Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I am Woman

I inadvertently went off on a tangent tonight about the problems this country has regarding childbirth. I will spare you all the details for now.

I must say, though, that a woman's body is truly amazing to me. 

I can create a life. 

I can grow a child in my womb. 

I can birth a baby. 

I can provide my child with a perfect (and free!) food. 

I wish more women saw the beauty in having a baby.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mercury is Good, Right?

Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury
Monday, January 26, 2009; 12:00 AM

MONDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Almost half of tested samples of
commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which
was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and
beverage products
 where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled
ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.

HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods
such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups
and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per
day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent
more HFCS than average.

"Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn
 is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional
source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for
immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug
] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of
the food supply," said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy's Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.

In the first study, researchers found detectable levels of mercury in
nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS. The study was published in
current issue of Environmental Health.

In the second study, the agriculture group found that nearly one in
three of 55 brand-name foods contained mercury. The chemical was most
common in HFCS-containing dairy products, dressings and condiments.

The use of mercury-contaminated caustic soda in the production of HFCS
is common. The contamination occurs when mercury cells are used to
produce caustic soda.

"The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack
 contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda
contaminated with mercury. The good news is that mercury-free HFCS
ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use
those ingredients," Wallinga said.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry has more about
mercury and health.

SOURCE: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, news release, Jan. 26, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Homemade bread dough (or use store bought)
Mixture of cinnamon and sugar 
Sprinkling of brown sugar
Powdered sugar glaze

Roll dough out in a rectangle. I roll it out on a floured surface, but you could also use waxed paper. Spread butter on the dough. Cover butter with cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle on some brown sugar. Roll up and pinch edge of dough to the rest of the roll. Cut. I like them about an inch and a half or so thick. Place evenly spaced on greased glass pan. I put 6 rolls in a 9x13 pan, but I probably could have spaced them a little closer. Bake at 375 for 20 min or until done in the center. 

Let cool for 10 min or so and then top with powdered sugar glaze. I just mix powdered sugar with milk until I get the thickness that I want. You could also top with vanilla frosting (powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and butter) and that would be equally as good. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

The kids and I made cinnamon rolls today. We started by making a yeast bread dough and letting it rise. It was then Maeve's job to lightly dust the table with four. I discovered that we need to work on our definition of "lightly". 

I rolled out the dough while the kids attempted to cut the dough with their knives. Yes, I gave them knives. Next came the spreading of butter. Finn loves to help cook and bake and  says "taste?" each time we get out a new ingredient. He licked his buttery finger and said "mmmm" like it was the most delicious thing that's ever touch his tongue.

Then the kids were each given a spoon to spoon on a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Finn kept taking heaping spoonfuls and sneaking into the living room to eat them. Maeve was great at dumping cinnamon onto the dough, but once she discovered that Finn was eating his spoonfuls she got in on the fun. 

The last step for the kids was sprinkling on a bit of brown sugar. Again, Finn took his heaping spoonfuls into the living room and Maeve was my dedicated helper. That is, of course, until she once again noticed that Finn was eating his brown sugar scoops. It was at that point that Maeve unsuccessfully attempted to eat the brown sugar off of the cinnamon rolls. 

This was an extremely messy project, but the kids had fun and got flour all over Mathew so it was worth it. The cinnamon rolls turned out great, but next time I need to remember to only use glass pans because the batch in the metal pan was burnt on the bottom. 

Unfortunate Timing

For a snack today I ate a salad. It started out as a reasonable portion, but then my pregnant belly decided that I needed the entire head of lettuce. And even though I had to use Italian dressing instead of my favorite ranch, the salad was delicious. 

Less than ten minutes after my salad was devoured, Mathew arrived home and surprised me with three bottles of ranch dressing. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009


There was a brief moment in time last March when I lost my sanity and decided that getting a second 70+ lb dog was in my best interest. 

We adopted Gus. Gus was a five year old male lab. He was well trained and would have been perfect. But we have kids and a very large, horrid puppy. 

Had I known then what I know now about dog training, I wouldn't have gotten so stressed with the two dogs. Gus was Maeve's favorite dog and she was so very sad to see him go. I don't regret getting him because it would have taken another "Gus" for me to learn my lesson. 

Mathew told me not to get another dog and dare I say, he was right?

Customer Service

While I'm boring everyone with baby products, I though I'd share a couple of great customer service experiences I've had recently.

The seat fabric ripped on my Valco double stroller and I called the company, emailed them pictures and they sent me a new seat. Very nice. 

Maeve's car seat, a Britax Decathlon manufactured in 2006, is having issues with the front strap adjuster popping out. It doesn't happen often and doesn't affect the safety of the seat, but it's annoying. I called Britax and since that piece was recalled (they had sent us a piece to "fix" it which apparently didn't work), they are replacing the entire seat for free! It should be here tomorrow. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Maternity Clothes

I hate wearing maternity clothes. 

