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?


Saturday Open Thread

Hello Ladies! I am “officially” back and writing for MotherTalkers again, even though I never really left. How could I not lurk and post the occasional comment? This is one party I was loath to be absent from :-)

In any case, here’s my first Saturday Open Thread in a while! Hope there’s something of interest for everyone…

What’s been on my mind? Weight. Baby weight, to be more specific. I am on a mission to drop as much pregnancy weight as possible by my 35th birthday on July 17th. I figure I am nursing and still on maternity leave so now’s as good a time as any; I expect it will only get harder once I’m back on the job.

After my first pregnancy, the pounds seemed to melt off without any special effort. This time around I have had to work at it. So I have been counting calories and exercising while being careful not to overdo it, lest it affect my hungry baby’s milk supply. Overall, I am working really hard and getting decent results, so I’m pleased and encouraged.

What about you? How hard/easy was it to lose the baby weight?

This story, featured in Jezebel, made me cringe: an Oklahoma City gym told a woman she was too fat to exercise on their machines. Say WHAT?!

Gym employees apparently claimed that Ruiz might break the equipment, but it would seem prudent for a gym to invest in machines that could tolerate a wide range of bodies… Her case illustrates the double bind obese people often face — they’re frequently called lazy and told to work out more, but then face stigma when they do.

Wow, just… wow.

So Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old California girl who was attempting to sail around the world, has been found after being feared lost at sea. And now the recriminations and criticism are flying: should she have been out there in the first place? Should she and her family shoulder the cost of the search and rescue efforts? What would YOU do if your kid wanted to attempt a similar risky feat?

L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez captured my feelings most closely:

If, at the age of 16, my daughter wanted to sail around the world by herself despite warnings from sailing experts that she’d be crossing the Indian Ocean during the most dangerous weather conditions of the year, I would tell her, order her and, if necessary, beg her to wait a couple of years.

If she insisted on doing it anyway, I’d compliment her bravery and then lock her in her room, chain her to a tree or slip sleeping pills into her oatmeal.

Abby Sunderland of Thousand Oaks said before leaving Marina del Rey in January that her parents were “trying to scare me out of” taking the trip, but her mom and dad, Marianne and Laurence, apparently gave in. Oh, darn, honey. Sure thing, if it’s what you really want to do.

What say you?

But it seems that commercial airliners aren’t that much safer: Delta has apologized after sending two unaccompanied minors to the wrong destination. YIKES.

WHDH-TV in Boston identified one of the children as 9-year-old Kieren Kershaw, who was flying alone from Spokane, Wash., to Boston to visit his grandparents when his paperwork was switched with the girl’s paperwork during the Minneapolis layover. The girl also was traveling alone.

“It was just weird. I was like, ‘I’m supposed to be at Boston, not Cleveland.’ It was just weird,” Kieren told the station after eventually landing in Boston.

Kieren said employees apologized to him when he was in Cleveland.

“‘Sorry for leaving you here when you’re really supposed to be in Boston,'” the boy quoted employees telling him. “It was kind of nice. They gave me some free food and some Dunkin’ Donuts.

A little Dunkin’ Donuts goes a long way, eh?

What’s everyone up to this weekend? We’ll be seeing BIL today, who will meet Alex for the first time. Then it’s off to a barbeque for my baby brother’s 19th birthday. Only 5 weekends left in my maternity leave, so I am just trying to enjoy the heck out of them.

Chat away!


Weekend Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all! Let’s see what’s up in health and wellness news as we dive into 2010…

In scary news: Researchers say that test-happy Americans are overexposed to radiation from CT scans; one study found that CT scans done in 2007 will cause 29,000 cancers and kill nearly 15,000 Americans.

What do you think? Is there such a thing as too much testing? Have you ever had a CT scan?

On the other hand, maybe Americans aren’t all that eager to get every test under the sun. Another study found that even among women classified as high-risk for breast cancer, their willingness to get free MRI screenings was surprisingly limited:

Of the 512 women who declined, 25.4 percent refused because of claustrophobia, 18.2 percent cited time constraints, 12 percent cited financial concerns if the tests identifies any cancers or has false-positive results, 9.2 percent said their doctor would not refer them and 7.8 percent said it was because they were not interested.

