Putting Names to Faces

Photo Book 2By the time I moved permanently with my parents to the United States when I was six years old, the names and faces of my closest relatives, along with shared memories, were fixed in my brain. As an immigrant, it was, and continues to be, difficult being away from my family, especially my cousins. However, summers spent in Poland refreshed my memories of my loved ones, and continued to nurture the bond that never ceased even while miles apart.

One of the hardest parts about starting my family was the fact that my child will not get to know my wonderful and loving family in Poland as well as I do. We were extremely fortunate to travel to Poland this past summer, which allowed my husband and son to meet my family. My son took to his Polish family extremely quickly, and kept asking for them long after we returned home. Luckily, technology has been a blessing and allowed us to talk to my family in Poland in real time and help my son associate names with faces. I recently came across a great product to help my son remember his family in Poland: mini board books by Pinhole Press.

The mini books are personalized board books designed to help children learn family names and/or first words. I created a book for my son for Easter.  I called it, “Moja Polska Rodzina” (My Polish Family), and it features photos of his immediate family from Poland.  He loved it, as did my parents and family friends with whom we celebrated the holiday. My son even took it to daycare the next day. It warms my heart to hear him reading it, getting excited over the faces he recognizes.

Photo Book

Creating the board book is easy. It took me 10 minutes to create and order once I picked out the photos I wanted to use. To create the book, upload photos from your computer, Facebook, or Instagram to the Pinhole Press website, and then drag and drop your photos into the book. You can customize the text on the page next to the photo page. You can choose from 18 font colors and three font sizes (small, medium, and large). You cannot change the font type. Each text page is a different color. Although you cannot change the color of the pages, you can rearrange the order of the pages. Each book is coil bound and contains your choice of durable glossy/coated or matte pages.

I absolutely love this book. The only problem we encountered was the coil binding coming loose from the pages. That was easily fixed by crimping the end of the coil more. Other than that, the only drawback is the price: $34.99. However, if you are willing to splurge, the book is totally worth it!

Disclosure: I received a free mini book from Pinhole Press for the purpose of my review. I only paid for the shipping. All opinions expressed here are my own.

“Free & Clear” Laundry Detergent not in the Clear: Review of Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent

I was asked to sample and review Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent as part of Seventh Generation’s Generation Good community of which I am a member.

I received 3 sample-sized packets of the laundry detergent and decided to test them out on three different laundry loads: toddler clothes, my and my husband’s clothes, and my husband’s sweat- and dirt-stained and sun-drenched work clothes.

In all three instances the detergent did its job. Food stains on my toddler’s clothes weren’t removed any better or worse than other detergents that I have tried. The sweat, dirt, and sun-drenched smell did not come out from my husband’s clothes, but I honestly was not expecting it to come out given the state of the clothes. Overall, I was satisfied with how clean the clothes came out.

Seventh Generation markets their Free & Clear detergent as one for sensitive skin: “Natural Laundry Detergent that’s tough on stains, but gentle to your world. With no dyes, optical brighteners or synthetic fragrances, our natural laundry detergent gives you great results – even in cold water.”

Although no one in our household suffers from very sensitive skin, I personally prefer things without added scents since fragrance usually means added chemicals, especially when it comes to baby products.

Although I do appreciate that the laundry detergent is free of dyes and synthetic fragrances, I do take issue with some of the synthetic ingredients in the detergent (bolded by me):

Ingredients: water, laureth-6 (plant-derived cleaning agent), sodium lauryl sulfate (plant-derived cleaning agent), sodium citrate (plant-derived water softener), glycerin (plant-derived enzyme stabilizer), sodium chloride (mineral-based viscosity modifier), oleic acid (plant-derived anti-foaming agent), sodium hydroxide (mineral-based pH adjuster), calcium chloride (mineral-based enzyme stabilizer), citric acid (plant-derived pH adjuster), protease, amylase, and mannanase (plant-derived enzyme blend soil removers), and benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone (synthetic preservatives).

The detergent contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), benzisothiazolinone, and methylisothiazolinone, which, in addition to some other ingredients, resulted in the detergent earning a grade of “D” from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Sodium lauryl sulfate, benzisothiazolinone, and methylisothiazolinone are of concern when it comes to aquatic toxicity, skin irritation, allergies, and damage, as well as organ and immune system toxicity.

I do think this detergent is better than other commercial/chemical-laden detergents found at mass retailers; however, I was disappointed at the ingredients and the EWG ranking in this “natural” detergent since it comes from a company that prides itself on being natural and environmentally friendly.  Because of my concern over the use of benzisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, and SLS, I will not be using Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent.

I received the Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent for free for the purpose of my review. Opinions are 100% my own.

(Baby) Bottoms Up!

Baby bottoms–they are cute and adorable, but can create quite the mess.  So let me veer from my usual language/culture posts so that we can talk about them, specifically, what we parents and caregivers use on those smooth cheeks.

We go through a lot of baby wipes (I never realized that such tiny humans can produce so much poop until I became a mom). With each swipe of the wipe, the ingredients from the wipe are transferred directly onto the baby’s skin. That is why it is important to me that baby wipes are as natural as possible, and do not contain phthalates, parabens, and dyes. Because when it comes to keeping my family and home clean, only natural and eco-friendly options will do.

I received Seventh Generation Free & Clear baby wipes to try. We use a lot of Seventh Generation products in our home, and I was already familiar with their old formula, which I loved. According to Seventh Generation, “specially designed to care for baby and planet, Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes deliver the clean you need with the gentle care your baby’s skin deserves. Free from fragrances, parabens, phthalates, alcohol and dyes, these wipes are also good for hands and faces and hands that go on faces (and in mouths)!”

These wipes are thick enough to handle even the messiest diaper changes. They do not have that weird chemical smell that is present in some “non-scented” wipes. They are also very moist—perfect for when you are dealing with a poopy mess (or need to wipe hands and faces) but too wet when you are dealing with just pee. I had to blot off the excess moisture from my son’s skin with a towel to make sure his diaper area was dry. The wipes are gentle and did not cause any allergic reactions to my son’s skin.

My only concerns are that the wipes contain sodium benzoate* and are not chlorine-free. The original wipes were chlorine-free (as clearly stated on the packaging and the Seventh Generation website). The new wipes are devoid of such claim, which make me assume that they are no longer free of chemical processing.

I personally will not be making the switch to the Seventh Generation wipes as I have found wipes from a different brand that I prefer more based on ingredients and the thickness/moisture content of the wipes. However, I do recommend the Seventh Generation Free & Clear wipes as they are safer and more eco-friendly compared to the wipes found at majority of retailers.

*I research the ingredients in products before I buy. I also use the EWG Skin Deep guide to find the ratings of various personal products and cosmetics.
I received the Seventh Generation Free & Clear baby wipes for free for the purpose of my review. Opinions are 100% my own.