Thursday, September 16, 2010

BPA in Receipts. . .

Oh my has it been a while! I apologize for not posting here in so long!

The Os, the Arroyo Food Co-op, the new local Mothers of Kids with Food Sensitivities support group, and the new gluten-free bakery business (details to come!) have been keeping me rather busy lately!

I haven't much time right now either, but came across something today that inspired me to write a quick entry.

We've all been learning more about the various plastic food and beverage containers that contain a hormone-disruptive chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA) and a lot of people have been finding safer alternatives to any plastics for a variety of reasons in addition to trying to avoid this toxin.

While it's been great to see that, finally, the harmful effects of BPA have made it's way to mainstream over the past few years - I'm surprised to have found some information about another source of BPA from this article by the Environmental Working Group.

I had no idea about this - some cash register receipts from some retail locations (including Whole Foods, U.S. Post Office, CVS, and others) contain very high levels of BPA. And, though research is limited - some studies have shown that BPA can be absorbed via the skin. Whether it can exert its toxic effects via skin absorption is still to be determined, but I don't think I need to wait for those studies to have concern about handling these receipts. I also wonder about the employees who handle hundreds of these receipts a day - someone should do a study on their exposure and absorption rates.

Thanks for stopping in - hoping to be more active here at The Science Mom as the fall progresses!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Too quick to pull the trigger. . .

and push the needle.

Snippets from an August 2009 article at CBS News:
Dr. Diane Harper says young girls and their parents should receive more complete warnings before receiving the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Dr. Harper helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved, and authored many of the published, scholarly papers about it. She has been a paid speaker and consultant to Merck. It’s highly unusual for a researcher to publicly criticize a medicine or vaccine she helped get approved.
. . .
This raises questions about the CDC’s recommendation that the series of shots be given to girls as young as 11-years old. “If we vaccinate 11 year olds and the protection doesn’t last... we’ve put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit,” says Dr. Harper. “The benefit to public health is nothing, there is no reduction in cervical cancers, they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70% of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated.” She also says that enough serious side effects have been reported after Gardasil use that the vaccine could prove riskier than the cervical cancer it purports to prevent. Cervical cancer is usually entirely curable when detected early through normal Pap screenings.

Dr. Scott Ratner and his wife, who’s also a physician, expressed similar concerns as Dr. Harper in an interview with CBS News last year. One of their teenage daughters became severely ill after her first dose of Gardasil. Dr. Ratner says she’d have been better off getting cervical cancer than the vaccination. “My daughter went from a varsity lacrosse player at Choate to a chronically ill, steroid-dependent patient with autoimmune myofasciitis. I’ve had to ask myself why I let my eldest of three daughters get an unproven vaccine against a few strains of a nonlethal virus that can be dealt with in more effective ways.”

Read the re
mainder of the article here and consider thinking twice about new-to-market, heavily publicized vaccines. My appreciation to to a mom at the Holistic Moms Network for pointing out this article - the Gardisil vaccine has bothered me from the very first moment I heard about it. And gratitude to Dr. Harper for her courage and sincerity in speaking out at risk to her own career.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Holistic Moms...

It was an honor to be invited to speak at the March meeting of our local Holistic Moms' Network chapter. I have so much to share from my family's journey and felt I only gave you all a brief glimpse of our experiences on this path to living with food intolerances - there are so many things to share with you all.

I have such limited time for posting here and for updating my website, but it is my hope to share more on foods we eat, recipes I like, and making living with food intolerances livable for the whole family.

Please do not hesitate to email me - mom "at" thesciencemom "dot" com - I would be happy to talk with you more!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Not long ago, the Professor and I started giving the Os allowances.

In talking with a friend about the concept, it seemed like a nice way to end the seemingly never-ending battle over the Os wanting to buy (in my view, extraneous) items during shopping trips. Having their own money might help alleviate my need to come up with a creative let down on shopping excursions -
Oh, it's not on our list this time, but let's talk about that when we make our next list.
Thank you for letting me know how much you'd like to have that [insert name of cheap, plastic, thing-a-ma-bob from the "$1 Spot" section], but sometimes we cannot always get these things.

or, when I'm feeling really adventurous, I try explaining to a three year old and a five year old

Well, you know that is made from plastic and it is really going to break or fall apart or not be useful soon and then it will just end up sitting in a landfill or floating in the gyre of plastic out in the Pacific Ocean and making animals sick for many years to come. It's better if we choose something that is not plastic (and cheap, breakable, made using unfair labor/trade practices, etc., etc.) but we'll have to wait until we find a suitable equivalent and add that to our list for next time.

(To which, Big O has oft replied, "But Mommy, plastic is recyclable." - to which I express admiration for his knowledge and appreciate his point, but go on to explain how some plastic toys and items are not easily recycled and that recycling is good, but not the best answer because it still requires energy, chemicals, emits toxins, etc. )

If we give the Os allowance, I can let them make the choice to spend their own money or not. I can only hope that their choices will (at least eventually) be influenced by our concern for the environment and sustainable practices.

