October 26, 2009 by Robin Beckett
So, assuming you haven’t already thrown out your Baby Einstein videos with the bath water, you might be interested to know that Disney is offering a refund for any of those lame-brained baby videos you may have collecting dust on the shelf. To get your refund, the video must be purchased in the last five years and you must submit your claim before March 4, 2010. Find all the rules and whatnot here.
The refund is the result of continued pressure from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which in 2006 filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission requesting that Disney stop claiming that Baby Einstein videos were educational for infants.
If you’re interested in the politics of this topic, check out the latest scuttlebutt on the D.C.-based Web magazine Slate, http://www.slate.com/id/2233556/. (A little heads-up that the author penned this as a Bush attack, which isn’t my intent. I just like Noah’s take on the “mompreneur” who created the videos. Common knowledge seems to be that kids under the age of 2 shouldn’t be watching any TV, so the idea that somebody who markets programs especially for this age group would be held up as a hero is a little absurd.)
That said, both my kids watched TV before they were 2… and they still do. No doubt, they watch too much. But if your tots enjoy Baby Einstein and the show buys Mom a few minutes of freedom to make dinner/help with homework/paint her toenails/whatever, I’ve got no problem with it.
So, while I’m not deluded that watching TV is going to make my kids smarter, here’s one study that agrees with me that a little TV in an otherwise healthy childhood isn’t going to harm a kid either. Here’s the news release from the March issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
TELEVISION AND VIDEOS FOR CHILDREN UNDER 2 MAY NOT INFLUENCE SKILL DEVELOPMENT
Exposing infants and toddlers to television does not improve their language and visual motor skills at age 3, but does not appear to harm them either. In the study, “Television Viewing in Infancy and Child Cognition at 3 Years of Age in a US Cohort,” researchers looked at the amount of time 872 children spent watching television or videos from birth to 2 years of age, then assessed their language and visual motor skills at age 3. When researchers adjusted for other factors that could influence these skills, such as maternal education and breastfeeding, the effect of television appeared neutral. Contrary to many parents’ perception that television viewing is beneficial to their children’s brain development, the researchers found no evidence of such a benefit. The authors point out that there are many potential benefits of limiting television exposure in children, including improved diet, lower risk of overweight, less exposure to violent content, and improved sleep quality.
October 21, 2009 by Robin Beckett
Hey, all you Oscar Mayer fans, this just in: The 27-foot-long Wienermobile is pulling into Yakima Thursday morning.
Yep, that’s a custom-made fiberglass hot dog resting on a lightly toasted bun… the stuff childhood dreams are made of. Visit the Wienermobile for free at various local groceries this week to play games and pick up an elusive Wiener Whistle. Hot dogs will be served at some locations.
You can ketchup (I relish a good pun) with cross-country hotdoggers Alison and Mary Kate at the following Yakima locations:
8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Top Food and Drug, 2203 S. First St.
1-5 p.m. Safeway, 2204 W. Nob Hill Blvd. (Hot dogs will be served.)
1-5 p.m. Safeway, 5702 Summitview Ave. (Hot dogs will be served.)
8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Rosauers, 410 S. 72nd Ave.
1-5 p.m. Albertson’s, 401 S. 40th Ave. (Hot dogs will be served.)
To read all about life inside the Wienermobile with Alison and Mary Kate, read their blog at hotdoggerblog.com.
Hi all, it’s Sara here. I got an update from Michelle this morning, so I thought I’d share with you all that she’s doing really well so far. She received her second dose of chemotherapy on Monday and was able to go work out at the Y that evening!
After the first round of chemo in September, she felt just fine for about five days. On the sixth day, she felt like she’d been clobbered by a ton of bricks. Guess we’ll know soon enough whether that pattern’s going to repeat itself. In the meantime, here’s what Michelle’s been doing this week:
“Chemo on Monday, ‘Gut Busters’ at the YMCA on Monday night, a white blood cell booster shot on Tuesday (plus yoga on Tues. night), a trip to Northstar and the Wellness House on Wednesday (plus Target to buy Alexandre’s cowboy costume), then home in time to do 2 loads of laundry! Okay – so now I’m tired, but I cannot seem to ‘become accepting’ of a messy house. Tomorrow (Thursday), I’m doing Pilates in the AM (a healthy body goes hand in hand with healing!), yet more lab work in the afternoon, and yoga in the PM.”