If I was at risk, I think I would jump at a free screening. Then again, I’m not claustrophobic. The answer that shocked me was the 12 percent who “cited financial concerns if the tests identified any cancers.” The fact that these women would rather remain ignorant than grapple with the financial fallout of a cancer diagnosis tells you everything you need to know about our broken health care system.

In STFU news: Rush Limbaugh was rushed to a Hawaii hospital with chest pains, and held a press conference to announce that he is A-OK. He also said, with a straight face, that he got the best health treatment in the world “right here in the United States of America.”

“I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with the United States health system,” Limbaugh said.

Newsflash, Rush: of course you can get the best health care treatment in the world here in the good old U.S. of A.— if you can afford it. You “don’t think there’s one thing wrong with the United States health system” because you’re obscenely rich, and your existence is quite different than, oh, 98 percent of Americans’. Logic = FAIL.

Finally, from JibJab, here’s a look back at the wild, wacky year that was 2009… I had forgotten that Capt. Sully safely landed that plane in the Hudson in 2009! It feels like it happened so long ago. I guess ’09 was just that kind of year…

What’s everyone up to on this first weekend of 2010? Chat away!


Weekend Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all! Let’s get right to some health and wellness news:

Kids are getting braces younger and younger, according to this MSNBC story.

Nadia Czekajewski got braces on her teeth when she was 8. Now she’s in third grade, turning 9, and “she’ll be done before she begins fourth grade,” said her father, Tomasz Czekajewski.

“It was a wise decision to start young,” said Czekajewski, whose family lives in the Lakeview section of Chicago. “Kids are not as self-conscious at this age.”

The experts are divided as to whether or not this is an effective approach; in many cases, an early start just ends up extending the treatment period to as many as 4 years.

What say you? Did you have braces and if so, at what age? What about your kids? As for me, I never had braces but now I long for some Invisalign braces to straighten out my very crowded bottom teeth. But I don’t want them bad enough to shell out the $4,000.

Looks like the Balloon Boy saga has taken a predictable turn: his mom admitted to participating in an elaborate hoax cooked up by her shady husband. The objective: free publicity in hopes of fueling the family’s reality show dreams.

Mayumi Heene told Larimer County investigators that she and her husband, Richard Heene, knew that their 6-year-old son Falcon was hiding at their Fort Collins home the entire time, even as police and military scrambled to search for the boy, according to the documents.

The admission by Mayumi Heene was made October 17, just two days after the balloon was released, according to the documents.

The Heenes initially told authorities that they believed their child had flown away on the balloon, and when the balloon landed without him, they expressed concern that he may have fallen out of the device.

The couple hatched the plan about two weeks before the incident and “instructed their three children to lie to authorities as well as the media regarding this hoax,” according to the documents.

One word: ICK.

A high-profile midwife is being sued over a stillbirth. The parents accuse Carla Muhlhahn of gross negligence and recklessness during the delivery, which lasted three days in their New York apartment.

Lawyers for the McKenzies say Muhlhahn (and two midwives assisting her) broke state law by failing to refer Catherine McKenzie to a doctor during the long delivery, even though a hospital was less than two blocks away. They also fault Muhlhahn for failing to have a written practice agreement with a hospital where a licensed doctor could provide care.

Sounds like a tragic situation all around. But my first reaction: if I was in labor at home for that long, I would have gotten myself to that hospital long before three days.

What’s everyone up to this weekend? Ours is jam packed with soccer, dance and two parties– one of them a costume bash. Maya will be Cinderella, and DH and me are dressing as Mickey and Minnie Mouse (what I really wanted to be was Don and Betty Draper, but this is a kid-centric Halloween bash, so I figured the Mad Men reference would be a wee bit out of place :-)

Plus, the empire waist on my Minnie dress hides my burgeoning belly…

Chat away!


Weekend Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all! And boy, could I use the downtime: between cross-country travel, flight delays and trying to close escrow on a house, I am a train wreck. But I digress… on to some health and wellness news!

Men are less likely than women to wash their hands properly after using the bathroom, according to a study released on Global Handwashing Day.

Participants were shown a variety of messages encouraging hand washing when they entered the study bathrooms.

While women responded to gentle reminders like “Water doesn’t kill germs, soap does,” men often only washed their hands after reading explicit signs like “Soap it off or eat it later,” researchers observed.

