Friday, September 28, 2007

Halloween Weakness Anyone?

Halloween is indeed a favorite for many, and kids in particular, generally love it. Free candy, fun costumes, what is not to love? But what is a Mom to do during this month when chocolate and candy corn seem to be all over the grocery store and there is nowhere to hide? Don't buy it! Just not yet. I can't tell you how many times I have bought Halloween candy in advance only to see it all eaten before the day actually arrives. If you are trying to be healthier this year, try waiting until the last possible moment (the day of perhaps) to buy candy. That way its not sitting around tempting you. And on Halloween, make sure to give it all out. The kids are going to come home with bags full anyway, don't keep any extra laying around that you don't need.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Victory for Breastfeeding Moms

Moms juggle all kinds of things on a daily basis, but taking a 9 hour medical exam and breastfeeding a 4-month old at the same time? That's tough.

So I applaud Sophie C. Currier, 33, of Brookline, Mass. who sued the National Board of Medical Examiners for more time during her medical licensing exam to pump or feed. She got an extra 60 minutes added to the standard 45 minute break time she would have normally had, aruging that she shouldn't have to choose between using her break time to "incompletely express breast milk and ignore her bodily functions, or abdicate her decision to express breast milk, resulting in significant pain.” Way to keep at your dream of medical school and being a good mom.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Downward Dog, Healthy Baby

For those of us that have enjoyed the benefits of yoga, the desire to continue practicing during pregnancy may lead to many questions. Be assured that yoga practice during pregnancy will help you breathe, relax and stretch and can be done without putting stress on the developing baby. In fact, yoga during pregnancy may help relief from back pain and nausea and increase stamina.

Things to remember:

Make sure you tell your instructor that you are pregnant and how far along you are.

Certain poses where you lay on your back or stomach should be avoided, as well as extreme twists and headstand/shoulder stands. Lying on your back during the 1st trimester may cause Vena Cava Syndrome, a lowering of blood pressure due to baby pressing on the vena cava artery. Your instructor should let you know which poses to avoid, and show you ways to modify them to be appropriate for you or show you an alternative pose.

Standing poses may become tricky with balance- as you weight is now differently distributed. Keep that in mind and if you need to use the wall for stability.

In general, make sure you listen to your body, you will know what feels like a good stretch and what feels like too much. Don't practice yoga (or any excerise) to the point of exhaustion.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cupcake Follow Up

NYTimes Sunday, wrote about the cupcake ban that has been making news lately.

As I am on the cupcakes-are-heavenly-blame-TV-instead side of the argument, I found the following quote a tad humorous:

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, "cupcakes are deal breakers... It sounds like a joke, but it’s a very serious problem on a number of levels. You have to control it."

I still think cupcakes are just the victim here. We don't have to control cupcakes, we have to control lifestyle- which is much bigger.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Banning Cupcakes and Peanut Butter

I learned recently of two equally peculiar bans that have been catching on in elementary schools: cupcakes and peanut butter. They aren't the only food item being banned either, whole milk, white bread and soda have been slashed recently as well. Regulations for health concerns are generally good practice, but how far will they go and how far should they be allowed to go?

The ban on whole milk, white bread, and soda stems from the increase in childhood obesity in the last thirty years. Since the 1970s the number of overweight children has doubled for among ages 2-5 and teens 12-19, while for children aged 6 to 11 the number has tripled. Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) of Illinois said, "We know that better nutrition helps children attend school more regularly, behave better when they're in school, and score better on tests". And therefore many states and school districts are doing something about it. Replacing whole milk with 2% or skim, and replacing white bread with wheat will greatly improve the diet of our children, but cutting out good old healthy peanut butter?

Peanut butter is a good staple. It has protein and good fats, and still tastes good after sitting in lunch box for several hours. I think that people should look at the numbers and likelihood of serious cases before banning this healthy, cheap, and easy to prepare food. Dr. Max van Gilder, a Manhattan pediatrician, who was interviewed on this topic by the NYTimes said that in 25 years of practicing and seeing over 2,500 patients, only one had the most severe form of peanut allergy.

