Friday, September 21, 2007

Fall is coming!

During this last hectic week, there were two glorious, glorious days where the sun did not shine as bright, the temperature was below 90 degrees, and there was that delicious, smoky, change is on the way smell in the air. I do not know if anyone else gets quite as euphoric and nostalgic as I do when that autumn smell comes drafting in from wherever it drafts in from, but it is my favorite time of the year.

By coincidence, I am taking a neuroscience class this semester, and one topic this week happened to be on scent recalled memory associations, although it was not covered in quite as much detail as I would have liked. I am sure most have heard that your strongest memories are tied to scent, and yes there is an anatomical/physiological basis for this too. Beyond this, much is not known, as most of our consciousness is a mystery still. The mystery of consciousness is why it is wonderful to be alive, yet it is also depressing in that it reminds us of our own mortality.

I digress though. The euphoria that the fall air gave me (I must have had some pretty enjoyable events in my life around fall to make me feel like this!) got me thinking about other memories that are associated with smell. To my surprise, I found that I have mostly pleasant memories associated with smell. For example thanksgiving dinners, the smell of grass, cucumber-melon, and even slightly burnt engine oil from an out of tune truck, strangely enough, which I tied back to my grandfathers pick-up.

So this brought up the question, what pleasant memories can I make for my daughter? What will she remember? Hopefully she will remember baking cookies, thanksgiving dinners, running around in the grass and myriads of other pleasurable events that will bring emotions flooding back at a single smell.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More Nomadic Preacher

Courtesy of, a photojournal of Brother Micah preaching. He is a nomadic preacher, going around, preaching about all kinds of people going to hell. See previous post for more background. If anything, it should provide some serious entertainment if you have not had the pleasure of witnessing this guy. Be sure to turn your volume up.


EDIT: I know this is off topic for the blog, so all I can say is that maybe you should warn your kids about guys like this just like warning them about the neighborhood crazy. Let them voice their opinion, but treat with caution.

Apathy on Campus

Continuing this theme of inaction by recent generations, I would like to illustrate some examples going on at the campus I attend right now. Most of these policies do not affect me, but the ones just entering college. No one protests however:

1. Playboy magazines banned for sale on campus.

Sales were banned based on the preferences of a few, and not the student body on a whole. There will always be a minority that objects to anything, but banning something like this on a college campus, an inherently liberal institution, strikes me as strange. Sales have not been re-instituted because no one has said anything. Never mind the simple reason of the first amendment.
2. ...But crazy preachers are given free reign
What is even more disturbing is that a nomadic preacher, Brother Micah, was given free reign in the name of free speech, even though he was downright offensive. There was a ton of student protest but nothing happened, which actually I believe was for the best. Freedom of speech was protected. People are protesting the wrong things. For reference, here is a good synopsis of this guy from (no this is not exaggerated):

"Micah Armstrong, also known as Brother Micah, is a nomadic preacher who graced the University of Old Mississippi with his presence last week. He's a friendly bloke who yells at students walking to class, tells them they're going to hell, makes everyone feel bad about themselves and has probably never had any friends his entire life.

Micah Armstrong comes from Miami (City Motto: "Crazy people. Drugs, too.") and has been traveling across the United States judging people and making babies cry.

Brother Micah carefully outlined that most people in this world do not get to go to heaven. Some of those who don't are as follows:
•Mother Teresa
•People in sororities
•People in fraternities
•Independents, obviously"

3. Students are now required to an 8 hour!! alcohol safety examination before they are allowed to register for classes.
OK this one is pretty nuts. Everyone except seniors basically has to do this before any semester. This does not affect me, but to get the full sense of absurdity for this policy, you must read number 4:

4. No alcoholic beverages containing less than 5% alcohol will be permitted in any area before football games.
That's right. Whiskey will not get you more drunk than beer. I am really really not sure what this was supposed to accomplish. Again there was a general sense of WTF around campus, and questions were asked, but there was no widespread involvement to try to get answers to this policy or even try to change it. Actually, I found lots of people asking questions online:

"Can anyone explain to me how they came up with the conclusion that liquor is permitted in the grove over beer? I mean who in there right mind beleives that liquor is safer than beer."

But, as Colbert illustrated, armchair protests. What people need to do is come together for a common cause. From the short time I have been in college, I have seen it go from a pretty liberal state to a pretty restricted state. I cannot imagine what people from decades ago think of the college culture now. I can't help but think that students today are become more and more like automatons, and I sincerely hope this changes before my daughter starts absorbing this kind of thinking.

Colbert on Solitarity

I was watching the Colbert Report last night and his "The Word" segment was quite...moving for lack of a better word. His Word was regarding the student getting tazered at a Kerry debate. If you have not seen it, well basically, it looks as if the kid was asking questions, someone cut off the microphone, and police hustled him away and tazered him. More poignant however was the total look of boredom and apathy seen on his fellow students faces. No one stood up to protest, no one said anything, they just looked on with apathy. What happened to the people of this country? Colbert implies it is because that most have become armchair protesters, posting on their blog, and Digging their way to make a difference. Colbert cleverly equates Digging to masturbating :) It is made even more ironic by the fact that every week or so there is a surge of people calling for action instead of sitting on their computers on Digg, yet you never see anything come of it.

I cannot quite put my finger on what has made the current generations, my own included, so apathetic. I am aware of my own apathy at times, and strive to overcome it, and I hope I can pass on a more involved sense of action to my daughter. In my opinion, apathy is contagious, and the more indifferent people there are the harder it is to overcome the apathy gradient. It's depressing really.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Non-stick chewing gum!

Wouldn't it be great if gum never got stuck on your shoes, carpet, in your kids hair? Gum is popular, especially with kids. So if you have a kid, chances are your kid has chewed gum, whether you let them or not, and chances are you have had gum stuck in the strangest of places.

"Revolymer, a Bristol University spin-out company, claims that it has created a new material which can be added to gum that makes it much easier to remove from surfaces."

"The material is formed from long chains of molecules, called polymers, which have both water-loving (hydrophilic) and water-hating (hydrophobic), and therefore oil-loving, properties.

The polymer's affinity for oil means that it can be easily mixed into the rest of the ingredients needed to create chewing gum; but it is its attraction to water that gives it its non-stick abilities.

Chief Scientific Officer of Revolymer, Professor Terence Cosgrove, said: "The hydrophilic coating means that you always get a film of water around the gum and that is one of the reasons it is easy to remove - and, in some cases, doesn't stick at all.""
The only problem I see is that it may dissolve very fast in the mouth. Oh well small price to pay for the following results:

"The team also tested the gum on one of the most tricky surfaces - hair. Using the company CEO's daughter - who said she was due a haircut - as a volunteer, they attached commercial gum to one side of her hair and Rev7 to the other.

The commercial gum eventually had to be cut out, but Rev7 could be mostly removed using water, shampoo and a comb. "

There is no telling where and when this will be released into the United States though.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Children can step into the minds of storybook characters

A large part of enjoying a good book is getting immersed in the life of a character, especially a character's thoughts and feelings. A new University of Waterloo psychology study shows that preschoolers can already perform this impressive perspective-taking feat and get into the minds of story characters.

The study used an innovative approach to explore children's storytelling ability, focusing on how well they comprehend stories instead of how well they tell them. The study, entitled The Emergence of the Ability to Track a Character's Mental Perspective in Narrative, was published in the July issue of Developmental Psychology.

"Children around the ages of three to five are fairly limited in their verbal abilities, and many previous studies have relied on methods requiring children to tell a story orally, potentially underestimating what they can do," says lead researcher Daniela O'Neill, who did the study with graduate student Rebecca Shultis.

