How to Sunblock Your Kids Without Poisoning Them with Sunblock

Sure, getting your kid to wear a hat is the first line of defense, but unless they’re wearing a sombrero, from their shoulders down will still be exposed. Like most people I see at the beach, I sprayed my kids down with waterproof sunblock from a can or slathered on some name brand SPF 1000–the higher the number the better right? Nope, the experts recommend no lower than SPF 30 and no higher than SPF 50.

Then I happened to read about the toxicity of the chemicals found in common sunscreens. BreastCancerFund.org tells me “octyl-methoxycinnamate, which is estrogenic and has thyroid hormone-disrupting effects, is found in over 800 sunscreens.” Great. Since my kids were babies I’ve been diligently disrupting their hormones…

Well, when I know better I try to do better, thank you Maya Angelou.

http://www.sunprecautions.com/product/84300

http://www.sunprecautions.com/ product/84300

But what would be an effective replacement? I could cover them in protective clothing, but then I’d never get them out of the house. Long sleeves at the beach? Maybe in fall and winter. But July?

“You want me to wear what? No thanks Mom, I’ll just stay in the air conditioning and play video games all day.”

So this summer I decided to get the kids involved in a little research test. We would try out a few of the “healthier alternative” sunblocks that we could actually afford and see which one(s) we liked.

Our criteria included: EWG rating, SPF, packaging, price, ease of application, feel of product on skin, color of skin after application, time before reapplication, water and sweat resistance, smell, and finally, did it prevent sunburn?

Our three test products:

Three sunblocks chosen for a summer-long comparison

Three sunblocks chosen for a summer-long comparison

When and Where we tried them out? Summer Camps, Sports, Swimming, Beach, Gardening, and Outdoor Fairs all summer long…

Our family gives Burnout 4.5 out of 5 stars

Our family gives Burnout 4.5 out of 5 stars

Our first Sunblock is BURNOUT OCEAN TESTED PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN

  1. EWG rating: 1 (the lower the better)
  2. SPF: 30
  3. Packaging: Easy to get the product out of the tube, fits in a purse, beach bag, back pocket
  4. Price: $13.99 for 3.4 OZ on Amazon
  5. Ease of application: Easy to put on and rub in
  6. Feel of product on skin: Doesn’t feel tacky or sticky, light, non-oily
  7. Color of skin after application: Pale gray at first, slight sheen later
  8. Time before reapplication: one hour
  9. Water and sweat resistance: water beaded up, sunblock ran into eyes when daughter played tennis, rubbed off on clothing very easily, washes off hands with soap and water
  10. Smell: no unpleasant smell, neutral
  11. Did it prevent sunburn: Yes!
  12. OVERALL RATING 4.5 out of 5 stars

Our second Sunblock is BARE BELLY ORGANICS MINERAL SUNSCREEN

Our family gives Bare Belly a 2.5 out of 5 stars

Our family gives Bare Belly a 2.5 out of 5 stars

  1. EWG rating: 1 (the lower the better)
  2. SPF: 30
  3. Packaging: Easy to get the product out of the tub, fits in a purse, beach bag, but not a back pocket
  4. Price: $17.95 for 4 OZ from Bare Belly Website
  5. Ease of application: Difficult to put on and rub in
  6. Feel of product on skin: Gritty, thick
  7. Color of skin after application: Chalky White, strong sheen later
  8. Time before reapplication: one hour
  9. Water and sweat resistance: water beaded up, sweat resistant, rubbed off on clothing, washes off hands with soap and water
  10. Smell: smells like lard
  11. Did it prevent sunburn: Yes! but my kids and I could not get past the consistency and smell of this stuff.
  12. OVERALL RATING 2.5 out of 5 stars
Our family gives Badger Kids a 3 out of 5 stars

Our family gives Badger Kids a 3 out of 5 stars

And finally BADGER KIDS SUNSCREEN CREAM

  1. EWG rating: 1 (the lower the better)
  2. SPF: 30
  3. Packaging: Easy to get the product out of the tube, fits in a purse, beach bag, and a back pocket
  4. Price: $13.50 for 2.9 OZ from Amazon
  5. Ease of application: Easy to put on and rub in
  6. Feel of product on skin: Doesn’t feel tacky or sticky, light, non-oily
  7. Color of skin after application: White at first, slight sheen later
  8. Time before reapplication: half hour
  9. Water and sweat resistance: water beaded up, sweated off after 30 minutes, rubbed off on clothing, washes off hands with soap and water
  10. Smell: Dreamsicles, you know the orange and vanilla popsicles? Smells just like them. I loved the smell, but so did every bug within a 30 ft radius.
  11. Did it prevent sunburn: Yes! but if your the type of person that naturally attracts bugs this will only enhance your attractiveness, so you better wear bug repellant too.
  12. OVERALL RATING 3 out of 5 stars

So this little non-scientific study was how I got my kids to wear sunblock all summer! Hands down BurnOut was the winner. Keep in mind these three sunblocks are all “barrier” types, so it’s best to compare them against each other and not against the chemical- based sunblocks most of us are used to. Also, these descriptions and ratings are from my family based on our own unique experience. We were not compensated in any way and I purchased the products myself.

Have you used a barrier sunblock before? Which ones do you like?

Summer Binge Watching

Also known as HOW I SPEND MY SUMMER VACATION

If you know me, you know I don’t get out much during the school year. 60-hour work weeks and a house full of kids and pets keeps me from indulging in extracurricular activities, including watching all the TV shows that everyone talks about.

