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Breaking the TV Habit

It’s been almost a month since my little one stopped watching television. Well, there was that one slip two weeks ago. Oh, and she watched a little TV this weekend while she was hanging out with a gaggle of kids. Otherwise, though, she is TV-free.

It all started with a doll. A few years ago the Today Show had an American Girl special. A bunch of dolls selling for $60. I went ahead and bought a few, putting them up in the attic. In April I was upstairs pulling down summer clothing for my little one. She came upstairs and saw the AG boxes, asking to open them up. Inside, she found Caroline Abbott who, with her creamy skin and long blonde curls, resembles my girl. She wanted that doll. She begged for the doll. We struck a bargain. If she could give up television for 40 days, she could have the doll.

It was a tough decision for her. My older daughter never watched TV as a young child. In fact, she watched no TV (pretty much) until she was in pre-K. As she got older she watched on weekends, but TV was off-limits during the school week. Today, she barely cares about watching TV. It’s not something she’s used to doing.

The little one had a different experience. My husband was Little Girl’s caregiver a lot when she was little, and he — a TV junkie himself — let her watch Sesame Street, Yo Gabba Gabba and Backyardigans. Her viewing habits were still within normal limits, though. And then I got injured almost three years ago. Little Girl had just finished kindergarten. During my long convalescence my little one watched a lot more TV. I was immobile and out of it a lot. The TV became a babysitter for my husband, who handled dinner most nights and tried to adapt to his new roles. Little Girl’s occasional TV viewing became a habit. It worried me since television viewing is implicated in dozens negative outcomes including:

There was nothing I could do, though. Once I started getting back to life, however, I limited her television viewing. It was too late. She craved TV. She would choose TV over almost anything. Yes, she still did plenty of pretend play, sports, playdates, but TV was definitely on her radar more than it should have been. The doll was a perfect opportunity to pull her back from a bad habit.

The past month of TV detox has been interesting to watch. In the beginning, she would walk into the TV room and try to finagle a few minutes of viewing time. She also told me how “hard” it was not watching TV. She lamented all the new shows she would miss. (Damn, The Disney Channel is good at sucking kids in!) But slowly she started breaking free of TV’s grip.

Today, Little Girl spends a lot of time in the playroom. She’s become a voracious reader, asking for trips to the library several times a week. She creates elaborate scenarios with her dolls, stuffed animals and Legos. She gardens with me and plays outside on our playground. It’s been amazing, actually.

Little Girl gets her doll on June 8. She also gets back access to the TV. We intend to limit her viewing so she never gets back to the point of needing to watch a show. I’m really hoping that her time away from the TV will reinforce the message that television, like everything, is best in moderation.

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Facebook has a way of reminding us of the good times and the bad. This morning one of my “On This Day” memories fell into the later category. It was a simple status update:


I remember that day like it was yesterday, mostly because it is one of my major regrets, and one I think about every once in a while. It was the time I missed out on an amazing experience with my daughter, choosing a $1,200 assignment instead. What makes it worse: Less than three months after I posted this I got hurt and ended up lying in bed for the better part of a few years.

I went from this person:


to THIS person:


From running a 10k to feeling like my head was exploding and my entire world was moving 24/7. From a healthy 137 pounds to a sickly 118 pounds. From being a whirlwind to being a lump that didn’t move.

While I would do anything to get the past nearly three years back (especially the first two that were spent in constant pain and movement) the accident gave me clarity. It helped me see what is truly important. While work is important — the whole paying for shelter and food thing — health, family and fun are three things that are more important.

I don’t get confused about that fact anymore. When someone asks, like they did last week, if I can do a conference call on a Tuesday — the same Tuesday my younger daughter has her school plant sale — I tell them no, suggesting a different day and time. I finally realize, thanks to my injuries, that interviews can be rescheduled. Helping my daughter choose plants for grandma and me can’t.

Why is a plant sale more important than work? Because in life you have to do what makes you happy. Happy is something fragile and special and fleeting. We have to live through a ton of crappy for every moment of happy. So yes, while I love my work and yes, it makes me happy, it doesn’t leave imprints on my heart. Not like watching my child — and a bunch of her friends and classmates — debate the merits of a pink flower over a purple one. Not like a day at the museum with my then-10-year-old would have.