Banning peanut butter is missing the point the doctor claims; ''There's peanut butter in the world... I think the issue is that food should be properly labeled.'' In the few cases where the rare allergy is present, those children should already be carrying an Epipen and all the teachers and lunchroom staff should be alerted to this allergy. The allergy can be managed wisely without having to cause an entire school district to ban it. The likelihood of a child dying at school from being exposed to peanut butter is just so rare. The CDC reported that in a recent year 2,880 children died in car accidents, while only 5 died from all types of food allergies.

As for cupcakes, it seems that if you are going to ban sweets, why pick one out amongst all the others? Chocolate is ok, cheese puffs, cookies, brownies, Halloween candy... the list goes on of possible junk kids may bring to school. Why do cupcakes get singled out? In Texas, parents were so upset and vocal that legislators passed the "Safe Cupcake Amendment" which allows individual districts to decide their policy on cupcakes, so long as it does not conflict with the policies of the Texas or US Dept. of Agriculture. I understand the dilemma, health versus tradition and a little fun-- but I think if parents are good about smart meals at home and healthy lunches, a birthday cupcake one or twice a month never really hurt anyone.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

One Baby Photo Too Many

Researchers at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business discovered that your professional image may suffer if you have too many family photos or trinkets in your office space. They warn that if more than 5 items in the workspace are personal, it may affect how co-workers think of you.

The research was done by surveying managers and corporate recruiters. They also report that the idea of too many personal items in the workplace is an American notion. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, assistant professor of management and organizations at the Ross School of Business says, "Americans are expected to put aside personal matters and focus almost exclusively on work-specific concerns upon entering the office". Recruiters also judged candidates more preferably when they mentioned less about their personal life.

Conclusion? Maybe take down some of those photos from last year. Keep only the current ones up. But you know your work place best, if it is more or less accepted at your work (check out managers offices) then go with the flow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Buzz on Burt and His Bees

The NYTimes featured Burt's Bees this summer in their small business section and somehow I missed it, but it is not too late to read it now. Having a good review in a national paper, and now being introduced in big chains like Target, Burt must be pleased.

John Replogle, chief executive of Burt’s Bees, said “The rapid shift on the consumer landscape toward natural and environmentally friendly products is the single greatest consumer change our industry has seen in probably 50 years”.

And that is exactly what Burt's Bees is all about natural (most products are made from ingredients like milk, honey, beeswax and almond oil) and environmentally friendly (they have a team, the ECOBEES- Environmentally Conscious Organization Bringing Environmentally Empowered Solutions- to pioneer environmentally friendly business practices).

I have loved Burt's Bees lip balms for years, and then I found out they make baby products that are absolutely divine. What more can you ask for?

Isn't Keri Russell Cute?

Last time we saw Keri Russell with her little guy, she looked a tad uneasy slinging him around. Now, she's a pro! As you can probably tell, I am a huge fan of slings. They are just so easy to use, so comfortable and have tons of benefits.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Trend: Robots

I know boys are into robots (I have some adult male friends who still very much are) and so I found these items rather cute and refreshing.

$24 at

$15 at Etsy

$24 at ALittleLark

Bumper Pad Study

A study appearing in the September issue of the Journal of Pediatrics found 27 accidental deaths reported by authorities of infants that were suffocated or strangled by bumper pads or bumper pad ties between 1985-2005. They also found records of 25 non-fatal injuries also attributed to bumper pads.

Researchers from Washington Univ. School of Medicine in St. Louis, who performed the study, looked at 22 bumper pads in terms of safety. Specifically, they looked at softness, potential space between bumper bottom and mattress, width and length of the pads, and the length of the fasteners. Manufacturing standards limit tie length to 9 inches, but two of the pads examined exceeded that length.

It seems that both soft pads and firm pads pose problems. Dr. Bradley Thatch said, "If the pads are too soft, the baby's nose or face can get pressed up against it, and the baby suffocates. If they are too firm, the baby can climb up on the pads and fall out of the crib."

