Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Buttercup Doll - Asthma and Allergy Friendly

We just spent 45 minutes turning the house upside down trying to find my daughter's "Dolly" and she is nowhere to be found.  It's strange, because I cleaned the house top-to-bottom, so I cannot imagine where she could be hiding.  Luckily, we have a spare, and my daughter is fine with that, but I realized that I've never told you about my daughter's Dolly and I wanted to share a little bit about her, because others out there might like her, too.

My daughter's "Dolly" is the Kids Preferred Asthma and Allergy Friendly Buttercup Doll.
Here is the description from Amazon:

Kids Preferred Buttercup Doll
Buttercup Doll measures 11" tall perfect for cuddling with confidence. This sweet dolly gets her name from her buttery yellow outfit complete with a yellow cap. Her inviting smile and soft features make her the perfect companion for a snuggle, a car ride or tucked under the covers all night. Certified asthma & allergy friendly. Toys with the asthma & allergy friendly certification mark are an ideal choice for those concerned with asthma and allergies. Toys bearing the asthma & allergy friendly certification mark have been scientifically tested and shown to be more suitable for people with asthma and certain types of allergies. These toys can be washed frequently to keep allergen levels low, and they do not contain harmful chemicals at levels known to trigger symptoms. The asthma & allergy friendly involves rigorous testing that includes: Surface and stuffing material analysis, allergen loading and demonstration of successful eradication, multiple machine wash testing, quality and safety testing.

My daughter absolutely loves her Dolly and she is so soft and cuddly.  She has been her close companion since she was about 18 months old.  Once you find out your child has asthma and allergies, the stuffed animals are the first things to go, but I think this doll is a fairly safe option, if their condition is not too severe and if you follow the cleaning guidelines.  She comes with instructions to keep her sanitized, but in all honesty I skip the freezing part, because my daughter's asthma is very infrequent and typically triggered by a cold or a food allergen, but I think it's awesome that there is a doll available that has that option.  Dolly is durable and holds up well to being snuggled with night after night and carried around and toddler-handled throughout the day.  Since I don't do the freezing part, I wash Dolly more often, and I bought a spare to rotate when the other is in the wash.  They do "pill" a little after a few months, but I just use on of those fabric fuzz shavers (you can get one for $3) and she looks as good as new.  I also purchased a set for my parents' house, as she sometimes spends the night over at their house.  They are so inexpensive that it's very affordable to have spares to avoid any "lost Dolly" disasters! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Google Docs

I thought I'd share one of the ways that I manage the sea of information that I have cataloged for my daughter.  As I shared in another post, I have been using the Facebook Timeline to keep track of events or incidents, but my digital soul belongs equally to both Facebook and Google.  My information is pretty much split between the two and now, little by little, my daughter's information is being cataloged, as well.

If you don't already have one, I suggest you get a Gmail account.  You can do so many things with Google, but for this post, I'm mainly interested in their "Google Drive" (formerly "Google Docs").  You can create documents, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, and the kinds of things you would normally create in the Microsoft Office suite, except for free and with less features that you don't really need for our purposes, anyway.

Here are some samples of the types of files you might create in Google Drive:


  • Diary
    • Foods eaten
    • Weather conditions
    • Behavior/mood
    • Rashes/hives/skin reactions
    • Stomach problems
    • Wheezing/asthma/breathing issues
    • Sleep disturbances
  • Food allergen ingredient lists - other names for milk, egg, etc., in food items
  • Food allergies - Suspect List
  • Sample menus
  • Favorite recipes
  • List of links to pertinent internet articles/websites
  • Doctor visits
  • Immunizations and/or reactions
  • Medications and/or reactions
  • Topical ointments/creams for eczema
  • Blood test results
Now, I don't have all of these documents up-to-date, all the time, but I have had them, at some point.  The thing I love about Google Drive is that they are accessible from anywhere that you can access the internet.

That brings me to another suggestion.  If you have Android phone, you can press and hold a spot on your phone's "desktop" and add a "Widget" and there is a widget for "Drive" and you can add your Drive right onto your smartphone!  I would add the widget to one of your other "pages" on your desktop, though, as it takes up a whole row on my phone.  If you end up creating several Google Drive, you can "star" the ones you want to keep easily accessible on your phone, like your child's food allergen list, or medication list and that will make it easier to pull them up on your phone.  You can also make the Docs available offline, on your phone, in case an internet connection is not available.  It will use the last saved version.  