O'Neill, an associate professor of developmental psychology and head of the UW centre for child studies, says that's why the study introduced an innovative approach to look at children's storytelling ability. It offers a new method to evaluate storytelling ability that can pick up differences in the abilities of the younger children.

"I believe children as young as age three to five are developing in important ways with respect to their narrative ability, we just need new ways to look at it."

"In essence, rather than looking at how children are able to tell stories, it looked at how children understand stories, and whether, like adults, children build up a 'mental model' of the story," O'Neill says. "By this, I mean, are children, like adults, able to build up a model of the story in their mind and 'step into the mind,' so to speak, of a character.

"It turns out, from the results of our study, that indeed this is one important way in which children appear to be developing with respect to their understanding of stories during the preschool years."

The researchers had the children listen to a story about a character who was in one location, but was thinking about doing something in another. "Tracking the thoughts of characters to different locations they are thinking about is something we do very easily as adults and really is an impressive perspective-taking feat," O'Neill says.

"But can children also do this" It turns out that five-year-olds can, pretty much like adults, but that three-year-olds have much more difficulty doing this."

The youngest children tracked a character if he or she physically moved between two locations, but they did not seem able to track a change in location if it only happens in the character's mind.

In the study, two models were placed in front of the children depicting the two locations -- a barn and a field. In both locations there was a cow. Children were told that the character was in the barn, but was thinking about feeding the cow in the field. Then, immediately after this sentence, children were asked to point to the cow.

"This is an ambiguous request, since there are two cows present," O'Neill explains.

"But we hypothesized that if children were tracking the thought of the character to the new thought-about location (the field), then they would point to the cow there. If they were only able to think about the character where the character physically is, then they would point to the cow in the physical location (the barn)."

It turns out five-year-olds pointed to the cow in the thought-about location and three-year-olds pointed to the cow in the character's physical location, and only switched if told the character had actually gone to the other location.

"We are excited about these results because they help us to better understand how children's narrative ability is changing and developing very early on in a new way we didn't know about before when studies focused mainly on having children tell stories which they are really not very good at yet," O'Neill says.

"Children with delays in their language use also often have difficulty with comprehending and producing narratives," O'Neill says. "This can become quite an issue once children reach school and are faced with many more tasks that require good story comprehension skills."

The study potentially provides a new way to understand some of these difficulties and differences in perspective-taking ability that may hinder story comprehension and production.-Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Mother’s milk a gift that keeps on giving

The University of Texas Medical Branch has released a research paper that, surprise, there really is a ton of benefits to breast feeding over formula feeding! I think the main idea is that people are still uneducated about what is best when having a baby. Many still believe that formula=breast. People do not realize that they have no control of what goes into formula, except for the purity of water they use. The paper is not freely available online, unfortunately, but the University of Texas Medical Branch has released a news article about it. Here is an excerpt:

"UTMB professor of pediatrics David K. Rassin, a co-author of the paper (with Baylor College of Medicine assistant professor of pediatrics Judy M. Hopkinson), said, “Although many of us assume that everyone knows breastfeeding is best for infants and the American Academy of Pediatrics has come out with really strong recommendations in favor of it, the prevalence of breastfeeding in the United States is only about 65 percent right now.” Rassin elaborated: “Historically, we had a rapid increase from about 25 percent in the Sixties up to the area of 60 percent in the late Eighties, and it’s only very gradually crept up since then.”

“Within the United States, where we’ve got clean water and don’t have a lot of the diseases associated with formula feeding in Third World countries, I think we still have this concept that there really isn’t any difference between breastfeeding and formula feeding,” Rassin said. “One of the points we tried to make in this article is that even in this country there are definitely some health risks associated with formula feeding - they just tend to involve diseases that take a long time to emerge but may reflect lack of breastfeeding.”

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dear God

Not sure if these are real or not, but they sure are funny! If my daughter ever asked God "Instead of making people die and having to make new ones why don't you keep the ones you got now?" I would cry for lack of an explanation.

Daneil Cook vs. the Seven Year Old Surgeon

Just curious if anyone remembers the Oprah episode with Amazing Kids. This episode was especially amusing. On it the first featured kid was Daniel Cook. I am sure most of you know this kid:

"Daniel began hosting his own series, This Is Daniel Cook, when he was just 6 years old. Since then, millions of American and Canadian children have tuned in to follow along on his exciting adventures. Daniel has done everything from feeding animals at the zoo to digging for dinosaur bones." Impressive CV right? Imagine Daniel's sense of inferiority when Oprah's next guest was introduced:

"At an age when most children are learning their ABCs, Akrit was reading Shakespeare and assembling a library of medical textbooks. When he was 5 years old, he enrolled in school. One year later, Akrit was teaching English and math classes.

Akrit developed a passion for science and anatomy at an early age. Doctors at local hospitals took notice and started allowing him to observe surgeries when he was 6 years old. Inspired by what he saw, Akrit read everything he could on the topic. When an impoverished family heard about his amazing abilities, they asked if he would operate on their daughter for free. Her surgery was a success."

Daniel's response? "I rode in a fire truck one time!" Seriously both kids are talented, it was just amusing that such a wide difference in skill sets were juxtaposed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Health Insurance for the Low Income Families

Being in college is like being sheltered from a lot of the problems of the world. One thing however, affects us as college students as it affects those not in college. Health insurance. My family, except for my daughter, has been without health insurance for quite a while now. We will have health insurance again, provided by the school, as soon as I start graduate school in January. I had looked previously at independent health insurance offered by Blue Cross et. al. and was not surprised to see a family health insurance package starting well out of our meager price range. When looking at school provided health insurance I found it much cheaper thankfully, averaging about 200 dollars a month. If it was not provided by school it averaged about 500 dollars a month for my spouse and I. The only problem is that it must be paid for a full year up front, and I cannot just jump on in the middle of the year. I keep telling myself graduate school will be worth it, I just do not want to put my families health second!

Bias Against Mothers

There is a great article over at about the bias against mothers in this country. Not sure how to go about addressing these problems, but I wholeheartedly agree that paid new mother leave, as well as child care reforms and health care reforms. To be fair and avoid bias, I believe the following article could be applied to single father's as well:

"..Very few Americans realize that there is deep bias against mothers in this country and that we are undermining family's ability to care for children. I began to understand this a few years ago when I learned that equal pay for equal work is just as big a problem today as it was 40 years ago. I was shocked! Women without children now earn 90 cents to a man's dollar, mothers earn 73 cents, and single mothers earn about 60 cents to a man's dollar. A study done last year revealed that a mother is 79 percent less likely to be offered a job when all other factors -- including resumes, education, and job experience -- are equal. Ever wonder why there are so many women and children in poverty? Every wonder why there are so few women in leadership? Since over 80 percent of women become mothers I would say that women have a long way to go before they have equal opportunity in this country. Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner and I wrote The Motherhood Manifesto and launched in 2006 and in 2007 with policy and culture change in mind.

Why is there deep bias against mothers? It turns out our country lacks basic supports for families. Out of 173 countries, only four have no paid leave for new mothers -- Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Liberia and the U.S.A. (One of these countries is not like the others.) Our health care system is the most expensive in the world per capita, yet our child mortality rate is 37th. Paid sick days are not required, quality child care is hard to line up and often more than parents can afford, the list goes on. It turns out that having a child is the top cause of a "poverty spell" for families, a time when income dips below what's needed for basic living expenses like food and rent. What a sad statistic. Frankly, the U.S. is missing basic family supports, which most other countries take as a given -- and the kicker is that countries with family-friendly policies and program in place don't have the wage gaps we do here. We know how to fix this problem...."

