Monthly Archives: June 2007

Veggie Booty RECALL

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by Stacey

Well, it’s happened again. Another staple in our home has been pulled from the market. This time it’s Veggie Booty snack food due to risk of salmonella contamination.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to consumers on June 28th to avoid eating Veggie Booty and to throw away any packages. This from the FDA news release:

This warning is based on 52 reports of illness across 17 states, beginning in March 2007. Almost all the illnesses have occurred in children under 10 years old, with the most cases in toddlers. Most persons had reported bloody diarrhea; four were hospitalized. FDA learned of the illnesses on June 27 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted an investigation of the illnesses with state and local health officials. The outbreak is considered likely to be ongoing.

Salmonella typically causes diarrhea (may be bloody); the diarrhea is often accompanied by abdominal cramps and fever. Symptoms typically begin within one to four days after exposure to the bacteria. In infants, persons with poor underlying health and those with weakened immune systems, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.

I will never forget my first encounter with Veggie Booty. Sage was about seven months old and we were at a park with a few other moms and their babies. Somehow I ended up holding the bag of Booty when all of a sudden I realized that all of the babies had turned to me and in their own desperate ways, were all attempting to get to the bag. It was like a horror movie. All these babies coming after me at once. AGH!!!

Later I read this funny article in Salon about Veggie Booty, in which the author calls it “crack for babies.” There’s something about this stuff that really appeals to babies. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what. I think it’s gross. Really sad to hear that it made people sick, especially young kids. If you can’t trust Thomas the train and Veggie Booty, who can you trust?

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Filed under baby, food, nutrition, safety, Veggie Booty recall

Thank God for Tina Fey

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[photo credit: Babble.com]

by Stacey

I just spent the last half-hour reading celebrity gossip on Babble, trying to find something I cared enough about to post here. Despairing of another story about Denise Richards (Who the hell cares about her? I mean really.), I finally came across this picture of Tina Fey and her daughter Alice. Her daughter is cute. Like all babies. Well, not all. Some babies aren’t so cute. Hers is cute though.

But Tina. She kicks ass. She’s one of those rare stars who disproves the sexist and extremely obnoxious idea that women aren’t funny.

Being funny isn’t easy. I know, because I try. I’m constantly looking for the joke. Often I can’t find it. Sometimes I find it, but it’s too late. When I do hit the mark and get the laugh (even if it’s from the family dog), I can ride the wave of satisfaction for the rest of the day.

Lucille Ball was my childhood hero. As I got older, I have vivid memories of watching Lily Tomlin and Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live. Later, it was Tina who took command of Weekend Update, both as a head writer and as on-air, co-anchor with Jimmy Fallon . I love these women.

In the photo above, Tina and Alice are on the set of a new film called Baby Mama, about a woman who hires a surrogate mother so she can have a baby and keep her career on track. Actually, that sounds really, kinda, awfully fraught. If she can find the humor in that, she’ll deserve more than praise from rinky-dink me.

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Filed under baby, celebrity, comedy, entertainment, media, movies, television, Tina Fey

Life After Cookie Monster

by Stacey

Recently my son began watching Sesame Street, after I broke the news that there was a show to go along with characters he was seeing in some books we were given. Now he can do a roaring rendition of the Cookie Monster classic, “C is for Cookie.” My husband and I have taken to singing it to ourselves while watering the garden or washing the dishes. “C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me…” It’s really a catchy tune.

All would be well were it not for a conversation I had recently with another parent about TV shows for kids. Her take on it, after raising a stepson who is now a teenager, is that once kids hit elementary school, all of these cute, harmless shows for preschoolers give way to God-awful programs that turn your kid into a stick-wielding warmonger. I have scant awareness of these shows. Is she talking about Power Rangers or Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles? Whatever it is these days, my guess is, I’m not into it.

This got me wondering about how my husband and I are going to handle the issue of entertainment as our kids get older. I can see it’s easy for us now to control what he sees. For Christ’s sake, the boy didn’t even know there was a Sesame Street show until I told him about it. Obviously that’s not going to last long.

It’s clear that the entertainment industry does not concern itself with what is good or not good for our children. There’s a study in this month’s issue of the journal Pediatrics by researchers at UCLA that found movies that are rated PG-13 are riddled with violence that has little or no emotional or physical consequences. Interestingly, the researchers said they focused on the PG-13 rating because it has become the repository for big-budget action films. Just the kind of movie that might really appeal to young adolescents.

Call me Tipper, but I think it does matter what they watch. Another study published in 2003 in the British medical journal The Lancet showed a strong connection between young adolescents seeing smoking in movies and then starting up themselves. The finding was most pronounced among teens whose parents did not smoke.

But what about violence in movies or on television? Does watching people kick, punch, or even kill each other make kids want to act in likeminded ways? The smoking study suggests it might, even if parents preach pacifism. So what do we do? Our kids live in a media-saturated culture. It doesn’t seem realistic to try to keep them away from it all. How do we shelter them from images that are too graphic when society at large doesn’t seem to care?

An interesting aside, in researching this post I learned that movie ratings are set by a Ratings Board, made up entirely of parents. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, the criteria for being on the board is the following:

There are no special qualifications for Board membership, except that the members must have a shared parenthood experience, must be possessed of an intelligent maturity, and most of all, have the capacity to put themselves in the role of most American parents so they can view a film and apply a rating that most parents would find suitable and helpful in aiding their decisions about their children and what movies they see.

If the UCLA study is telling the truth, these guys are blowing it.

