How I Lost My Mind Mid-air or Why Not to Fly 6 hours with a 23-month-old

8/22/16 4:05pm

6hr flight PHL to LAX

Mom: 33

Lap Infant: 23 mos

Seated in window seat next to a nice guy, 20-something hipster. Ben’s trying to be his friend and he’s playing along. On our aisle seat is another 20-something guy I was in back of during boarding and kept accidentally running into, so that wasn’t awkward.

Mom behind me(pink hair) pointed out an open window seat and I asked a flight attendant to ask the girl in the middle if she wanted my seat. She did, so Ben and I had our own seats. To get out of that row and into another was quite an ordeal complete with me asking the guy next to me to hold my bag. He was nice enough to help.

We sit down and Ben’s losing it. I get him a snack and he’s good. The snack is animal crackers and he eats them contentedly until he takes a handful and the bag springs back from the force of his hand and crumbs go everywhere. 

Woman with pink hair is now across from us. She sits in the middle of her 2 kids, 5ish and 8ish. She calls a flight attendant before takeoff to ask about the noise below her. “It’s a lot of banging. Is that normal?” The flight attendant says, “yes, it’s the hydraulics” and rushes to sit down so we can take off. (Unnecessary questions.)

Ben’s fine for takeoff and loses it about 10 mins later and the pink-haired mom offers us snacks and a toy. I turn her down but thank her for the offer. Ben calms then loses it again– pink-haired mom offers a coloring book and crayons. We’re in! The Ben enjoys them and then one drops and he’s losing it while I put him the seat next to me to pick-up the crayon. The old woman in the aisle seat of our row says, “oh, no!” at the sound of his shrieking and by the time the 2 min tantrum is done she is gone and we have our own row.

Ben enjoys taking the borrowed crayons in and out of their case. He colors for two seconds, the rest of the time is in and out of the case, in and out of the case. This activity was awesome and I’m so thankful for that mom since I had forgotten mine at home.
I move to the middle seat and Ben moves to the floor of the window seat and watches Cars 2 for 2 mins on the iPad. He then discovers the magazines behind the chair and starts looking through. 
In the next hour and a half he will….
-eat crumbs from the floor

-try and escape numerous times from our row

-discover the arm rest is up in the row in front of us and bother the sleeping people trying to fight me to touch it.

-make the world slimiest, grossest smelling #2 and need to be changed in the bathroom(which is now directly behind us). Upon closing the changing table over the toilet, I will knock my own glasses off and go on a blind search for them in a 2×2 restroom with a toddler.

-entertain the people lining up for the bathroom

-scream each time the beverage cart passes and try to touch it

-put the window shades up and down

-ask to put the overhead light on(because he remembers from previous trips) even though I refuse

-repeatedly kick the chairs of people directly in front of both the window and center seats in front of us

-sporadically shriek for no reason and scare half the plane

-sit sideways behind the second arm rest closest to the window and hop up and down like he’s on an amusement park ride while watching the iPad 

-stand up and sit down on the first and second seats trying to nudge me out of the row

-tries to put a pretzel crumb, the size of a pea, in his ear canal. (I now know I have a future pea-up-the-nose kid.)

As I write this, he’s watching Finding Nemo and doing yoga on the window seat. 3 hours to go.

Ben decided to blow raspberries at the iPad. The problem is that he’s teething so the iPad is drowning in saliva. Wipes to the rescue. 
The bell for fastening your seatbelt just sounded and Ben imitated for everyone. If you don’t remember what I’m referring to think Phantom of the Opera. Getting him to sit is the hardest ever. He’s up, down and all around . Every time I tell him to sit he shrieks. Some guy just stood up looking for him and said, “THAT was so loud!” Great! I’m now the mom of THAT kid, if I wasn’t already.
Because he hadn’t yelled and rebelled enough, Ben started randomly yelling a loud “ah” and, in typical toddler fashion, every time I asked him to stop it got more intense. Therefore I let him yell for 1.5 mins and said nothing. This may not have been the best for the rest of the cabin, but it would have gone on forever otherwise.

Pretty well-behaved the last 1.5 hour of the flight. A nearby baby was losing it and Ben started imitating her, the refreshment cart came by again and he got super excited and he currently has Mater and Grover cars shoved into each pant leg while watching The Incredibles. Impressive, I know.

The girl in front of him was also nice enough to play peekaboo with him. And talked briefly with the previously crying baby, who was actually a toddler maybe 18 mos.

Ben didn’t sleep a wink but after the pilot came on to say we’ve started our descent and we’ll be on the ground in 25 minutes, I start seeing his head bobbing. I fully expected him to pass out before we landed and he did just that with 5 minutes to spare. 