So, every Sunday, each O receives an allowance equivalent to half their age. At the time this began, Big O was four (thus $2.00 weekly) and Little O was 2 ($1.00 weekly).

It's funny. It doesn't take long for those seemingly small amounts of money to add up.

Little O decided to use a glass jar for his allowance safe keeping (his great grandmother used to stash cash in glass jars in the freezer, pantry, etc.). Whenever he accrues more allowance, he carefully folds individual bills into fourths and then stuffs them into the jar. After occasionally removing the bills to survey his collection, he will meticulously ensure each one is refolded into fourths and individually placed back in the jar.

Big O had early on claimed a wooden puzzle box as his "bank account" - carefully keeping wads of cash and a few coins (collected in various situations) in each of the four compartments of the box which formerly housed four small dinosaur puzzles.

As he becomes more knowledgeable about numbers and more aware of how money works, he's changing his money organizing methods. When I needed change for a $20 bill, he was eager to offer smaller bills from his box. When he realized he had a few ones left over, he generously offered to give them to me - I believe it was satisfying to him because it simplified his collection. He's angling to trade in some smaller bills for a $10 bill to add to his bounty.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Upcycling Holiday Cards

Happy New Year!! I hope that you have enjoyed a lovely holiday season and are off to a wonderful start in 2010!

December is a month during which many of us reflect on the year that's nearly behind us and think about our family and friends - near and far, old and new. Life is busy for us all and it is often easy to realize it's been nearly a year since we last communicated with a friend or family member.

I love the December holiday season for many reasons, not the least of which the the excitement of checking the mailbox and email each day for those holiday photo cards, update letters, and notes from family and friends. For some of us, this is our chance to finally catch up - even if only once a year. It's a way to let those we've nearly lost touch with know that we haven't stopped thinking of them and that we wish we could stay better connected. (umm, on that note, dear family and friends, we are hoping to get a Valentine e-letter out this year . . . please don't take it personally that you haven't heard from us yet!)

While I treasure receiving the cards, letters, and photos throughout December, I find myself in a quandary in early January - what to do with all those cards, letters, photos, etc.!? The photos, I keep - I have shoe boxes, envelopes, and various other vessels stashed away with photos and photo cards from past years.

The letters, I read and re-read, contemplating each family and enjoying the tales of their past year, but eventually I place those in recycling (unless, of course, they're studded with photos, in which case, into that shoe box they go!).

The cards are a different story. Though I am a self-admitted pack-rat, I have realized over the past several years that I just cannot hold onto everything. I feel guilty, though, simply recycling or otherwise disposing of the lovely holiday cards - but what to do with them, then?

A couple years ago, as I was getting the holiday decor out, I realized what a stash of cards I had collected over the years. I decided to put them to good use and create crafty gift bags for our baked goods that we give to friends and neighbors each year. Here's a sampling of them:

A festive project that the kids could help out with - I thought the bags came out nicely and they were fun to fill with home-baked goodies. I think this might be considered upcycling, though I suppose beauty (and value) is in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Science is real . . .

This morning, I woke up with this song in my head. Not a bad way to wake up, really, and I don't think I'm complaining exactly. It's just that when the Os find a song or CD that they really like, we end up listening to it day in and day out for days on end. And sometimes, too much of even a good thing is simply too much.

And I do admit that I happen to like this particular CD - Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants - more than any of our former favorites, though I have to say that Raffi's Bananaphone is still high on my list.

One of the songs on this CD is about how everything is made of elements. Big O has been very curious about this - incessantly asking if this or that is made of elements. Generally speaking, the answer, as the song implies, is that everything is made of elements.

Leave it to Big O to find a loophole. At one point he asked if shadows are made of elements. Clever. Later, he asked if electricity is made of elements.

Homeschooling sure is interesting around here. I'm going to have to get all my old text books out and start studying before this kid really stumps me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Notes on eating apples

A few days ago, the Os were eating a snack of apple slices. I had scooped out the seeds with a melon baller and left them on the side of the plate as I sliced up the apple. As they were eating, Little O decided to pick up one of the balls with the seeds in it and started to put it to his mouth. Big O stopped him and explained to him that he should not eat the apple seeds. The conversation went something along these lines:

Big O: Stop O! You don't want to eat the apple seeds. That wouldn't be good.

Little O paused, setting the little ball of apple core down.

Science Mom: It's true, O. Most people do not eat the apple seeds.

Big O: Yeah. And if you eat them, you'll have an apple plant start to grow in your belly.

Science Mom: Oh, I don't think that would actually happen. The seed would probably just leave his body in his poop.

Big O: Nope. A seed needs water and sunlight to grow and O drinks water.

Science Mom: But how would he get sunlight into his belly with the water and the apple seeds?

Big O (not missing a beat): Well, Mom, he could just open his mouth.
How does one argue with that kind of logic?!