Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

This is so sad: Detroit’s financial crisis is so bad that people do not have money to bury the dead. The bodies are piling up at the morgue, according to CNN.

Shopaholics beware: Women are more likely to make impulsive purchases 10 days before their periods, according to a British study covered by Parenting magazine. Also in Parenting: A group of men — of course! — launched a website called PMSbuddy.com to “save relationships one month at at time” by alerting men when their female loved ones are menstruating. This almost sounds like a hoax, but I can’t imagine any sane person spending that much time on a joke. Would you encourage the special men in your lives to use this service?

Since we are on the topic of periods, Parents — not to be confused with Parenting magazine —  ran this blurb:

CRAMP CONTROL
Prone to serious pain the early days of your period? Try a ginger supplement. An Iranian study recently found that swallowing a 250mg ginger capsule four times a day for the first few days of a woman’s cycle was as effective at relieving cramps as taking 400mg of ibuprofen.

Also in Parents: Drugstores like Walgreens are starting to carry “gender prediction tests” for pregnant women. The two brands highlighted by Parents were IntelliGender Gender Prediction Test ($35) and Pink or Blue DNA Gender Test ($154). Based on the price tags and how cumbersome especially the latter test is — you have to mail in a blood sample — I question their utility. Have any of you tried these tests? Are they worth the money?

And no, the train wreck that is Jon and Kate Gosselin, has not come to an end. Jon is now suing to cease production of the TLC show Kate Plus 8, according to People.

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

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Vegetarian Parents “Cruel”?

Perhaps because it is an issue in my own household, this debate in Parenting magazine struck a nerve: “Is it cruel to make your preschooler follow a vegetarian diet?”

I thought “cruel” was a harsh word, nonetheless, here were the responses:

Yes 63%
“If you force your preschooler into following a certain diet, he may have issues with food down the line. I think teaching your children to understand the benefits of a healthy diet is important. But then again, they’re in preschool, so let them live a little!”
–Azuree’D Tucker, Fort Myers, FL

“I’m a vegetarian, but I believe that becoming a vegetarian should be a matter of choice, never forced.”
–Christine Agro, Brooklyn….

No 37%
“What is cruel about taking care of your child’s diet? And their colon, and the environment? This question is just stupid.”
–maripoopoopoo on Parenting’s Twitter page

“Parents who serve their kids meat aren’t giving them a choice about that.”
–LeighannMMM on Parenting’s Twitter page

I agree with another comment on the “no” side that there are other “vegetarian” foods besides steamed vegetables. My vegetarian husband, who hates eating greens, is a prime example of that: beans, soy, pastas, pizza, etc..

Even though I never cook meat at home — and we eat at home at least 90 percent of the time — I admit, we still clash over the kids’ diets. He is a vegetarian out of ethical reasons and would like to raise the children vegetarian. But you know what? Even I have my lazy days. I don’t feel like denying my kids meat at birthday parties or meaty snacks like salami at the grocery store. I do give my children meat options at restaurants — especially if I am going to eat it. They like chicken — and usually the fried variety.

But in regards to this “debate,” I don’t see how enforcing a certain diet or lifestyle like vegetarianism is any different than making your kids go to church on Sundays or raising them with a certain belief system. My husband has humane and valid reasons for wanting his family to be vegetarian so I do think it is unfair to paint vegetarian households as “cruel.” Are practicing Hindus “cruel” to their children? What a trite question.

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What To Do With Frozen Embryos?

Parenting magazine ran an incredible article about the difficult decision parents who conceived through IVF must make: What to do with the leftover embryos? As it turns out, most couples continue to pay the storage fee, hesitant to destroy the embryos or give them away.

From Parenting:

Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of embryos have accumulated in fertility clinics throughout the country, some awaiting transfer but many literally frozen in time as parents ask themselves questions few among us ever consider with such immediacy: When does life begin? What does “life” mean, anyway? In a recent survey of 58 couples, researchers from the University of California in San Francisco found that 72 percent were undecided about the fate of their stored embryos. In another study last year of more than 1,000 fertility patients from nine clinics, 20 percent of couples who wanted no more children said they planned or expected to keep their embryos frozen indefinitely. Couples have held on to embryos for five years or more, waiting on an epiphany that never comes. Nadya Suleman, the now-famous mother of octuplets, told NBC News that she had all eight of her embryos implanted because she couldn’t bear to dispose of any of them.

“When you’re pouring your money, your heart, and your soul into creating an embryo and creating a life, the last thing you want to think about is how you’re going to dispose of it,” says Anne Drapkin Lyerly, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center. Until the storage fee comes due. At that point, couples generally have to choose among four options:

Those four options, according to Parenting, is donating the embryos to other infertile couples, donating the embryos to medical research, thawing them without donating or postponing the decision by continuing to pay the storage fee. From this article, it sounds like three-quarters of the couples are paying the storage fee.

