Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mercury Alert

I really do think that children, if no one else, should be exempt from corporate profiteering and denial. I know my average reader understands how dangerous toxins like mercury are. My readers are the type of people that go out of their way to provide a safe & health environment for their own or other children. Sometimes I think it is some sort of game, survival of the fittest, the goal being more then just feeding, clothing, playing with, listening and caring for your or other children. It's as if "Corporate America" views consumers as wallets on legs, looking for products to solve their needs. Corporations say we have the solution, though they used the cheapest ingredient possible, they may contain toxins, but it is the parent's responsibility to figure out if the products are safe.

This is a quote out of the Washington Post.

Consumer Alert
"The Food and Drug Administration is urging the government to amend its advisory that women and children should limit how much fish they eat, saying that the benefits of seafood outweigh the health risks and that most people should eat more fish, even if it contains mercury."

"The FDA sent its draft report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, to the White House Office of Management and Budget as part of the FDA's effort to update the existing health advisory. The report argued that nutrients in fish, including omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and other minerals could boost a child's IQ by three points."

What does this mean?

These are the claimed benefits for eating fish; Omega-3 fatty acids & Selenium. These benefits are claimed to equal 3 IQ points. Mind you you can get these nutrients in other foods.

Are these three IQ points suppose to compensate for mercury poisoning? I don't think they do. I would think that the three point of IQ are then neutralized by the IQ deficit cause from the mercury then add a decrease in language skills, memory and attention. Here are some quotes about Methylemercury on Wikipedia.

"Several studies indicate that methylmercury is linked to subtle developmental deficits in children exposed in-utero such as loss of IQ points, and decreased performance in tests of language skills, memory function and attention deficits."

"Ingested methylmercury is readily and completely absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. It is mostly found complexed with free cysteine and with proteins and peptides containing that amino acid. The methylmercuric-cysteinyl complex is recognized by amino acid transporting proteins in the body as methionine, another essential amino acid.[5] Because of this mimicry, it is transported freely throughout the body including across the blood-brain barrier and across the placenta, where it is absorbed by the developing fetus. Because of this mimicry and its strong binding to proteins methylmercury is not readily eliminated."

"Fish and shelfish have a natural tendency to concentrate mercury in their bodies, often in the form of methylmercury, a highly toxic organic compound of mercury. Species of fish that are high on the food chain, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore tuna, and tilefish contain higher concentrations of mercury than others."

The EPA have some history, concerns and answered questions on their site HERE.

In regards to the human body and mercury, one quote from the EPA's site is as follows.

"If you regularly eat types of fish that are high in methylmercury, it can accumulate in your blood stream over time. Methylmercury is removed from the body naturally, but it may take over a year for the levels to drop significantly. Thus, it may be present in a woman even before she becomes pregnant. This is the reason why women who are trying to become pregnant should also avoid eating certain types of fish."

Here is an interesting note to leave you with...Two people each with their own agenda, one science one money. Which would you believe?

"Kathryn Mahaffey, who was the EPA's top mercury scientist until she left the agency in August to become a lecturer at George Washington University School of Public Health, said the FDA used an 'oversimplified approach' that could increase the public's exposure to mercury.

But Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute, applauded the FDA's efforts. 'This is a science-based approach,' he said. 'And you start to see a picture emerge that shows the clear benefits of eating seafood outweigh the risks of a trace amount of mercury in fish."


Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Holidays

I hope all my readers are finding time to enjoy the holiday merriment. We have three holidays approaching: The first night of Hanukkah on Dec 21st which is also the first day of winter, Christmas Eve and Day on Dec 24th & 25th, and Kwanzaa on Dec 26th.

I look at my little family and I have to admit that I am tempted to celebrate all the holidays not just my personal, traditional ones. I think it is because I am grateful to live in an area that is, not tolerant but instead embraces all the great things that different cultures offer. Yes, I am a "One Human Race" type of person. To me the diversity is enriching and provides a chance to be closer to friends, by learning about their personal beliefs and cultures. So, if you know someone who celebrates one of the mentioned holidays or any other, take not just a moment, to ask them about their history and culture.

Happy Holidays

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tiny Prints

Starting today Tiny Prints is offering the following coupon codes. Just enter the code when asked at checkout. These offers are good through 11/26/08.

10FREE = $10 off + FREE shipping on orders $99 or more
15FREE = $15 off + FREE shipping on orders $149 or more

Fuel Supply - Your Utility Bill

I was reading through the Forbes magazine I picked up at my local library. It is a Special Issue called "Energy + Genius", page 46 caught my eye.

There is a chart labeled, "What can you Afford?". "Wind, Coal Gas and hydropower take the smallest bite out of consumers' monthly electric bills." It claims. The chart not only shows the minimum cost per month per utility, it also shows the range a consumer can pay in cents per kw/h.

Examples are as follows:

Coal and gas both cost an estimated 5-6 cents per kw/h
Hydropower has an estimated 3-10 cents per kw/h

There can be quite a range in cost. It does not say why there is a range but I would guess that the further the consumer lives from the power supply the higher the cost. There may be other reasons too.

Other examples:

Biomass ----- est. 4 to 12 cents per kw/h
Wind ----------est. 5 to 8 cents per kw/h
Geothermal --est. 6 to 10 cents per kw/h
Nuclear -------est. 11 to 14 cents per kw/h

I would like to point out that, though cost vary widely, Nuclear still cost more per kw/h then all the other examples listed above !

Solar is listed at a high cost though, at 21 to almost 40 cents per kw/h, hopefully it will come down a bit.

The information begged a question, considering nuclear needs special hazardous material disposal procedures and takes more dollars from the consumer, why build more of them? Why not build lower cost windmills?

Windmills are not hazardous, or need special hazardous material landfill disposal when they are taken out of service. Windmill electricity even cost less. Landfills take up space and cost the tax payer money, about $700,000 per acre. The price goes up for hazardous material. That is your state taxes at work there.

The cost gets passed on to the consumer in higher utility bills, higher taxes due to more landfills and the dead land that is now no longer available for development into somethings value added like farming.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Cards

I will attempt to order and send out the greetings cards I never got around to last year. Tiny Prints offers a range of products including gift tags, greeting cards, invitations and even tin mints with a message from the giver. They even have the cards that can include a favorite photo. There selection is wide with chic, fun or elegant choices. My favorite is the Asian inspired tree branch cards. Tiny Prints 2008 Holiday Cards even have an "Eco-Friendly Holiday Card" selection. Find the category on their main page.

Holiday Fun: Midnight
Their gift tags are decorated with a festive snowman design. Send them out to celebrate the holidays with lots of fun.

Christmas Dream: Mint
A delightfully whimsical invitation in chocolate sets a festive scene. Accented with snowy bubbles around a Christmas tree, it's the perfect way to start off your holiday season.

Green Leaves
Make a bold statement with these greeting cards. Decorated and personalized, these cards send out your message in an elegant style.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Choosing a Pesticide Free School

Many schools have real pest problems. Wasps and ticks are a few examples. But there are alternative ways, natural ways, to get rid of pests. Considering the carcinogenic side effects of the common pesticide sprays why not choose natural pest management choosing? A school can rid themselves of disease carrying pests and not contribute to cancer. This is why I applaud states like Connecticut which has ban pesticide application in and near schools.

"Neuroblastoma Linked to Hormone treated with Pesticides", Epidemiology . Where Neuroblastomas account for 10% of childhood tumors and rates have been increasing over the last 50 years. This was a colaborative study between 6 universities and St. Judes Children's Research Hospital.

"Breast Cancer Linked to Hormone Pesticide Chlordane" This study was performed by Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Lubbock, TX and the US Army Institute of Surgical Research.