The pants are constantly falling down. The shirts are like tents. And all of the button down shirts I own don't work this time around because I am still breastfeeding and undoing buttons is not convenient. 

I have been protesting maternity clothing by only wearing sweatpants and t-shirts. Every now and again though, I do like to look like I didn't just put on whatever was closest to me on the floor when I rolled out of bed. And, for what's is worth, if you see me re-wearing something it's because I was too lazy to take it off before going to bed and was too cold to take it off in the morning.

My last two pregnancies I was able to wear my regular jeans with the top button undone until I was 4-5 months along. This baby, however, is messing that up and I am already enormous.

Forward Facing Only Seats/Boosters

Information again taken from

Britax Frontier For children over 2 years of age and harnesses to 80 lbs. Top slots are 18 inches. Tether not required, but recommended. Harness height is adjusted on back of seat, but there’s no rethreading of harness required. Has a flexible LATCH strap with typical Britax push-on connectors. LATCH may be used when seat is in booster mode. Has 3 crotch strap positions. Nice padding. A 9 year expiration. Deep cupholders that can disappear into the side of the seat when not used. Can be installed with the seat belt using the short belt path or long belt path. FAA approved when used with harness. Converts to a good booster with no weight limit. Replaces the Parkway and Monarch. Retails for $279.

Cosco/Safety 1st Apex Harnesses to 65 lbs, then becomes a booster to 100 lbs. Top slots are 17 inches high. Requires adjustable headrest or a very tall vehicle seatback behind it for support. Then becomes a very nice BUT VERY WIDE booster that doesn’t fit small children well. This seat is outgrown totally when the tips of the child’s ears reach the top of the vehicle seatback. (Fully extended it has a back height of 32.5” tall) FAA approved when used with harness. The new blue/black and all the brown ones have EPP foam in the headrest. Retails for $99-150.

Graco Nautilus 20-65 lbs for harness, then becomes a booster to 100 lbs. Top slots are 18” high. Converts to a high back booster similar to the TurboBooster, and can also convert to a backless booster. 30-100 lbs weight limits in booster mode. Booster shoulder belt guide is at about 20"; might be slightly taller than the regular Turbo. 19 inches at the widest point (the base) and 13 inches deep. FAA approved when used with harness. Built-in cupholder and side pockets in the armrests. The base has two settings and can be slightly reclined. LATCH limit of 48lbs, does not allow for LATCH or top tether use in booster mode. Life span of 6yrs. Priced around $150.

Britax Regent (used to be Husky) KING of car seats is right! Harnesses to 80 lbs. Top slots are 20 inches. Requires a top tether after child is 40 lbs. (unless using a lap-only belt, then it’s required at 50 lbs.), but a tether should really be used all the time. Retails for $220-$260. Not good for children under 2yo.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Convertible Car Seats

Whenever your baby outgrows (or you get tired of) the infant car seat, you have the pleasure of spending more money on another seat. 

Convertible car seats can be rear facing or forward facing. The weight range is anywhere between 40 and 70 lbs and your child is too tall for the seat if his/her ears are at the top. In general, the higher the weight limit, the longer the seat will last, but keep in mind that most seats expire six years after the date they are manufactured. 

Convertible seat recommendations (info taken from

Britax Marathon, Decathlon, or Boulevard: 17” top slots, rear facing 5-33lbs (newer models rf to 35 lbs.), forward facing up to 65lbs in 5 point harness. Great seats, allow for rear facing tethering, have lockoffs to replace locking clips, very easy to install, last most kids to age 5-6y/o. $220+

Evenflo Triumph Advance:  rear facing to 35lbs, forward facing to 50 lbs. Max harness height of 17”. The Triumph Advance has the infinite-like harness adjuster to which means no re-threading the harness. Probably small enough for newborns. Harness not removable.  $129

Sunshine Kids Radian 65/80: 18” top slots, RF 5-33lbs, FF up to 65lbs in 5 point harness. Great seat, only second to Britax because it has some compatibility issues in some vehicles when installed with seat belt. Harness not removable. Really good seat otherwise, allows for RF tethering, lasts most kids to 6-7y/o. 8yr lifespan (most have a 6yr) $175+ 

Recaro Como & Signo: RF to 35lbs, FF to 70lbs. Bottom slots of 9", so not ideal for newborns. The outside width of the seat at its widest point is approx. 19 ½” to 20”. The Como & the Signo are basically the same shell the biggest difference is that the Signo has an infinitely adjustable harness (whereas the Como has to be re-threaded) and the Signo's latch straps are on a bar--similar to Britax (on the Marathon and Boulevard)--so you don't have to re-thread the latch belt if you're going from rear facing to forward facing. Como is $249; Signo is $289 and has 17.75” top slot.