“We are really puzzled about this and can’t really explain it,” said Curtis, who surmised that women were more likely to have internalized these messages already.

“The emotion of disgust really works to get people to change their hygiene habits,” she added. The threat of social embarrassment is also a potent encouragement, researchers found.

In our family, DH happens to be the hand-washing enthusiast. He washes his hands many times a day. I wash my hands after using the bathroom and before preparing a meal. As for DD, I have to hound her to wash after she uses the bathroom… “But all I did was pee-pee!” is one of her common refrains.

What’s the hand-washing dynamic like in your home?

Kudos to Beth and Terence McCay for speaking out against the Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry them because they are an interracial couple.

McKay said she was beyond shock. “We are used to the closet racism, but we’re not going to tolerate that overt racism from an elected official.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is calling to have Bardwell’s license revoked, and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is calling for his dismissal — a notion shared by McKay.

“He’s not representing all the people that he is supposed to be representing,” McKay said. “He’s only representing the people with his same opinions.”

The “justice’s” reasoning? He is only worried about the children born of interracial marriages, and he doesn’t think most such marriages will last. What. A. Tool.

What do you make of the whole balloon boy boondoggle? Sheriff’s officials are saying it likely wasn’t a hoax, but I’m not convinced. The father, Richard Heene, is a Grade-A fame whore who had been shopping reality shows around. That and the realization that he had been videotaping the balloon’s take-off before he realized the boy might be in it…and the fact that they called the FAA and a local TV station before calling 911? This guy is mondo shady at best.

Do your kids see you in the nude? Actress Hilary Swank set off a bit of a firestorm when she revealed that she is nude around her boyfriend’s 6-year-old son.

Divorced from actor Chad Lowe, the actress is currently involved with her agent, John Campisi. She said that Campisi’s young son Sam typically sees her naked when he comes into the bedroom in the morning.

“He doesn’t look twice,” Swank told Marie Claire. “He doesn’t think about it yet.”

Um…how do you know what he’s thinking, Hilary??

We’re still occasionally naked around our 4-year-old DD, mainly when we’re getting in or out of the shower. But would I be naked around a young child that wasn’t my own? No. What about you?

What’s everyone up to this weekend? We’ve got soccer, a trip to see a musical production of Beauty and the Beast, and not much else. We had a wonderful time back east, but it’s always nice to be home again!

Chat away!!


Weekend Open Thread

Weekend greetings from the East Coast, y’all! I’m in lovely Connecticut for our annual visit with family.  Good food, great company, beautiful foliage…good times!

Some quick health and wellness tidbits:

Here’s a scary statistic about swine flu, from MSNBC:

Health officials said Friday that 76 children in the United States have died of swine flu since April, including 16 new reports in the past week — more evidence the new virus is unusually dangerous in kids.

The regular flu kills between 46 and 88 children a year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

We plan on getting Maya the inhalable swine flu vaccine when we get back home. I’m pregnant and will receive a regular swine flu shot as soon as it’s available. All three of us have already received the standard seasonal flu shot.

What are your flu shot plans this year? Are you finding them hard to come by?

This editorial struck me for its harsh tone: the director of UPenn’s Center for Bioethics took health care workers to task for protesting mandatory flu shots.

Some health care workers have rallied against the requirements, saying their rights are being infringed. Arthur Caplan’s response:

Excuse me? What rights might those be? The right to infect your patient and kill them? The right to create havoc in the health care workforce if swine flu hits hard? The right to ignore all the evidence of safety and efficacy of vaccines thus continuing to promulgate an irrational fear on the part of the public of the best protection babies, pregnant women, the elderly and the frail have against the flu? Those rights?


I’ll admit I’m torn on this one…a part of me says we’re all in this together and everyone who can physically tolerate (and obtain) a vaccine should get one, but another part of me doesn’t like mandates. Caplan’s final point:

Look, there are legitimate issues that ought to be debated whenever someone says you must do something to benefit others ranging from taxation to restrictions on driving under the influence. But health care workers’ own code of ethics dictates that they put the interests of others — their patients — first.

Getting a flu shot is the least those who claim to be bound by professional ethics ought to do. It’s time to man-up and protect those at risk in our hospitals and nursing homes, along with each other, and make getting a flu shot a part of the responsibility of being a healer.