S.T.A.T.E Report with 38 citations This is a long report but a few of the quotes are as follows.

"Many components are classified as "inert", which allows them to be kept hidden from the public and not listed on product labels. These are more than just fillers or solvents. "Inert" does not mean "inactive" - some, such as benzene and xylene, are more toxic than listed chemicals.(1,2)"

"Fat soluble pesticides accumulate over time in our bodies, then are released at potentially toxic levels when illness or stress results in our fat reserves being metabolized. A large portion of a woman's lifetime exposure to such pesticides is released in the breast milk for her firstborn child.(37) "

"Some pesticides labeled "bio-degradable" degrade into compounds more dangerous than the original. Examples include Mancozeb, which degrades into a substance that is an EPA-classified probable carcinogen.(6) The pesticide industry also implies that "organic" means safe and natural (for example, "Nature's Lawn"), knowing that the term legally may be applied to any compound containing carbon and hydrogen. ChemLawn and other lawn "care" companies and manufacturers have often been sued for fictitious claims.(5-14)"

"Now it is even being found that chlorpyrifos causes multiple sclerosis.(38)"

"The United States General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has also tried to alert the public to lawn chemical dangers. GAO's undercover team noted many fictitious claims by many in the lawn "care" industry.(35) Many included illegal claims of product safety. Others were just deceiving, such as the ChemLawn claim that a child would have to ingest ten cups of treated grass clippings to equal the toxicity of one baby aspirin. In fact, the real danger is not that people will be grazing the lawn but that most poisonings come from inhaling pesticide residues or absorbing them through the skin.(6,7,10)"

Parents should also note that many schools may not use a commercial supplier. Often the maintenance personnel does the deed. Though, pesticides applied with or without training can lead to the maintenance person also getting exposure to carcinogens along with the students. That does not seem like a good way to keep insurance costs down.

The responsibility for taking care of the student, that develops the cancer, will fall on the parents. When you think about all the pain and suffering the child will go through, not to mention the cost to the parents, why not use an effective alternative?

Student safety should be at the top of the list of requierments when it comes to choosing a school.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Vintage Hair Clips

Vintage Japanese Barrettes

From: Craftsbury Kids

These barrettes are hand-crafted from vintage Japanese silk kimonos and are shaped as "ume" or Japanese plum blossoms. Plum blossoms are a favorite motif in Japan representing early springtime. Each barrette is one-of-a-kind. Color will vary. Made in the USA.
$16 Per Barrette.

Kimono is the traditional dress of Japan, still worn today on special occasions. The making of a kimono is extremely labor-intensive. Only the finest silk is chosen to be carefully hand dyed and embroidered.
Then, the fabric is sewn so that no seams are visible. It can take several weeks to sew one kimono, and it's not unusual for the price of a special kimono to exceed ten thousand dollars.

In Japan, kimonos are carefully stored and handed down from generation to generation. When a kimono no longer is worn, it is taken apart with loving care, and given new life as a hair accessory.

Made in:

Wooden Toy Train

Little Engine That Could Wooden Toy Train Set
Little Engine That Could Wooden Toy Train Set
- $ 36.95
We love Watty Piper's classic story around here, so we were thrilled to find this Little Engine That Could train set. This wonderful made in the USA toy is compatible with Thomas and Brio sets. Includes the engine, three cars, and red caboose.

:: Authentically made to last for generations
:: Painted with child-safe paints and sealers
:: Fine Hand Detailing
:: Handmade of reforested birch hardwood
:: Railcars are heavier than other brands

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Teaching Methods II

I listed the below teaching methods in two categories structured and less-structured. Each program would offer a different environment, culture and way of communicating for your child. The other big difference is "modeling". Where Waldorf & Montessori has children modeling the parents & teachers, Reggio Emilio's students model Reporters, Progressive Learner model Scientists.

Less-Structured Teaching Methods
Waldorf - Originated in Germany - Emphasizes creative, child directed learning, protect child from overuse or misuse of technology such as television and computers, education of the whole child, stress the importance of the natural environment, absence of plastic toys and in general, keeping in touch with nature and natural materials, provide a rich variety of art, music, dance, and theater at all ages. Often use stories and puppets during lessons for small children. Older children keep a learning journal.

Note: Academic subjects are not introduced to children, most often, until age 7 or first grade.

Reggio Emilio - Originated in Italy - Emphasizes creative child directed learning, stress the importance of the natural environment, absence of plastic, keeping in touch with nature and natural materials. They emphasize observing and learning from the world around them. A lot of art and creative play. The schools keep an art teacher on site even in preschool. The biggest difference is the child is though of as an independent thinker observing, learning and communicating a lot like a news paper reporter.

Note: Subjects like geography and math are indirectly learned (if the child introduces it) and not in the curriculum.

Structured Teaching Methods

Montessori - Originated in Italy - Emphasizes , protect child from overuse or misuse of technology such as television and computers, education of the whole child, stress the importance of the natural environment, absence of plastic, keeping in touch with nature and natural materials, provide a rich variety of art, music, dance, and theater at all ages.

Note: subjects like geography and math are introduced in preschool

Progressive Learning - United States influenced by Germany - Emphasizes learning like little scientist, problem solving, critical thinking, why things happen, hypothesizing. The teaching methods do adapt as new teaching ideas become available. The method is not stagnant just as the students are not sedentary. One project directed by the teacher might be the phases of water and why a snowball melts when warmed.

Note: Subjects like geography and math are introduced in preschool. Communication, public speaking and presentation skills are developed.

Student ModelStudent Model

Parents/Teachers"Reality-Based" *Professionals
Less StructuredWaldorfReggio Emilio
StructuredMontessoriProgressive Learning

*The term "Reality- Based" is new and is tied to an objective reality that can later come back to kick you in the butt to put it bluntly. It refers to careers that are tied to the natural world including those that are anthropological. A scientist is "reality-based" whereas a stock broker is not. A microbiologist or reporter is "reality - based" a painter or marketer is not. I did not make up the term.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Play Kitchen

I have been looking at play kitchens for my babe. There are many nice wooden sets out there. But a friend of mine recently sent me a link that showed how to assemble a "kitchen" out of Ikea parts for under $50. Check it out here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Holloween Costumes

There are several ways to have a Eco friendly Halloween costume. One could be going to your local consignment shop. Another is to buy costumes that can be handed down in a family. If you buy gender neutral costumes they can be passed on whether the sibling are same sex or not. A girl or a boy can be dressed as a teddy-bear, or astronaut. A parent could also make a costume. But I am not that talented. As an alternative to the make your own ...

Tom Arma is a popular baby photographer who also has a line of baby animal costumes. I really like the Monarch butterfly and Frog Costume.

But how is his costumes green? See quote below.

" Insert printed using recycled paper. Poly Bag is recyclable. 100% of the electricity used to make this Tom Arma costume is offset with 100% Green-e Certified Renewable Energy.

For those of us who lack the talent to stitch cute costumes made from organic or recycled cloth, Tom Arma's are a good alternative.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Voter Registration

Oddly enough people sometimes find themselves not able to vote. This is due to them not being registered anymore !

Whatever the reason: change of address, name change, politicians playing games...etc there is a way to see if you are still registered. For NYS residents you can go and type in your info then click search.

As a side note when it comes to keeping my private ID safe I often close out my browser completely. This includes right clicking on the browser Icon on my desk top and clicking on "quite". I also clear history when prompted to. I wait a few seconds and then reopen my browser. These steps seem time consuming at first...but if you just got done ordering a product on line, gave out your credit card number, or do online banking it is wise to clear your history or another person can easily pull up the last page you were on.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Blogger is a very fickle application to work with. It has blocked me for the last week.