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Filed under children's health, entertainment, family life, fantasy, kids, media, movies, parenting, safety, teenager, television

Beach Woes

by Stacey

“Sudden Death from Collapsing Sand Holes” is the title of a letter to the editor in last week’s New England Journal of Medicine. According to the letter, the authors found “52 documented fatal and nonfatal cases, occurring primarily in the past 10 years, in which persons were submerged after the collapse of a dry-sand hole excavated for recreational purpose.” In other words, don’t let your kid dig for China no more.

I wasn’t able to read the entire letter online, but an article in the Washington Post quoted the authors, a father-son team of doctors:

Sand hole collapses occur horrifyingly fast, said Dr. Bradley Maron of Harvard Medical School, the report’s lead author.

“Typically, victims became completely submerged in the sand when the walls of the hole unexpectedly collapsed, leaving virtually no evidence of the hole or location of the victim,” wrote Maron, an internal medicine resident.

They report 31 recreational sand hole deaths since 1985 in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand and another 21 cases in which people were rescued from a collapse, in some cases by witnesses who performed CPR.

People naturally worry about splashier threats, like shark attacks. However, the Marons’ research found there were 16 sand hole or tunnel deaths in the U.S. from 1990-2006 compared with 12 fatal shark for the same period, according to University of Florida statistics.

Well, you can’t blame the media. Sand burials just aren’t as sexy as shark bites. You can thank Jaws for that.

The letter goes on to say that the the victims were mostly boys who were twelve years old on average. The advice: don’t let your kids play in the sand unattended and don’t let them get into a hole that is deeper than their knees.

Allrighty, add that one to skin cancer and drowning on the list of things to be terrified of on an otherwise lovely day at the beach.

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Filed under beach, boys, children's health, family life, fears, kids, parenting, safety, summer

The Open Post

I thought our first week of open posting went really well. Thanks to all who commented last week. For those who are jumping in, we’re trying out a new feature called The Open Post on Mondays. It’s an opportunity for anyone to comment, ask a question, or offer a link on the topics of parenting, marriage, self, kids, etc. We’re using the comment section as the forum.

One thing I liked about last week’s Open Post was that people contributed to it throughout the week. So if something occurs to you later in the week, don’t hesitate to put it out there. Everyone will be able to see that there is a new addition to the post in the Recent Comments section on the side of the home page.

I’m looking forward to hearing about what’s going on in your world!

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Sasha is Screwed

by Stacey

According to a new study, firstborn sons have higher IQs than their younger brothers. This finding is more likely the result of the eldest’s social rank within the family, the study authors concluded, rather than biological inheritance.

The researchers examined military draft records of over 240,000 Norwegian men. They found that firstborns scored 2.3 IQ points higher than their next oldest brothers. In turn, the second-rank brothers scored 1.1 points on average higher than the third brother in line. The researchers only included brothers who were raised together.

This from a Reuters story on the study.

To distill potential biological effects from social effects, Kristensen’s team dug up the young mens’ family birth records and found families whose first-born or first- and second-born children had died before the age of one year.

Men who were raised as the eldest, regardless of their birth order in the family had IQ scores that matched their first-born peers. The same was true for men who were raised or born second sons. The research was conducted by Petter Kristensen and colleagues at the University of Oslo and reported in the journals Science and Intelligence.

The results led the researchers to conclude that the family environment, rather than gene pool, made the difference.

Various researchers have suggested that older siblings might benefit from a larger share of family resources, the process of tutoring their younger brothers and sisters, or from expectations placed on their social rank.

“Things like intellectual resources (and) stimulation from the parents to the child seem to be very important,” Kristensen said in a telephone interview.

This is depressing news. Poor Sasha! My little baby doesn’t stand a chance. I can see it already. All those books I read to Sage when it was just him and me with the whole day ahead of us. For Sasha? Not happening. I’m too busy watching Sage jump off the couch, again, and listening to him belt out “Mr. Tamborine Man” on his ukelele.

And all those walks where I’d stop to let Sage look at and smell the flowers? No more. Now I’m bombing down the street with Sasha hanging on for dear life in the stroller while I try to chase down Sage whose taken off on his tricycle.

On the other hand, Sasha gets lots of input that Sage didn’t have as a baby. Sasha has young kids around him all the time who talk to him and show him stuff. Lately Sage likes to teach him how to run a Hot Wheels car on the floor or how to fly a toy airplane and make it crash! Sasha loves all this interaction and I think he gets a lot out of it.

And anyway, before I jump off a bridge I’m suddenly wondering how much does 2.3 IQ points matter anyway? And furthermore, how much does your IQ score matter either? I don’t even know what my IQ is and I don’t have the sense that anyone in the world has ever used it for anything. I’ll try to read more books to Sasha and to teach him to stop and smell the flowers, but maybe I won’t sweat two lousy points.

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Filed under baby, boys, child development, education, family life, IQ, kids, nature vs. nurture

Katie Gets a Good Haircut

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by Stacey

I like Katie Holmes’ new haircut. I think she looks stylish and sexy. There are rumors flying that she’s pregnant again. Her life seems to have spun out. Time was, it would have been great to be hooked up with Tom Cruise. But that was circa 1986 when he was Top Gun tough.

Now he’s just a creep. It’s sad really. Katie could have had a cool celebrity life. But instead, from random photo shots taken by people lurking in the bushes, she seems pretty miserable. (Of course if there were people following me around all day snapping my photo I would look pissy a lot of the time too.)

So I’m glad for Katie that she’s got a good new haircut. I know it can really lift your spirits. And if she’s pregnant, all the more. Nothing like having great hair while your body goes to hell in a handbasket.

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Filed under beauty, celebrity, Katie Holmes, marriage, media