Whew! Just reading that schedule is wearing me out… I’ll let you know when I get another update.
— Sara Bristol
October 13, 2009 by Robin Beckett
A little Frenchman was born this morning, 1:40 a.m. Paris time. His mother was recovering well after delivering by Cesarean. His father was stressed then relieved, ultimately proud.
Across the world, I learned about the birth from an e-mail. Sent mes féliciations via Facebook.
Sometimes it’s amazing how small the world can be.
In 1994-95, I spent a year in Dijon, France, as an exchange student with Rotary International. I was 18 years old, and it was a big thing for a girl from a small town to do. With four years of high school French under my belt and three bags full of clothes, I set off across the world on my own. On my own. As a mother, the idea of my own children leaving on their own makes my stomach knot.
To let me go, my mother must have been very brave. I suppose that going made me brave, too.
It was a hard year in a lot of ways. We didn’t have e-mail or Facebook back then. I spoke to my parents once a month on the phone (and it cost them a fortune). Correspondence with other friends and family was all via snail mail. My French wasn’t that strong and I didn’t know a soul, at least at first. The experience was both amazing and, frequently, quite isolating. And I’d absolutely do it all over again.
Through the years, I’ve managed to keep in touch with several people I knew in Dijon. I’ve been back to Europe three times since my exchange, including one trip where I was able to show my husband where I lived and introduce him to the families who hosted me. Mostly, we keep in touch with Christmas cards and wedding photos. But when I think of France, I know real people, not stereotypes or caricatures. And when I look at that photo of my host sister holding her newborn baby, she looks like any other mother I know. Absolutely in love with that little prince. Day 1.
A couple weeks ago, I had the amazing experience of being able to spend an evening with one of my old classmates from Dijon. Maëlle was a French girl in my class, almost three years younger than me but one of my better buds while I was there. A year after I came home, she came and spent a month with me in Grants Pass, Ore., my hometown. It wasn’t anything formal, just something we’d worked out so she could visit the U.S. and work on her English.
After that summer, we lost touch for at least a decade, then found each other on Facebook about a year ago. She works in international business these days and, in September, her job brought her over to Seattle. I made the two-hour drive over the mountains to see her. Thankfully, Maëlle’s English is much better than my rusty French these days, so we had a really nice visit. She doesn’t have kids yet and she had a lot of questions about how becoming a mother had changed my life. It’s a lot like traveling to a foreign country, I told her. It’s an amazing adventure. Sometimes isolating. Really, you just can’t know how different it’s going to be until you get there. And I’d absolutely do it all over again.
Congratulations, Stéphanie and Fréderic. Enjoy your new adventure!
If you think breast cancer only concerns women your mother’s age, think again. If you’re a woman, this story is for you.
It’s the story of three mothers from the Yakima area who each battled breast cancer before she turned 40. Rare, right? Not exactly.
Let’s crunch some numbers: According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Of that number, 95 percent involve women age 40 and over.
So — whew! — only 5 percent involve women under 40. That means mothers in their 20s and 30s can put that concern on the back burner and get back to making dinner, right? Because that’s just, um, let’s see… about 1 in 165 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer before age 40.
Bet you know 165 women. Start with your friends and family. Then there’s the ladies at church and work. Mothers at MOPS or the PTA. Hey, don’t forget to include yourself.
So far, medical experts can’t predict who’s going to get breast cancer. More than 70 percent of the women who get it do not have a family history of the disease.
Unfortunately, the most significant risk factors for breast cancer are just being female and getting older. So it’s more likely to occur as we age, but breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 15 to 54.