It asked me to change my non-Google email to a Google email but when I tried their 2 step transfer system it would not except the Google email. It said that Google accounts are not set up for control over my blog. What is up with that?

I have heard that I am not the only one that runs into these problems. I think this is what happens when a ton of people all want to use the same application and the company can not keep up with the demand.

Well, if this account ever goes down for more then 30 days you'll probably see the Eco Chic Parents blog pop up on another application.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reggio Emilia

For many who contemplate which teaching method is best for their child; Waldorf, Montessori, or Progressive Learning the process could not be harder. But I am tossing in another choice that may not be available yet in your area but to keep your eyes out for, Reggio Emilio which was developed in the municipal school system. "The town’s approach to early childhood education was born in the 1940s when a young journalist and psychologist named Loris Malaguzzi decided to rebuild the war-ravaged school system."

The NYTimes did a piece on the Garlanded School and the devout following of parents and teachers. It reminds me a bit of the Waldorf but the children are encourage to document their efforts with photos and text and are directed to learn how to stay focused on projects of their own choosing. There is also a "Atrium" central room (like in so many Italian homes) for the children to gather and exchange thoughts and ideas. They even have a separate room for a resident art teacher and the children's creations, photos, and other are prominently displayed throughout the rooms.

It is less structured and does not spend a lot of time on the testing requierments for many competitive kindergartens. You would have to make up that difference at home or with a tutor.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Terra Cycle - Pays to Recycle

Terra Cycle is and impressive company started up by Tom Szaky. They make all natural fertilizer for the home garden. They even use a 100% recycled packaging. See the video about their company Video.

They have started to offer $0.02 per pound of health bar wrappers that you would normally throw out ! They also take cookie packaging and drink pouches. Check out the site Terra Cycle .

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Green Colleges

If you are planning to go back to school or your child will someday will eco friendliness of the school be one of your requirements? Green plays into the culture of a school. And the culture can easily influence the student who attends.

"The Princeton Review added a green rating to its annual ranking of the best colleges. This score measures how 'environmentally friendly, responsible, and committed the institutions are.'"

Monday, September 1, 2008

1989 New York Times

Pesticide residue on food.

Here is a quote from a dated article in the New York Times. I thought it was interesting.

"The summary said the authors had analyzed consumption data and allowable residues of eight chemicals found to cause cancer in laboratory animals on 27 fruits and vegetables. They concluded that as many as 5,500 to 6,200 children among the current preschool population ''may eventually get cancer solely as a result of their exposure before 6 years of age.''

See full article here

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reports & understanding them

One point I would like to make about reading reports. Not all reports are created equal. Here are a few points you should look for in a report.

1. Who wrote it? Was it a University Professor? A Medical University? The Government?
Or someone who is paid to be bias like a radio talk show host, lobbyist or corporation?

2. Population size? or sampling. The population size is important...usually the bigger the better.

3. Was the paper peer reviewed? Did other scientist read and approve the paper?

4. Increased Risk: When a report says there is an increased risk they mean from the "base line" or standard chances of getting something. For instance if the standard rate of getting a cancer is 1 in a 100,000 and the risk went up 60%....then the chances of getting the cancer increased to 1.6 people out of 100,000. If the risk went up 100% then the chances of getting the cancer is 2.0 people out of 100,000 (or 1 in 50,000)

Pesticides & more & more Cancer

Prostate Cancer Risk Doubles in Pesticide Applicators

SOURCE: Occupational Environmental Medicine, 56(1):14-21, 1999

OBJECTIVES: Although the primary hazard to humans associated with pesticide exposure is acute poisoning, there has been considerable concern surrounding the possibility of cancer and other chronic health effects in humans. Given the huge volume of pesticides now used throughout the world, as well as environmental and food residue contamination leading to chronic low level exposure, the study of possible chronic human health effects is important.

METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study, analyzed by general standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of licensed pesticide applicators in Florida compared with the general population of Florida. A cohort of 33,658 (10% female) licensed pesticide applicators assembled through extensive data linkages yielded 1874 deaths with 320,250 person-years from 1 January 1975 to 31 December 1993.

RESULTS: Among male applicators, prostate cancer mortality (SMR 2.38 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.83 to 3.04) was significantly increased. (The increase being from 1.83 to 3.40)

(Mortality ratio of 2.38. This is a ratio of the odds of getting the disease or the multiplier.)

No cases of soft tissue sarcoma were confirmed in this cohort, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was not increased. The number of female applicators was small, as were the numbers of deaths. Mortality from cervical cancer and breast cancer was not increased.

Additional subcohort and exposure analyzes were performed.

Fleming LE, Bean JA, Rudolph M, Hamilton K
Mortality in a cohort of licensed pesticide applicators in Florida.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
University of Miami School of Medicine, FL 33101, USA.

Home, Pesticides & more Cancer

Common Weed Killer (Roundup) Shows Evidence of
Environmental and Health Problems
SOURCE: Organic Gardening, July, 2000

Thousands and thousands of acres in the United States are being sprayed annually with nearly 50 million pounds of Roundup, a broad-spectrum herbicide designed to kill any plant it hits, unless the plant has been genetically altered to tolerate the chemical. Roundup has accounted for half of Monsanto's corporate profits in recent years. Now the company has expanded its Roundup market by genetically engineering "Roundup Ready" soybeans, corn, and other crops. Monsanto's advertising campaigns have convinced many people that Roundup is safe, but the facts simply do not support that conclusion. Independent scientific studies have shown that Roundup is toxic to earthworms, beneficial insects, birds and mammals. Plus it destroys the vegetation on which they depend for food and shelter. And although Monsanto claims that Roundup breaks down into harmless substances, it has been found to be extremely persistent, with residue absorbed by subsequent crops over a year after application. Roundup show adverse effects in all standard categories of toxicological testing, including medium-term toxicity, long-term toxicity, genetic damage, effects on reproduction, and carcinogenicity. Here is some of the research that demonstrates the ways that Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, adversely affects plants and animals:

In a study conducted by T.B. Moorman and colleagues at the USDA Southern Weed Science Laboratory in Stoneville, Mississippi, glyphosate reduced soybeans' and clover's ability to fix nitrogen. A study conducted by G.S. Johal and J.E. Rahe of the Center for Pest Management at Simon Frase University in Burnaby, British Columbia, found that glyphosate made bean plants more susceptible to disease. At Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, D. Estok and colleagues found that glyphosate reduces the growth of beneficial soil-dwelling mycorrhizal fungi.

Moving up to mammals, sperm production in rabbits was diminished by 50 percent when they were exposed to glyphosate, in research conducted by M.I. Youset and colleagues at the University of Alexandria in Egypt and the University of Tromso in Norway.

Brand-new evidence suggests that Roundup may cause cancer. The study, published in Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis (vol. 31 pp. 55-59, 1998), found that an unidentified chemical in Roundup caused genetic damage in the livers and kidneys of mice exposed to the herbicide. The researchers believe additional experiments are needed to determine which chemical in the Roundup mixture is causing the damage. They point out that this will be very difficult because "the precise composition of the not available due to protection by patent regulation." In other words, Monsanto doesn't have to reveal to the public exactly what chemicals are in Roundup.

In California, where pesticide-related illness must be reported, Roundup's active ingredient (glyphosate) was the third most commonly reported cause of pesticide illness among agricultural workers, and the most common cause of pesticide illness in landscape workers. According to two New Zealand toxicologists, the symptoms experienced by workers exposed to Roundup included eye and skin irritation, headaches, nausea and heart palpitations.

Homes, Pesticides & Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma Linked to Homes Treated with Pesticides

SOURCE: Epidemiology: 12(1):20-26, January, 2001

One of the largest studies to date has found that pesticide use around the home can more than double the chance of a child developing neuroblastoma.