And so today, as you go about your day, I hope you’ll remember this blog and I hope you’ll choose happy. If you’re tempted to choose work, think of me sitting in my office three years ago today, moderating a webinar as my daughter joyfully ran through the Museum of Natural History geocaching with her friends. Remember the fact that I had to look up what the title of the webinar was and how much I got paid for it. Remember the fact that I missed out on something that was worth far, far more than what I got paid. Then make the best choice for you and your family. Sure, sometimes work does have to take priority. That said, unless you’re a surgeon or an astronaut there’s probably a way to reschedule that call or change shifts with someone else. Billable hours come and go. Moments spent with loved ones last a lifetime.

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Every morning I read the news. This morning, my husband sent me a link to a Daily Beast story, Silicon Valley CEO Pleads ‘No Contest’ to Abusing His Wife—and Is Offered a Deal for Less Than 30 Days in Jail. It tells the story of a successful, professional woman married to the CEO of an Internet startup. It explains how he hit her and beat her. The abuse went on regularly for years. Finally, when she couldn’t take it anymore, she recorded one of the abuse sessions and went to police. I read her account — and listened to the audio of one such session– with the sick fascination of someone who has been there, done that.

As a teen I dated someone who hit me. Although it happened decades ago, those experiences are still fresh in my mind. I can close my eyes and almost feel the guy, a pillar of propriety today, BTW, putting his hands around my neck and squeezing. He only let go when my cousin and her boyfriend came running out of another room screaming that he was going to kill me. At the time, he released me and I fell like a rag doll, bumping my head on my cousin’s hip bone on my way to the floor. I still have a calcification on my forehead from that assault. The remnants of what was then a HUGE blue egg will be there forever.

I also remember the time he came into my house and, without saying a word and because he was mad at me, smacked a bowl of cereal out of my hands before smacking me, too. The memory of the milk streaming down the wall and my body shaking in terror takes me right back. There were plenty of other episodes over the almost six years I dated him, too. Six years. SIX years. I met him when I was three months shy of 16 and dated him until I was almost 22. How can that be? Why did I stay?

Looking back, I think I stayed (and even took an engagement ring from him) because I loved him and thought it was normal. My dad died when I was young. I didn’t see an example of a healthy male/femal relationship. Besides, my mom loved me and she spanked me, smacked me, pulled my hair. All my friends and family had parents who hit them, too. If parents hit and it was okay of course a man would hit, right?

I wish I could say I left. That I was the one who broke off the engagement and threw him out of my life. I didn’t, though. We had a fight and he broke up with me. I actually begged for him to take me back, something not uncommon in an abusive relationship. He refused. He did try and reconcile with me after a month or so, but by then I realized I was happier (and better off) without him. What followed was a year of horrific, creepy stalking and crazy behavior that only stopped once I called the police. He targeted me, my new boyfriend and my family. He called my mother telling her terrible things about me. He kicked my door. He set off our car alarms at all times of the night. He sat outside my house with a scanner, listening to my telephone conversations. He threatened to kill himself. It was a mess. But I digress as usual.

So after I read that story this morning I sat in bed thinking. I wanted to make sure my girls knew that hitting was never okay. We’ve talked about it in the past, but it had been a while since the topic came up. The big one already left for school, so I went to talk to the little one. I found her in her closet, picking out clothes. I crouched down so I was eye level and told her that I hope she alway remembered that hitting is never okay. I asked her if Mommy or Daddy ever hit her. She said no, never. I told her that someone who loves you — truly loves you — would never intentionally hurt you. I told her that the second someone puts their hands on her she was to come tell us no matter how old she was. I also told her that people who hit also lie. They may say they are sorry and that they didn’t mean it, but they aren’t sorry and they will do it again.

She was annoyed. She didn’t want to hear such things on a rainy Thursday morning. She adopted that voice that 8-year-old girls get, “Mamma, I know!” Then she shifted gears, asking me to help her fix the neckline of her blue ruffled top. I adjusted her clothing, hugged her tightly and we continued on our day. The sound of the audio still gets to me, though. I hear myself in her cries. It makes me feel ashamed and sad and afraid for the future.

As a parent, I know I can’t save my kids from every mistake and problem they will encounter. I can’t prevent boys from being mean to them or stop them from breaking their hearts. I worry, though. I worry about the hitters. The date rapers. The would-be photographers. The liars. The drug pushers. The “hey, it’s only vodka” guys. I’ve been in this world too long and know that these guys are out there. They exist. How do I make sure that they miss meeting them or — if they do — simply pass them by?

