Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

A perk of having my own blog is that companies and organizations send me products to review. For the record: I never turn down any food or beverage. :)

You can imagine my delight in tasting vanilla-flavored Flaxmilk by Flax USA. (Yes, Katie, I am a Berkeley girl who gets excited about flax milk!) It is healthy: it is lactose and dairy free, gluten free, soy free and includes as much calcium as cow’s milk and much more in omega-3 protein, which is essential for a healthy body and mind. It is also delicious! We’ve had some hot days in California, and I have been running hard in preparation for a marathon this fall, so I have even found myself craving a cold glass of Flaxmilk.

Another plus: the company is based in North Dakota. Go USA!

The downside? It is only available in Wal-Mart stores. As soon as it is available in Berkeley Bowl, I will certainly buy it. What kind of milk does your family drink?

I have not been following the Casey Anthony case, but I couldn’t escape it as the headline for every major publication. The verdict? Anthony, who was accused of murdering her two-year-old and covering it up, was found not guilty for murder, aggravated child abuse or aggravated manslaughter. She was found guilty of lying to police, which can carry up to a four-year prison term. Here is the story at Slate. Did you follow the case at all? What did you think of the verdict?

Malia Obama is 13 years old. Check out this cute story about her party.

In somewhat related news, also had a story about scientists being able to “cure aging” and let humans live indefinitely. What do you all think?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The DREAM Act may come up for a vote this week. Here is a list of Democratic and Republican legislators whose votes are up in the air. Please call if any of them are your members of Congress.

In somewhat related news, the Pentagon released a report stating that 70 percent of U.S. service members believe repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would have little or no effect on their units, according to the Washington Post. Also in the Washington Post: in one of the few bipartisan votes during this Administration, the Senate passed a sweeping food safety bill to ensure that less Americans get sick from salmonella and other food contaminants.

Yesterday, I reviewed relationship expert Laurie Puhn’s book Fight Less, Love More. Coincidentally, she also had a column in the Huffington Post about the root of divorce. Also from Puhn’s Expecting Words blog: she wrote a response to the responses she received to a column she wrote about a hospital doing away with the nursery. She thought it was unfair for a tired mother to have to care for her baby round-the-clock while she was at the hospital. What is your take on this?

The number of adults in Texas with diabetes is expected to quadruple over the next 30 years, according to the Texas Tribune. Demographers are attributing the spike in diabetes cases to an aging population and obesity.  

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, a very happy birthday to our Erin. I was two days too early on Facebook, but today is the right day. :)

Speaking of Facebook, a friend alerted me of an iPhone application called TinyVox that lets you make recordings and share with people on your social networks. She recently shared with me an adorable recording of her baby girl babbling. I downloaded the app to record Ari playing the piano, which by the way, his recital is coming up!

In health news: Eating disorders have risen steadily in children and teens over the last few decades, with some of the sharpest increases among boys and minorities, according to a report published in Pediatrics. Here is a write-up of the report by HealthDay:

In one startling statistic cited in the report, an analysis by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that hospitalizations for eating disorders jumped by 119 percent between 1999 and 2006 for kids younger than 12.

At the same time as severe cases of anorexia and bulimia have risen, so too have “partial-syndrome” eating disorders — young people who have some, but not all, of the symptoms of an eating disorder. Athletes, including gymnasts and wrestlers, and performers, including dancers and models, may be particularly at risk, according to the report.

“We are seeing a lot more eating disorders than we used to and we are seeing it in people we didn’t associate with eating disorders in the past — a lot of boys, little kids, people of color and those with lower socioeconomic backgrounds,” said report author Dr. David Rosen, a professor of pediatrics, internal medicine and psychiatry at University of Michigan. “The stereotype [patient] is of an affluent white girl of a certain age. We wanted people to understand eating disorders are equal-opportunity disorders.”

Oy. In other health news, scientists have been able to reverse aging in rodents. The mice were the equivalent of 80-year-old humans about to pass away, and their genes were manipulated to make them “young adults,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Brave new world, eh?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


It’s been one year, second diary

I went back and reread the first diary and all of the advice and I want to say thanks and do a followup.

It was in July, 2009 that I wrote my first diary asking for advice concerning my mother in law and her unhappiness which is real and has its roots in loss and old age.

To be honest, not much has changed from a year ago, with my MIL and the loss of her husband.  She’s still sad, she still is needy and she still has flashes of anger and frustration.  But she has moved on about the need to get together more often, because family members (not us) have made it difficult to meet up and visit around the kitchen table.

Now, we keep visiting and taking her and her daughter out to lunch and shopping.  We go in and do yard work and update and clean up her computer.  We have helped with sorting through closets and with tax problems.