Neuroblastoma accounts for approximately 10% of all childhood tumors. There are 550 new cases in the United States each year, with an annual incidence rate of 9.2 cases per million children under 15 years of age. This works out to approximately 1 per 100,000 children under age 15 on a national level. (These rates were reported in the book "Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology, Lippincott-Raven, 1997). It is a very serious cancer as approximately 60% of children over age 1 who develop neuroblastoma do not live 3 years even when receiving treatments of radiation and chemotherapy. Children under age 1 have a more positive prognosis. As statistics show that neuroblastoma rates have increased over the past 50 years, it is reasonable to assume environmental factors may be involved.

One of the largest collaborative efforts among 7 Universities and medical facilities worked together to determine what extent pesticide use in the home could increase child neuroblastoma rates. 390 neuroblastoma children and 460 non-cancer controls were included in the study. Investigators questioned both parents regarding use of pesticides in and around the home.

Results showed that using pesticides in and around the home resulted in a 60% increased likelihood of children developing the disease (Odds Ratio=1.6). Looking at pesticide use for the lawn and garden only resulted in an increased risk of 120% (Odds Ratio=2.2) when the mother had applied pesticides in the yard and 50% higher (Odds Ratio=1.5) when the father had applied pesticides in the yard.

(Chem-Tox Note: Outdoor pesticides are much different from indoor pesticides as they include fungicides and herbicides some of which have been reported to contain dioxin).

Julie L. Daniels, Andrew F. Olshan, Kay Teschke, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Dave A. Savitz, Julie Blatt, Melissa L. Bondy, Joseph P. Neglia, Brad H. Pollock, Susan L. Cohn, A. Thomas Look, Robert C. Seeger, Robert P. Castleberry
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, University of British Columbia, University of Texas, University of Minnesota, University of Florida, Northwestern University, Department of Experimental Oncology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and University of Alabama

Lawn Pesticides & Breast Cancer

Does your neighbor spray pesticides? What health effects are there for your neighbor, you and your family?

Pesticides have complex repercussions that take a bit of time and energy to understand. But in my opinion my child is worth me spending 10 minutes here and there to keep on top of these issues. Say with morning coffee I could read an article. Or print and take the article with me to read at lunch time. What do you do with your time? I like spending time with my family having fun. Reading helps me keep them healthy so we can continue having fun not spending time being sick.

Here is one thought to chew on, Cancer.

Breast Cancer Linked to Home Pesticide Chlordane

One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer according to the latest statistics. Breast cancer rates in the U.S. are 3-7 times higher than those in Asia. This 2005 study conducted at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research and Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock Texas found that cancerous human breast tissue contained the chemical heptachlor epoxide (found in the common home pesticide chlordane) at levels 4 times higher than non-cancerous breast tissue. Chlordane was the primary termite prevention pesticide used in over 30 million U.S. homes between the mid 1950's and 1988. An estimated 50 million U.S. residents are currently exposed to the volatization of this chemical from previously treated pre-1989 homes on a daily basis.

Dr. Richard A. Cassidy, Sridhar, George M. Vaughan
Tox Free, Inc., Tell City, IN
Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Lubbock, TX
US Army Institute of Surgical Research

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Uber Urban Farmer

Well, we planned on having two garden beds but with work, a kid and a yard that needs a lot of attention the second raised bed only has the 5 sunflowers I planted, dozens of maple saplings, and the wild garlic growing in it. The first raised bed came out nicely though. But still will need work.

The bed is a mount of dirt about three to three and a half feet high, 6 feet wide by 10-12 feet long depending how you measure this ovalish bed. The beds are designed around a landscape that took into account vertical, horizontal and curving lines.

I was impressed with the insect diversity. We had insect eating ladybug and wasps everywhere. There were at least 3 types of bees. I saw a variety of other insects too. I did not have a slug issue. I think it might of been because the bed was raised and did not stay moist. Also the sharp hairs on the pumpkin vines were everywhere. The hairs would of made it impossible for the slug to glide its soft body across them.

I did have a technique when planting. I wanted the garden to block the view straight into our back yard, hence the raise bed. I also wanted to intermingle the plants. I am not into monoculture. The main part of the mount including three side hosted the three types of sunflowers. I clustered them by variety Mammoth at the top, Yellow Heirloom around one side and the Red Heirloom around the other side/top. I then planted pole beans at their base. Two beans per sunflower. The bean grew up the sunflower using it as a trellis. The beans also provided nitrogen in the soil for the other plants. Then for a ground covering and then some I planted a squash...pumpkins for later use at Jake-o-lanterns. This worked out relatively well. Next time I will give the sunflowers a few more weeks head start before transferring the beans into the ground next to them. All plants were grown from seeds.

My spouse sequestered a flatter section of the garden (on the end) for his plantings. He grew a packet of seed that had mixed lettuces. He also had 4 kinds of rather hot peppers and celontro. All from seeds. I was beginning to think that he had adopted the four varieties as long lost children. Luckily our real daughter squeaked into the number one spot. But it was close at times.

There are still fresh beans on the vines. I let some of them dry there to collect later. I will see if I can get them to grow next year. Our harvest so far includes the following.

100 pole beans - Kentucky red and a green variety
52 plants of celontro - herb
7 pepper with a dozen more on the plants (habenero, jalepeno, peruvian heritage, cayenne)
4 the equivalent of four pre mixed salad packages you get from the store
3 dozen sunflowers - red heirloom, yellow heirloom and mammoth
2 pumpkins on their vines

dozens of gone wild lemon balm
dozens of wild garlic

The only thing that didn't make it was the tomatoes. Never even left the pots. Next year.

Things I will change:

1. Get the composter working
2. Get a Rain Barrel
3. Frame in the raised beds

I would like to point out no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or the such were allowed in my garden. The few 30 lb bags of soil we introduced to the garden, well my spouse's part of the garden was organic, bought fromUrban Roots but was sourced from a farm in our area. All our seeds, pots, etc were all from Urban Roots

Friday, August 22, 2008

Playground & Synthetic Chemical Spray

Well, I just got off the phone with the operations department of the Olmsted Parks (Delaware Park) Conservancy. And much to my delight I was informed that the playgrounds (or anything in that area) do not get sprayed with pesticides or herbicide or anything else. They do spray the golf course and the baseball field. They are trying to use plant based sprays when possible but they are more expensive then the petroleum based prays. They are on a budget. Apparently it takes three years to get the all natural sprays working and the ecosystem in balance with natural sprays. Whereas the petroleum spray is a zap'em dead type of deal.

Well at least my organic baby will be safe at Delaware park.

Some studies:

American Journal of Epidemiology List of Chemicals that cause hormone problems Study

EHP an easy source to finding article on health and toxins Study

Are you eating bananas or other food from other countries? Many countries still use DDT. Study

Pesticide concentration higher in woman and those that eat meat Study

Endocrine Disruptor and contamination through water supply into food chain Study

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lunch Boxes

What a fun way to pack a lunch ! These four animals lunch bags were designed by award-winning children’s book illustrator, Stephen Savage and being offered by Nubius Organics. I really want one. But due to the odd looks I would get for carrying one into a board meeting I think I will just have to live vicariously through my daughter.

Yellow Benny the Tiger, Green Meadow Rabbit, Lefty the Black & White Dog
, The Pink Panda.


  • Made from polypropylene and tested lead & food safety.
  • Small handles for small hands.
  • Insulates and protects drinks.
  • Saves hundreds of bags over the course of a year.
  • Unzip to a placemat and stores flat.

Clean Air

Is it me or is the sky clearer? I read a article that China has shut down some major industrial polluters. That pollution gets blown east across the ocean to the U.S. And now I wonder if our sudden clear skies are due in part to China's reduction in air emissions?