Thankfully, there’s a little good news: The five-year survival rate, when breast cancer is caught early before it spreads beyond the breast, is 98 percent.
That’s why we see a lot of pink in October. The official color of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, pink now rivals pumpkin orange as the month’s predominant color: Pink ribbons, pink M&M candies, pink “Save the Ta-Tas” T-shirts. It’s all about raising money for breast cancer research and reminding women to take care of themselves with monthly breast self-exams, regular visits to the doctor and, beginning at age 40, an annual mammogram.
Just don’t be fooled into thinking you can ignore this one until the big Four-Oh lights up your birthday cake. The moms in this story each will tell you that a self-exam saved her life.
She was young and healthy, with no family history of cancer, when this Selah mom felt a lump during a breast self-exam in June 2007. The lump was fairly small but felt different, so Katherine went to her doctor to have it checked out — just to be sure.
“I was told that it was nothing the first time I went in,” Katherine recalls. “By November, it was really painful where my lump was, which is not normal.”
She went back to the doctor, who suspected a cyst and ordered a mammogram. After seeing the images, the doctor requested a biopsy.
“At that point, I knew I had breast cancer before they even biopsied it,” says Katherine.
As they went in to get the results of the biopsy, Katherine’s husband Chad assured her everything would be okay.
“He was like, you can’t have it. People your age don’t get breast cancer.”
Katherine’s tumor was 5 centimeters in diameter at the time she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer, which had already spread into some of her lymph nodes.
Katherine underwent chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove the tumor, known as a lumpectomy, then radiation. One of the hardest parts, Katherine says, was seeing how her illness affected her kids, Alyssa and Evan, now 9 and 7. Alyssa slept in Katherine’s bedroom and Evan, then a kindergartner, would sometimes ask his mom if she was going to die.
“It just rips your heart out,” Katherine says.
Now in remission for over a year, Katherine, 34, is a preschool teacher for the Toppenish School District.
“Early detection is so important,” she says. “Doing the self-exams and getting a second opinion and trusting yourself that you know your body. That’s what I’ve learned from all of this.
“You think about it (cancer) every day, but you just try to make the most of each day. It’s forever changed me.”
Today, she’s a busy West Valley mom to three daughters. Carole doesn’t think about breast cancer too much anymore. And that kind of surprises her, actually. There were so many days she thought she’d never forget.
Step back 15 years: Carole’s grandmother was a breast cancer survivor, but Carole wasn’t worried about it for herself. After all, she was just 27, married with no children yet. Breast cancer was something that happened to older women — like her grandmother.
Health-conscious, Carole did the perfunctory breast self-exams anyway, not expecting to find anything. However, one day, she felt an unusual lump: “Rock hard, like a marble, but it didn’t hurt,” Carole recalls.
“I just figured that it was nothing, How could it be anything? I was 27.”
She was young, healthy and fit. She felt great. But after a mammography and biopsy, Carole learned she had Stage II breast cancer. Even the doctor couldn’t believe it; he sent the tissue sample twice to the lab to confirm.
Carole had a lumpectomy, followed by six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. When the treatments ended, she was ready to start a family.
Three years later, Carole got the go-ahead from her doctor. She and husband Enrique started a new chapter in their lives with the birth of their daughter Nicole.
Then, when the baby was just 6 months old, a mammogram — now a regular part of Carole’s follow-up routine — detected a new primary tumor in her other breast.
This time, Carole opted for a bilateral mastectomy, determined to kick breast cancer for good.
“And then I got it again.”
Her daughter was 4 when Carole found a third lump on her chest near the scar where her breast tissue had been removed. “How could it be? There’s nothing left,” she wondered.
After a lumpectomy, she went through chemotherapy a second time.
Today, Carole has been cancer-free for eight years. In addition to Nicole, now 12, Carole and Enrique have 3-year-old twins, Natalie and Lauren. The couple own and operate Mad Science of Yakima County.
In the 15 years since her first battle with breast cancer, Carole’s mother and an aunt have also been diagnosed with breast cancer. However, doctors haven’t been able to link the women to any known cancer gene or explain why Carole had cancer at such a young age.
