Eastern Cougar: No Longer Endangered. That’s Not a Good Thing.


The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats.

This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.

E. O. Wilson

When I was a kid, there was a riddle that went along these lines:

A hunter is approached by a cougar, a mountain lion, and a puma. He has only one bullet left. What should he shoot first to ensure his safety?

The answer then was that it didn’t matter; a cougar, mountain lion and puma are all the same animal (technically the puma is a subspecies of the cougar/mountain lion), so he was only being approached by one beast.

The answer now is that it doesn’t really matter, because the US Fish and Wildlife service has called for removing federal protection for the Eastern cougar. It will no longer be on the endangered list.

It’s extinct.

There used to be tons, but overzealous hunters and habitat loss— which in turn affected numbers of white tailed deer, cougar prey— whittled away at cougar populations. The bulk of this happened in the 1800s when settlers were, well, settling in across the country and looking to protect their livestock. But since we haven’t done a whole lot to reinstate that habitat the cougar never really had a chance.

We are already feeling the effects of the loss of the cougar. Where I live the white tailed deer population has exploded due to having no natural predators around. I narrowly avoid hitting a deer with my car on a weekly basis. Hunting season keeps their numbers from being catastrophic, but it doesn’t work the same way natural selection does. Hunters want the strong, older, trophy deer; not the old, the sick, the genetically inferior. I don’t know if that’s somehow connected to the uptick in Lyme disease through deer ticks in this region, but it seems like a logical train of thought.

How will losing more animals listed as endangered or vulnerable— the loggerhead turtle, the blue whale, sea lions, the monarch butterfly, the jaguar, the great white shark— affect the ecosystems around them? We’re not just losing that magnificent animal, we’re taking a link out of the food chain. There is no real way for us to clearly see just how severe the ramifications may be.

The only way to truly protect these animals is to protect their habitats, which means a reversal of what was set in motion by the settlers in the 1800s. It seems like an impossible task; all we can do is try. (Here’s what you can do to help endangered species.)

Mother Nature is highly adaptable, but the pace we’ve asked of her is too fast. We need to actively support other species of big cats, in the hopes that they will fill the gap in the food chain left by the eastern cougar.

But mostly we need to recognize that we’re not the only ones on this earth, and it’s our responsibility to stop acting like we are.

Photo: DepositPhotos

Natural and Organic Skin Care: Baby Mantra


Tell me I’m clever,
Tell me I’m kind,
Tell me I’m talented,
Tell me I’m cute,
Tell me I’m sensitive,
Graceful and wise,
Tell me I’m perfect—
But tell me the truth.

-Shel Silverstein

When Jacob was a baby he was clever, cute, and perfect in every way like babies should be, but he had horrible eczema: you can see the patches on his cheeks in the photo above. They call eczema “the itch that rashes” and “asthma of the skin” and it’s heartbreaking to witness as a parent; he was clearly in distress all the time, scratching, scratching, until the rash had spread and thickened and was scratched raw. He scratched in his sleep, even, writhing around in bed until he scratched himself awake. And then invariably all that open skin would become infected, inflamed and painful, and he’d have to endure a round of antibiotics or steroid cream in addition to his twice a day full-body slathering of lotion.

Let me tell you about the lotion. We were supposed to apply the lotion immediately after a bath or shower to trap the moisture in, and Jake would be off like a shot, having to be tackled and wrestled into acceptance. He’d scream and cry; it was only through trial and error that we learned which soaps and lotions stung, which ones made the itch feel worse. We spent a lot of money on pricey skin care items (and hair care, since that affected his skin too) that made promises about being super-moisturizing or appropriate for sensitive skin, that Jeff or I would up using because Jake couldn’t tolerate them.

Add to all that heartache the fact that your skin is your largest organ, and absorbs whatever chemicals you’re applying to it along with any environmental toxins. I was seriously stressed about the health of Jake’s susceptible skin, in the short term and the long.

jake scratching

(Scratch, scratch, scratch. I wanted to put a photo here of Jake running away from the lotion after a bath; he’s holding a beach ball perfectly positioned as a “modesty patch.” But I resisted. I’m so good at adulting.)

Jacob is older now, but he still has eczema flareups. Part of it is probably inherited from me; I have sensitive skin and break out in itchy, blistering hives from certain products. I’ve found that sticking with natural, organic products hugely— HUGELY— minimizes my own outbreaks and helps Jake with his.

Last week I was sent a line of natural baby skincare products to try from Baby Mantra:

baby mantra full (1)

Even though my babies are pretty close to grown now— Jake will be 18 in a few months, and my youngest just turned 11!— I still look for the gentlest products available for our sensitive skin. Just being advertised as “for babies” doesn’t cut it; we stubbornly kept buying conventional baby products in the early years but learned soon enough that they stung terribly and exacerbated the problem when applied to Jake’s irritated skin.