For now, I’ll keep talking. I’ll keep showing my girls the evidence of my own mistakes. I did it this morning, taking my daughter’s hand and rubbing it over my permanent bump to the head. Hopefully, the information sinks in and they never have to confront it themselves. I’ll also pray that the parents of the boys my daughters will come in contact with are talking to their boys, too. I hope they are telling them that it’s never okay to hit a girl. I hope their words sink in, too.

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We went away for Easter this year. We drove out to Greenport and spent the night at a lovely hotel overlooking the ocean. It was my first trip since getting hurt in 2014 aside from a disastrous trip to Disney in November 2015. (That trip was spent in bed, head pounding, body feeling like it was rocking 24/7 from vestibular migraine while my family did the parks, but I digress.)

This weekend, we woke up on Easter Sunday, got dressed and went to church. When we got there I looked around and felt like the worst mother in the world. Little girls sitting with their parents wore frilly, pretty dresses in pastel hues. They had hats and matching purses, too. Those who didn’t wear hats donned elaborate bows. The boys wore cute little khaki pants and checked shirts. Some were decked out in ties and jackets. Even the babies were dressed to impress! My kids — not so much. The little one wore a romper that I got from a friend. The big one wore a green swing top and jeans. They packed their own suitcases, so that’s all they had to wear. There was nothing better in their closets because we never went shopping for the occasion. I never found the time. Plus, I’m out of practice.

I’m not used to going shopping anymore. For a while my injuries kept me from it. In fact, it’s really only over the last six months that I’ve been able to go to the mall or to a store without feeling horrible. (I still haven’t tackled Target, a place my neurologist — who also suffers from vestibular migraine — calls an instant headache!) If you’re a regular reader you know that I didn’t even go shopping for my little one’s First Communion dress! I “shopped” privately at my church’s rectory.

When we walked out of church I looked at the girls, apologized and told them that — God willing — next year we would get back to buying Easter dresses. They didn’t seem to care. They were happy wearing the outfits they had chosen and were looking forward to an Easter egg hunt at a park followed by a trip to the Montauk lighthouse. I cared, though.

The lack of Easter planning reminds me that I am not 100 percent yet. Cognitively, yes. Physically, no. And yet at the same time I have to thank God that I was not only able to go away but have fun with my family. Over those two days away we walked around the town. We shopped. We went out to dinner. We went to a packed church and celebrated with the community. At night, I was able to lie down and fall asleep. These are all things that would have been impossible even a year ago.

All that said, I guess I will cut myself some slack this year. Still, here’s hoping that I will continue to improve over the next 12 months. Also, that my kids will still let me dress them in ruffles, gingham and frills next Easter!

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Some of my fondest childhood memories started with a simple knock on the door. Way back when,  before cell phones and Facebook and texting, my mother would feed me and my sister breakfast or lunch and tell us to go outside to play. We’d head out, my little sister running fast trying to get outside first. When we got outside one of two things would happen. If we saw a friend — and we had almost a dozen between our block and the next — we’d run over and start playing. If not, we’d start knocking on doors.

Most of the time, the front door was open so we didn’t have to knock. Only a screen came between us and the person we were trying to play with. When they heard our calls, they would run out, holding balls, chalk or jump ropes. They might even head to the garage and pull out skates or a bike. From then on, we’d run around, screaming and playing. We were a group of kids with about five years between us in age from youngest to oldest. It was fun. It was loud. It was exhausting. By dinnertime we were spent and dirty, ready to eat, take a shower (or get a washcloth bath), watch one show if we were lucky, read a book and get to bed.

Yesterday my little one was bored. I told her that we could go for a walk and see if we could find someone for her to play with. She didn’t like that idea at all. She wanted me to text people. TEXT people. I put my head in my hands. This wouldn’t do at all, I told her. We were going to find someone to play with.

First, we rode our bikes over to her BFF’s house. (I did end up texting that child’s mom, who told me that her daughter was outside playing with another girl.) We got there and the kids weren’t outside, though. Go knock on the door, I told my daughter. She refused. I walked up to the door, hoping to set a good example. The little one shrieked in horror, riding off down the block while telling me I was “so embarrassing.”

No one answered the door so I turned around, got on my bike and caught up with my scowling kid. Next, we biked two blocks over to a block where we know kids in her grade. As we were riding past one house we could see a bunch of girls playing in the backyard. Girls my daughter knows and likes. I was about to get off my bike so we could knock on the door and again, she got hysterical, telling me it was “weird” to knock on doors. She flat out refused to do it. I wasn’t going to push the issue. We turned our bikes around and headed home. I made one more suggestion, though: Maybe we could ride past one more house. My little one wanted no part of it. When we got home she put her bike away, took her scooter out and started riding around, happier playing alone than taking the chance of knocking on a door and asking another kid to play.