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Indian food is not fun for the whole family

In an effort to boost my blog posts from such a scant week, I will relate a story that has to do with Indian food, a skeptical 2 1/2 year old, and a disgruntled wife. There is a new Indian restaurant in town that has some pretty interesting looking meals. Great I thought, a change from the countless Mexican establishments throughout town! I convinced my wife to try it with me.

Beans of all sorts, pureed vegetables, curry, flat bread, and rice pudding graced our sight upon entering. What's not to like! "Mmmm easily digestible said I", *blank stare* said wife. The meal was progressing nicely enough, not too many complaints, until we decided to try the rice pudding. I was the first to taste, and I thought it was pretty good. So I told my wife this. She grabs a spoon as I ready a taste for my daughter. As my wife spoons some rice pudding into her mouth, I do the same for my daughter. Within seconds both of them are literally gagging, with accompanying retching sounds, and no these are not the fake ones that children make when they exaggerate how bad their peas taste. My daughter's pudding goes onto the floor, my wife's onto her plate. I'm looking at the owner who just passed by and stopped short at the spectacle.

Feeling somewhat embarrassed and generally bad for putting my family through eating something they obviously did not like, I was preparing to pay and leave. The owner then came out with a pureed mango frozen desert for my daughter. I guess he did not want us to leave on a bad note. The drink was delicious, my daughter spit it out, my wife would not try it, and I was left feeling uncomfortable for the rest of the evening.

Sparse Updates

There have been pretty few updates this past week (if any) by my wife or I. The final semester of school is in full swing. Working at minimum wage in a work-study setting, I am getting valuable research related experience, but am gone most of the time. I have been getting to see my daughter for a couple of hours a night on weekdays, but it is not very much quality time. Most of the time I am home is spent cleaning up, because, well, I am sort of a neat freak. This leads into my science article for the day:

"The Hygiene Hypothesis: Are Cleanlier Lifestyles Causing More Allergies For Kids?

Science Daily — A little dirt never hurt. But in today’s super-clean world, vaccinations, anti-bacterial soaps, and airtight doors and windows are keeping dirt and disease-causing germs at bay.

While staying germ-free can prevent the spread of disease and infections, leading a cleanlier lifestyle may be responsible for an increase in allergies among children.

“It’s called the hygiene hypothesis,” says Marc McMorris, M.D., a pediatric allergist at the University of Michigan Health System. “We’ve developed a cleanlier lifestyle, and our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past. As a result, the immune system has shifted away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies.”

Basically, we are programmed to deal with foreign substances from birth. It is our nature. Evolution does not happen in a few generations, where the rate of change from our grandparents to our kids has been enormous. Just as humans are symbiotic with many bacteria, certain parts of our immunity are made to work by exposure to foreign materials. Time to notch down the level of clean from clinical research laboratory to slightly dusty old person house!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Great Snack for the Whole Family

This is not necessarily a good thing. Usually I am not one to like sweets. I am more likely to eat something salty. The thing is though, we just got these Reeses Snacksters Peanut Butter Explosions on chance. Since the first box, we got 2 more within 2 days! These snacks look just like leftovers from the Reeses factory, little peanut butter chips, crunchy bits, looses Reeses Pieces. I think I like them so much because they do not cause much bloating. They are very light on the stomach, and they aren't TOO sweet. Honestly my daughter has not had too many of them, we eat them so fast! My vote for guilty pleasure of the year for sure.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

And now for something totally unrelated

A little comic relief never hurt anyone...

Walk It Out, Fosse

Pirouette Like it's Hot.

The Caffeine has gotten me!

Funny story. I have recently begun drinking caffeine 2 weeks ago. I did not have any when I woke up today. I felt tired, shaky, weak, and had a bad headache. The hypochondriac in me kicked in. OMG I Took tylenol then I drank 4 beers my livers failing! WTF Do I do?!?! Then I thought about the coffee. I had a cup, and sure enough I was better. I don't like feeling like that, but I need the stimulation at this point of my life. Note to self: don't let kid get so overloaded that she needs stimulants to make it through the day.

Before getting that new toy on sale, check this out!

We all know how hard it is to be vigilant at watching prices when shopping (OK maybe it's not hard for everyone, but it is for me!), but keep this new article from Science Daily in mind when shopping for toys, clothes, anything really that is marked at a discount. Everyone knows that sometimes things aren't even on sale, and stores just put a sale sticker on it anyway, but this is another trick to keep in mind when shopping!

Sales Prices: How Right Digits Affect Perception of Discounts

Science Daily — The amount of the discount may be less important than the numerical value of the farthest right digit, explains a new study from the Journal of Consumer Research. Keith S. Coulter (Clark University) and Robin A. Coulter (University of Connecticut) are the first to identify a visual distortion effect that may influence how consumers look at sale prices.

The researchers show that "right-digit effect" influences consumer perception of sale prices. When the right digits are small, people perceive the discount to be larger than when the right digits are large. In other words, an item on sale for $211 from the original price of $222 is thought to be a better deal than an item on sale for $188 from an original price of $199, even though both discounts are $11.

In addition, the researchers find that when consumers view regular and sale prices with identical left digits, they perceive larger price discounts when the right digits are "small" -- less than 5 -- than when they are "large," or, greater than 5.

"When consumers examine multi-digit regular and sale prices in an advertisement, they read those prices from left-to-right. If the left (hundreds) digits are identical, consumers will pay less attention to those digits, and instead will focus primarily upon the disparate right-most (tens and units) digits in the price comparison process.," the authors explain.
"Our findings indicate that comparative price advertising can distort consumers' perceptions in ways unintended by the seller."

Reference: Keith S. Coulter and Robin A. Coulter. "Distortion of Price Discount Perceptions: The Right Digit Effect" Journal of Consumer Research: August 2007.

Balancing work and play

Today has been a mediocre day, actually this whole weekend has been pretty mediocre. One problem that faces any parent that has a lot of stress in life, e.g. college and work, needs to find the time to balance interacting with their children and personal recreation time. I am sure many of you agree, this is very hard to manage. For example, I have been going to college and working at college for the past year, 8:00 - 5:00ish everyday during the week. This leaves Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday to accomplish the above mentioned tasks. For the most part, we have not been doing anything personally for us, not in the least part due to the lack of funds. This weekend we tried to do something for us one day, something for our daughter another day, and have a "lazy day" on memorial day. This did not work out so well. It has been so long since we tried to go out and do something that we could not decide on what to do. On Saturday, we just kind of went in circles and stayed around the house. Today was a bit better. We actually got to the pool, went around shopping a bit, went out to eat, and even managed to clean up the house!

Perhaps the next weekend will be a bit more decisive. When the stress levels get high, I think a lot of people forget that this rubs off on their kids too. I for one am in an absolute need to get out more at this point in my life. I think it would calm me more during the week, leading to more productivity, including better parenting!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fears Learned By Observing Others Are Similar To Those Learned From Direct Experience

Science Daily Humans acquire fears using similar neural processes whether they've personally experienced an aversive event or only witnessed it, according to a study by researchers at New York University's Departments of Psychology.

Did not think that maybe some random expression of fear by her good ole parents could have triggered a fear response to something unrelated. However, I would also like to find something about genetic variation in inborn fears. Assuming something like being scared of the dark is inborn for a majority of the population, what would happen with changes to expression of this fear.

Where do Nightmares Come From?

I've been pondering a question today that I know almost nothing about. Researched some and still know almost nothing! I was thinking about what makes children, or adults for that matter, naturally scared of something. I am sticking more to young children while pondering this because, they do not have as many cultural and developmental influences as an adult. Has anyone seen a very young child have what could be considered a nightmare (say, under one year of age)?