There is a history of China's air pollution including mercury traveling east over the ocean to the United States. Maybe with China's air in better health we can also take a deep breath.

Buffalo, NY has a history with air pollution and strong winds like China. As it happen the polluting industries that are still left here are in three major the north in North Buffalo & Tonawanda, NY, to the east on the Buffalo-Cheektowaga boarder and to the south in the South Buffalo area. The wind blows from the southwest to the northeast. So, anyone living east of these facilities get doused with air emission. The south towns, Buffalo's west and central areas seem to be are relatively safe. This is simply because they are up wind from the factories.

To see who the top polluters are you can go to For Buffalo, NY readers here is a list of Top Polluters. The two biggest polluters are both in Tonawanda the Huntley coal plant with 2.6 million pounds and 3M Co. with 684,000 pounds of pollution.

For the Huntley plant Mercury compounds, Lead compounds and Hydrochloric Acid top the list of chemicals. From 1998 to 2002 the non cancerous chemicals have increase by 2969%. No I did not leave out a decimal point.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Arctic Survey

"What do you think will happen to the Arctic?" The following post on informs us of the competition between nations to access the oil reserves under the melting ice in the Arctic. As the ice melts oil sources are exposed. Read further here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Organic Reuseable Lunch Bags

Back to School and a simple way to go Green is a reusable lunch bag. The bag does not have to be organic. Any reusable bag is a great leap forward into sustainability. But if you do want to move on... featured here is the next step, Organic lunch bag. The first is a simple organic cotton bag that does the trick. It is unbleached and measures 7 x 10.5 x 4.5.

As an alternative is the Mimi The Sardine Lunch bag that is too cute. It looks like a clutch. It is machine washable and measure 8.5 x 10 x 4.5. There are two types the monkey shown to the right and the Mimi The Sardine Bug Bag.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Vaccines - Post IV - NYS School Requierments

Link to NYS Requirements for vaccinations for entry into public schools.

Notice there is a different requirement if your child attends Pre-School or is going to Kindergarten.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Teaching Methods

I thought we had it all planned out. DD was going to go to a Waldorf Pre-School and Kindergarten which is in walking distance. (There is not a Waldorf grammar school in the city.) Then she would go to a Progressive Learning School in Buffalo, we would then take a bus. But now my husband has introduced the idea of Montessori Pre-K which I did not realized existed and was only a few blocks from our house. I wounder if it would be a better fit for DD's needs? The main goal is to fine the right fit for our child. A school that compliments her style of learning. Every child learns differently; kinesthetic, visual, auditory or is tactile. Plus there are other ways of learning. It is up in the air until I learn more about these schools and how my child bests learns.

I honestly think that different people have different needs and wants. One school may work better for one person and not another. As DD develops I am looking at her strengths, weaknesses, what the future world will be like and what school offers her the greatest chance of being satisfied in life.

Now I am dealing with three teaching methods. I am looking into different styles of teaching methods first. Then when I am satisfied with a teaching method I will look at the various schools that offer the method I choose. (This second part can be tricking. There are many schools that "teach like" but are not associated with the parent school. Often parent schools will have a certificate for associated schools. Or at least be registered with the parent school.

Three methods

Progressive Learning: Progressive Learning is a principal championed by John Dewy as a starting point as a teaching method. This system is an American Method that treats children as little scientist, developing hypothesizes, exploration, critical thinking and problem solving skills. I noticed the three most popular clubs at the Local Progressive Learning school were Ecology, Mock Trial and Model United Nations. The preschool is housed in a cottage and the children are kept together. Subjects like geography and science are introduced in Pre-School.

Waldorf: The Aurora Waldorf School in West Falls NY with a satellite Pre-K in the City of Buffalo is based on the method developed by Rudolf Steiner in Germany. They encourage creative make-believe play with all natural (no plastic) toys. They often teach the little children through story telling. The schools here in WNY also have kids knitting, cleaning and imitating adult activities like shopping in a home like environment. They also create a journal where they keep all their lessons learned. This was the biggest thing that attracted my attention. The journals are for all subjects and are a combination of writing, graphics and pictures. I thought this as a great learning tool. Though subjects like geography and science are traditionally introduced at about 7 years old.

Montessori: The Montessori Method was developed by Maria Montessori in Italy. It seems to be a combination of the creative play from Waldorf and the problem solving/science way of learn in Progressive Learning. They seem to use Modeling creative play more so then make-believe. Montessori has been known to introduce subjects like geography and science in pre-school.

I am booking a walk trough of the Waldorf, Montessori and Progressive Learning Schools this fall, 2008. I also will schedule a walk through of the Olmstead Public School & Tapestry Charter.

So, far everything I know about these schools is through the internet and recommendations.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prekindergarten and Beyond

There are many choices for Prekindergarten. I have spoken with a few parents that recently had children graduating from Pre-K and entering Kindergarten. What was interesting was what different parents saw as being beneficial. All the parents saw social skills as being important. But from there the parents began to shift. The biggest determinant seemed to be foresight. How far out into the future each parent was looking to create opportunities. For some "good enough" was all they wanted. Then you have the other side where the parent will "do the best they can do". Other concerns playing a role were balancing cost for Pre-K, grammar, high school and college.

One of my neighbors said they looked at several schools. (Both parents are very active in their children's lives.) They are educated people with two girls, two dogs and a gorgeous Victorian home with gardens. In addition they are fun and caring. And they got lucky ! Well, It wasn't luck. They were smart and found a balance.

They sent their oldest to a respected private Pre-K that also happens to be a NYS Universal UPK program. (UPK is a state funded Pre-K program that is provided to communities though a variety of forms. A church, private, public, community or independent nursery school can become a UPK. Though, UPK sets the minimum. It is up to the nursery school to build on the minimum. So all UPK's are not equal...caveat emptor.) Having gotten things started by going to a high quality nursery school their child then applied to Buffalo's Olmstead School a public school. She was excepted into their Gifted and Talented program. This program is a feeder school for City Honors a public school. City Honors is in the top 5 schools in all of the United States. Now that their kid is "IN" they can focus all their school savings on University.

They sound like they have a very satisfying life. They have earned it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Buffalo Charter Schools

Here is a Google map showing where all the charter schools are. It is focused on Buffalo but if you zoom out you can see where all charter schools in the U.S. are. Map

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Transportation Electric Pods

In 2008 London's Heathrow Airport (terminal 5) started using electric pods to transport people and their luggage. It is not on a rail but instead follows a small road and are driverless. The pods are called on demand the average wait time is 12 seconds.

See video here.

Vaccines - Post II - NYS Religious Exemption Form

You can find the NYS Religious Exemption Form here.

The Drive to Grammar School

Well, We picked the local Waldorf School for our DD to attend but it is only Pre-K and Kindergarten. After that she will attend another school but it is on the other side of the city. We would have to be up at 4am and transit 3 times on our buses to get here there.

On the other hand I like driving. My father is a driving instructor. And I can't help but wish I could drive my DD to grammar school in the trike below. It is light weight and I am sure it gets good mileage. Note the 3.5 sec from 0-60. She would never be late to school!

Aptera The Electric Car

I have been a popular mechanics buff since college. I also am totally into innovative, energy efficient and if possible chic new products. So, let me introduce the is an incredible car and long over due.

You can check out the Popular Mechanics Video here.

Below is the Aptera Add

The main features are 120miles/charge, streamline body, light weight, plenty of space inside for a larger man like my hubby, 360 vision using three video screens on your dash, and a computer touchscreen for GPS, music, etc. It is a two seater. The Type-1 car will be in production in 2008, or now! A second alternative version will be a gasoline/electric hybrid with a whopping 300mpg. This is also called a Tpye-1, will be in production in 2009. And a five seater on a four wheel chassis is on the design board now. The Type-1 will sell for $30,000 or LESS.

