other provisions of the law, e.g. the sale of recalled products.

Please visit the CPSC Web site at for more information on all of the efforts being made to successfully implement the CPSIA.

Statements on this vote by Acting Chairman Nancy Nord and Commissioner Thomas H. Moore are in portable document format (PDF).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When you wonder: "what can I do?", here's something

"I wish Opa could come back", Jilly said the other day at the table where we were seated coloring pictures.

"Yeah, me too." Both Belly and I nodded our heads and kept coloring. Jilly says things like this all time.

"Are you going to die, Mommy?" This time I put down my crayon and looked at her.

I always dread this question. I want to say, "NO! I'm going to live a long, long life and die when you are an old, creaky woman".

Except, what happens if I DO die? A car accident, a hair dryer falls into the bathtub, Freddy Krueger. . .all the creepy ways. Or, maybe just an illness like the cancer that took my father.

I tell her the truth---that I don't know when I'm going to die, that no one really knows. She should make sure she loves the people around her as much as she can because we don't know.

Then, jokingly, I tell her not to worry and that I'll do my best to live until she's super old.

This conversation came back to me this morning as I was catching up on Lisa's blog. Yes, we all know we are going to die, but she KNOWS. She's had to tell her two girls, the worst possible thing a mother must have to tell her children. You must check out her story and feel inspired by her strength and grace.

Her story has made me even more committed to a group I joined as a volunteer last year. The groups is called Chemo Angels, but before you click away with the thought that this must be the most depressing group ever, let me tell you about them.

Chemo Angels matches volunteers with a person undergoing chemotherapy. Volunteers can choose to send this person cards or small gifts to let them know that someone is thinking of them.

I chose to be a "Card Angel" and at least once a week (twice is preferred), I write a short note in a card and send my "angel mail" to a woman who doesn't know me. I know only a few things about her: her name, age, type of cancer, her favorite color and that's about it. I send her drawings from the kids, stories of our week, a few photos from our vacation, always ending my cards with a note of hope.

I never expected to hear back from her. This is a one-way relationship---think of yourself as bestowing little bits of hope and kindness to someone who may be scared and sick. I once received a note from a coordinator to tell me that L. was getting my notes and loved hearing about the kids.

Then I got a note a few weeks ago that made me cry. It was from L. telling me her doctor had pronounced her "cancer free".

I plan to send her cards every now and then, even though she has officially "graduated" from the program. But I'm also about to sign on for my next patient. I'd like to get a parent of young children this time, so that the kids can send notes to the family as well.

It's not enough to bring back my dad or to save Lisa's life, but it's something I can do while I'm still here.


Chemo Angels is free to join and raises money in very quiet, no-pressure ways. If you cannot volunteer your time, please consider making a donation so that their work can continue.

And, if Lisa's story touches you, please consider donating to her family's fund. The last thing they need to worry about right now are medical bills.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

I need Party Planners Anonymous' 12-step program

I think I need an intervention to separate me from this laptop.

You see, I have been researching my daughter's sixth birthday party.

I take birthday parties very seriously. I suppose it is because I am no longer in the high-stress world of advertising and need an outlet for all the energy I forced my body to expend for years on end (I do realize that raising three kids, homeschooling, working part time and maintaining two blogs is work enough, but let's just say that party planning is a three-times-a-year obsession, and I am definitely an obsessive sort of person).

So Jilly is having a Fairy Party. Maybe a Forest Fairy Party. Or a Pixie Party. Or a Butterfly-and-Fairy Party. Definitely NOT a Tinkerbell or "Disney Fairies" party. Think: twinkly lights, pinks and greens, twigs and flowers. . .but probably not toadstools and elves. More girlie than that.

So, I found this cute party idea on Martha Stewart's site which should have been enough to stop myself in my tracks. First, it is Martha Stewart. She takes party planning to Level You've-Got-To-Be-Kidding.

Second, her pixie party involves getting two white ponies and staging them in your yard (I kid you not). I'm not sure where the hell I'd find two white ponies, but it'll be March, so chances are these poor animals would be shivering and pooping all over my (not gigantic) backyard.

Also, she says you should ask your guests to come in nightgowns and have the party at twilight since this is when fairies are most likely to appear. Based on the photos, her guests must shop at "Ethereal World" because not one of them is in a Pink Disney Princess nightgown or footsie PJ's. Plus, like I mentioned before: March. In New England. I'd hate to send the girls home with frostbite as their party favor.

However, this did not stop me. I was smitten by the sweet little headpieces Martha had on all the little girls. And, so I spent at least an hour today (maybe much more; I refused to look at the clock) searching for "prewired millinery flower buds". I still have no idea what a millinery is but it may have something to do with hats. Or frustration. Or maybe it's Martha code for, "ha, sucker! Think you can throw a party as cool as me?"

Alas, my search was for naught. Tis probably for the best since I doubt any of the girls coming to this little soiree will sit still long enough to balance a wire head piece on their head.