I wouldn’t give a lot of advice to any parent trying to fly an active toddler on a flight longer than 2 hours. That advice would consist of only:  Put the toddler a seat, bring a carseat and never question your decision to do so. It’s the safest and most legal option. 

I considered using vodka in apple juice, lap belts and extensions to strap him down, but passed since it would look bad. 

Why R+F is not for me.

There are lots of health and beauty products that claim to be natural and organic and non toxic but sadly, because the FDA doesn’t regulate the use of these terms, many are not.

I have educated myself on reading labels and now I understand what is actually in the products I use on my body. R+F may be a great brand, they are backed my medical expertise and many people love the products, but they’re not for me because no amount of money, time spent reading testimonials or wrinkle-free skin is going to make me want to put toxins on my face. 
Your products may good, but they’re not clean and they’re not for me.

What will you do November 1?

What will you do November 1, when

….. another 635 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States?

….. 165 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer are diagnosed?

….. when 110 more women succumb to breast cancer?

What will you tell your neighbor, one f the 85% of women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer but have no family history of it?

What will you say to your daughter when she asks if she may get it? Will you tell her that the most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older)?

Will you listen to the statistics or will you walk by them, brush past them and continue your day?

Will you take action? Or will you wait until next October?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month was created in 1985 by the American Academy of Family Physicians and AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation and CancerCare, Inc., and various sponsors.  The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) organization has vigorously promoted educational and wellness events surrounding breast health and empowering women to take charge of their own bodies. To represent The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, in 1993 a pink ribbon was chosen by Evelyn Lauder, Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estee Lauder Companies.

Each year, members of the Personal Care Products Council, including Avon and Estee Lauder, donate cosmetic kits given to cancer patients. The American Cancer Society administers this program nationwide.

In an article released Saturday, Oct. 17, on, Karuna Jaggar writes an article that truly enrages me. Entitled Why are makeup companies able to give breast cancer patients toxic products?, Jaggar writes, Look Good Feel Better is a psychosocial support program run by the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), the largest national trade group for the cosmetics industry, and the American Cancer Society (ACS), the nation’s largest cancer charity. They hold free workshops that give beauty tips and complimentary makeup kits to women in cancer treatment – support that some women understandably value while facing a cancer diagnosis and treatments that may alter their appearance.”

Unregulated by federal government, these personal care products are made up of a true cocktail of toxic chemicals. Jaggar continues to explain the true dangers of these cosmetics.

“For years activists have been pushing back on cosmetics companies putting pink ribbons on products containing chemicals linked to breast cancer. But many of the Look Good Feel Better kits contain what are commonly referred to by regulators and scientists as “chemicals of concern”, including carcinogens and hormone disruptors.

Carcinogens are implicated in directly causing cancer, and hormone disruptors can increase breast cancer risk by messing with our body’s hormonal system. When these are products used daily – and the average woman uses 12 personal care products each day containing 168 unique ingredients – these doses add up.”

And here comes the enraging part, “The ACS claims that “the benefit of this program outweighs the risk” The benefit outweighs the risk???? THE BENEFIT OUTWEIGHS THE RISK??? What is wrong with this picture???

The truth is that the risk isn’t of concern because it is the treatment of breast cancer where there’s an interference.

“Most breast cancers are hormone-driven and common treatments target the body’s hormonal system. Many scientists are concerned about the ways hormone-disrupting chemicals in our daily lives can increase the risk of breast cancer. Some hormone disruptors – including methylparaben, which is in concealer and face wipes the ACS is giving to cancer patients – have been shown in a lab to interfere with Tamoxifen, a common hormonal breast cancer treatment.”

The benefit of putting a smile on the face of a trusting Cancer Survivor is worth the risk that their breast cancer treatment may fail as a result of the chemical-laden cosmetics they trust the ACS to provide??? Exactly who is looking out for whom?

As we know Europe bans more than 1,300 toxic chemicals from their personal care products and the U.S. bans only 11. And, while cosmetic brands don’t need to disclose ingredients that constitute as “fragrance,” should we turn a blind eye to what lurks beneath? The actual repercussions of our ignorance could result in higher cancer risks or treatment that may not cut it because of toxic interference.

I could not agree with Jaggar anymore. “The American Cancer Society must stop protecting the cosmetics industry and start protecting women’s health.”

But the pink-washing doesn’t stop there. In an article written last year regarding the NFL’s commitment to “the cause, “ Jaggar explains that while parading their helmets o’ pink in October, “the NFL throws a smokescreen over the fire of sexism, misogyny and objectification of women raging in its own backyard. And according to an analysis last year by Business Insider, just over 8% of the profits from all those pink trinkets, from footballs to rhinestone bracelets, went to actual cancer research.”

So, regardless of what you do in October, remember that there are 365 days in 2015 and every single day hundreds in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer. Maybe instead of picking up a pink-washed product of toxins, your time would be better spent making an informed decision about what you can do to reduce the risks for yourself and the ones you love.