What do YOU think?

Finally, here’s a lighter, yet thought-provoking piece from Jezebel about high heels: why do women continue to wear them voluntarily?

And so the debate rages on: the sensible versus the defiant. Because there’s no justifying heels; it’s like smoking, only moderately less hazardous to those around you. And people wear them because they don’t have to, in defiance of sense and economy.

I’m torn about heels. I like high-heeled boots, but always prefer a chunky heel to a stiletto or spike heel. I love platforms and wedges because they give me height and some stability. I also dig that when I’m in heels, I’m taller than my husband. :-) I’m relatively tall, especially for someone of Mexican descent, and I like accentuating my height with heels.

But I’m a mere pretender, if I’m being honest. Some women in my family live in heels (the comedian George Lopez used to do a bit about how Mexican women will wear high heels to Disneyland…and it was funny because it’s true).

I’ll wear heels for special occasions and even then, for short amounts of time. I coveted a pair of Manolo Blahniks until my DH surprised me one anniversary and scored me a pair (fuchsia with teal beading!) on eBay.

They are gorgeous…and they HURT LIKE A MOFO. I have worn them a handful of times…the last time was about a month ago at a wedding and I was 4.5 months pregnant.

I switched into flats for the reception because really, who was I trying to impress? I wasn’t going to risk a fall and/or sore feet for my vanity. Took me 34 years to reach that point :-)

What about you? Where (or how) do you stand when it comes to high heels?

What’s everyone up to this weekend? We’ve got hockey games, apple picking, a museum visit and a day trip to New York on tap. Maya is on Cloud 9 visiting with her cousins, especially 11-year-old Emma, who she worships. They are sharing a bed and couldn’t be cuter together if they tried. Gotta admit, it makes me excited to be cooking a baby sister for her :-)

Chat away!!!


Weekend Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all! What’s up in health and wellness news?

My latest
guilty TV pleasure: Diiscovery Health Channel’s “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant!” This MSNBC story gives you the basic formula: woman gains a few pounds, woman still gets spotty, irregular bleeding, woman experiences what she thinks is appendicitis and rushes to the hospital, only to be told she’s  about to have a baby. Ohmygawd!!!

I don’t know why I find this show so fascinating: the cheesy reenactments are always the highlight for me. Plus the stories always end with a happy, healthy baby, which is nice. Some of the comments attached to the MSNBC story are harsh, in the vein of “What kind of idiot doesn’t realize they’re pregnant?!”

I share their disbelief to an extent; even though I’m one of the lucky few who never experienced any sort of morning sickness, nausea, cravings, aversions or mood swings, it’s still impossible to ignore the suddenly bodacious breasts, the swelling belly and, eventually, all the little kicks (oh how I love the kicks!).

Still, I can believe that if a woman has been told she can’t get pregnant, or if she is stressed and distracted, or doesn’t present any traditional symptoms, she can get caught by surprise. Do you know of anyone who had a “surprise” baby?

Here’s a bloody fascinating bit: ever heard of menarchy? Jezebel has the lowdown on this phenomenon, which consists of outspoken women who talk openly about periods and create art of out menstrual blood.

Yes, you read that right.

If you think this is gross, Germaine Greer has some choice words for you: “if you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your own menstrual blood – if it makes you sick, you’ve a long way to go, baby,” she wrote in 1970.

Um…consider me unemancipated then, Germaine. What say you? Are you a menarchist?

And finally, Tufts University has made national news by banning sex in a dorm room…while a roommate is present.

“I don’t believe it’s the university’s place to determine what goes on in a room,” said freshman Jon Levinson. “Personally, I wouldn’t want to have sex in front of my roommate, and my roommate wouldn’t want to have sex in front of me.”

Good for you, Jon. But I think this is a good policy to have in place, especially if a student ends up requesting a room change due to said offense. One of my best friends from college had her roommate get busy with a guy while she lay in the dark, mortified, feigning sleep (roommate and her paramour stumbled into the room long after my friend had turned in for the night…and it just got worse).

What do you think? Should this be a matter between roommates, or should colleges create formal policies?