Using my daughter as an example, it seemed that she was fearless for the longest time. Then there came a day when my daughter was suddenly, absolutely terrified of a dancing Jumbah doll It is a stuffed toy that makes farting sounds and bounces up and down. She had loved it the week prior. When I say terrified I mean that she was literally start shaking and run to the other side of the room screaming "NO! NO! NO!". Well, so much for that toy I though, and proceeded to use it as an effective way to keep my daughter from climbing the stairs. Eventually she got used to the doll, but was still scared of it. We couldn't even say the name Jumbah without getting a firm "No!" out of her.

This brings me to the present. Where did she learn to become scared of this doll? Was it a nightmare? Some trigger in her developing mind telling her to be scared of plump round fuzzy things that farted? *insert fat American joke here* It begs the question, are we hard wired from birth to fear certain things, or does or brain randomly make fear circuits, for lack of a better use of words. I believe there is a biological reason for why a lot of people fear spiders, snakes, etc... across cultural boundaries, but what creates the eccentric fears that seem to have no basis in previous experience? More research is in order I guess.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Just a friendly reminder...

Just a friendly reminder, you cannot escape your children's illnesses. One week ago I watched in fascination as my daughter suddenly spouted snot out of her nose, wiped it all over her face, and finally rub her face from one side of the couch to the other. Of course a prompt clean up was in order, but I could not help but wonder at what else has served as an impromptu face wipe for my daughter. Sure enough the illness has already passed to everyone in the family. This may not be a problem if you have older children that actually listen, so the well known rules of keeping the family healthy are:

1. Wash infected individual's laundry seperately. This includes sheets, blankets, stuffed animals even. Bleach is the universal germ killer.

2. Keep handles, door knobs, faucets, and toilets clean. Lysol, or more simply, 70% isopropyl alcohol, which is cheaper and works just as well, will keep these hot spots from spreading germs to everyone very quickly.

3. Make sure children follow good hygiene. Sneeze into crook of elbow instead of hands, or better use tissue. Keeping hands away from faces is one of the most important tips to keep healthy. Also, closing the toilet seat before flushing is just plain nice, but is especially important if a stomach illness is going around.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The sorrows of being self aware

I find it very hard to come to terms with death, as I am sure most people are. The same end for us all. I will not know what to say when my daughter asks about death, I will never be ready for death, and I will always want to experience more, to learn more. My daughter's self awareness is so awe inspiring, yet so tragic knowing that one day it will be gone. Should I try to leave a mark on the world, or should I just experience everything I can, and provide opportunities for experience to my daughter? I have never been one with much moral fiber, just a wanderer trying to understand what little I can. Wouldn't it be grand to study every intricacy of the human body and it's consciousness and then move on past ourselves to the universe. The most I can hope for is to pass on what little I know. It seems that everything we as humans do with intent is a fight against death. I can't get my head around how some people try to make life harder for others when everyone has such little time. This post sounds depressing, but really it is more of just a general sadness at the inevitable, no one talks about death that much, it would be great if it was a more open subject.

"Listen you'll hear it,
We're getting near it,
I know i really fear it,
But we pretend it another day"


Study Links Diabetes and High Fructose Corn Syrup Found in Soda

Old news, but diabetes in children is on the rise ya go if you have no idea about this yet!

"A new study released Thursday suggests sodas sweetened with high fructose corn syrup may contribute to the development of diabetes. The study from researchers at Rutgers University, shows sodas sweetened with high fructose corn syrup contain high levels of compounds that previous research suggests may play a role in the development of diabetes."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Already planning vacation...Alaska??

I'm starting to think of vacation already, sometime in the next 12 months. Having not been out of state but a handful of times, I am thinking of going to somewhere like Alaska. Why? Can't really answer that, just always wanted to go. I'm not really big on going to a large city for vacation, and since this will be our first vacation as a family, it has to include our daughter, so no Las Vegas or anything! Wherever we end up going, lots of research needs to be done. It would be nice if we knew people in another state that could show us around, and keep us away from trouble spots. I'm so excited!

Conditioning kids to be fearful of men?

Just read something that I had not thought about before, and really, am not too sure about. Are we teaching our kids to be fearful of men? I've never thought about it before, as my child is never really in a situation where she could be easily separated or on her own right now, but these lessons are coming up soon. Would I tell her to seek a safe person such as a pregnant lady or older woman? Does this instill an un-spoken notion that all men are by nature unsafe? I would like to think not, but the truth is that it does. I would not tell my daughter to seek out an older male for example, even though I do not think this stereotype is necessarily true in all regards, however, it is true that most predators are male (reported ones anyway). Instead, what ever happened to find a person in uniform? Find the manager's office? Go to a public place, restaurant, etc?

"Are we teaching children that men are out to hurt them? The answer, on many fronts, is yes. Child advocate John Walsh advises parents to never hire a male babysitter. Airlines are placing unaccompanied minors with female passengers rather than male passengers. Soccer leagues are telling male coaches not to touch players."

"TV shows, including the Dateline NBC series "To Catch a Predator," hype stories about male abusers. Now social-service agencies are also using controversial tactics to spread the word about abuse. This summer, Virginia's Department of Health mounted an ad campaign for its sex-abuse hotline. Billboards featured photos of a man holding a child's hand. The caption: "It doesn't feel right when I see them together."
What worries me is what attitude our children will have towards males as they develop, not to mention how it must make men feel! It doesn't feel right when I see them together...I mean really, did an advertisement even have to go there? What if it was a woman's hand in the billboard, would it be as offensive? I guess I should really be more outraged at this, there are some easily influenced people in this country that will take this to heart and really get a grudge against males, but I guess I am so used to seeing this kind of bias everywhere that it is starting to affect me less.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Where's this blog heading?

Well, I've noticed that I am straying toward science topics more and more, but I can't help it. I am trying to keep the topics related to health and kid's health in general however. I will still be posting tips and tricks, as well as updates about my little one, but with a lot more emphasis on education and science right now!

Negative Effects Of Plastic's Additive Blocked By Nutrient Supplements

OK This is geared toward pregnant people, which I am NOT right now, nor plan to be in the near future :) but I wish I was as interested in science articles as I am right now. It really isn't that hard to keep abreast of the latest findings and may potentially make new mothers-to-be more aware of their environment, which is always good for the baby. Anyway here goes an excerpt, it will be so tantalizing, that you will have to click on the link and read the rest!

"Science Daily — Experiments in animals have provided additional and tantalizing evidence that what a pregnant mother eats can make her offspring more susceptible to disease later in life.

This susceptibility is the result of a process that alters how a gene is expressed without actually changing or mutating the gene itself. Appreciation of this phenomenon has spawned a new avenue of genetic research known as epigenetics, a name which refers to changes happening over and above the gene sequence without altering its code.

In their most recent experiments, Duke University Medical Center investigators demonstrated that exposure within the womb to bisphenol A (BPA), an ubiquitous chemical used in the production of plastics, caused noticeable changes in the offspring without altering any of the offspring's genes. Additionally, the researchers discovered that administration of folic acid or genistein, an active ingredient in soy, during pregnancy protected the offspring from the negative effects of BPA.

In their experiments, the Duke team studied a well-documented strain of animals known as agouti mice. Normally, these mice tend to be slender and brown. While past epigenetic research at Duke has focused on nutrients given to pregnant agouti mice, the current experiments represented the first tests of a potential environmental toxin...." Full story here.

The 1lb baby born at 30,000 ft... and kept alive with a straw

As Nicola Delemere struggled through the pain of contractions, she was gripped with greater fears than the average expectant mother. She and her husband were 30,000ft in the air on a plane to Crete, she was 25 weeks into her pregnancy - and there were no doctors on board.

