Are you ready for Summer?

download┬áSummer is right around the corner. However, here in CO it feels like summer is never coming. While I love the rain and snow, I’m really ready for the pool and the sunshine! With that said, it’s time for us to start prepping for a healthy, safe, and fun summer. Here we are going to talk about some of the harshest chemicals our bodies see in the summer. Sunscreen

With rising cancer rates, and everyday scares about melanoma and skin cancer sunscreen has become a daily use in many homes in America. There are many reasons this is a good thing;however, let’s look at the not so good things first. Sunscreen actually blocks the good and the bad UV rays- that means our body is not able to synthesize any Vitamin D from the sun. Also, 2/3 of sunscreens on the market have been tested and shown potentially hazardous ingredients. Since our skin is the biggest organ on our body- it’s really important to know what we should be placing on it to keep us and our families safe. The Environmental Working Group has some great research on sunscreens that are safe to use, and which ones we should stay away.

A few of the EWG recommendations are as follows. 1.) Stay away from aerosolized sunscreen. It is toxic to the lungs and poses a risk to kids 2.) Stay away from SPF higher than 50. SPF refers on to protection from UVB rays, not UVA which do just as much damage- so people think the higher numbers think they are more protected, when in fact you stay out longer and place more risk on yourself and family. 3.) Stay away from oxybenzone. This substance, which is found in over 40% of sunscreens actually enters the body and plays with hormone levels, such as estrogen. Anything that interferes with hormones is bad news. Stay away. 4.) Stay away from retinyl palmitate. This is a substance found in night creams and anti-aging creams which actually speeds up the growth of skin lesions and tumors. The FDA has yet to rule on whether or not to allow this ingredient in sunscreens and currently 20% of them have it in it. 5.) Fragrance- as we’ve discussed before, artificial fragrance can lead to further hormone disruption, upset with cell growth and development and a whole host of other problems.

Now that we’ve looked at all the things to stay away from, we need to look at which sunscreens are safer to use. You want to look for sunscreens that do not have any of the chemicals listed above. Also for kiddos (babies especially) you want to stay away from Titanium Dioxide and use only Zinc Oxide. In our house we use the baby Badger sunscreen and LOVE it. It is a little thicker but no harsh chemicals, and safe to use for extended periods of sun exposure. Many recommendations allow for no sunscreen at all, for short amounts of time so that our bodies can actually produce and synthesize Vitamin D. Within reason, sunscreen does not need to be used every day. Make sure to start your summer right by finding the right sun protection for you and your family! For further list of high quality sunscreen, EWG has a great list of graded and approved sun protection for all your needs.

$12000 on a Baby? Are you kidding?

Today we are looking at one aspect of healthy living. Financial Health. There are many pieces to this conversation; but, we need health in all of our life. And if we aren’t financially “free” (under piles of debt, credit cards, tight budgets, etc.) Then we don’t know financial health at all. According to CNN the average American family with one credit card has over 15K in debt with an interest rate in the mid to high teens. That’s a whole lot of debt. Some say that debt is a good thing, that you need it to secure a loan, a car, a house. Let me just tell you. My husband and I are 100% debt free, we don’t own a credit card, and we qualified for a great loan on our first house. It is possible and there is SO much freedom. If you have access to Dave Ramsey’s course- Financial Peace University; it is an amazing course (all over the US) that looks at all areas of financial freedom and helps you plan for the future at the same time. I HIGHLY recommend it!

A big piece in our financial life currently, is a new “ish” baby. Our desire, once we had kids was that I would be able to stay home full time and raise them. I understand there are a lot of life circumstances, but in most families, the cost of me going to work evens out with the cost of having someone else watch your kids. Also, I don’t want to miss things. First steps, owies, and new words are music to this momma’s ears. I do some side work, but nothing that brings in any real amount of money. God has also blessed me with a husband who fully supports me being home and caring for our kids. With that said, a national survey shows that most families spend 12K on a new baby, just in their first year of life. After 2 years, it goes up to $12,500 a year. That comes from about $50 a week on diapers, formula, and baby related items; add in the crib, furniture, stroller, etc. and you’re well on your way.

Here are a few things we have done personally that I have saved us, not only a lot of time, but also a TON of money. First off, it really does take a village to raise a baby. We were incredibly blessed with so many friends and family who showered us with gifts, cards, love, food, etc. The people God has surrounded us with were so incredibly generous and I can’t imagine doing it without them. Our biggest savings yet….CLOTH DIAPERS. I know what you just did, “Ewww…gross.” “I can’t wash that, poop in my washer, disgusting.” “That takes way too much time.” I’ve heard it all, got a new one, email me, I’m sure I’ve heard it. Well let me burst your bubble. So easy. So cheap. So wonderful.

Everyone thinks of cloth diapers with big old safety pins, washing by hand, line drying, on and on and on. Let me just tell you, if it really was that hard- no way would I be doing it. We started our cloth at 2 weeks old, and have only bought 3 packs of diaper since (for vacation- I’m not that hard core.) It is the easiest thing ever; baby dirties diaper, rinse diaper off, throw in diaper pail, wash said diapers about once a week, place in dryer, and put back in the drawer. We’ve calculated if we spent about $30 a week on diapers we would have already spent $1230. I paid $250 on craigslist for everything. Diapers, sprayer, liners, etc. Therefore I’ve already saved almost 1K and we aren’t even close to potty training. Plus multiply that by however many kids= $$$.

Another big thing we do to save money, just say no to store bought baby food. Certainly I have bought a few pouches here and there, and keep some around for when we are running out of time and I am out of food. But 99% of the food he eats comes right from my fridge. The best part- all organic, no sugar, no added anything- just solid nutrition. Current favorites at our house- sweet potato, bananas, strawberries, green peas, spinach, quinoa.

Lastly- babies need a lot of STUFF. I wish someone would have sat down with me and actually said, “you’ll never use that,” “can’t live without that.” The can’t live without list is incredibly short. Yes there are some amazing baby products, and items. But the $75 you spend on a bouncer for 4 months of use is ridiculous when you can find one for $5 on craigslist, garage sales, or consignment shops. I agree that car seats shouldn’t be bought used- but everything else- why not. And for the love, don’t add a changing pad to your list- your baby will never sit still enough to use it and then it’ll just take up space in your kids room…Ahem…

Financial freedom, it’s possible. Living frugally with kids, possible. The freedom you find in not having the debt or the stuff really is just that, FREEDOM. Live healthy in all areas of your life, take responsibility of your finances, and your life and health with thank you for it.