Want to see what else I'm doing? Hop on over to Fairly Odd Reviews, my new reviews site that will soon have a jazzy new look.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Power to the people!

How we are feeling today:


(photo taken on a much warmer day in 2007)

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Monday, January 19, 2009

White bred

"Mommy, why don't I have any black friends?"

This was the last question I faced yesterday, at 10pm, after letting Belly stay up late to watch King on the History Channel.

"Oh, Belly, I don't know. Maybe it's our town, our decision to home school. . .It isn't on purpose. . . you just don't."

What a weak answer.

She does notice the sameness around her. When we drove into Boston last month, she remarked,
"I love Boston. . .it is such a melting pot".

Her comments don't go unnoticed; I've been thinking a lot about the diversity, or lack thereof, in our little suburb south of the city.
It makes me wonder if kids who grow up in cities have an advantage greater than those of us whose kids can run around a big backyard.

Jilly is less subtle, as is the way of a five-year-old. She asks me
why the little girl in swim class has black skin, and I blabber on and on about how people have different skin colors, but we're all the same inside. I'm not sure she even hears my self-conscious blather.

To her, it is an innocent question. To me, it exposes my failing as a parent: we have been too insulated in our little suburban life.

A few months ago, I read the first book in the Addy series (part of the American Girl line of books). Addy is a slave, growing up during the Civil War, and escapes with her mother to Philadelphia where they start a new life. It is a brutal story, during which I had to explain why white people whipped black people. Why a mother would leave behind her newborn baby to make a better life for her older daughter. Why this story does not have an entirely happy ending.

As soon as the book was done, she changed her mind on what new American Girl doll she wanted for Christmas. "I want Addy. Otherwise, I'll just have another white doll, and that will be boring."

Looking around at her life, I think she is realizing the same thing, and she is right.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We call her Tootie

Look who got roller skates for her birthday. . .


My floors will never be the same. Just watch out for your toes.



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Four was a very good year, apparently

"I want to go back to be four again", a sad-faced Jilly just said to me.

"Why? You are going to be six soon!", I said to my little miserable one.

"Because five has been bad, and six will be badder. Younger is better."


Although she really got into dressing up for her sister's birthday tea party


Sunday, January 11, 2009

But, will the CPSIA really affect you?

In theory, the CPSIA sounds like a smart idea: Dangerous toys were coming out of China. Scared Americans demanded tighter regulations.

In response, the CPSIA (the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) was born. It requires that any product marketed to kids, including clothing, toys and books, must have third-party proof that it does not have dangerous amounts of lead or chemicals in it.

What no one saw--what many still do not understand--is how much these regulations are going to affect us all.

Who will it affect?

the parent who seeks out U.S.- and European-made wooden and organic cotton
items for their children, instead of mass-produced plastics;

smaller companies who cannot afford the massive testing costs. Companies like Germany's Selecta, who already meet or exceed stricter European safety standards, have already stopped distribution to the U.S. since they would have to raise prices by 50% to pay for the additional testing;

the parent who must get his hands on an original Make Way for Ducklings to share with his kids;

the antique book seller whose focus is children's titles, especially classic illustrated books;

anyone who shops for handmade items for their children--for a gallery of items affected by the CPSIA, see Endangered Whimsy (warning: it may break your heart);

the new mom who starts an Etsy shop to bring in a second income and do something she loves;

the homeschooling family who relies on the purchase of used curriculum and books to afford their way of life;

the librarian who fears that her entire children's section of books, CD's and DVD's may have to be destroyed if exemptions are not made.

In less than ONE MONTH, all of these people and many more, will be impacted by the CPSIA unless major changes are made.

Less than one month.

Already, the impact is visible. Etsy stores are closing or removing children's items from their inventory. Amazon has sent out warnings to their vendors. Libraries are tensely watching the situation unfold.

Some small victories have been won. On January 8th, the CPSIA announced that
sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.

But, small victories are not what is needed. We need the Consumer Product Safety Commission to realize that while protecting our children from dangerous (mostly Chinese-made) products is important, putting U.S. small businesses out of work is not the answer.

Also, we need to consider the tons and tons and tons of waste generated as toys, clothing and (I can't even think about this one) books are destroyed. It makes me think that perhaps Wall-E's world of trash was not fiction after all.

For more information and to find out what you can do, please click on the Save Handmade link on this page.

Please do something today.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Need to laugh about something?

Happy New Year!

Still sticking to those resolutions?
Nah, me either. But, if a less-than-iron willpower is depressing, at least I have something to make you smile:


My December 2008 ROFL award goes to Dysfunctional Housewife for the short-but-hilarious conversation with her husband, titled "And the *unobservant husband award* goes to. . ."

Check out all this month's winners at Oh, The Joys and Chicky Chicky Baby, because we could all use a laugh these days.

If you want to play along next month, just read the rules here.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

My Belly

On January 8, 2001,


she came into my life


and changed it forever.


Precocious, inquisitive and talkative.


Photos remind me how fast she's growing,


but, she's always been more mature than her years.


Eight years ago. . .