Now that is an amazing story! You don't see that in the news too much, simply unbelievable!

Printable Chart of First-Aid Procedures [PDF]

Lifehacker : "The guide comes in PDF format and provides emergency care instructions for a bloody nose, eye irritation, burns, sprains, blows to the head, choking, poisoning and open wounds. Since most people haven't thought much about this stuff since high school health class, a brush-up isn't a bad idea."

Handy little thing here! Go to
to download.

More on the Word Spurt

Calculating the Word Spurt (SCIENCENEWS.ORG)

By Julie J. Rehmeyer

When children first begin to talk, they learn perhaps a word or two a week. Then suddenly, at around 14 to 18 months, they seem to soak up new words like a sponge, learning as many as ten a day.

Child psychologists have long been puzzled by this dramatic acceleration, and they have developed a variety of theories to explain it. Some researchers have argued that as the brain develops, it reorganizes to become much more efficient at storing new words. Others have argued that babies are able to use their knowledge of a few words to deduce the meanings of other words.

Bob McMurray, a child psychologist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, now says that a bit of mathematics is enough to explain the phenomenon. Children's word absorption, he says, is the logical consequence of two basic principles: (1.) children work on learning many words at the same time, and (2.) some words are more difficult to learn than others.


A new mathematical theory explains toddlers' "word spurt."

McMurray created a simple mathematical model that assigned point scores to words based on how difficult they are to learn. A word like "mommy," for example, might be assigned just one point, whereas a word like "elephant" might get 10 and a word like "aptitude" might get 100.

For purposes of the model, he assumed that children are regularly exposed to all the words they learn and that the higher a word's point score, the more times a baby will have to hear the word to learn it. So kids will learn "mommy" quickly, but a rarely used and more abstract word such as "aptitude" may come much later.

McMurray notes that languages have only a small number of very easy-to-learn words and many more intermediate words. So when a baby has been exposed to enough language to learn the easy words, she will acquire just a few words. As she is exposed to more language, she begins to learn the medium words. And because there are a lot of medium words, she is likely to pick up a lot of words at this stage. This, McMurray says, is the vocabulary explosion.

"It shows how computation can illustrate some very complex implications of really simple theories," McMurray says.


In McMurray's model, the rate of word acquisition is initially slow but increases rapidly.

McMurray notes that because researchers don't know exactly what factors make a word easy or hard to learn, it's difficult to pin down the number of hard and easy words in a language.

As a first approximation, he assumed that a word is more difficult the less frequently it appears in written language or in mothers' speech to their children—statistics that are both readily available. He then noted that many other factors must influence difficulty, such as the part of speech, the complexity of the sound pattern, and whether the word's meaning is concrete or abstract. Putting all of these factors together, he came up with a roughly bell-shaped distribution with fewer easy and hard words than intermediate words. That distribution, plugged into McMurray's model of learning, naturally produced a rapid rise in rate of words learned following a relatively slow start.

"The explanation lies in the mathematics of learning," McMurray says.

Jennifer Ganger, a child psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, says other psychologists have argued that children may not undergo a word spurt at all, and that if they do, it isn't caused by any significant cognitive change. But McMurray's argument that the word spurt is caused by a single learning mechanism, working at the same rate throughout development, is novel. "This is important," she says, "because too much energy has been wasted trying to understand the causes of the spurt."

From: SCIENCENEWS.ORG, a great place for science news.

The sexists on the bus?

From purplelizzy on the Livejournal community alternparents:

"Once a week I take my nearly 3 year old to a mother & toddler group. At the end everyone gathers arounjd in a circle to do a few "songs & actions." One of the favourite songs is the Wheels on the Bus and at this group the way they sing it, it has a verse that goes:

The mummies on the bus go chatter chatter chatter
Chatter chatter chatter
Chatter chatter chatter
The mummies on the bus go chatter chatter chatter'
All day long

The action that goes with is one commonly used to indicate someone who is talking too much.

Now is it me or is this ridiculously sexist in this day and age? I'm not someone who is out to ban nursery rhymes like Baa Baa Black Sheep or anything like that but a song that teaches kids that mummies talk too much seems a little over the top to me."

I found this quite amusing. I've never heard this before when anyone sung this song. I admit I think it is a tad bit sexist, but it was probably meant innocently enough.

Kids and The College Parent

School has started again, both of us parents are getting back into the swing of things. Our daughter is still not in day care, and probably will not be by the end of the year at the rate we are going right now. I forgot how exhausting taking a full course load, taking care of our daughter, cooking, cleaning, and all the menial tasks can be. In addition, financial aid is not as strong this year. Books cost a small fortune on top of all other bills so it may be a skimpy 6 months ahead. Since it has been a while since the last post, our current kid situation is the following:

Potty Training:
Daughter is so adamant about not potty training right now, she has gone from telling us when she has used the bathroom on herself to loudly replying "Nooo" every time we ask her if she peed or poo'd.

Sleeping through the night without a pacifier:
Remarkably well. We let her watch a movie as she's going to sleep, and when it's over one of us kiss her goodnight, turn the lights out, and that's that. Such a good girl :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Medicare Maximum Income Limit

In Mississippi, there is a stipulation to receiving medicare that just boggles my mind.

"The new law coldly reduces the maximum income allowed for an individual to receive Medicaid in Mississippi from an impecunious $12,569 per year to a beggarly $6,768."[AAPD]
This does not just apply to senior citizens either. Earlier this year my wife had to have emergency surgery, and we were not insured at the time. We were pretty poor off financially (or so we thought), so we applied for medicare. We were denied because we made more than 326.00 per month. The astute reader will notice that this is even less than 6786 per year. So younger people get an even worse deal. Now we are both working hard, going to school, pay taxes, and are generally upstanding citizens, and all I can think of is "WHO THE HELL CAN LIVE ON 326.00 PER MONTH?!?!" Then it hits me. There are indeed people that do absolutely nothing, get everything they can from the government, and sit on their ass all day. You generally see them sitting in front of their hourse because they cannot afford electricity and they have no jobs. After being exceedingly infuriated for months, we found out we may apply for a charity grant to help pay some of the hospital bill. I guess it just infuriates me that the peole who benefit from this program are the ones least in need of it. Especially in Mississippi, where there are still FEMA trailer camps from hurricane Katrina where people are still trying to get the most out of the government. Well, live and let live they say.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

The COOLEST Science Kids Toys EVER!

Browsing Amazon for some science related kids toys, even though my daughter is way to young for them, I came across some of the coolest toys. I would have never imagined there was anything like these available! Being a science buff/geek, I may be more biased towards these kinds of toys, but I think that most people can appreciate the beauty of some of these. Educational with a twist!

This one is by far my favorite. Discovery Exclusive DNA Explorer Kit. It contains a centrifuge and all! From Amazon:

"This deluxe science kit lets you extract, view and map real DNA the way forensic scientists do. Explore one of the newest frontiers in science – DNA mapping"

Ideal for budding forensic-scientists or secret agents
Working lab and tools are just like the real thingIncludes all the supplies needed for six fascinating DNA experiments:

Centrifuge, Magnetic mixer, Electrophoresis chamber, Test vials
Ink samples, DNA stain (fabricated to mimic real DNA)
Mail order card for first two experiments*, 2 month manufacturer's warranty

Extract DNA from vegetables, find out what actually makes ink colors and even grow crystal stalagmites. This innovative look at cutting-edge science gives kids a taste of the excitement of discovery and science.

