I didn't know what I didn't know.

Up until a few years ago, I blindly trusted that what was being sold to me was safe. This is not always the case. Due to a lack of regulation in the personal care industry, we are left to protect ourselves requiring us to be educated and vigilant about what is in the products that we are using. The amount of information out there can be overwhelming, so I always recommend taking it in small bites and give yourself permission to switch out your products slowly.
It's about progress, not perfection.  

A Home Tour: Our first REAL California home

After approximately 22 months of living in what I ever so lovingly referred to as our two sh*t boxes, I was MORE THAN READY to find a real California home. By that time it was quiet clear that we would be living in California permanently, which meant it was time to find a home and not a sh*t box to live in.

Side bar: Please don't misunderstand. I know and respect that for many, living in a condo IS living in a real home. My negative feelings towards those condos had EVERYTHING to do with the context of my life at the time. During that time in our married life, living in those two condos was less than a pleasant experience for our family for a variety of reasons.

How bad could it have been you ask? Well...We lived so close to our neighbors that on cool nights we couldn't sleep with our windows open. Why? Two reasons. 1). The neighbors often went outside to smoke right underneath our windows, and 2). On multiple occasions we could hear the couple next door...how should I say this...um...totally getting it on which included lots of...um...spanking. (Insert wide-eyed/shocked emoji here.) Maybe that's why they were always out smoking. So, yeah to say that I was ready to move was a total understatement.

I had made a new friend at a Mother's of Preschoolers event at a local church who happened to be a relator. It didn't take me long to request her services in helping to search out our next home. It was springtime which meant my husband wasn't available to find the home with me. He actually gave me full permission to pick out the house. I believe his exact words were, "Whatever you want, honey. You go pick it out. I'll like whatever you pick out." (This tidbit will be important to the story later.)

So that's exactly what I did. Kirsten and her husband, Jon, did an excellent job showing us lots of nice homes. I knew which one would be ours the first time I saw it. It checked off lots of boxes, was at the right price, in a neighborhood that seemed nice, so we jumped in with both feet and made an offer.

I will never forget getting the call from Jon while sitting in Chili's.

Jon: I have great news! They accepted your offer!

Me: That's awesome! No counter or anything? Wow!

Jon: There's just one thing. Did you know about the drug bust that happened in that neighborhood?

(Insert the sound of a needle scrapping across a record.)

Me: Um...no, I don't think so. What drug bust? Like what kind of drugs? Like hardcore drugs?

(While my parents and our boys sat around us trying not to eavesdrop, Derek was in my ear saying, "Drug bust? We can't move in a neighborhood filled with drugs! We can't have people knocking on our door asking for drugs! I can't leave you and the boys alone in a druggy neighborhood!")

Jon: There was a guy growing marijuana in a house. He wasn't living in the house, just growing weed. It was a huge bust. Something like 3 million dollars worth of weed.

Now let me pause for another moment and give you some context for the story. This neighborhood is one of the newer ones in the valley that we live in. It is filled with young families, a pretty little park, and a local school within walking distance. There have been several national commercials shot in our neighborhood because it basically looks like Anywhere, U.S.A. This neighborhood was NOT a place where you would expect 3 million dollars worth of weed to be growing.

Me: Wow. Um...okay. So where in the neighborhood did it happen?

Jon: Next door.

Obviously that was not the answer we were hoping for, that was a little too close for comfort. Derek was in my ear saying something along the lines of "not good" but my response to Jon might surprise you.

Me: Well, he's in prison and the weed is gone, so it's all good! Tell them we have a deal!

My husband thought I had lost my mind.

A month later we were moving in next door to the pot house. When meeting new friends in the neighborhood we were often introduce as "the people who bought the house next door to the drug bust." Yep, that was us. It was a mantle we wore with feigned ignorance and I decorated that place from top to bottom with pride!

Bentley's bedroom...

My little, green laundry room...

Our back patio addition...

I have written about that house several time on this blog (which you can find by clicking on the label, HOMES. You find my decorating, our remodeling of the kitchen and backyard patio addition.) It was a good little house that we enjoyed for several year until, well, we didn't anymore. Remember that part where my husband said, "I'll like whatever you pick." Well...he didn't. Five years later we were on the hunt for a new house.