I wish Baby Mantra had been around when Jake was suffering from the worst of his eczema.

baby mantra 3in1

All Baby Mantra products are:

  • allergy tested
  • dye free and toxin free
  • gluten free
  • cruelty free and vegan
  • certified natural by the Natural Products Association, which means ingredients come from or are made from a renewable, biodegradable resource found in nature (flora, fauna, mineral), with absolutely no petroleum compounds
  • packaged in recyclable materials

I took the line with me to the beach with the intention of having Jake try it out (to this day, trying new lotions on him is a bit nerve wracking). While I was there I was a little lax about reapplying my sunscreen and, erm, got a little more sun than I intended. It hurt. My daughter got a little more pink than I would like as well.

baby mantra beach

Baby Mantra offers a natural baby shampoo in addition to its natural baby conditioner,but I opted to pack the 3 in 1 bubble bath, shampoo and wash in case anyone was inclined to take a bath (didn’t happen but I was prepared!). I did pack the detangling conditioner (my hair is a tangled hot mess at the beach, and Cass’s tend to resemble a rat’s nest more than human hair after a day battling waves). And in a move that I would grow to be immensely thankful for, I also threw the calming lotion in my bag.

All three of these products contain lavendar essential oil, which is soothing and has antiseptic properties. They didn’t irritate my burn at all, and the lotion felt like heaven: it’s light and not sticky, very moisturizing thanks to the shea butter, with barely any scent at all. In terms of calming my skin, it felt like it worked just as well as the medicated afterburn lotion I tried once I returned home. Since the medicated stuff carried a warning to use only 2-3 times daily, and not over a wide area, I opted to skip it entirely and go with baby mantra for me and Cass.

The 3 in 1 lathered up nicely and got my sweaty, salty self all clean without drying; the conditioner worked the knots out. They both carry very light scents that basically remind me of “clean baby” and faded quickly (I don’t care for overpowering scents at all).

baby mantra shower

Although I didn’t put the other Baby Mantra products through the same rigorous testing, from my one use of the newborn shampoo and body wash I can say that it’s not bubble inducing like the 3 in 1 is and therefore easier to rinse clean. The sweet-smelling apricot and avocado massage oil is expectedly more oily/tacky than the lotion; I used this before bedtime for longterm moisturization overnight. We’ll hold onto the diaper rash ointment for my husband; he works in construction and often gets painfully dry, cracked hands and only the heaviest duty creams work for him. It’s made from sweet Almond oil, Rosemary leaf, and Jojoba.


To recap:

Baby Mantra’s earth-friendly range of extremely gentle personal care products for children (newborn to 8 years old) are made with all-natural skincare ingredients. Baby Mantra products have been certified by the Natural Products Association (NPA), are gluten-free, allergy-tested and cruelty-free.

You can find Baby Mantra products across the country at stores like Albertsons, Jewel Osco, Walgreens, Duane Reade and Meijer. We recommend using the store locator on the company’s website to find a store nearest you. In addition, Baby Mantra can be found online on websites such as Amazon.com, Babiesrus.com, Drugstore.com, Walgreens.com and Diapers.com.

Be sure to follow and like Baby Mantra on Facebook for coupons and other offers.

Score a coupon for $2.50 off Baby Mantra here!


Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below (use as few or as many options as you like) for your chance to win the same 6 Baby Mantra products that I tried:

  • 3-in-1 Bubble Bath, Shampoo & Wash
  • Calming Lotion
  • Newborn Shampoo & Wash
  • Diaper Rash Ointment
  • Calming Massage Oil
  • Detangling Conditioner

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Disclosure: I received this product for the purpose of this review, however, these are my own opinions and they have not been influenced in any way by Baby Mantra.


I am losing precious days.



I am losing precious days.
I am degenerating into a machine for making money.
I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men.
I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.

-John Muir


I’ve written before about nature prescriptions and the health benefits of getting outside in the sunshine, but not until recently have I felt like this was a pill I myself needed to swallow. I’m tired all the time, uninspired; my head feels fuzzy and clouded; I’m disconnected, dispassionate, wanting to write but not really and unable to find the words anyway.

Hell, I did a crossword puzzle last night for the first time in forever and I struggled to think of words that I knew I knew. It was frustrating, and eye opening.

I’m not stressed, exactly, and I’m not depressed— I’m in a limbo of overwhelm from a relentless (and generally relentlessly negative) news cycle, an endless stream of tasks on a to-do list that never gets any shorter, and a lack of white space to give my brain room to breathe.

I lack edges. I lack sparkle, exuberance, enthusiasm. I am probably not much fun to be around.

I just need to break away, to soak up the sun, to feel the ground beneath my feet. “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness,” John Muir says; Thoreau reminds us that “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

Not till we are lost,
in other words not till we have lost the world,
do we begin to find ourselves,
and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.

-Henry David Thoreau

I’m not so far gone that I think I need to forge my own physical or even metaphorical cabin on Walden’s Pond, but I understand more fully now his reasons for doing so: to live deliberately, to not give myself over to resignation, to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.”

I don’t have a nice, neat way to end this post, which sort of tears me up inside, but I suspect continually putting off hitting publish until I think of one means never hitting publish. So, here you go. I am having a hard time, but I am not resigned.


Speak to me, internet:

Have you ever felt this way? How did you break out of it?