*It will take approximately 2-3 weeks for you to receive your Lambda DNA samples. There is no charge for your initial shipment (postage is required on card). Kit includes instructions for ordering additional DNA samples for $11.50 per order."

I include this next one just because I had an electronics kit when I was younger, and it was a pain in the ass to put together! I never actually got anything that worked do to the amount of wiring necessary. This one snaps together so it should be TONS more fun. From Amazon:

"Elenco's new Snap Circuits makes learning electronics easy and fun! Just follow the colorful pictures in our manual and build exciting projects such as FM radios, digital voice recorders, AM radios, burglar alarms, doorbells and much more! You can even play electronic games with your friends. All parts are mounted on plastic modules and snap together with ease. Enjoy hours of educational fun while learning about electronics. No tools required."

Finally, another thing that kids would love is REAL X-RAYS. I would have liked them anyway, maybe I'm weird though! Animal X-RAYS are also available. From Amazon:

"Socko X-Ray Sets. …of one human or an assortment of beasties, but we took both home and so will you. These x-rays are very useful for biology teachers, but have endless applications. Make a very easy oversized jigsaw puzzle with the human pix or, with some super glue, a great shower curtain. But the real possibilities are for artists and designers-fold 'em into lampshades, blow them up and shrink them on a copier, or scan them and have fun in Photoshop". The human skeletal system, a complete skeleton when assembled, is in (18) sheets. The non-human set of (13) includes a marmoset, frontosa cichlid, green tree python, veiled chameleon, dwarf crocodile eggs, baby kangaroo, red-tailed hawk (oddly flamingo-like), sunfish, baby iguana, rattlesnake, box turtle, leaf frog, and a European rabbit which we think is particularly interesting.
Actual x-rays are reprinted on transparencies which work with overhead projectors, and range from 3-3/8" x 6-7/8" to 8-3/8" x 10-5/8" They come with info sheets in English and French."

And tha's about it for now. You may notice that I did not include any chemistry kits on this post. That is because a lot of chemistry kits have been dumbed down these days because some chemicals are now under a watch list for drug manufacturers. You can still get the chemicals, but you have to special order them. Meh, seems wrong to me. I digress though, hope you liked the list!

Who's still Afraid of Harry Potter?

So I am taking a two week Applied Writing class to bring my GPA up a bit and it is taught by a pretty liberal teacher. There is always a slight tension in the class as about 3/4 of the class seems pretty conservative. Recently the class has turned from conservative in my mind to downright ignorant. Usually I am not so judgmental, and I really believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I cannot understand when people defend their opinion with "just because" or "that's just how I feel" or "I don't think that's right". The topic came up about Harry Potter. The teacher simply asked a) if anyone has read it, b) is it any good? The response was "Man I don't think it's right that kids read that stuff", "A fifth grader reading a 900 page book is just not healthy", "I would never let my kids read that stuff with witchcraft in it".


On the outside I was like

But on the INSIDE I was like

Yeaaahh, that's the stuff :) I never meant to have this blog be so opinionated, and I really would like to hear a reasonable explanation as to why a Harry Potter book should be kept from kids. I think the best answer to to the above statements was when the teacher asked "So what about Cinderella and other fairy tales?" and the response was "Well those are OK". Nice.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Kid Trick - Mean what you say!

I came across an interesting article today basically reinstating some common sense knowledge that we should all should know, but may not always practice.

Idle threats, hypothetical situations, ideas that are still in their formulation and incubation period, thinking out loud-all of these can be a parent's downfall. I know that we're not perfect and I have done my share of saying all sorts of things in the heat of the moment (or the heat of the battle) that I didn't mean-but I did learn from those old parenting television programs that our kids are smarter and more clever than we give them credit for. They know very early if we mean what we say or not, and if they get the message that we only say what we mean, we have more authority and credibility-and our children feel more secure and less likely to act out.(
Sound advice all around, dealing with kids or not. It is something so easy to forget, even if you have it in mind all the time. Empty warnings are a big no no in our house. We have a system where we ask our daughter three times, and if she does not listen on the third time, it's time out no questions asked, and it works very well. What I did not count on though is idle conversation. Such as talking to my DH about taking our daughter somewhere after we eat. She hears "pool" or "park" etc.. and she goes nuts until we go! If something comes up where we can't go, then it's a huge disappointment. She's still to young to grasp the concept of a hypothetical situation. Just remember, everything we say is absorbed by our children.

Possible Sighting of Madeleine

From: Possible sighting of Madeleine McCann in Belgium


A supposed sighting of Madeleine McCann in Tongeren, Belgium was reported to the police last weekend.

A woman informed the police of this possible sighting, after seeing a couple, a Dutch-speaking man and an English-speaking woman with a small girl at a roadside cafe.

Police are now conducting DNA tests on a bottle and straw that Madeleine assumed to have drank from. Results of the tests will be known next week.

That's great news for the parents, really, but am I the only one that worries about all the other missing kids? I am not being disrespectful in any way, just like to keep a wider view. I know everyone says "you wouldn't feel that way if your daughter went missing", and they are probably right, but I probably would not get the same quality search either. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why this is more tragic than half of the stuff I see on my local news. God that sound horrible, but horrible news is all they show on TV these days! Gosh I am being snarky today :)

I sympathize and send my prayers out, hopefully this is the break they are looking for.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Kid Trick of The Day - Know When to Trust the Guides

I've been worried lately that my daughter is not learning colors, numbers, the rate that she is supposed to. I can tell her a color of an object, she repeats it, then I ask her the color again right away...and says a completely different one! Argh! I was getting so frustrated about this that I forgot to look up the "normal" ages or milestones this occurs at. The point is, I would have saved myself a lot of frustration, and my daughter excessive color learning sessions if I would have just gotten a general guideline! As you may tell, I am not a huge fan of those books that tell you what is normal or not, without even telling you the standard deviation for these findings. The point is, it is good to have approximate values on hand in case you go on a developmental rampage (also applies to stool appearance, sleep positions, and strange behaviours) :)

Potential Health Risks Of Plastic Drink Bottles

Wow, learn something new everyday. I would definately be concerned over this more than the fact that Pepsi uses tap water! A compound used in the manufacture and lining of many products, including baby bottles and bottled water, may pose certain health hazards.

From Science Daily

"An independent panel of scientists convened by the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) will review recent scientific data and expects to reach conclusions regarding whether or not exposure to a widely used chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA) is hazardous to human development or reproduction."
Interesting. So what kind of evidence is there pointing to the effects this chemical has in humans? First a little background. From the limited research I undertook I found that BPA "Bisphenol A was investigated in the 1930s during the search for synthetic estrogens. At that time, another synthetic compound, diethylstilbestrol, was determined to be more powerful than estrogen itself, so bisphenol A was not used as a synthetic estrogen." (Wikipedia) I cannot find if any human trials were done, but it was being investigated as a stynthetic estrogen.
"Bisphenol A is known to be an estrogen receptor agonist which can activate estrogen receptors leading to similar physiological effects as the body's own estrogens.[3] The first evidence of the estrogenicity of bisphenol A came from experiments in the 1930s in which it was fed to ovariectomized rats.[4][5] Some hormone disrupting effects in studies on animals and human cancer cells have been shown to occur at levels as low as 2-5 ppb (parts per billion). It has been claimed that these effects lead to health problems such as, in men, lowered sperm count and infertile sperm. Recent studies have confirmed that bisphenol A exposure during development has carcinogenic effects and produce precursors of breast cancer.[6] Bisphenol A has been shown to have developmental toxicity, carcinogenic effects, and possible neurotoxicity. [7][8] Recent studies suggest it may also be linked to obesity by triggering fat-cell activity. [9] " (Wikipedia)
Sounds scary doesn't it? I am not trying to be one sided, and freak out over every little thing a la hypochondriac lady. Everyone knows that every chemical in the world has some group saying that it is killing us all slowly and painfully, so here is the flip side of the account:
"In January 2006, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment announced that polycarbonate baby bottles are safe, stating that published research is "difficult to interpret and [is] occasionally contradictory".[15] A subsequent study by the European Union’s Food Safety Authority reached a similar conclusion, and sharply criticized the methodology used in many of the low-dose exposure studies on rodents.[16]