And if you are catching my drift, it’s “we” as in me and my family that are toting this load.  In fact, his brother has checked out almost completely, going so far as to exclude his mom and sister from holidays and other visits.  They keep saying they want to see her, just not this weekend.

I’m not asking for advice for how to deal with his brother, his choices are not a surprise.  What I need to know is how to pace myself and my family so we can give our time and effort with love and care and keep resentment and frustration out of it, or to a minimum.  Caring for aging parents is a challenge and I am sure, here, others have done it and keep doing it with more grace than I could ever summon up.  So if you’ve got tips, I’ll take them.  


Weird Ailments

As I grow older, I have begun to notice some pretty weird things that have been happening to me and my body. I have had weird facial/jaw pain, weird female body organ pain, weird PMS symptoms, and now – weird plugged up ears sensation. It is SO frustrating!

I hear myself louder than everyone else. Other people’s conversations are very hard to decipher. The crumbling of paper makes my ears bleed! The base in ANYTHING, including songs, voices, car motors, drives me over the edge. It has pestered me off and on for a few months and I don’t know what to do. Like most people, I gather that it probably would be best to make an appointment with my doctor – but when I get around to it, the nuisance is gone. Besides, who would I make an appointment with? A GP? A Neurologist? An ENT doctor? A psychiatrist?

I’m afraid to google because it’ll probably reveal that I have some strange, exotic disease – like ear drum cancer.

Has anyone experienced this strange phenomenon? Have you heard of it? Do you know what it is? What would you recommend?

What about you? Have you noticed any weird ailments that you’ve begun to suffer from since you reached a certain age? Why don’t you share your symptoms! Maybe one of our fabulous MotherTalkers out there has the answer!


Super Powers I Have Now That I’m Old

It’s common for people to lament some power or ability that they feel they are losing with age. But we rarely celebrate the finely honed skills that we have that we struggled with in our youth.

Today I celebrate the things I do far better, at 40, than I did as a youngster. And many of them amaze me.

I remember typing up papers, one finger at a time. I remember first learning to touch type, struggling with the letters, the stretch, with keeping my fingers in the right position, with accuracy. Today I can type very fast and very accurately with very little thought or effort. I can compose fairly cogent essays on the fly (as I am doing now) far faster on a keyboard than I ever could with paper and pencil. I can think and type at the same time.

I remember STRUGGLING over one page opinion papers in school, working on them for days, getting up at 3 or 4 am before school to finish them, and having them still feel awkward and ragged until the last minute. Today, I can knock one off in maybe an hour if it has to be good, less if it is just an internet comment. I don’t even find a 20 page proposal or document to be particularly difficult, though obviously it takes more time to generate the text. This ASTOUNDS me in retrospect. When did my neurology get so good at this?

I remember as a child being stunned at all the eclectic things my father Just Knew, about science, about economics, about the world, about life. I still am today – but I also have seen my daughter be impressed at all the things I Just Know. Heck, me too, kid.

And I can still learn. In recent years, I’ve acquired a casual knowledge base about ceramics and chickens that surprises me. I am still a voracious reader of fiction and I am pleased to report – contrary to an artificial crisis I had at age 20, where I was sure I had better slow down – that I am in no danger of running out of great fiction to read. People make more every day.

Working with my daughter in math, I realize how many tricks I’ve developed to calculate numbers quickly in my head. I have been reading a book of these tricks, and I was surprised to see that many of them are ones I already know and use, that somehow I’ve either figured them out or absorbed them on my own. I remember STRUGGLING to do math without a calculator in 10th grade, or the deep confusion I had learning long division, the tantrums I had while absorbing algebra, the epiphany I had when I finally understood counting in binary or other number systems other than base ten. Today the neural pathways are so well greased that I can do those things without conscious effort. Only the memory of the struggle reminds me that they were not easy at first.

I remember desperately trying to teach a dog to sit and heel when I was 10. Today my animals seem to come trained… and yet I know they are not. Somehow my body language has refined in a way that I cannot see. The books that I read about training horses, the ones that told me it would all Just Work if I did things Just So… well, they didn’t work then, but they do now.

I can cook many dishes with no cookbook, something that I considered insane when I was in high school. How could anyone just make up a tasty meal on the fly?

Of course, there are things I don’t do as well now, and things I still aspire to do. But, there are many rewards to the long path that sometimes I forget.

So, what are your superpowers, the things you can do now that used to be so difficult?


Late Night Liberty: The Pink Button

I read this article in Jezebel, and wanted to share it with you. It’s about a new product called My New Pink Button, which is a dye for your labia. Yes, in the event that your nether regions have lost their youthful luster, you can dye it in one of four colors offered by this…disturbing product.

