Image: PANGAIAN WILDS by Daniel Mirante. Thanks Daniel!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Aya Eden Ouroboros Newsom's First Birthday

Today, Angela & I are excited to celebrate Aya Eden's first birthday! It's hard to believe that it's been a year. I mean, we've been through a lot, so I feel like it's been a really intense year, but at the same time, it seems like it was yesterday that we welcomed this little boy into the world.

Aya Eden is happy, healthy and in the past few months has become very precocious. Though we're not judgmental about others choices, we're pleased that he's yet to see the inside of a hospital or doctor's office. He's had a few colds and rashes here and there, but he keeps growing, sleeps and eats a varied and nutritious whole food diet, so I think we're doing OK.

He's just about to start walking and he's quickly adding light, belly, penis, bear, ball, and, of course, mama and papa to his babbling vocab. Thankfully he hasn't pick-up up No yet, but he is shaking his head no. It's funny how we've both been mindful in our attempts to remove No from our spoken communication, so Aya's picked up on our body language instead! Ah, so many things to be mindful of.

As we move into our second year as parents I'm feeling more confident than I have. The challenges we faced this past year were many and touched all aspects of our lives. As we mediated the angst that I have to assume is "normal" and natural for new parents we also faced adversity by being displaced many times over, coping with the loss of support from some family and friends, and struggling to keep food on the table and our personal health up in the face of this dizzying spiral. Aya Eden's ever pleasant and caring demeanor served as a beacon through this adversity. His fairly constant giggling and his interest in details and dancing and the assistance of many amazing friends through thick and thin are the things that got us through.

We cannot properly manage the grace required to express our gratitude for the many angels who helped us through this last year. We have been truly humbled and awe-filled by the kindness and wisdom of others, some who we still barely know and others who have become fast and lifelong friends. Thank you for helping Angela, Aya and I, we are continually amazed by the depths that gratitude brings light to.

Angela and I have had the honor of spending the majority of our days and nights together and strive to truly co-raise Aya. We've been blessed to offer him the benefit of two parents as constant companions and resources. Though we would have gladly given that up for more security and both sought other employment, now that we are more grounded, financially able and more engaged in an active community we are so pleased that we stuck to our guns and weathered the many invitations to give up on our dreams.

In many ways the challenges we've overcome have served to literally ground us in our work. Though we are still learning, we are more deeply connected and committed to our work in Food Security, and Social and Environmental Justice. We have created new partnerships and have collaborated with individuals and organizations that we hold in the highest esteem. Thanks to a personal investment from one of our supporters and friends we have been able to find a real home in North Corktown where our work is becoming more and more community-based and where Aya has a truly urban agrarian neighborhood to grow up in. Naturally we wanted to live here because so many of our heroes do and we're very pleased to now call many of them friends.

So, as it comes time to mark Aya Eden's birth on the wheel of the year I have to say that in many ways I think we're just as excited as Aya seems to be. We're going to spend the day doing some special things that we think Aya would enjoy, and that we dig too. :) We're going to visit with some family, sit a birthday puja at the temple, and then we'll go splurge a bit and enjoy finger foods as we take Aya to the Blue Nile for the first time. Yum!

Our thanks to all of you for your support and your continued interest in our work and in our lives. We would not be here if it were not for each and every one of you, no matter how great or small your role. We look forward to sharing more as Team Newsom continues to evolve in the coming year!

In Love & Light,
Gregg (& Angela)
February 23, 2010

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Contaminated Baby Care Products

A Toxic Tub for Baby - And a Call to Action for Congress

Take Action!
Ask Congress to
Clean Up Cosmetics

Babies across America are sitting in bubbles tainted with cancer-causing chemicals and other toxins linked to serious health effects, according to a report released today by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Many of the contaminated products are advertised as "gentle," "pure" or "naturally refreshing."

Read the new report, "No More Toxic Tub," for all the details, but this is the quick and dirty version:

The Campaign sent unopened bubble bath, baby lotion and other products intended for babies and children, purchased in cities across the U.S., to an independent lab to be tested for 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde. Both chemicals are contaminants that do not appear on product labels, and both are carcinogenic; formaldehyde can also trigger rashes in those with sensitive skin.

The lab tested 48 kids' products for 1,4-dioxane and found it in 67 percent of the products. Of the 28 products tested for formaldehyde, 82 percent were positive. Seventeen products were contaminated with both 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde.

Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea baby wash, Sesame Street Bubble Bath, American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel, and even the iconic Johnson's Baby Shampoo were among the products that contained both of these toxic contaminants.

We know that cosmetics can be made without hazardous ingredients and contaminants. So what's going on? How is it legal for companies to sell baby and kids' skincare products that contain toxic chemicals used in embalming fluid, fumigants and automotive coolant? Worse yet, these chemicals aren't even on the label, so even the most ingredient-conscious parents wouldn't know whether the product is safe.

Take action right now: Ask your legislators to clean up cosmetics.

Some industry representatives say that a little bit of formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane isn't going to harm anyone. But these bath products are regularly used on children in combination with numerous other products. Because our air, water and food can contain harmful chemicals, too, our total daily exposure to toxic chemicals can be significant and can add up to harm.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, several factors contribute to children's special vulnerability to the harmful effects of chemicals:

• A child's chemical exposures are greater pound-for-pound than those of an adult.
• Children are less able than adults to detoxify and excrete chemicals.
• Children's developing organ systems are more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposures.
• Children have more years of future life in which to develop disease triggered by early exposure.

The widespread presence of contaminants and other harmful ingredients in children's bath products is just one symptom of a self-regulated cosmetics industry badly in need of reform. We deserve better!

What Can You Do?

Ask your legislators to give the FDA the authority it needs to ensure that all cosmetics, from baby shampoo to lipstick to body lotion, are truly safe.

Spread the word to friends and family.

Download the report, check the list of products we tested and find safer alternatives at

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Food Sensitivity/Allergy?

Having Aya out of the womb has brought a new host of challenges I was not expecting. I know, how could I, being that I am a first time mother. But still, I thought it would be somewhat smooth sailing, just like the pregnancy was. How naive.

Aya was somewhat posterior during labor and was having a very difficult time fitting through the birth canal. Hence, the very intense and painful 20 hour labor I endured. His head was compressed for a long time in a very tight space. Miraculously his heartbeat stayed strong the whole time. He's a trouper, my little man. Finally at the end he turned and I was able to push him out. Within the first days he started having a stuffy nose. We attributed it to the compression and have been doing cranial sacral work on him, reflexology, sinus massage, and saline flushes. Seems to be helping somewhat, but the problem remains. He is also having a difficult time burping and has had many bouts of hiccups, and this second week has had a little issue with constipation (and so have I). I do have to say though, he hasn't had an issue sleeping or being real colicky, only a couple nights ... for the most part he's sleeping well and seems generally in good health and spirits. His umbilical cord healed in one week for example!

Naturally I started thinking about my diet to help ease the congestion and to get his (and my) bowels moving. While i don't eat many processed foods, I had some processed vegan soy cheese a few times since his birth and a tofurky sandwich. I immediately cut those items out. As for other soy, I eat tempeh, tamari, miso and bragg's liquid aminos but I didn't think that those were an issue ... although now I am not sure. Other things I read could be irritating is wheat (haven't had very much), citrus and fruits like strawberries (I had quite a few strawberry banana smoothies), nuts (have had cashews, peanuts, pecans and walnuts) and dairy (obviously that's not an issue).

A new element to this mystery that just developed in the last couple days ... as if this isn't enough ... a pimply rash has developed on his face. The first week he had a couple around his nose, which i read was normal, but in the last couple days it has spread to his cheeks, under his eyes, and a few on his chest. This has sent me into extreme worry mode. Is it a food allergy? Could it be our laundry detergent .. his face up against our clothes and sheets? We obviously use a natural detergent but it does have fragrance added. Is the stuffy nose and intestinal upset related? OR ... are the pimples simply normal and I am freaking out over nothing?? Like I said before, he doesn't seem to be bothered by the pimples, he struggles a little to release his bowls, but other than that, he's a pretty calm kid.

I have started a food diary to try to see if it's a certain food. I will eliminate the high probability foods and see what happens and will report my findings here. We also have a few leads on open-minded pediatricians that i will be making appointments with this week but if anyone has any recommendations in this area I would appreciate it. A naturopath that accepts medicaid insurance would be a blessing (and a miracle)!

If anyone has any feedback to this issue please send them to me at or post them to this blog. I am confident that I can get to the bottom of this, but I have to admit that I am a bit stressed ... which is probably typical of a new mom :)