I know this is a very personal topic, but I was curious to hear from those of you who have had IVF — what did you do with the leftover embryos? How did you come to that decision?

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Late-Night Liberty: Picky Eaters Edition

I know this is not a sexy topic, but surely mine is not the only household fighting an eating war every day at 6 p.m..

I am the only one who does the food shopping and cooks every other night here. Because my husband is a strict vegetarian — he eats cheese but no eggs, for example — I plan our meals around a weekly produce delivery.

For the most part, my husband will eat what I make even if he dislikes the veggies in the meals like kale and collard greens. My kids on the other hand will immediately take out all greens from their food. And reds. And oranges. Anything that is a vegetable — unless it is corn on the cob — they refuse to eat. To my chagrin, even 2-year-old Eli is this way.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at this suggestion in Parenting — sorry, I could not find the link! — that the secret to getting your kids to eat veggies is to give them cute names like “x-ray vision carrots.”

Researchers at Cornell University found that when preschoolers were told that ordinary carrot sticks were called “x-ray vision carrots,” they ate almost twice as many of them. Not only that, but the kids continued to eat more carrots, even when they didn’t carry the catchy name. The strategy worked because “framing healthy foods in ways that children can relate to helps encourage tasting and eating,” says study coauthor Collin Payne, Ph.D.

The magazine even suggested names for different vegetables:

broccoli = dinosaur trees
salad greens = bunny food
cherry tomatoes = ketchup berries
peas = power peas
beans = magic beans
asparagus = super spears

For some reason, I think my family will crack up if I start naming our vegetables. Of course this means I will have to try it!

That is not to say I have not made progress with Ari on this front. The other day he discovered grilled asparagus. (We were at a barbecue.) And he loved it. He will also eat broccoli with ranch dressing. He just doesn’t like it in my salads or meals. Huh.

I also keep reminding myself that I did not have the best diet as a kid and spent much of my adult life as a vegetarian — and still eat plenty of fruits and veggies. No harm done.

What about you? How do you get your picky eaters to eat? What do you think of Parenting’s suggestions?

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Late-Night Liberty: Things You Never Knew You Could Do With One Hand…

I giggled at this Parenting column on “10 things you never knew you could do with one hand.” (Sorry, I could not find a link!)

They were:

• text-message
• make spaghetti
• feed a pet
• wrap a present using a mini-shopping bag, tissue, and a stick-on bow
• brush an older child’s hair
• fold baby clothes and put back in drawers
• repot a plant
• write thank-you notes
• whip up a smoothie
• tend to husband’s needs (if you know what we mean)

My ultimate example of multi-tasking — and don’t think I am not proud of this! — was sitting on the toilet while I was nursing Ari and talking on a cell phone. And I used to load up the washing machine or fold laundry with a baby on me.

What other things have you discovered you can do with one hand — or two — if we are talking of more than one task?

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Late-Night Liberty: Spacing Children Edition

Emily Bloch over at Parenting magazine wrote a great story about spacing children.

She published a guide of the pros and cons of having children two years apart to having them four or more years apart. Here is an excerpt:

three years apart
Here, you get the best and worst of the extremes: The kids will probably overlap in school and be close enough in age to be involved in each other’s activities, schools, and friendships — but not close enough that they’ll be able to play or share friends like real compadres. And three years’ difference might be just enough to avoid the fierce, head-to-head matches seen in a closer spacing — but your older child won’t be mature enough to hold off on “you’re doing it wrong” comments to his little brother.

Of course, I chose the “three years apart” section since my own two children are 3.5 years apart. I would say the first year they were together was the toughest since the older child was old enough to get jealous and regress on the potty-training front, yet too young to help us entertain the baby.

Now at 5 and 2 it is great. Our son is the helpful big brother, the two of them share a room and like watching TV together. It is sweet.

What I like about Parenting’s guide is the magazine focused on all facets of spacing children, including impact on marriage, a realistic view of what the first few days are like and an objective mom’s view of the pros and cons of each period. It doesn’t say one way is better than another.

What is the age difference between your children? How has that worked out?

Of course, this is an open thread. So chat away!

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Parenting a Teenager Part II

Hi all,

Per our discussion below, I started wondering the ages of our children and how that affects our coverage. I am going to take our Rachel’s suggestion and put up a poll. If you don’t mind telling us the age of your children and whether you feel we cover moms from all walks of life that would be helpful. Clearly, there is a hunger for information related to older children!

Also, in case you missed it, our Rachel D — the other Rachel! — is thinking of launching a print publication targeting the parents of teenagers. What a fabulous idea. Let’s give her our support.  

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