In the end researches ruled all 22 of the pads they examined hazardous because there was room for an infant to get their head wedged in between the pad and the mattress. Dr. Thatch recommends not using any sort of bumper in cribs or bassinets.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pregnancy Eating Minus Pesticides

As if eating healthy, staying away from alcohol and caffeine, wasn't enough... now there are fruits that out do other fruits. Several green pregnancy articles are boasting lists of fruits and vegetables that are better than other because they are treated with less pesticides and are the "least contaminated". On these lists:

Closer to Ideal:
Asparagus. Avocados. Bananas. Broccoli. Cauliflower. Kiwi. Mangoes. Onions. Papaya. Pineapples. Sweet Corn. Sweet Peas.

Not Quiet as 'Green':
Apples. Bell Peppers. Cherries. Grapes. Nectarines. Peaches. Pears. Potatoes. Red Rasberries. Strawberries. Spinach.

What if you buy organic? Then I suppose you are safe. But what if you just wash them real good before eating, give them a little scrub? Well what's on the outside is not the only thing. writes that,

A recent study from the University of California, Davis, found that organically grown berries and corn contain nearly 60 percent more polyphenolics, natural antioxidants that may improve your health. The theory: Crops grown without pesticides or herbicides produce more of these chemicals due to stress from insects or other pests, similar to the way humans build antibodies to ward off bacterial “bugs.”

To counter that argument, the USDA and the American Dietetic Association firmly claim that organic foods are not nutritionally superior or safer than conventionally produced food. So what is a hungry pregnant, apple-strawberry loving woman to do? Look at farmers markets for cheap, locally grown organic stuff, if not... do what your wallet and stomach tell you to do. Fruits and veggies are always a better choice than deep fried carnival dough, so go for it and enjoy.

US Public Schools Vs. Everyone Else

A co-worker recently pulled her two boys out of US public schools to send them to boarding school in India. A native of India, who has been in the US for almost 20 years now, she worries that US schools aren't strong enough in math and science. While her boys were born in the US and have lived here their whole lives, she feels that they will be more prepared for college, anywhere in the world, if they finish up their schooling in India. In 7th and 5th grade, the boys are still really young, and will grow up very far away from their parents- and parents at home can have a big effect on schooling.

Are there statistics to back up her feelings? What do you think about the US public school system? And, if the public school system is not up to par, what about private schools in the US? Are they on track with school systems outside the US?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Nursery Idea: Elephants

Elephants are pregnant for 22 months, longer than any other animal, and then they deliver a 200 to 250 lb calf. Talk about a big baby! Elephants are also big in decor, and their style can be both majestic and elegant, or fun and playful. Elephants work as a good unisex nursery idea as well.

Elihu the Elephant Clock

Cute Elephant Crib Bedding by Sumersault

Jeeto! Elephant Canvas Wall Art

Elephant Mobile

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Russians Get Holiday To Baby-make

A Russian governor of a central province urged employers to give people the day off so workers could stay home and help boost Russia's low birth-rate. Why did he pick September 12th for procreation day? Well, that's easy. Because it is 9 months before Russia's national holiday, June 12. Need more incentive to skip work and stay home with your spouse? The governor is offering a prize to be awarded to a woman who gives birth on June 12, 2008.

Why all the fus? Russia wants to bolster against it's shrinking population (quiet the opposite view of the VHEMT). The population rate has been decreasing by about 700,000 people a year. Births are no longer keeping up with the death rate, which has been elevated because of AIDS, alcoholism, smoking, drug abuse, heart disease, tuberculosis, pollution, and suicide.

This is the 3rd year that the Ulyanovsk region has set aside a day for this cause. Last year a family won a Jeep for having a baby on June 12th.

Hanna Adorable!

I came across Hanna Anderson just this year, and I have to admit that when the fall catalog came in the mail yesterday, I had to restrain myself from going on a shopping spree. Their stuff is just too cute- especially the halloween pajamas.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

VHEMT? Green Gone Bad

An article in Slate today, who's link was titled "Babies Are the New SUVs: A case for radical depopulation", explores the notion of trying to decrease the human population on Earth. Similar in thought to what China has tried to do. However while China's policy has helped keep population down, there were inherently unfortunate consequences.

The seemingly rational explanation was given as following,

"Let's cut the birth rate to one child per couple, for a few generations at least. The population would dwindle by about 5 billion people over the next century... ensuring the habitability of the Earth for the 1.6 billion who remained."