From My New Pink Button website:

My New Pink Button ™ is a temporary dye to restore the youthful pink color back to your labia. There is no other product like it. This patent pending formula was designed by a female certified Paramedical Esthetician after she discovered her own genital color loss. While looking online for a solution she discovered thousands of other women asking the same questions regarding their color loss. After countless searches revealing no solution available and a discussion with her own gynecologist she decided to create her own. Now there is a solution!

Are these women serious? I mean, who has time to worry about the color of their hoo-hah?

For those that DO worry about the color, My New Pink Button offers the following four shades:

Marilyn:  The lightest of our colors. Good for beginners who want to make a slight change fresh color change in their appearance or those who are very fair skinned. For a more dramatic result check out our other colors.

Bettie:  Think of that favorite lipstick you wear for those dressy black tie affairs and think “Bettie”. This shade blends with a woman’s own skin tones to bring out that “sexy hot pink, I am fired up, look”. Go dancing this weekend and remember to bring “Bettie” along!

Ginger:  Will combine with darker skin tones to bring forth a real rosy tone. Use this one and be “Ginger-licious!”

Audrey:  For the woman that loves to be daring, we bring you “Audrey”! This is the deepest, darkest color that we offer to give you a bold burgundy pink color. Perfect for everyone, and your own base color will determine the depth of this shade. Tonight its Show time!!

All I’m wondering is how scary your underwear may look if the color runs!! Or, what if the shade isn’t complimentary? Or, WHO CARES!!!

Look, I am a self-proclaimed make-up whore. I LOVE dressing up. If I don’t have the time to dress up, or I’m just going to the corner store I’ll at least curl my lashes. But, I draw the line in dying my cooch!! If my partner doesn’t like the color of my lips, then he can go elsewhere. What will they think of next? A curling iron for your pubes??

What do you think?


Oh, my aching eyes.

Ladies, I ordered my first pair of bifocals today.

God, I feel so old!

My eyes are killing me–they ache, they’re tired, I can’t focus on the computer anymore.  I had mucho anxiety going to the eye doctor today because I really thought I was going blind.  I was teetering very close to bursting into tears through out the appointment, and really had to hold it in when the doctor told me I need bifocals.  I’m only 37!

The doctor told me its all my computer time.  I spent 8.5 hours a day at work reading the computer, and then I’m here, and on Facebook, and reading my email at home.  Luckily, the bifocals fix the problem.  But the doctor did tell me that the computer time sped up the decline of my ability to focus–I’m so very nearsighted that normally I wouldn’t need bifocals until my mid-40s.

This immediately triggered a new thought process in my head–when the heck are my KIDS going to need bifocals, 15??  I asked the doctor, and she said to limit all near-focus activity to 20 minute spurts.  Reading, coloring, computer time, gameboy time.  Yikes.  She also said that the rule of thumb for tv viewing distance is three times the size of the TV is how far away you should sit.  Which is a problem, because we have a 52 inch TV.  Which means we should be sitting 156 inches away.  Which is 13 frickin’ feet away.  HAH.  Right now, in the new house, we’re sitting about 48 inches away if we’re lucky.  So, now on my list is a buying a new, smaller TV.  

Does anyone else worry about this type of stuff?  I hate the fact that my DD’s preschool already exposes them to computer time.  And I was just remarking to DH the other day about how much more TV time DS is getting at the tender age of 16 months because DD watches it.  Any advice on ways to mitigate this would be great.  I just dropped $600 on the bifocals and new lenses for my sunglasses, so I need to put off the financial pain as long as possible!!  

(in other fun, you’re getting old news, the floaters I’ve been seeing a lot lately are just part of the normal aging process as well.  Hip hip hooray.  :(  )

ETA: I forgot to bitch, my new glasses won’t be in for two weeks thanks to the stupid insurance company.  I. AM. IN. PAIN.  My productivity at work has dropped down a well.  And now I have to wait two more weeks to get the damn glasses.  BOO!


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up? ran a story on promising renewable green jobs in the midwest. We are going to need it as the United States continues to hemorrhage jobs, according to the Washington Post

Paula Span, an expert in caring for the elderly, recently discussed caring for aging parents with Bostonia magazine.  

This is shameful: The U.S. Department of Justice found evidence of mistreatment at 13 residential state facilities for the disabled in Texas, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times. The Caller Times said cell phone images of a fight club started by the wards is about to emerge.

I have one word for Salon’s Kate Harding: Bravo! She wrote a wonderful piece on how criticism that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is letting down her children by quitting is sexist and unfair. I appreciated her recognition that mothers just can’t win no matter what they do.

Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids doled out tips for a greener car trip.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


michael jackson? where is my childhood?

first ed, then farrah, now michael?

it feels like so many from my childhood are going away….

when celebrities die, i feel for their families but it also brings up a lot of emotions in me, especially when it is ones i loved, followed intensely or simply saw as an icon . i hate getting old. it is taking a lot of me to get used to it and these people dying forces me to confront the inevitable.