Bisphenol A has been known to leach from the plastic lining of canned foods and, to a lesser degree, plastics which are cleaned with harsh detergents or used to contain acidic or high temperature liquids.[17] Infants fed with concentrated (canned) infant formula have among the highest exposures of anyone eating canned foods. Infants fed canned formula with polycarbonate bottles can consume quantities of bisphenol A up to 13 µg/kg/day.[18] The chemical is found in most people who live in developed countries at low concentrations. Debate continues on what is the safe limit of this compound. Within the United States, an exposure of up to 50 µg/kg/day (50 ppb) is considered safe - satisfying a thousand-fold margin of safety[13] - by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.[19]"(Wikipedia)

If anything I hope this makes everyone be more aware of the chemicals round us. I am not saying if this one is OK or not, the studies are still being done, but it is good to have an awareness. The Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction is performing a study right now (see Science Daily link) and the draft report is available at

Monday, August 6, 2007

Where's the us time?

Making that last post made me realize that I am full on in mommy mode still. I do not have any classes right now during this part of the summer, so I am with my daughter all the time everyday, and it is showing I think :) My husband is gone most of the day working in a laboratory trying to get experience for grad school and/or work. Weekends are off though, so I guess we are kind of living up to the typical "American Nuclear Family". Just need 1.5 more kids!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Top 10 Kid Songs Stuck in My Head

I sometimes wonder if I have my own taste in music anymore. All of my memory spaces are getting taken over by the horribly catchy kid's tunes my daughter loves. She DID like to listen to The Flaming Lips - The Gash once, but it is rare that I get to listen to my own music when traveling around town! As soon as we get in the car it's "Moogeese Mommy!" Notice the way the syllables are all discombobulated. After correcting her pronunciation I concede and on it goes. So here is the top 10 songs that I can sing beginning to end with nary a pause, courtesy of my daughter.

1 - I want to be A Puppy Dog
From: Welcome To Ralph's World

2 - At The Bottom of the Sea
From: Welcome To Ralph's World

3 - Baby Beluga
From: Baby Beluga

4 - Oh You Beautiful Doll

5 - Purple People Eater

6 - Jeepers Creepers

7 - See You Later Alligator

8 - Hey Moe
From: Rock and Bop by the Doodlebops!

9 - Faces
From: Rock and Bop by the Doodlebops!

10 - Willoughby Wallaby Woo
From: The Singable Songs Collection

Quirky Discipline Rules That Work

A handy, and very useful, list of rules. From surprisingly: Quirky discipline rules that work. Give it a read!

Story Highlights

  • Clarity, enforceability make quirky parenting rules work
  • Successful rules usually give kids some measure of control
  • Parents have to be consistent for any rule to work
My favorites are:

"I don't work past 8 p.m.

Goal: Regular bedtimes and time off for you

You can't just announce a rule to your husband and kids that says, "Bedtime has to go really smoothly so I can get a break at the end of the day." It won't happen. But if you flip the problem and make a rule about you instead of telling everyone what they have to do, it all falls neatly -- and miraculously -- into place...."

"I can't understand you when you speak like that

Goal: Stopping whining, screaming, general rudeness

This one requires almost religious consistency of application to work effectively. But, essentially, you simply proclaim incomprehension when your child orders (rather than asks) you to do something, whines, or otherwise speaks to you in a way you don't like. Whispering this helps..."

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Kid Trick of the Day

This may be old news to some, but a sticker chart can be a great learning tool. Neither my husband or myself had one growing up, so we were skeptical at first, but once our daughter (2 years, for reference) saw the basic concept, she is eager to do the tasks required for a sticker. Here's how it works:

1. Set guidelines for your child

For example, at the moment our daughter gets a sticker whenever she cleans up after she is finished playing or when she willingly goes to the potty when she needs to use the bathroom. She doesn't pull down her pants yet, but she would not even be on the potty if it were not for the sticker chart!
2. Agree on what constitutes a sticker
Our daughter only gets stickers when she cleans up completely. She tried to put a few things away at first and would follow us around saying "mommy, sticker, daddy, sticker, mommy, sticker, daddy, sticker..." and so on ad infinitum. We were consistent however and now she proudly shows us that she has cleaned up.
3. Give a reward after a set number of stickers
We just use a piece of construction paper, and when it is filled from left to right she gets a reward. This can be as simple as a baking project with mommy or daddy, or sometimes she gets to pick out something from the Salvation Army, or sometimes she can pick out a movie to rent/buy, or sometimes...well you get the picture!

Thats the basic outline!

Friday, August 3, 2007

On the Issue of Stem Cells

I figured I would do my duty and help educate more people about stem cells. I am of the firm belief that stem cells are a promising area of research. If you have moral, ethical, religious, etc...issues about stem cells, there are now ways that may be available soon to produce stem cells without fertilization. These technologies will help better your children's life.

Recommended reading:

Full text answers about stem cell research

Researchers create embryonic stemm cells from unfertilized eggs

Child Eats Mother's LSD

Child Eats Mother's LSD

DISCLAIMER: Before quoting the text of the article, I would just like to say that some of this story seems dubious at best. First off I do not know what kind of mother would just throw something that looked like candy on the coffee table, within a kids reach, and then proceed to "crash". Can anyone be that dumb? (oh wait, yes they can) It doesn't matter if it was LSD or acetaminophen, the kid probably survived some other candy eating incidents before this! Parenting issues aside, the article states that the kid was intravenously detoxified in the hospital. This is simply untrue, there is no such thing for LSD. At most they might have injected the kid with thorazine or Versed to knock him out for 12 hours or so. So, in other words, don't take the article at face value.

"WEST BEND, Wis. -- A West Bend mother faces charges including child abuse after police said her 2-year-old daughter ate LSD-laced candy that her mother left out.

According to the criminal complaint, 23-year-old Donielle Maki bought 10 hits of LSD on Tuesday that came in the form of Sweet Tarts.

It says Maki took the LSD home with her, put her daughter to bed and passed out on the couch.

The complaint said when Maki woke up the next morning, her daughter was holding one of the LSD-laced Sweet Tarts in her hand and said, "I like these, Mommy."

That's when Maki grabbed them from the toddler's hand, the complaint says, and saw that only eight of the 10 candies were left.

The West Bend Police Department was called in when the 2-year-old was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital to be treated for accidental ingestion of LSD.

The criminal complaint says she was transferred to Children's Hospital, where she received intravenous detoxification.

Maki faces charges including child abuse, possession with intent to deliver LSD and possession of narcotic drugs.

She's scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 22.

The child has been released from the hospital and is with her father, 12 News reported."

Funniest Thing I've Read all Week

Stumbling around on the internet I came across an extremely funny livejournal post. In a nutshell, someone asked/told this person, in the bathroom of McDonalds, "Wait here for that lady to get out of that stall and ask her to help you go potty, while I go order the food." Really go read it, it is so much funnier than that statement.

Amazon Grocery?

