the-smart-mama

When I read a book I hardly ever expect to a) know the author b) have my name and website in the acknowledgment section. I also would have never expected I could gain more respect and admiration for my good friend Jennifer Taggart than I already had but it is true – I came to admire and respect her even more after reading her book: Smart Mama’s Green Guide.

I know many can say that I am biased and because she is my friend I would never give her a bad review and seeing that I know her and I’m in the acknowledgment section that immediately makes this review slanted.

To some degree that could be true because yes, I wouldn’t trash her online but instead call her on the phone and tell her my thoughts and I also wouldn’t waste my time writing about her book or recommending it to you. Shucks, if you regularly read my site you know that it isn’t like me to just gush over a product or book just because. You also know I won’t do a review after clearly not reading an entire book or because it insults my knowledge on a topic , unlike a recent review from Newsweek that frankly disturbs me to know end. Gasp! The book I read and full recommend is  about empowerment and knowledge not blame and putting your head in the sand but anyhow…

Besides being honored I also became enlightened and I am positive you will as well; because to NO surprise the book was great and full of “simple steps to reduce your child’s toxic chemical exposure”, just as promised.

jennifer_taggart_headshot2-125x1501What I love best about this book, after already knowing Jennifer, is that some might consider her knowledge, wit and education (including the writing of this book) to cause her to be this “helicopter parent”; always hovering over her children to make sure they are not playing with a lead painted toy or eating food covered in pesticides. To the contrary, Jennifer is much the opposite embracing life, letting her children have fun and make mistakes but realizing the potential dangers that can be avoided and easy ways to prevent toxic exposure in the mass. As friends, we’ve shared many stories about our parenting ways and Jennifer is the fun mom that makes baking soda volcanoes and has whip cream fights in the kitchen – whereas I am not! She’s had me in tears over our differences and similarities and for those of you that might believe that this author is trying to evoke fear or make parents become paranoid – I am actually laughing at you.

The point being, Jennifer Taggart’s book is about living and experiencing but realizing that mercury still is a danger, there can still be lead on toys and surfaces, pesticides on our foods can be avoided and that our fearless government doesn’t always regulate the way me might think they do. In other wards there are dangers and toxic hazards.  Educating yourself as a parent, grandparent or caregiver is the best way to care for children; what better can you do for your child than become aware and educated on protecting them, without going overboard? When you’re aware of how the product labels work and what “ingredients” mean in simple terms you make safer buying decisions for your child.  Jennifer has the same primal instinct that all parents have – the need to protect her children and I so greatly admire her vulnerability in admitting this.  It is obvious throughout the book that Jennifer Taggart also recognizes that we can’t all do everything and that most of us feel overwhelmed, confused and down right frustrated, thus she gives us ways, tips and examples for us to actually use in our daily lives.

While reading the book, I felt like my girlfriend was sitting right there with me just telling me how it is and how I can do something better but she wasn’t judging me. Walking me through how to choose the right vacuum, the facts on mold and what I have to know to prevent adverse health effects; right along with the scary facts on tobacco smoke and asbestos and arsenic. Jennifer walked me through how to reduce lead exposure through pregnancy and then how to reduce my child’s exposure as they grow up. I had no idea that there could actually be lead-contaminated soil? The book was chalked full of “Smart Mama Tips” and what I would really call simple action steps that I can take and implement into my daily life. Like I said, I felt like Jennifer was right there being Jennifer and calmly giving me the facts to help make better decisions all the while, guiding me through questions to ask my child care provider and ways I can decrease the toxic exposure in my child’s life – a comforting book with solutions and not just facts and scary details.

With so much information (and I consider myself pretty knowledgeable) I am sure that I’ll be looking back throughout the earmarked pages (or tweeting her for reminders) and references for details, suggestions and facts for years to come. Regardless of how much you believe you know, whether you are raising children thinking of having a child or if you watch children – there is something in this book for you. I walked away learning more than I ever expected about a good friend and her depth of knowledge and scope of work and talent that I ever imagined. I am positive it has helped me to become a better parent and eco-citizen. If only I could become okay with the messy kitchen experiments…oh, well someday! =)

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