This exercise really made me sad. Even today I wonder if my girls are missing out on learning life skills. I know they are missing out on fun. There’s nothing like knocking on a door and running around with friends. How did we get here? How do we find another path? I don’t have an answer. It’s cultural — in my town, at least. Any ideas?


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One Tall, One Short

It was Ash Wednesday and my family was attending the 7:30 mass together. When it was our turn for communion we filed up one at a time. When it was my little one’s turn, the Eucharistic minister stopped, stared at her and asked her a question: “Are you old enough for communion? Have you celebrated your first Holy Communion yet?”

My little one, who took communion for the first time about a year ago, explained that yes, she had. The woman smiled, gave her a communion wafer and mentioned that she thought Little Girl was much younger. “I figured you were in kindergarten,” she said not unkindly.

At first, Little Girl thought it was funny. (She sees humor in everything.) She laughed about it to the point I had to shush her and remind her we were in church. When we got home, though, it started to bother her. “I’m sooooo short,” she wailed. “That lady thought I was a baby!” Which, when you’re 8, is a huge insult as any third grader will tell you.

My older daughter is struggling with the opposite problem. This year, she grew more than four inches, hitting 5’7″. She’s tall. We can even share some clothing and shoes despite the fact that she is still a rail — her body is still that of a little girl. Lanky — all arms and legs — my big girl stands out in a crowd where many of her peers are petite. She’s not that thrilled with her height, either. When I hug her she tries to stoop down, saying that she’s not really that tall. When someone remarks that she’s grown so much, she gets fidgety and flushed. She doesn’t want to be tall. Granted, I think the problem is she doesn’t want to leave childhood behind, but even putting that aside, she’s still not a happy camper when it comes to her height. It’s so upsetting to her, I don’t even dare tell her that she’s likely to get a lot taller since she’s not in puberty yet.

The result: For the first time ever my girls envy each other. The little one wishes for her sister’s height and the big one yearns to be little again. This surprises me. They have always been as different as you could get. One with long, blonde hair with a slight wave, the other sporting a mass of wild, red curls. My big girl is serious, studious and introspective. The little one is gregarious, athletic and friendly. They even have different-colored blue eyes, with one set the color of the sky on a warm summer day and the other the exact replica of a November sky, cool and grayish. And yet they were never jealous of each other. Admiring — yes — but never wishing for what the other had.

As their mother, this made me extremely happy since I’ve always celebrated their differences. Unique is good, I tell them. They are so lucky. Both were born with skills, talents and gifts that set them apart from each other and the world. This height thing, however, has thrown me for a loop. How do I tell Little Girl how lucky she is to be tiny while at the same time telling Big Girl what a blessing her height is? How do I straddle the fence, making sure they are proud of who they are — tall or short? I have to figure it out.

Right now, I try and bolster both girls using an example that’s very close to home: Me and my sister. I am a respectable 5’7″ (5’8″ in the morning!) My sister is nearly six feet tall. She takes after my parents. (Mom is six-feet; Dad was 6’5″. So is my brother.) Growing up, I never felt tall, although I certainly was. I was the small one in a sea of tall relatives. And yet I don’t think either of us ever thought twice about our heights. Yes, I sometimes wished I had an extra inch or two, but it never really bothered me. Same with my sister. And I use these feelings and experiences to tell my girls that different is good. Different is beautiful. Different should be celebrated.

I also tell my big one how nice it was to go to bars (or concerts or stores) and be the tall one who stood head and shoulders above the rest. I tell my little one that she will have a huge pool of potential husbands to choose from, and that she’ll probably never have to buy pants that are sized Long like I do. She also won’t struggle with short sleeves or jackets that are tight across the shoulders. Sure, she may be a Petite size when she grows up, but there’s plenty to choose from and it’s easier to hem pants than it is to try and make them longer. Meanwhile, the big one will always look leaner than she would if she was short. But most important I tell them that their most important attributes — their hearts and minds — are both the same. They are huge, open and always growing. And that is really what matters in the end.

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This Monday I was hit with food poisoning. It was horrible, painful and exhausting. The vomiting was the uncontrollable kind. The kind that makes you whimper the word, “help,” in between bouts.