While it doesn't sound so bad when put that way, it still rubs me the wrong way. I would argue that most people enjoy growing up with siblings. Many children get to an age where they even ask their parents for siblings, seeing friends who have them, they want one of their own to play with. Why don't these people suggest that couples have two children a piece, so that the population would basically stay the same, not increase or decrease? And to address the environmental issue, if we educate our children to be environmentally conscious and to be good engineers and scientists, hopefully they will help us achieve a way to live on Earth in a sustainable manner. Don't take away their chance to change the world by not having them. Give them a wonderful opportunity- life itself- and then give them the tools to keep the planet going.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
, which the article sites, gives me the chills. Did they not see the movie Children of Men? How depressed and violent the human population became when everyone was sterile and no hope for the continuation of mankind? The VHEMT motto, "May We Live Long and Die Out" sounds rather awful itself. I have faith that the people alive today will progress towards a healthier Earth, and that the youth and future youth will continue in that vein and keep this planet habitable for centuries to come.

Births By the Numbers

I thought September was the most common month to deliver a baby, but when I looked it up to confirm I found out it is actually July. Here are some other interesting stats on delivery in the US.

4 Million- the number of babies born in the US each year

Percentage of births that are the mother’s first. Another 32 percent are the second-born; 17 percent, third; and 11 percent, fourth or more.

5.6 million
- Number of stay-at-home moms in 2006

10 million- The number of single mothers living with children under 18 years old

25.2 - Average age of women when they give birth for the first time — a record high (2006)

2.0- Average number of children that women today can expect to have in their lifetime in the US

2.5- Average number of children that women in Utah can expect to have in their lifetime. This state tops the nation in average number of births per woman.

7.5- Average number of children that women in Niger, can expect to have in their lifetime

1-in-31 The odds of a woman delivering twins. Her odds of delivering multiple births of three or more babies is approximately 1-in-565.

July- The most popular month in which to have a baby, with 359,426 births taking place that month in 2004 (the most recent statistic from the US Census)

Tuesday- The most popular day of the week to have a baby, with an average of 13,045 births taking place on Tuesdays during 2004 (the most recent statistic from the US Census)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Share Your Sewing Ideas

According to Holiday Insights, today is both National Swap Ideas Day and Sewing Day (the sewing machine was patented on Sept 10th). So what happens when you put both together? Swap sewing ideas! Not too many people I know still sew, but I am rather fond of my sewing machine. So here is my sewing idea that I will share.

For my nephew's 1st birthday I sewed him a play tent. It was rather simple. I got out a standard card table and basically sewed a table cloth that goes to the floor. The top piece was a square the size of the top of the table, and the second main piece was a very long rectangle that wrapped the whole way around and went to the floor. At the entrance where the two ends met, I sewed in a flap of decorative fabric to make it more interesting to get in and out of the tent. On the back wall I cut out a hole so he could have a window, and to let in some light so it wouldn't be so dark. Sewing is also great for custom Halloween costumes and or curtains. You can make your own Taggies blanket rather easily too- which can be a great inexpensive gift. Sew anything fun lately for your little ones? Share below!

Your Pregnancy and Your Thyroid

Over five million Americans have hypothyroidism and many go undiagnosed. Thyroid dysfunction is particularly common in women of child-bearing age, in fact it is estimated that 2.5% of all pregnant women have some degree of hypothyroidism. If you have have hypothyroidism, or it runs in your family, you should make absolutely sure to bring it up with your doctor. Thyroid needs are likely to change during pregnancy and your hormone levels should be checked each trimester.

When your thyroid, a butterfly shaped gland in the front of your throat, is under active you are not getting enough of the hormone your body needs to run your metabolism and many other things. Symptoms of an under active thyroid include: fatigue, weakness, dry hair, hair loss, cold intolerance, depression, irritability, and abnormal menstrual cycles. Untreated hypothyroidism may also make it harder to get pregnant.

During pregnancy it is important that women with the condition take their replacement thyroid medicine everyday. In a often sited study from the New England Journal of Medicine published in 1999, mothers with undetected hypothyroidism during pregnancy are 4 times more likely to have children with lower I.Q. scores. The more significant the hypothyroidism, the greater the likelihood of developmental problems. Also, women with hypothyroidism are at an increased risk for miscarriage during the second trimester.