I do not know how well it would do in a two feet of snow. Not that any car moves in Buffalo without the streets plowed anyway. Though, thanks to the global warming we rarely get snow for Christmas anyway. We have had green grass Decembers and Januarys for 5-6 years now. The late fall snow storm that we are famous for drys up in a few weeks. And the sun often comes out. Well this talk is for a different day & post.

We do plan on putting $25 away each week to save up for the five seater. We figure that it will be two years before the five seater is for sale... 104 weeks times $25 = a down payment.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

NYC - Thank You

I am unbelievably impressed with how kid friendly NYC citizens are !

We went for 4 days and stayed with a friend who has a condo on the West New York, NJ side. (Great view of the Hudson. ) Though I think our Stokke Explori Stroller would of done well in NYC we would of never been able to get it on the plane. So, we stopped off at Babies R Us and picked up a highly visible yellow Chicco folding stroller with a sun visor. The wheels were larger then the $20 stroller and I believe did a much better job getting around town. Though while in the store I saw several of the Explori on display and it made me miss mine. The steering on the Chicco was what I expected normal for a less then $100 stroller BUT the easily swiveling front wheels did get the job done. Also if you are a fast or long stride walker you will step on the back wheels. But hey, it was $60 and it meant not hauling our tall stroller on the plane. (We were worried about it getting banged up when checked at the gate.)

Our Britax Diplomat car seat traveled better then I expected. It was recommended to me by used it in the car to and then on the plane. We were going to leave the car seat in a locker at JFK airport and take public transport. Then we found out that the wedding (in NJ) was a 40 minute drive from where we were staying. NJ does not have the easy transportation that NYC has. We expected to have to travel by car so we took the car seat with us. As a side note we bought the Diplomat due to easy of use, ease of installation in multiple transport vehicles, and side impact protection. Many car seats do not have side impact protection. We live in an area that gets icy roads and many cars slide through stop sign & red lights causing side impacts.

I have a pull along suitcase that has a strap to attach other pieces of luggage to the front of it. I saw the horizontal bar on the back of the car seat. I thought I might be able to attach the seat to my suitcase. I attached the strap to the car seat first the clipped it to my suitcase. Voila It worked! Wasn't perfect but it stayed on. I grabbed my suitcase's handle and the car seat lifted up and laid on the suitcase. Off we went to our friend's condo.

We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and our baby went nuts. She insisted on stopping and see every statue. We turned the corner into one of the Egyptian rooms and she was beaming, screeching and laughing. She kept pointing and saying "LOOK!" I was worried we would be bothering other patrons. But that was not the case. People actually turned towards her smiling saying that it was a good thing to see someone so young get so excited about art. I went from being worried to bliss. She made friends with the security guards in two of the Egyptian rooms, the Japanese, Korean and Indonesian arts departments. She kept walking up to them smiling, taking their finger and pointing to all the art she liked. Luckily they were genuinely happy and made a point of showing her a couple pieces they really liked too.

We took planes, trains, rail, taxis, and buses and we had friendly people everywhere. The taxi driver was exceptionally great. He had 12 grand children. Even the ladies who looked exceedingly upper East side at the Met were very soft on DD.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vegetarians Live Longer

A German study says that vegans, vegetarians and low volume meat eaters all show a reduced tendency for disease and allow a higher quality life. Article on

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Life Subculture

Different people choose different life styles. This is obvious. I use to be under the notion that if someone was socially conscious that they would also be environmentally conscious and vice versa. But this is not true. This is unfortunate.

I recently have noticed another life style almost subculture in its own way. I do not know how to describe it in 1 or 2 words but...the only variation within this group is to what extent an individual will choose to adhere to the shared ideals that brought everyone together. I have a hunch that this Buffalo group is not the only one.

I would describe this group, one that I recently found myself unintentionally in, as being very comfortable to be apart of. These people share all the macro ideals I do.

1. environmental consciousness / and does something to help
2. social consciousness / and does something to help
3. child education / 1950's institutions are just not going to meet our requirements
4. attachment parenting
5. organic and locally grown foods
6. renewable energy wanted now
7. wanting our children to be healthy, happy, well educated and to "think out-side-the-box"
8. mixed feelings about vaccines / some people due to faith, some to health
9. There is no prejudges against ethnic heritage or partner chooses / we like diversity
10. Of the people I know, I am the most up-tight. They are more relaxed. / I like that. I need to relax.

It is really a great thing to meet people that are individual thinkers, fun and well educated (whether by school or self thought). I think I am most surprised at, and should not be, is that we all migrated to the same living area. The west side of Buffalo and the area surrounding Delaware Park. Not everyone in this area is the same but this subculture is concentrated here. I think the plethora of cafes, museums, art galleries, treed park space, beautiful old homes and urban family friendliness has made it one of the only diverse areas of Buffalo.

If you are imagining a girl in a hippy skirt, bare feet, dreadlocks and a baby in a sling you have a 1 in 20 idea. There are a few and they are welcomed but that is a small fraction of the people involved. There are classical musicians, architects, artist, baristas, shop owners, teachers, attornies, CEOs, COOs, computer programmers..etc. There are Itialian leather shoe and sandle warers. There are people driving volvos, riding their bikes, walking or busing. Some are from Pennsylvania, Boston, England, Belgium, Italy or born here. The ethnic diversity is good and could be better. But there is a number of stay or work from home dads.

So, there is a pattern. I am not sure what to call this lifestyle...Fun, Satisfing, Sustanable, Reasonable, Socially-Green Living & Parenting?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wanted ! Fat Baby, Thin Kid - Part 1

I took our 15mo. old to the doctor this week for her standard wellness check up. Our usual doctor was not available and we got one of the senior members in the office. His verdict...she is exceptionally tall and a bit fat.

Now, what I want to know is how can body mass index be a good predictor of infant (under 2 years old) obesity? Would not lean body mass be a much better assessment of health. Body mass does not distinguish between over fat babies and muscular babies. Whereas lean body mass measures how much fat vs. muscle a person has. Plus, do not genetics, exercise and nutrition play a part in obesity?

One web site, CBC News , reviewed three articles in the June (2008) issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The articles draw attention to weight gain during critical periods of growth and later adult obesity.

France - Two Critical Periods Influence Obesity
1st Report: "researchers from the health research organization Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale in France followed children from birth to age 5, identifying two critical periods in which early-life weight gain appeared to influence later obesity risk. The first critical period occurred in the first few months of life and the second occurred after age 2. Between these periods, growth seemed to be preferentially directed towards height and not weight," researcher Marie-Aline Charles tells WebMD.

London - Critical Period in First 6 months
3rd Report: "Rapid weight gain during the first six months of life was found to increase obesity risk later in childhood. Researchers from London's Institute of Child Health investigated the associations between weight gain during different periods in infancy and later body composition in 105 boys and 129 girls living in the U.K."

- Critical Period After Age Two
2nd Report: "Researchers found little evidence of an obesity link associated with rapid weight gain before the age of 2. But rapid weight gain after the second birthday was found to be a risk factor for obesity later in life. The study included 885 Finnish men and 1,032 women between the ages of 56 and 70, whose childhood weights and heights were known from medical records."

"Rapid weight gain before age 2 was associated with increases in lean mass while rapid gains later in childhood predicted higher body fat in adulthood."

Harvard University:
"Obesity prevention researcher Matthew W. Gillman, MD, of Harvard Medical School tells WebMD that rapid weight gain after age 2 or 3 is now generally recognized as a risk factor for later obesity. He adds that there is "mounting evidence" that the same is true for rapid weight gain in the first few months or even weeks of life, but the link has not been proven."