I locked myself in the bedroom as soon as I started feeling ill, claiming the master bathroom as my own. At some point between 8 p.m. Monday night and 9 a.m. Tuesday, a letter slid under my door:


As sick as I was, it made me smile. Almost as much as the other letter I found in my older daughter’s room — a note from the little one to the big one. It said:

“I feel bad for Mommy. She will be sick for a special day tomorrow. (Valentine’s Day) I really hope she gets better. –K”

My get well wishes weren’t limited to the little one. The big one sent me a note, too. Hers came via text:


When I showed the communications to a friend she wanted to know how I got my kids to send them. Her kids would never take the time to write a get well text much less write a get well note, she said. While my kids’ literary leanings could definitely be related to the fact that I am a writer (apples and trees and all), I think it’s something else. I’ve always written notes, stories and letters for my kids so writing down feelings and emotions is something they see as a normal part of life. Monkey see, monkey do and all.

I started really early, writing stories together, inking and coloring in empty books we bought at Michael’s. When my big girl got a little older I bought her a mommy and me journal so we could write back and forth to each other, sharing words that were too difficult or painful to say out loud. Writing simply became a way of expressing love. My kids write today because it’s what they know.

It works out well for everyone in our lives. For instance, from a very young age both of my kids have written thank you notes. Sometimes it was a struggle to get them to do it, but I truly believe in the power of a personal message so I kept at it. They also give hand-written birthday cards. This year, they even left each other notes on the first day of school.

Want your kids to write? It’s never too late to start a good habit. Try putting little notes into lunchboxes or backpacks. Leave Post-Its on the sink. Write stories with your kids. Buy them their own diaries or notebooks. Let them pick out a cool pen. Eventually, these little things will add up, and you’ll be getting your own post-puke messages — no prompting necessary.

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“Did she wear her helmet?”

It was the first question I asked when my husband and youngest came into the house.

“Yes,” he explained grimly. “She was the only kid at the birthday wearing one, but she wore it.”

He walked past me shaking his head. My little one danced around me, chattering about the party.

“It was so COOL,” she exclaimed. “And I’m really good at skating now! Next time I won’t have to wear a helmet!”

I didn’t say anything, but inside I was cringing. I’d fight that battle another day.

It’s no secret that I am overprotective and always have been. However, since my own health issues I’ve actually adopted a more laid back attitude. I want my kids to have fun without worrying too much. I want them to trust themselves and the world. But there is a limit to my new attitude: Anything that could give them a head injury.

Three months ago I joined a Facebook group for people with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and their caregivers. (Yes, concussions are considered TBIs.) Anyway, last week someone posted a thread asking how people got their injuries. There were several common themes in the answers:

  • motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents
  • military incidents such as mortar blasts
  • horseback riding
  • slipping on ice

As I sat there reading the hundreds of responses I had a hard time not worrying about my kids. Most of the car accident victims were just that: victims. Drunk, drugged or texting people slammed into their cars. And so — when I remembered that my daughter was going to an ice skating party it was hard not to think what if. What if she slipped and fell? What if she hit her head? I became Overprotective Mommy again, making her wear a ski helmet.

I think I did the right thing, though. Skating can be dangerous. According to a recent story in the Mercury News, “Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek told TMZ Sports before the Sochi Games that he had suffered at least 15 concussions in his career. Rising U.S. star Joshua Ferris suffered three concussions in a three-week period in 2015 and then retired last year at age 21 because of potential risks.”

The Journal of Pediatrics has even taken a pretty strong stand on the issue: “The proportion of head injuries among ice-skaters in this study was greater than that observed for participants in other types of skating, for which helmet use is recommended and often required. Children should wear a helmet during recreational ice-skating. Mandatory helmet use by pediatric ice-skaters at indoor rinks should be implemented.”

The point of this rambling blog? Well, I think it is important to let my kids do more and trust that they will be safe, but when research and experts says there’s a danger, it’s okay to put safety measures in place. What’s your take?

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Pets and Responsibility

Our new family member!

Our new family member!

There were cats in my home before there were children. Two adorable, huge, long-haired boys named Beavis and Kit-ten. They lived long, happy lives before passing away. My cuddly boy was 21. My husband’s cat was 19. He died right before our second daughter was born. We’ve been cat-free now for about eight years. I missed having cats but since we’re both allergic, I didn’t really go looking for a new pet. Besides, a few years ago we welcomed a rescue dog named Savannah who needed a lot of training and love.