So what’s everyone up to this weekend? Not much on tap for us other than a soccer game and a couple of family get-togethers. We’re also on the verge of closing escrow on a house…but that’s a whole other can of worms. To say that this process has caused me some stress would be an understatement…but I will say, it wasn’t half as hard when we were young and broke and bought our first home back in 2001. Lending standards have changed, to say the least.

Chat away!!!


Weekend Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all! Here are some health and wellness tidbits:

Two large studies suggest that public smoking bans have led to a marked decrease in heart attacks within said communities:

Overall, American, Canadian, and European cities that have implemented smoking bans had an average of 17 percent fewer heart attacks in the first year, compared with communities who had not taken such measures.

Then, each year after implementing smoking bans (at least for the first three years, the longest period studied), smoke-free communities have an average 26 percent decline in heart attacks, compared with those areas that still allow smokers to light up in public places.

What do you think about public smoking bans?

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl was the recipient of the ultimate “Yo Momma” insult…classic!

Keep in mind that this man has a mother, a wife, and a daughter. I suppose he doesn’t think they “need” maternity care, either? Hey Kyl…stay classy!

I found this story a little frightening: studies suggest that among teens with their own cars or free access to one,25 percent had been involved in crashes, versus just 10 percent of teens who shared driving access. Winston said the lower crash rate doesn’t reflect less driving time, but is likely due to having to ask for the car keys, which helps parents monitor their kids’ driving.

Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t have my own car until after college…

And finally, here’s the latest YouTube sensation: a baby shaking his groove thang to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” SQUEEEEEEEE!

What’s everyone up to this weekend? We’ve got soccer picture day on tap, and maybe a trip to the movies…anyone seen “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” yet?

Chat away!!!


Weekend Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all! Let’s get right to some health and wellness news:

I did a little fist pump when I read that 3.4 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine will be available in the first week of October– especially when I saw that these vaccines are inhalable. Woo-hoo! One less needle poke for this pregnant mama!

Then I read the details: pregnant women can’t receive the inhalable vaccine, because it contains a live virus. BOOOOOO! Looks like I’ll be suffering through two separate pokes. But it looks like healthy people between the ages of 2 and 49 can take the inhalable vaccine, so maybe my husband and daughter can be spared one poke?

According to a CNN/Opinion Corp. poll conducted in late August, 66 percent of Americans plan to be vaccinated against H1N1 flu. What say you, ladies? Will you be lining up for one?

I will be very pregnant through the height of flu season so as you can imagine, I’ve got H1N1 on the brain:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnancy puts (women) at higher risk of complications for flu in general, and so far that also holds true for the novel 2009 H1N1 virus. The most recent data show that from April 15 to May 18, 2009, thirty-four percent of the pregnant women infected with the H1N1 virus were hospitalized, and by June, six pregnant women had died.

To help reassure jittery moms-to-be, about 120 expecting mothers are participating in clinical trials across the country. Health officials anticipate the results of these studies will be available in the coming weeks, according to CNN.

I subscribe to People magazine, and if there’s one story I’m tired of reading, it’s the “How’d they lose the baby weight?” feature that pops up time and time again.

Even more bothersome? The celebrities that claim they stay rail thin by “running after my kids!” A new study confirms what I have always suspected: they are full of it! 😉

In a study of 58 women with children under age 6, only about a third of the mothers got an average of 30 minutes or more a day of moderate or greater intensity physical activity. And yet overall this group of women, most of whom also worked outside the home, believed they were getting upwards of an hour of activity daily.

“There was this ongoing theme of the women reporting more activity than they actually were getting,” says study author Kelli O’Neil, a personal trainer who is on the exercise science faculty at Central College in Pella, Iowa.

Seems the only way to ensure we get the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week is to schedule it and get to sweating.

One last study tidbit: turns out there’s scientific merit to the notion of running your kids ragged so they’ll sleep better:

Mitchell and his team had children wear an activity-measuring device around their waists for 24 hours. They report their findings in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Most children took about 26 minutes to fall asleep after bedtime, they found. The more activity a child did, the less time it took him to fall asleep.

“We showed that one hour of vigorous activity (equivalent to running) reduced the time to fall asleep by almost 6 minutes,” Mitchell said.

Speaking of vigorous physical activity, today is Maya’s first AYSO soccer game! She will have about 10 family members there to cheer on the Pink Ponies. :-)

What is everyone up to this weekend? Chat away…