“I’ve met a lot of people (other survivors) who were so young. I was surprised,” she says. At the time, “I thought I was the only one.”
“I’ve heard some women who are scared and say they don’t want to do it (get a mammogram) because it hurts. But I’m telling you, it’s just a minute or two of hurting that can save your life.”
Just this summer, the last week of June, Michelle and husband Todd celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary with a cruise to Alaska.
“It was the best vacation we’ve ever had,” Michelle says, enthusiastically ticking off a list off the couple’s adventures: Rock climbing, sea kayaking, riding a zip line.
Aboard the ship, Michelle also performed a breast self-exam, a precautionary task she’d been through roughly once a month for years. This time, she felt a lump.
“I was not nervous or worried,” recalls Michelle, who’d had two benign fibroadenomas removed in the past. Still, the stay-at-home mom to Alex, 5, and Madeleine, 3, arranged for a mammogram as soon as she got back to Yakima.
When she was called back for a biopsy, Michelle still wasn’t worried about cancer. After all, she reasoned, she eats well and works out at least four times a week. “I feel great.”
So, it caught Michelle by surprise when she learned in July that she had a Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in her right breast. The tumor was fast-growing, but Michelle found it early, before it had spread into her lymph nodes or other tissues.
Nine days after her diagnosis, and just three weeks after she found the lump, Michelle had surgery to remove the tumor. A month later, she had a second surgery so doctors could make sure they’d removed all of the cancerous cells; test results indicated the surgeries were a success.
Dreading the sickness and hair loss caused by the cancer-fighting drugs, Michelle began chemotherapy in mid-September. She remains confident that early detection, aggressive treatment and prayers of support will help her win this battle.
“I have no doubt I’ll make it to the five-year mark,” Michelle says. “I’ve never had any doubt.”
According to the Young Survival Coalition, many young women and their doctors are unaware that they are at risk for breast cancer. Young women are often diagnosed at a later stage than their older counterparts.
The YSC encourages young women to become advocates for their own health and become educated about breast cancer. Learn more at youngsurvival.org.
— Sara Bristol
October 1, 2009 by Robin Beckett
Mad Science Goo
Experiment: Investigate a very different kind of liquid
In the 17th century, Sir Isaac Newton conducted experiments with liquids and declared that all liquids have a constant thickness. Well, he never played with Mad Science Goo!
This slime, which you can make at home, takes the shape of whatever container it is in (like a liquid), but can also act like a solid.
What You Need
Food coloring (optional)
What To Do
Lay some newspaper under your work area. This could get messy.
Place a bowl in the center of the newspaper.
Pour a cup of cornstarch into the bowl. Add a few drops of food coloring if you wish.
Slowly pour some water (start with 1/2 cup) into the bowl, mixing the water and cornstarch together until all the powder is wet.
Keep adding water, little by little, until the mixture feels like a liquid when slowly mixed.
Try tapping on the surface with the back of a spoon. When the Goo is just right, it won’t splash like you would expect; it reacts like a solid! If your Mad Science Goo is too powdery, add a little water and mix again. If it’s too wet, add more cornstarch and mix.
Pick up a handful and squeeze it. Stop squeezing all of a sudden. What happens? What did you notice?
— Carole Jevons, Mad Science of Yakima County
What’s Going On?
The mixture feels solid when squeezed but flows like a liquid when released. This is because Mad Science Goo is a non-Newtonian fluid. This means that it does not have the same properties that most other fluids do (the ones described by Newton). Non-Newtonian fluids all share a unique property: Their thickness changes in response to pressure!
When you tapped the goo with the back of your spoon, you caused a sudden increase of pressure on the surface of the goo and the goo thickened. If you move your hand quickly through the goo, it resists your movement by becoming even thicker.
Did You Know?
The same principle applies to quicksand. If you ever find yourself trapped in quicksand, move very slowly toward the shore. The quicker you move, the thicker the quicksand will become around you, causing you to sink even further.