What's all of the BPA buzz about?

My friend Erin was the first to tell me about BPA. I think it was mentioned in a casual conversation about healthier choices. She said something along the lines of, "I've been trying to find cans without BPA..." And I'm sure I thought something along the lines of, "BP...what? What are you talking about? And cans? What's wrong with cans?"

A lot of conversations about healthier choices with our dear friend Erin usually start this way. She has always been ahead of the rest of us (we all freely admit it) when it comes to being informed about and choosing to make healthier choices. Her understanding of BPA and why it's bad for us was no exception. I don't remember all of what was discussed during our BPA conversation, but I do know if Erin says to stay away from it, well that was exactly what I was going to do.

Maybe you've heard about BPA or maybe you're totally clueless like I was. Either way, here's a little cheat sheet to make it a little easier to understand.

What is BPA?

From Medical News Today: "Bisphenol A, often known as BPA is a chemical found in hard plastics and the coatings of food and drinks cans which can behave in a similar way to estrogen and other hormones in the human body. BPA is used to make many products, including water bottles, baby bottles, dental fillings and sealants, dental devices, medical devices, eyeglass lenses, DVDs and CDs, household electronic and sports equipment. BPA can also be found in epoxy resins which is used as coatings inside food and drinks cans."

Why is BPA bad for me?

Some studies done in animals have shown BPA to be a endocrine disrupter, effects on the behavior babies and young children, possible effects on the brain, cancer risk from exposure, heart problems, and possible connections to obesity, diabetes, and ADHD. Here's a great article that I'm pretty sure Erin sent me. She's good like that. 

How does BPA get into my body?

According the the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, "The primary source of exposure to BPA for most people is through the diet. BPA in food and beverages accounts for the majority of daily human exposure. Bisphenol A can leach into food from the protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer products such as polycarbonate tableware, food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles."

If the primary source of exposure is what I'm eating out of, like cans and water bottles, how do I avoid it?

Manufacturers are getting better about creating BPA-free products. Look for stickers on baby and water bottles that say "BPA-free." Good thing to remember: Plastics that are marked with a 3 or 7 recycle code may be made with BPA. Take the time to throw out your questionable water bottles and replace them with BPA-free bottles, or better yet with glass ones that are perfect for adding essential oils. (Side note: never add essential oils to plastic bottles, BPA-free or otherwise.)

Refraining from eating foods stored in cans would be ideal, but not all that practical sometimes. Start checking the labels. Look for cans that say, "Non-BPA Lining." When I first found out about BPA, the only place I could find BPA-free cans was at Whole Foods. Now I am able to find some at my local grocery store chain. For example, one of the cans in the picture above is Rotel, a staple in the Freeman household. (You just can't make decent queso without it.) I was so excited to see that their cans are BPA-free. They are out there, you just have to look.

What have you done to reduce BPA in your house?

  • I have gotten rid of all of our plastic food containers. I purchased this Pyrex set that are glass with BPA-free lids.
  • All of our water bottles are primarily glass or metal, with a few plastic BPA-free. Our favorites are Swell and Hydro Flask. I love my glass water bottle from Lifefactory, a company that also make glass baby bottles and stemless wine glasses that we love.
  • I am getting better and better about paying attention to the canned foods that I buy, trying my best to buy only BPA-free cans. It isn't always possible. Sometimes it just is what it is. (The tuna I just had for lunch might have been wild caught and dolphin safe but was not BPA-free.) But knowing what I know, I have stopped buying as many canned foods as I did before. Once you know you can't unknow...

But I've been eating out of cans lined with BPA for decades!

The good news is that a study done by the Breast Cancer Fund found that living off of a fresh food diet for three days significantly reduced the levels of BPA in both children and adults. Co-author Connie Engel, program coordinator with Breast Cancer Fund, said, "The study should serve as a wake-up call to industry and government to enact big-picture solutions that eliminate harmful chemicals from food packaging and protect public health."

Yeah, what Connie said.