So Amazon sells grocery store items now. I was skeptical at first, but this looks to be both a time saver and money saver, if you know how to shop. I think the free shipping on the Subscribe and Save program is what really changed my mind:

"When you order through our Subscribe & Save program,
• automatically receive a new shipment of the item in intervals you select--every one, two, three, or six months
• get a discount on our everyday price
• get free shipping on every Subscribe & Save shipment
• pay for each order only when the item is shipped
• have the option to cancel at any time "

This is straight from Amazon. It seems that if you look around for good deals, and know the relative price of similar products at your local grocery store (ahem, walmart), that you may end up saving quite a bit. Also it gives you more time to review your purchases, and you can set up automatic delivery each month. I may just give it a try and let everyone know how it goes.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hexadecimal Graffiti

I know it is not kid related per se, but the inner geek in me was intrigued by the following hexadecimal code written in the stall of a biology department bathroom. Intrigued I set out to decode it. I brought my camera to school, sat down on the toilet, and proceeded to take pictures of this art work. It took about three tries to get a clear picture, and it would be interesting to know if anyone saw the camera flashes in the hallway. Decoded, it simply states "Progress Sucks" . Clever, but it would have been much better if they used binary!

EDIT: Here's an ASCII Code chart:
ASCII CODE Chart. Hexadecimal is a base-8 number system, binary is base-2, and decimal is base-10. Each letter has a corresponding value, and upper case letters are different than lower case letters. These codes are standardized so that the value is the same on my computer as it is on your computer. Hope this clears it up!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Oh noes! Advertisements are invading my home!

This post courtesy of Dad!

Arriving home from university today, after being gone 11 hours, with very little time to see my daughter before she goes to bed, I am greeted in the most spectacular way when I entered the door tonight. Imagine if you will, closing the door behind yourself, and suddenly your daughter runs up to you proclaiming "BOM CHICA WOW WOW!" I stand at the door dumb struck. My 2 year old daughter has just greeted me with sexual innuendo from an Axe commercial, and not only that has pronounced it nearly flawlessly. My wife assures me that she learned it from seeing it once during the day and has been repeating it since. Something like this is innevitable I guess, but it sure was funny, and it will be something I remember for a long time.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Top 5 Things That Still Confuse Me About Parenting

The following subjects are topics that continually cross my mind and make me wonder, am I doing what is best for my child? Is my child developing in a healthy and normal manner? I believe overall it is bet for a child if the parent worries less and just lets their child grow. Still it would be nice to have more scientific answers about some of this stuff. On the flip side, not knowing everything is part of being human. I don't offer any concrete answers, but I do believe that the more opinions gathered on these subjects the better. It has never done anyone good to blindly follow their beliefs without at least listening to the opinions of others.


This is a great topic that is sure divide the masses. It is not one we should shy away from, but it brings so many connotations with it. How much is too much? How little is too little? Everyone knows a kid that seems to never have been disciplined in their life, and really, do you like the results? Do you really think this child will grow up to be a well adjusted adult? I think it is safe to say that some discipline is needed in a child's life. The question is on how much, the severity, and at what times do you discipline your child. Spanking seems to be out of the question for most people, but what if your child does something really, really bad? Say...throw's a glass at your head? Luckily my child has not done anything so horrible to warrant a spanking yet (in my mind at least), but I am still not sure where I draw the line.


Ahh, mommy's little helper. I won't have much to say about this except that I try to limit TV time just because of the commercials. A catchy commercial tune heard one time will be instantly burned into my child's memory as evidenced by her repertoire of product jingles. This is something that I am just uncomfortable with. That being said she seems to have had her numbers and letters reinforced by Sesame Street. Also to take into consideration is the cultural cues she is getting from TV. Hopefully she will not come to some false expectations about what she should be in this country. This one's a toss up. For more information you can visit one of the many sights spouting the dangers of too much TV such as KidsHealth


How much time do you play with your child? Most Americans that had a lot of free time would say "constantly!" But is this much attention really necessary? Does this stimmy the development of independence? Imagination? I wonder about this a lot, but I would also hate to spend too little playtime with my child. Some studies have shown that "The idea that adults should be playing with their kids is a modern invention." Maybe this is a case of everything is better in moderation?


Speaking of playtime, with the plethora of toys out there, which do you get? During the first year of life, we bought our child "developmental toys" and ones that won awards. You know what happened to these toys? They were ignored. Don't know how they are helping her develop if they are not looked at. We still buy her the occasional "smartie" toy, like the LeapFrog Little Leaps Learning System for toddlers, which she loves, but most of the time it is a crap shoot whether she will like it or not when we get it home. Lately we have been letting her pick out her own toys at the Salvation Army. Not only does this save us a ton of money (which we are always in need of), but the toys get played with a whole lot more!


With all this talk of increasing your kids smarts, this brings us to the topic that a ton of parents are worried about. Is my kid smart enough for his/her age? I've checked her progress on charts, read books, ignored them for a while, read them again. Sometimes she follows them, other times she's behind, other times she's ahead. Who knows what's right or wrong, we are all individuals and not automatons. We do not develop the same. Still, one hopes their child is normal at least!

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Mom's Dream Come True!

"Our Kidsongs DVDs are kid-friendly. Just put the disc in the machine, and it plays again and again. A mom's dream come true!"

This is what I heard the first time this DVD played all the way through, right before it started over again. Parents, do you really want your child glued to the TV for an endless day of snarky little photogenic kids singing about being sailors, or having a blond kid with a comb over confessing his newfound love for puppies?

I know there are parents out there that think this is a godsend, but really, a company that caters to kids in a semi-educational manner should not encourage these kind of parents. Besides the songs are too darn catchy, especially for us adults!

Egotistical parents

Cibophobia...The fear of food. But what do you call the fear or disgust against food, when it is on a baby, another kids baby at that? That is the question that I have been pondering since I went to order more Baby Faces books from Amazon. Apparently there are some who shrivel in absolute disgust at the sight of food on other kids.

First, for reference, a representative photo from the book Baby Faces Board Book Eat (Baby Faces):

This is the cover image and it is a good representative of the rest of the images in this book. Now I can attest to the fact that a child will often look like this after feeding himself at this young age. I do not find anything remotely offensive about these images.

Now, let's here what other people have to say that have reviewed this book:

" I ordered four Baby Faces books from eBay and was really excited about getting them. However, I'm relisting them immediately due to huge disappointment. My husband couldn't even look at the book the pictures are so disgusting. This book isn't about babies eating. This book is about babies with smeared food all over their faces which was clearly done intentionally by the photographers. I don't know about you, but I don't really think it's cute when a baby that isn't mine has unknown food smeared all over them. Yuck. It's cute when it's your own baby, but this book is just gross. My son threw every one of them down and wouldn't look at them. Another thing is the babies are not cute whatsoever. There are a couple, but you figure they would try to actually find pretty babies. Apparently not. It's bad enough I have to see smashed peas in their mouths without adding their lack of appeal on top of it. Sorry, but this book is just THAT GROSS. "

Not only is the book disgusting but the babies are not pretty enough! No appeal from these kids! I have heard of adoring your own kid, but this takes it to the next level folks.

"The previous reviewer had it right on. You would think that they couldn't make pictures of a baby revolting, but this book succeeds in doing just that! Very unappealing photography as well: the color in the photos is very muddy and cheaply done. And the pictures themselves are just disgusting! My 11 month old daughter, who usually delights in looking at other babies, had no interest in this book. This one should be taken off of the market! "

I will be the first to say that my daughter absolutely loved these books, and admittidly there are a couple of good reviews present also. I would in fact recommend this book, and others like it. It is just the fact that there are some, who have children, could be so disgusted by these books. This is something that I would like more opinions on because it absolutely baffles me. I am not condemning anyones opinions by any means, but isn't making a mess part of growing up and learning?