Anyway, back in October we were at the vet with Savannah and we noticed a cute puff of cream-colored fur hanging out in the area designated for adoptions. We oohed and ahhed. We said how much we would love to take him home. We couldn’t believe he wasn’t already spoken for, but then we noticed he was blind in one eye. When we asked about it the vet tech told us that people don’t like adopting animals with medical issues. We went home that day, but the cat stayed on our minds. My little one asked about him (and adopting him) at least once a week. This past December after more prodding we stopped into the vet’s office. Sure enough, the little puff of cream was a little bigger but still just as cute, and still waiting for a new home. After discussing it, we decided to let the girls get a cat as long as they agreed to clean the litter box exclusively. I already walk the dog, brush her and feed her. I also clean the hamster cage and buy worms and crickets for the gecko. I didn’t need another job, I told them, so the only way the cat was coming into the house was if they were his caretakers. They agreed.

He came home on January 2. After giving them a lesson in poop scooping, the girls have divided the responsibilities between them. Since then, they have been wonderful, keeping the box clean, feeding and watering him and giving him lots and lots of love. I am thrilled that they have stepped up and are doing their part. I don’t even hear any grumbling about the smelly litter! They do it without complaint. The big one even cleaned up some cat poop that landed outside the box due to a litter box cover issue. She gagged, but she did it! I was so proud.

It’s been nice to have a cat in the house. I am diligent about washing my hands. He doesn’t seem to shed, and he’s probably one of the nicest animals I’ve ever met. He and the dog instantly bonded. He’s nice to the hamster! He’s extremely clean. The best part: He got my kids to take responsibility for a living thing, a crucial step in their march to adulthood. Can’t complain about that!

We still haven’t named the little guy! We just can’t decide. Right now we’re thinking Clay or CC or even Asia, since he’s got Siamese markings and coloring. Have a good idea for our new pet? Also, have you liked NaPM on Facebook yet? Feel free to stop by and say hi!

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I Recycled My Mattress

Sleep. It should be the easiest thing in the world to accomplish. Lie down. Close eyes. Wake when refreshed. Except sometimes it’s not. Forget illnesses, nightmares and insomnia. Sometimes, it’s that your mattress is old and messing with your back. At least that’s what happened here.

Until last week we had an old memory foam mattress that was expensive and comfortable when we bought it. Ten years later, however, the foam that used to snap back when I got out of bed just stayed dented. Besides, we bought the bed before we realized that mattresses are often a swampy mess of chemicals and off-gassing so I’ve been looking for an excuse to get rid of it.

Many mattresses, for instance, are made from petroleum-based chemicals. Memory foam mattresses in particular, which are made with chemicals that release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can cause headaches, respiratory issues and skin irritation. Mattresses may also be treated with chemical fire retardants (Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers or PDBEs), which also off-gas. These chemicals are so bad that fire departments across the country are trying to outlaw their use. According to a recent Boston Globe article, “Fire officials and environmental advocates, who have joined forces to support the restrictions, contend that at least 10 chemicals used in flame retardants endanger firefighters, while doing little to stop fires. They support two bills that would prohibit manufacturers and retailers from using the chemicals in children’s products and upholstered furniture and authorize state environmental officials to ban other retardants they designate as health risks.”

Knowing all this — and hoping to save our backs — we went out in search of an organic mattress like the one we bought our youngest daughter. (That blog post is worth reading if you want to learn more about chemicals in mattresses.) Anyway, organic mattresses are now easy to find and purchase. The local store we visited had about a dozen different models on display. We settled on a part latex, part coil mattress made of all organic materials. Before it was delivered, though, I had to figure out what to do with our old mattress. I didn’t want it to end up in a landfill.

As I learned after doing a little research, nearly every part of a mattress can be recycled — between 80 to 90 percent, according to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. That old memory foam and the mattress topper and cover can be reused as carpet padding or insulation. All the metal inside the mattress gets put right back into the stream since it can be recycled. Even the wood frame can be used as firewood. It’s sad that only a handful of states require mattress recycling. California is one such state. Every mattress purchased there includes a recycling fee that pays for the process when it outlives its usefulness.

Turns out there’s a mattress recycler right here on Long Island that services most of the Island and New York City. For a fee, the company would come pick up the old mattress and break it down into components that could be recycled and reused. The recycling process was easy. We signed up online, paid a nominal fee and someone came the next day to take it away. The knowledge that I helped the environment — plus the comfy new bed — has me sleeping better at night. Finally!

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