So during the summer when I’m not chauffeuring the kids to camp, or cranking out my next novel, I binge watch. Come to find out, I actually prefer binging to the weekly sample size. Enjoying a season or two, or five, within a week is . . . fun! And since none of it moves into long-term memory, I can binge some of my favorite series more than once!

My Top Ten TV Series for Binge Watching

Firefly__Best_TV_Series_Ever

  1. Firefly, followed by the movie Serenity
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. The Walking Dead
  4. The West Wing
  5. Outlander
  6. The Good Wife
  7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  8. House of Cards
  9. Lost
  10. True Blood

 

 

For extra credit I like to binge watch Movie Series. Some of my favorites include:

IndianaJones_Best_Movie_Series_Ever

  • 4 Indiana Jones movies
  • 3 Lord of the Rings movies
  • 7 Harry Potter movies
  • 2 Kill Bill movies
  • 3 Dark Night movies
  • 3 Star Wars IV-VI movies
  • 8 Police Academy movies (don’t judge)
  • 4 Jurassic Park movies
  • 2 Bridget Jones’s Diary movies (with a 3rd on the way)
  • 3 Iron Man/ 2 Avenger movies
  • 4 Sharknado movies (come on, lighten up)Sharnado_You_Know_You_Love_It
  • 3 Godfather movies
  • 3 Matrix movies
  • 3 Toy Story movies
  • 13 Star Trek movies (best broken into sets by cast: 6/4/3)
  • 3 Back to the Future movies
  • 3 Spiderman movies (the ones with Tobey Maguire)
  • 4 Superman movies (the ones with Christopher Reeves)
  • 5 Alien/Prometheus movies (with a 6th on the way)
  • 7 Fast & Furious movies (with an 8th on the way)
  • Come_on_Its_JohnyDepp_playing_a_pirate5 Pirates of the Caribbean movies
  • 5 Terminator movies
  • 3 Naked Gun movies
  • 5 Die Hard movies
  • 4 Spy Kids movies (OK my kids love them and I love hanging with my kids, so, yeah, I watch these too)

Have I left off any of your favorites? Put them in the comments below!

Why not? Motivation for the Faint of Heart

Spinning discs at WJMU circa 1984-85

Spinning discs at WJMU circa 1984-85

I’ve always identified with the Cowardly Lion. Courage does not come naturally to me. I cannot recall a time when I was truly fearless. Everything from meeting someone for the first time to standing on a ladder can send me into a nervous refrain, “I can’t do this. Something horrible will happen. I will make a fool of myself.”

In high school I had a teacher write me a note and tell me that he thought my naturally sweet disposition was keeping me from achieving my goals. Not exactly, Teach. Anyone who knows me, knows I can be just as *itchy as the best of them. No, there’s only one thing that keeps me from my goals:

FEAR

Sometimes, it’s paralyzing.

Those meet-n-greet dinners at the beginning of a conference? I avoid them at all costs, and when I can’t, I spend an inordinate amount of time in the restroom and leave completely exhausted. It’s taken me three days to work up the nerve to call HughesNet to advocate for a bill reduction. Even at the-job-that-pays, getting up in front of a classroom of college students on the first day of a semester is both exhilarating and terrifying.

Introversion, social anxiety, timidness, it’s probably a mix of the three. So how have I managed to accomplish anything without an arsenal of pharmaceutical assistance? Strong friendships with courageous people have certainly helped. Turning off my people-pleasing instincts and smothering the associated guilt works to some extent. Easing back on perfectionism, check. Routines, meditation, visualization help too. However, in college I hit upon one question that propels me forward:

If I do XYZ “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and its follow-up question, “Can I live with that?”

It’s worked something like this…Freshman year in college, I hear my Resident Assistant on the college radio station and I think to myself, that sounds like a lot of fun. I would like to do that too. Then the anxious voice takes over and says, what are you kidding? You will be horrible, people won’t listen, you will lose listeners and embarrass yourself and the station. But after thinking about it for a while, I realize is embarrassment the worst thing that could happen? And if it is, can I live with that?

Yes, I can live with that.

So I took the broadcaster course and passed my FCC test and got my broadcasting license. After a semester on the air I was running the morning drive program. After two semesters I was helping to run the station in the summer. After a year I received the station’s best new DJ award.

And yes, I embarrassed myself.

But this new mantra helps me move forward. Sometimes it’s all that gets me out of the house. It’s what keeps me employed. It’s what keeps me writing and submitting and self-publishing. It’s what I tell my students to do when they’re considering a life change.  It’s what I tell my children when they want to try something new.

Millikin University Homecoming Court 1986. Me, first row, far left, maiden name, big hair. It was the 80s, what can I say? Absolutely terrified but so glad I did this for myself.

Millikin University Homecoming Court 1986. Me, first row, far left, maiden name, big hair. It was the 80s, what can I say? Absolutely terrified but so glad I did this for myself.

My mantra has motivated me all the way to Russia, Singapore, and Finland. It’s given me the guts to put myself out there singing, speaking, and writing. It’s not easy yet, and it probably never will be, but it’s working for me.

Millikin University graduating class of 1987. Uh oh, now you can figure out how old I am...

Millikin University graduating class of 1987. Uh oh, now you can figure out how old I am…

How about you? What gives you courage?