Every day is your chance to spread the word that these damaging chemicals are taking precedent in our lives because we let them. You have 365 days to spread THIS message. Why not start today?

Wake up. Take a moment to educate yourself and others. Reduce your exposure to these toxins and let’s make every day breast cancer awareness day/ cancer awareness day/ awareness day. Because it certainly doesn’t start at breast cancer and it doesn’t stop there either.

UPDATED 7/23/16

Clean Eating 80/20

I have developed a serious steamed artichoke problem. I have eaten at least 4 each week for the last 3 weeks. It’s intense. I crave them. Each leaf is an accomplishment all leading up to the heart and eating it gives me so much satisfaction. Does this make me a cannibal of sorts? Probably not, though I do love a late-night Silence of the Lambs.

I’ve been doing The Clean Gut Diet for 5 weeks, with a 5 day break after 2.5 weeks. I even ate an artichoke on my hiatus, but added a delicious dip, normally I eat them steamed and plain with a lemon-EVOO dip. It’s been surprisingly easy to eat clean and another perk would be the weight loss. My mom jeans are literally too big now and it’s time to invest in a new pair. #winning

Now, a day-in-the-life of a SAHM of a newly walking one-year-old is anything but calm. I’m sure the extra running(after Ben) is helping my cause, however I also get little time to eat. It’s nice to have limited options so I know I can grab a few berries here, a scoop of almond butter there and, for my 3 o’clock lunch, a hard-boiled egg with an artichoke with a Bibb lettuce salad. #viola

I never thought I’d feel this way and I feel so California for saying it but I fully intend to make this clean eating lifestyle change and go easy on myself one day per week. I mean, I gotta live, right?

The question comes in where Ben’s palate begins. I don’t really want Ben to think following a diet is the way to live healthfully. I would prefer he wants to eat good.  I’ve been feeding him fruits and veggies in abundance since 6 months.  This summer he ate watermelon salad with arugula, feta and lemon-basil vinaigrette. He eats a grass-fed stir fry with fresh ginger, bok choy and tamari once-a-week and still enjoys a solid bowl of plain cheerios with coconut milk(we’re not big on cows milk). I know as he continues to grow, he’ll become picky but my hope is that he sees my eating habits and is okay with eating well 80% of the time. I can’t control what he eats outside of home, but I can show him what it means to live a healthy lifestyle and give into cravings as appropriate. Go out to dinner and enjoy yourself, visit grandma and grandpa and have soda, but on the day-to-day let’s keep it healthy.


Mom Jean presents: Rid Yourself of Toxic People(in 139 words)

Ben is walking now and that means a lot of energy exertion, so when it comes to my personal life the last thing I want to deal with is drama. This is exactly why, every day moving forward, I challenge you to go non-toxic and rid yourself, your life, of toxic relationships, feelings and people.

Right now, it’s your job to shape the best little human/s you possibly can. Lead by example. Your child is watching you more closely than anyone else these days, so be conscious of your words and actions. Of course you’re human and this easier said than done but if our job is to shape the future of the human race today, than you need to get your shit together yesterday. Be the solution, not the problem. Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.



Ready to go Non-Toxic? START HERE

You’ve heard the word non-toxic, but what where do you start and what if you just want to dabble and not dive in?

In order to first go non-toxic you need to first understand what a toxin is and how it affects you. Let’s start simple. Grab the nearest bottle of dish soap. Look for the word “fragrance” or “parfum” and you have found your first toxin.

“More than 75% of the time if you have fragrance, you have legally hidden phthalates (THAL ates) which are a known endocrine disruptors, and are linked with birth defects, breast cancer, infertility, liver, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and now with autism and ADHD in first and third trimesters of pregnancy” Dr. Philip Landrigan, Mt Sinai, Children’s Environmental Health Center

Education from a close friend opened my eyes to this truth and gave me a place to start. Now, I’d like to impart that wisdom to you.

1.) Educate yourself. Become an ingredient detective. Fragrance is just the start of the list of toxins hidden in everything from dish washing liquid to baby wash. For more information on how you can become an ingredient detective, read on.

2.) Prioritize. Which products matter most to you? Baby, household/ cleaning, skincare, makeup, haircare, bodycare, pet? Make a list and start with category one. Decide whether you would like to start from scratch or toss the toxins today.

3.) Replenish. Find the appropriate category and restock with a non-toxic alternative.

The Environmental Working Group( has some great resources as well. Some of my most-referenced are the Dirty Dozen, rankings of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides; EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, a webpage with letter grades for household cleaning products; and Healthy Living, an app that designates number rankings for skincare and beauty products as well as food brands.