Another important thing to remember when taking replacement thyroid hormone, is that you should take it at least three hours apart from when you take your prenatal vitamin. Taking them close together reduces the absorption of the hormone, as does eating high fiber foods or taking antacids. So it is also well advised to take your thyroid replacement on an empty stomach.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Tall Genes

We knew that height was hereditary, but now scientists have identified exactly a gene which helps in determin how tall we will be. Each copy of the tall allele adds approximately one-fifth of an inch. An allele, in case you were wondering, is any one of a number of possible DNA codings that occupies a given position on a chromosome. Studies suggest that 90 percent of height is genetic, so the researchers are expecting to find many more height genes.

So what does identifying such a gene or allele do for us? Well, there is the case for general knowledge and understanding of how the human genome works, but for others it may be for the benefit of embryo eugenics. William Saletan of Slate magazine keeps his eye on the topic and writes on it periodically. He explains that of the 3 million children born via in vitro fertilization thousands go through preimplantation genetic diagnosis, a technique for weeding out flawed embryos. Saletan asks,

"What flaws are we screening for? That's the most uncomfortable question of all. Sometimes the flaw is a horrible disease. But increasingly, it's a milder disease, the absence of useful tissue, or just the wrong sex. If you think it's hard to explain where babies come from, try explaining where baby-making is going."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Making Adoption Look Gooooooood

Some people may not like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt together for many a reason, but I think that it is great that they are so open to and happy with adoption. There are a lot of kids both abroad and in the US that could really use a home. Plus they show it is ok to have kids of your own and still adopt... and they do it while being so cute.

National Adoption Center
American Adoptions
US Dept of State on International Adoptions

Old Warning New

Reuters has an article published today warning parents that "Childhood TV Viewing Can Cause Teenage Problems". Is this really new news? Too much TV is bad, especially at a young age. We have heard this for years, and saw this not too long ago in the whole Baby Einstein drama.

The article was spurred by a long-term study from New Zealand released recently in Pediatrics. The main finding is explained by the author Carl Landhuis of the University of Otago,

"Those who watched more than two hours, and particularly those who watched more than three hours, of television per day during childhood had above-average symptoms of attention problems in adolescence... This suggests that the effects of childhood viewing on attention may be long lasting"

However, the author goes back and comments that his study is not proof that TV watching causes attention problems because children prone to attention problems may be drawn to watching television in the first place.

So what is the conclusion then? Those children drawn to TV should especially stay away since they may be more at risk for attention problems? This reminds me of a funny cartoon I saw yesterday:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Stars Can Be Reasonable

While it seems like everyone in Hollywood has decided to release their own perfume, hand bag line or clothing line, at least some are doing a decent job at it. Mary-Kate and Ashley may dress a little out there in their daily lives, but their original fashion line for girls aged 4 to 13 is rather reasonable and cute. Nothing too flashy and nothing to short or adult- and since you can find it at Walmart- it is also reasonably priced.

Bipolar or Catchall Diagnosis?

There is a flurry on the web and an article in every major city paper this morning about the increase in bipolar diagnoses in youth and whether children are being properly diagnosed. The articles all reference a new study that was released in September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. The study is the most comprehensive study on bipolar disorder to date.

The researchers looked at records of patient visits from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey that was conducted from 1999-2003 for 962 patients with a bipolar diagnosis. An abstract from the journal can be seen here. To get the full PDF of the scholarly article, you have to fork up $15.

The big finding is that there has been 40-fold increase in children being treated for the condition in the United States between 1994 and 2003, when numbers jumped from 20,000 to 800,000. Most experts agree that the number of children with the condition is not actually increasing, but rather it is being noticed more often. Many other experts assert that it is over diagnosed. They say that bipolar disorder has become a catchall for explosive or aggressive child.

Other interesting highlights from the research include:

- Most youth (19 and under) bipolar disorder doctor visits were males, while most adult bipolar visits were females

- Youth were more likely than adults to get a combination diagnosis of bipolar-ADHD

- Most youth (90%) were prescribed psychotropic medication during their visits

More information:
US News and World report article
New York Times article
Los Angeles Times article