My conclusion after reading this article is that if my baby rapidly gains weight (faster then height gain) during the first few months and even more critically after two years old that her obesity chances in adulthood are increased. But if she is a fast grower in general before 2 years then she is more likely to be a leaner person.

Dr. Sears has a few more things to say about child obesity. Including if your parents are lean (or were when they were younger) then you have a lesser chance of being obese. Body type, metabolism, temperament and eating habits all influence ones chances of becoming obese. He also includes fat intake, parent's habits and TV watching.

He also states, "Lean parents have only a seven percent chance of having an obese adolescent. If one parent is obese, there is a forty percent chance their child will be obese. If both parents are obese, the probability of the child's being obese may be as high as eighty percent. Genes may actually be a more powerful determinant of obesity than diet. Studies on adopted children show that these children's body weight tends to be more like their biological parents than their adopting ones."

Other important info: "One study showed that nine out of ten obese infants became lean by the time they were seven. Yet, obese infants are still three times more likely to be fat at age seven than infants who have been lean from the start. Studies have also shown that forty percent of obese seven-year-olds are likely to become obese adults, seventy percent of obese preteens are likely to become obese adults, and around eighty percent of obese adolescents are obese as adults. The fatter children are in the first few years of life and the longer they keep their excess fat, the greater the likelihood they will remain fat into adolescence and adulthood. "

Now this doctor I saw with my baby made me rather terrified by the time I walked out of the office. He at one point asked if I saw all the news reports about children getting shots for their diabetes. He mentioned a pharma chemical that she would end up having to take because she was fat. While he spoke I was trying to understand how my child, who comes from a family that has rather plump babies and thin kids & teens, suddenly be the first obese kid or teen in our family? How could a vegetarian baby who's parents take her to the park 7 days a week for running, climbing, lifting and pushing become an obese child & teen?

I gave it some thought...a few times a week she gets gelato from the baker/gelato shop. And 1-2 times a week gets a carrot muffin from the cafe. We can cut those portions in half.

The second thought was this new doctor never did a history other then asking what does she eat and can she walk. I said she can dribble a soccer ball across the play ground. But he doesn't know our family has plump babies & stick thin kids/teens. He doesn't know her paternal side does have a few people with high body mass but a very high number (meaning very lean) lean body mass. He doesn't know that we rarely watch TV, and love walking and sports.

I think what happened was he walked in. Didn't realize how much she weight by looking at her. Saw the weight number in the book and panicked. I am now even more concerned that he was referencing news paper articles and not research papers when speaking with me.

Yes, I believe due to research currently being done that the children who watch too much TV, don't exercise and drink too much soda/ juice have a high tendency to be over weight and obese. But I don't think due to research papers I am reading that a child under 2 years old should be put on a diet or the parent scared into believing that they caused their one year old to a life time of obesity & diabetes.

I will take my baby to a nutritionist to check her lean body mass just to have a record to compare to. I will also tract her food & exercise over the next 3 months until her 18 month check up. I have to admit I feel like I am on a mission to prove I am right. But I will have collect observed data & more research papers to prove my point.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cry Baby, Cry !

These are the top five reasons you should always let your baby just cry it out. If she is hungry but you want her on a schedule, cry it out. If she won't sleep just let her cry it out. According to 19 research papers you would of accomplished all the dreams you ever hoped for her ....oops...had a type-o there...I meant to say SUBSTANTIAL....developmental delays & disorders !

1. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School and Yale University a young child can alter the brain’s neurotransmitter systems and cause structural and functional changes in regions of the brain similar to those seen in adults with depression simply by experiencing intense stress early in life. 17

2. "Research has shown that infants who are routinely separated from parents in a stressful way have abnormally high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as lower growth hormone levels. These imbalances inhibit the development of nerve tissue in the brain, suppress growth, and depress the immune system. " 5, 9.

3. "Dr. Bruce Perry’s research at Baylor University may explain this finding. He found when chronic stress over-stimulates an infant’s brain stem (the part of the brain that controls adrenaline release), and the portions of the brain that thrive on physical and emotional input are neglected (such as when a baby is repeatedly left to cry alone), the child will grow up with an over-active adrenaline system. Such a child will display increased aggression, impulsivity, and violence later in life because the brainstem floods the body with adrenaline and other stress hormones at inappropriate and frequent times." 6

4. Infant developmental specialist Dr. Michael Lewis presented research findings at an American Academy of Pediatrics meeting, concluding that “the single most important influence of a child’s intellectual development is the responsiveness of the mother to the cues of her baby.”

5. Dr. Rao and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health showed that infants with prolonged crying (but not due to colic) in the first 3 months of life had an average IQ 9 points lower at 5 years of age. They also showed poor fine motor development. (2)

(The referenced material is number as in the original article)

2. M R Rao, et al; Long Term Cognitive Development in Children with Prolonged Crying, National Institutes of Health, Archives of Disease in Childhood 2004; 89:989-992.

5. Butler, S R, et al. Maternal Behavior as a Regulator of Polyamine Biosynthesis in Brain and Heart of Developing Rat Pups. Science 1978, 199:445-447.

6. Perry, B. (1997), “Incubated in Terror: Neurodevelopmental Factors in the Cycle of Violence,” Children in a Violent Society, Guilford Press, New York.

9. Kuhn, C M, et al. Selective Depression of Serum Growth Hormone During Maternal Deprivation in Rat Pups. Science 1978, 201:1035-1036.

17. Kaufman J, Charney D. Effects of Early Stress on Brain Structure and Function: Implications for Understanding the Relationship Between Child Maltreatment and Depression, Developmental Psychopathology, 2001 Summer; 13(3):451-471.


Sarcasm aside...

These are three examples from an article on Ask Dr. Sears web page. He has compiled 19 research paper from over 9 ivy league schools that all agree that young children who experience stress including separation & crying develop abnormal developmental problems. Much of it seems to be due to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol & adrenaline. These hormone do affect the brain. Prolonged exposure such as when a child it left to cry it out can cause problems like developmental delays. On the other hand attachment parenting which does not allow for crying it out have children that develop early including walking early.

I do know that attachment parenting has been a good experience for me. The great thing about it the more I improved my skills the more I understand my child and have an easier time relating & working with her. Even our sleeping patterns have improved. She also has great motor, verbal and problem solving skills for her age. I think much of it is due to attachment parenting. I think had I just left her to cry it out she would not be the caring yet independent toddler she is. She eats her asparagus for gosh sakes...I can live with that.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Buffalo Charter Schools

While at the park this past season I heard many parents conversing rather loudly and hoping their child would be excepted into Tapestry Charter School. Then later int he season the conversion changed to how happy they were to be excepted. I have heard this school is one of the better charter schools in the area but I could not fine any real ranking lists. Local schools are often ranked according to their enrollment and student/teacher ratio. Personally I think there are many things to judge a school on including if my child is happy there.

I have had three other people ask me what schools I liked. But I was not sure.

I looked around on the net to see if anyone did a comparison on something other then student/teacher ratios. I found 2 so far. I do not know how great the data is. It is based on test scores in different subjects and is adjust for reasons described below. Here is an example:

Tapestry Charter School

" school rating (weighted overall 2006 test average compared to other schools in New York) from 0 (worst) to 100 (best) is 68.
(Our score takes into account sex and racial score differences and it is weighed according to the number of students taking the test)"

Putting them in order from 100 (best)-0 (worst):

68 Tapestry Charter School
58 Westminster Charter School
40 South Buffalo Charter School
29 Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School
27 Buffalo United Charter School
24 Oracle Charter School
21 Global Concepts Charter School
19 King Center Charter School
05 Kipp Sankofa Charter School
04 Pinnacle Charter School

Elmwood Village Charter School - There was no info

To give my readers a comparison.