Even if you do not have a smartphone, I think using Google Drive is a great way to store all kinds of information in a "place" that you can access from multiple locations, as long as you can access the internet.  You can also choose to share the documents with other family members, or anyone else that you choose.  For example, you could create a document, share it with a daycare provider, and have them write down what the child was fed for lunch and then you could add in what you fed them for dinner, if you were keeping a food log.

If anyone else has any other ideas for uses for Google Drive, please share!

Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect the name change from "Google Docs" to "Google Drive".

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Do Not Repair Shared DVDs with Peanut Butter PLEASE!

There is a "pin" on Pinterest, linking to this Instructables article on how to repair a scratched CD/DVD.  Their solution is to rub peanut butter on it, then wipe it off and rinse with a little water.  Word is, this actually works pretty well.  The oils apparently fill in the cracks.  I don't see how this doesn't do some damage to your device, but that remains to be seen.  The average person might be thinking, "and your point is...?", but if you know me, at all, you might understand how this makes me cringe.

The thought of peanut butter being smeared on anything is cringe-worthy for me.  The thought of a tutorial on Pinterest, where ideas can spread like wildfire, gives me pause.  Think about it...What kinds of DVDs get lots of use?  DVDs from libraries and places like RedBox and Blockbuster Express usually end up with lots of wear and tear.  What other DVDs, specifically, get lots of repeated use?  Children's DVDs!  Furthermore, toddlers love to put their own DVDs in the player, themselves, with their own two hands.  Imagine scores of frustrated people going home with their scratched discs, searching the internet, finding this tutorial, smearing peanut butter on the discs and sending the discs back out into the population.  Then, an unsuspecting peanut-allergic toddler rents a DVD and is exposed.  Maybe the risk of exposure is small.  I don't want to sound alarmist, but the idea bothers me and I'd like for people to take the time to find other ways to remove scratches on discs that are shared by others.  If it is your own personal disc, do whatever you like with it, of course.  However, if it is does not belong to you, please do not put peanut butter on it and think of those out there who might have allergies.  If you have rented/checked out a disc that's unplayable and need a way to repair it, Let Me Google That For You.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

National Consumer Panel

Have you ever heard of "Nielsen ratings"?  I always wanted to be a "Neilsen home" when I was younger, because I wanted to have some say in the shows that were on TV.  Even though we haven't had cable TV since our daughter was 3 months old, I grew up watching A LOT of television.  Anyway, I received an invitation to join the "National Consumer Panel" which is listed as "a Neilsen/Symphony/RI Joint Venture".  At first, I ignored it, as I do many of the invitations to fill out surveys, though I do fill out quite a few surveys, because I want my opinion heard.  Then, one day, it dawned on me that it now, more than ever, I need to make my "voice" heard, for my daughter's sake.  Now, instead of want to have a say in what's on TV, I want to have a say in what's on the local store shelves!

This is how the NCP program works.  You submit an application and if you are accepted, they send you a barcode scanner.  At first, it is only loaded with a few basic store names/types.  After you submit your first "practice" shopping trip, they will send you the customized list of stores in your area.  When you come home from the store, you select the store from the list, then scan your items.  For many popular chains, you will not have to enter prices, but for some stores, it will ask you to enter prices, so just keep your receipt handy.  After you scan all of your items that have barcodes, it will ask you for the total spent, included non-barcoded items.  Each week, you hook your scanner up to you computer and transmit the information to NCP.  You get entered into drawings for submitting information weekly and you get points for entering surveys.  Points can be redeemed for prizes, etc.

Honestly, I'm really not all that interested in those aspects.  I don't care about earning points to redeem for a pair of slippers or a new universal remote.  I just want the people looking at this data to see us, a food allergy household, and analyze our shopping habits.  I want to put a food allergy household on the marketing map.  I want manufacturers to notice and pay attention to the volume of allergy-safe/allergy-friendly foods that we are purchasing.  Our family's hard-earned dollars are being poured into these products and with great frequency.  I encourage all of the food allergy families out there to apply, so we can all make our purchasing dollars count.  I understand that because of our children's multiple food allergies we buy a lot of fresh vegetables and things without barcodes, but for those items with barcodes, let's get our shopping activity noticed and hopefully bring more allergy-friendly products to the market.  It is really only a mild inconvenience to scan your purchases and I, personally, find it fun to scan the barcodes and go beep-beep-beep.  You could even involve your kids in the process!

Here's the link to their registration page.  I know it involves some effort, but I believe it is worth it!