Life isn’t black and white. There is a gray area and in the non-toxic arena, it’s okay to be gray. 5%, 55%, 99%, the most important piece of the pie is why you’re doing it and, if you’re even reading this post, you’ve most-likely feel some sort of pull to educate yourself on the subject.

Some people may find themselves doing the non-toxic tango. You try some non-toxic laundry detergent you thought you loved but, once you washed more heavily soiled items (aka baby food stains) it was clear the detergent was not cutting it and back to Name-brand detergent you went. It’s okay, friends. You don’t have to go 100%. Like everything else, you must do what works for your brain and your budget. Move on to your next priority and come back to detergents next time you run out.

We don’t all have millions of dollars to spend testing out different non-toxic products every month until we find one we love. The non-toxic journey doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing, but once you know this stuff you’ll most-likely find that you have to start somewhere. Welcome!

*UPDATED 7/23/2016

All Aboard the Sleep Train or Why Cry it Out Worked for Me

At the birthday party this weekend, I met another mom who said her 11 month old was not sleeping through the night. Having sleep trained Ben twice, I was quick to suggest it and she asked me about my method, but admitted she just couldn’t let him cry. My reply was simple and sincere, “It’s not for everybody.”

Ben was 10 weeks old when I found myself pushed to the edge and forced to sleep train. We were living in North Carolina and Jason had just accepted a job in California. He had to start and find us a place to live before we could actually move, so that meant Ben and I were on our own for two weeks.

Each night we endured “witching hour(s)” just before Ben finally fell asleep for his longest stretch of time, at this point that was four hours. The Sunday that Jason left was the first time I had to deal with this on my own. After being with the baby all day, I was going to LOSE my mind, so I let him cry. I was practically in tears once Ben finally feel asleep, but I knew that this was the beginning of sleep training.

I took this on as a project. Each nap, I let Ben cry and checked-in after 10 minutes, picking him up and rocking him until he was calm, then putting him back down (awake) so he could learn to put himself to sleep. It wasn’t easy. I had moments of tears myself and then I decided those 10-minute increments were my opportunities to get things done and LOUD things. I did dishes and ran the garbage disposal; I vacuumed and caught up with friends on the phone; and I even listened to podcasts. I followed suit for each nap and bedtime for the next 2 nights. At bedtime, on the third night, Ben put himself to sleep after 45 minutes of hanging out in the crib wide awake. He also slept through the night for the very first time. 11 glorious hours!

Ben proceeded to sleep through the night 10 -12 hours until around 9 months of age when got a cold that turned into a sinus infection. Poor boy was waking up from night terrors, screaming and seemingly awake, but actually asleep and not feeling well. (To this day I wonder if teeth had anything to do with it, but we will never know.) I was guilty of waking up and picking him up and nursing. So, when he was finally feeling better, Jason and I couldn’t get him down without nursing and then screaming.

I tried sleep training, like before, but going in every 10 minutes seemed to not be helping at all. One Sunday, Jason and I were at out wits end. We had been going in and out for hours.

We decided listen to the podcast of my former pediatrician and also do some reading and research:

  • Unlike adults who let their mind wonder in order to fall asleep, babies have not yet learned to do this so sometimes they cry to, simply, get to that sleepy place.
  • Babies remember the last thing they did before going to sleep, so letting them put themselves to sleep is key.
  • Feeding or rocking baby to sleep does not teach him/her how to put himself to sleep. It is better to put baby down drowsy.
  • What seems like a waking baby after 45 minutes to an hour is actually a change is sleep cycle and, if a baby didn’t put himself to sleep in the first place, transitioning to this deeper sleep cycle is what causes frustration and crying not hunger.
  • Once a baby hits 12lbs they no longer need a nighttime feeding for nourishment.

From this information, we had a plan. We would not go in anymore that night, or for naps or bedtime in the future, no matter how long or loud Ben screamed. He continued to cry that night but, luckily, Game of Thrones was on, so we had something LOUD and intriguing to keep us from crumbling. After 45 minutes, he finally passed out. He didn’t wake in the middle of the night either.

Being home with Ben, I was able to control the consistency of this sleep training so I always put him down drowsy. If I nursed him, I would close the blinds afterward to wake him gently and just enough that he would put himself back to sleep in the crib. He did cry sometimes, before I got him into the crib just because he knew it was nap time, but he would stop crying within seconds of me leaving the room. He did continue to cry after leaving the room at bedtime, but that never lasted long (as he knew we weren’t going back in) and he never woke again in the middle of the night after that. It took 3 days and 3 nights and he was back to sleeping 10-12 hours with no problems falling asleep at naps and at bedtime.

Maybe it’s the Jersey in me that helped me separate emotion from the situation or maybe it was pure exhaustion. Either way, it’s what worked for us. Every baby IS different, but I have recommended this method to several moms and each of us now have babies that sleep through the night.