City Honors, City of Buffalo, public, scored an 89. It is ranked # 4 in the nation.
Hutchinson Central Technical School, City of Buffalo, public, 62.
Orchard Park High School, small town suburb, public, had a score of 81 and is in the top 5% in the nation.

I didn't find any ranking for private schools on this site.

To give you a different raking with the same schools I found the School Digger list.

In order of ranked in all of the state and over all NYS assessment test.

1294 & 144.7 Tapestry Charter School
1488 & 135.7 Westminster Community Charter School
1796 & 116.0 King Center Charter School
1857 & 110.7 South Buffalo Charter School
1882 & 108.3 Global Concepts Charter School
2069 & 092.0 Buffalo United Charter School
2226 & 063.0 Stepping Stone Charter School

O.k. That is good enough. The rank is out of 2274 total school and the NYS assessment test is out of 200.

Either way Tapestry and Westminster are the winners for Buffalo charter schools.

I think this should be taken further and compare the charter schools to the Olmsted schools for gifted and talented. Olmsted is known to be a feeder school for City Honors. And that is more then good enough.

750 & 163.0 Fredrick Olmsted #64, public

I would like to point out that math and English language skills are not the only thing kids should be learning in school. Foreign languages, public speaking, music, art, physical/nutrition education, even how to balance a check book are all important skills. When I was in 5th grade my teacher showed us how to fill out a check. I took classes in Spanish, Latin, architecture, drafting/CAD, public speaking, advanced art, world literature, ecology, astronomy and even a Canadian Studies class in high school. Were these all important? I think so. I would not be successful and most of all happy with my life if it were not for my teachers.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Gardening - Part 4

I learned something about growing plants together these past few week. It is very important to read directions. I said this in a previous post, did I not? Well, it seems that I am not a through reader. I planted my pumpkins, sunflowers and pole beans all at the same time. Well...The pole bean grew up the sunflower, now 3 feet tall, but the bean vine is a foot taller. The end of the vine just waves around in the air laughing at me.

So, not all vines were taller then their supportive sunflower. But for the beans that are out growing their sunflowers I had to unwind their vines and re-wrap them around thin branches I pressed into the grown. Now the vines have a make-shift trellis.

On a separate note I found this site that has some home remedies for garden pest.
Garden Pest

Monday, June 30, 2008

Correcting My Parents

A national survey was done on 3,000 American adults to measure the amount of accurate knowledge they possess about child development. The results were a bit negative but not surprising. Many people often think they know things because they are "smart enough" and don't need knowledge from books. At less this is what my brother told me as he pointed to his temple area on his noggin.

Some examples of the results of the report are:

"44% of parent of young children incorrectly believe that picking up a three month old every time he cries will spoil him."

"29% of all adults do not understand that brain development can be impacted very early on."

26% of all adults incorrectly believe that a child as young as six months will not suffer any long-term effects from witnessing violence."

"67% of all adults incorrectly believe that working parents cannot develop a bond with their children as strong as stay-at-home parents."

Only 12% of people understood that infants 6 months and younger can experience depression. 51% thought only children 3 and older could become depressed.

"Almost 40% of parents of young children are likely to believe that a child’s behavior is based on revenge at too young an age."

(I never understood why Parents think their kids are vengeful? Yet I have heard parents say such things.)

"More than one in four parents of young children expect a three-year-old to be able
to sit quietly for an hour, yet child development research shows that they are not
developmentally ready to do so."

(I have seen parents insist on their kid sitting a special events for upwards of an hour and then punish the kid with a time out (more sitting) for not sitting still.)

"45% of parents of young children incorrectly believe that letting a two-year-old get down from the dinner table to play before the rest of the family has finished is spoiling."

"61% of parents of young children and 62% of all adults condone spanking as a
regular form of punishment. This finding is surprising, given that while many parents condone spanking as a regular form of punishment, many also understand that this can lead to children
acting more aggressively, and that it will
not lead to better self-control."

"The Education Factor: Among parents of young children, a four-year college degree
is the single largest differentiator between those who know more about child devel-
opment versus those who know less. Parents with a high school education or less
need more information on child development."

"The Generation Gap: There are significant generational differences between parents of
young children and grandparents regarding “spoiling.” Grandparents are more likely than
current parents of young children to view appropriate caregiving activities as spoiling."

DYG Inc. (2000). What grown-ups understand about child development: A national benchmark survey: Civitas Initiative, Zero To Three, BRIO Corporation.

The Survey


This is a video focused on breastfeeding in third world countries. But I think we all can learn from this new born baby as it "crawls" toward her mom's breast, latches and feeds.

Finding Help During Pregnacy and Birth

I have never liked the word "birth". It is just a odd sounding utterance to me...

To get to the point of my post, finding help. And help can come in a variety of ways. After finding out I was pregnant I quickly started doing research. I Googled, read books, magazines, and research papers. I learned about everything from cloth diapers & carriers to thermometers & understanding babies have different kinds of cries. Of course everything can't be learned from text in a book that is why there is photos and videos. I love . See the video at bottom of this blog to learn how to ware a Mei Tai carrier.

I wish I knew about all the organizations and books before I had my baby. Here is a short list with a Buffalo, NY focus. But most cities have their own sister organizations.

The Vaccine Book
What To Expect When You Are Expecting
What To Expect The First Year
Raising Baby Green

Buffalo Birthing Network
La Leche League (Breastfeeding)
You can also start or find your local baby sitting co-op.

There is also the phone book which is where you'll find local businesses that have cloth diaper services and phone numbers to stores that you'll want to call ahead to make sure they carry the item you are looking for. For instance, I live in the middle of the city of Buffalo the Babies- R- Us store is in the suburbs. The dilemma was that the local grocery didn't carry glass baby bottles. I needed to make a trip to the BRU for the bottles and it was a good thing I called. There was a run on glass bottles and they were out of them for a month.

Some key words when searching on the internet: Birthing Network, Natural Birth, Consignment Store (insert your city name also) and Baby sitting co-op.

Also, has been my near and dear friend. Ordering in bulk on-line has saved us about $50 a month and that does not include the vehicle/bus and gas needed to go to the store. Or the fact that shipping is free and delivered to my door. If we had to own a car just because I now have a kid it would add an addition $400-$500 a month for a machine that only depreciates in value. Instead of having a vehicle on my balance sheet as a liability I put money in my kids college fund. $50 today appreciated over 18 years will pay for a couple books for school. And every penny counts.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gardening - Part Three

Along with going to the farmer's market on Bidwell Ave I like to watch the garden shows on PBS. One of the shows showed a woman and her traditional food garden. One section had plants that compliment each other. She had combined corn, pole bean and squash which are all native to North America. I believe the bean plant fixes nitrogen in the soil which helps the corn and squash grow. The corn acts as a trellis so the pole bean can grow up the stalk. The squash vines grow on the ground and probably have another purpose as a compliment. Possibly the squash works as a ground cover helping to keep moisture in the soil and not evaporate.

I potted sunflowers with pole beans and pumpkin. I thought both the birds and my family would like the sunflowers. The beans and pumpkins will be fun too.

Surprisingly, the cotton tail bunnies seem to prefer the clover patches we left in the lawn and gardens then the food plants. The squirrels ate about a quarter of the sunflower seeds I planted directly into the garden beds but I put 3 seeds in each hole so no harm done. Nothing seems to be eating the plants which are now 3 feet tall. So, far so good.

I really did not know what to expect. But I am on my way to being an urban farmer.