I saw her born,


and I am honored to be her mom.



Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Hell bound?

When I was 16, I met a girl who told me my parents were going to hell.

I was at the beach with my friend Michele, who was a year older than me and able to drive us an hour-and-a-half to the seashore.

As we sat on our blanket, listening to classic rock streaming from our boom box, a smiling blond girl approached and asked if she could talk to us.

So innocent was I, that I assumed she just wanted to meet some kids her own age. I scooted over and made room on our blanket. The three of us started to talk about our lives: where we were from, our favorite bands, our schools and friends.

And, then, abruptly, talk turned to religion. Specifically, her religion.

I got a sick feeling in my stomach as I realized that she had joined us with a mission. A mission to convert us to her religion, which happened to be a form of Christianity. Michele and I were Roman Catholics, but not particularly good ones. I mean, we were good kids, but we weren't heavily versed in the bible and didn't know much more than what we'd learned in CCD. And, I had not put much deep thought into religion other than to go through the motions at church and in class.

So, on that summer's day, I got a little prickly as this smiling girl spoke about the need to accept Jesus--to be "born again"--or risk going to hell.

I asked her, flat out, about those people who live good, respectable lives but didn't accept Jesus as savior. Like. . .her parents (she had mentioned that they did not follow her religion).

"Well, I guess my parents will go to hell", she said casually, as if she were discussing where they might go on vacation.

"Are you kidding?" I said. "I refuse to believe that my parents, who are good, kind people, will go to hell."

"Well, yes, they will, unless they accept Jesus into their lives".

I wasn't sure if my parents had "accepted Jesus into their lives", but I was fairly certain their spotty church attendance and inability to quote scripture was not boding well for them.

Somehow we got rid of her, but this episode has never truly left me. It has probably been a big reason I no longer believe in the Christian view of Heaven and Hell.

I decided yesterday that, in addition to my other Resolutions, I wanted to make a real effort to show people more kindness and gratitude for what they do for me. I want to "see" those anonymous people that enter in and out of my life---the kid who bags my groceries, the person selling me coffee from the drive-through window, the man asking for change on the corner. I want to be better about thanking them, saying hello or lending a hand when I can, especially when I am busy, preoccupied, stressed, late.

I want to be a better person here on this earth, right now.

And, while this may not be enough to get me into a Christian heaven, I still think Jesus---man or God, whichever you believe---would approve.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Resolutions, schmezolutions. . .

It's the "thing to do" this time of year, isn't it? Make a list of all those things you want to change or improve in your life and then, by March, realize with a start that you've let them all slide.

Sounds awful, doesn't it?

And, yet, here I go:

1. Do something "exercise-like" every day. It could be five minutes of sit ups, a few lifts of a hand weight or a half-marathon (ha!), but just something, ANYTHING would be an improvement over what I did in 2008.

2. Play more games with the kids. This will be a tough one because they LOVE Clue Jr, and I effing HATE Clue Jr.

3. Send out more birthday cards, not of the "belated" variety.

4. Spend some time each Sunday doing the following: planning our school week, writing cards (see #3) and deciding what we'll have for dinner all week.

5. Keep my hair colored and cut, so that I don't have this embarrassing skunk stripe down the middle of my head. Also, get my kids' hair cut before they all look like mop heads, like they do now.

6. Become more social. Have more people over for dinner, drinks, movies, Guitar Hero showdowns.

7. Drink more water.

8. Figure out how to do this "work at home" thing more productively, namely, being able to get on the computer without getting sucked into Twitter, Facebook or funny YouTube videos.

So, any bets on which one of these I'll stick to best? Which ones I'll bemoan in a week or two?


Friday, January 02, 2009

Who's that sleeping in my bed?

I'm never sure who I'll find in my bed.

Ever since we finally moved D out of our bed (the only place he'd ever slept), I can expect him to creep back in around 3am. He usually snuggles right in and falls to sleep. Call me creepy, but I can't bear the thought of putting him back in his own bed. Maybe I'll do it when he starts smelling like a boy.

Sometimes, though, I'll wake to find a little blond head nestled under my chin, and just as I'm putting my arms around what I think is my little guy, he'll show up next to the bed whispering, "UP!"

Such is life with two children of similar size and hair styles, despite being eighteen months apart and different genders.

Jilly has been sneaking into our bed about twice a week for the past few months. She is almost six, so I have no problem quietly bringing her back to her room and putting her back in her own bed. But, more than once, I've picked up the child I thought was Jilly only to see that it is D when I deposit him in her bed. In my defense, I'm as blind as a bat without my glasses, in the dark.

D, as the youngest, gets dibs on our bed, even though I do feel guilty about moving Jilly back. I've tried to let them both stay, but two children make me too warm and uncomfortable, even in our big king-size bed.

At least the oldest, Belly, knows to wait until Fairly Odd Father has gone to work in the wee hours of the morning before she sneaks into his spot in the bed.

I hear that there are families whose children stay in their bed all night long, but I think they use a lot of duct tape.

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