First Years True Fit Convertible Car Seat : RF 5-35 lbs, FF to 65lbs, 10” bottom slots, 17” top slots. 3 crotch positions, designed to fit smaller cars—headrest removes to allow rf seat to recline to 45°, put headrest back on after older child is 22 lbs. and adjust seat to be more upright when rf. Cover removable without unhooking the harness, lockoffs for rf & ff, harness adjusted with a knob, everything adjusts by sliding something. Covered in EPP Foam. $179.

Cosco Scenera:  5pt harness version. Very basic no-frills seat. 35lbs RF limit with a taller shell. 40lbs FF limit however most kids outgrow it in torso height at about 3-3.5yo due to the low 15” top slots. It just doesn’t offer enough torso grow room to get most kids to 40lbs. Usually requires 1-3 chunks of pool noodle to get a good recline. $40

Safety 1st Uptown: 35 lbs RF, 40 lbs FF, tall 16.5” top slots. EPP foam, velvety plush cover, super cushy. Very easy to use & install. 8 yr lifespan (Most have a 6 yr.). Around $100 or less at and

The Graco ComfortSport, Evenflo seats, and the Alpha Omega 3-in-1 types are very small seats that are usually outgrown the same time as the $40 Scenera. You don’t get much for your money. While they are safe there are just other options that offer more for less cost.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Benefits of Extending Rear Facing

Before I give convertible car seat recommendations, I thought I should cover the benefits of extended rear facing. 

Finnegan is 21 months old and weighs 30 lbs. He is still rear facing in his convertible car seat. He will remain rear facing until he reaches the weight limit of his seat, which is 33 lbs. Here's why I am a fan of extended rear facing. Information was taken directly from

Why should my child rear-face past 1 year and 20 lbs?

Every milestone in a child's life is exciting! First steps, first word, first day of school. Even car seat milestones seem exciting.  The truth is, they should be looked at with a certain sense of dread, not longing.  Every step in car seat "advancement" is actually a step down in your child's protection.

Rear-facing is much, much safer than forward-facing.  Child safety seats: Rear-face until at least one year discusses the reasons why children should remain rear-facing for a FULL year and 20 lbs. In it, Kathleen Weber states, "In the research and accident review that I did a few years ago, the data seemed to break at about 12 months between severe consequences and more moderate consequences..." This does not mean that there are NO consequences. The consequences may no longer be death from a completely severed spinal cord, but simply life-long injury, including complete paralysis. Research studies suggest that until children are at least four, they are incapable of withstanding crash forces as well as adults - and should remain rear-facing. 

In a crash, life-threatening or fatal injuries are generally limited to the head and neck, assuming a child is in a harnessed seat.

When a child is in a forward-facing seat, there is tremendous stress put on the child's neck, which must hold the large head back. The mass of the head of a small child is about 25% of the body mass whereas the mass of the adult head is only 6%!  A small child's neck sustains massive amounts of force in a crash.  The body is held back by the straps while the head is thrown forward - stressing, stretching or even breaking the spinal cord.  The child's head is at greater risk in a forward-facing seat as well.  In a crash, the head is thrown outside the confines of the seat and can make dangerous contact with other occupants, vehicle structures, and even intruding objects, like trees or other vehicles.

Rear-facing seats do a phenomenal job of protecting children because there is little or no force applied to the head, neck and spine.  When a child is in a rear-facing seat, the head, neck and spine are all kept fully aligned and the child is allowed to "ride down" the crash while the back of the child restraint absorbs the bulk of the crash force. The head is contained within the restraint, and the child is much less likely to come into contact with anything that might cause head injury.

Won't my child be uncomfortable?  Where do his legs go?

Many parents have the misconception that children are uncomfortable or at risk for leg injury by having their legs up on the vehicle seat or bent when kept rear-facing.  These concepts are completely incorrect. First, children are more flexible than adults so what we perceive as uncomfortable is not for children.  Think about how your child sits in everyday play. Do they sit with their legs straight out in front of them? When they sit on the couch, do they purposely sit so their legs dangle out over the edge? No. In real, everyday life, toddlers and preschoolers CHOSE to sit with their legs folded up - that IS comfort to them.

Second, there is not a single documented case of children's legs, hips, etc. breaking or being injured in a crash due to longer rear-facing.  There are plenty of cases of head and neck injury in forward-facing children that could have been prevented if the child had remained rear-facing.  However, even if a leg or hip were broken or injured, it can be fixed.  A damaged spinal cord (from forward-facing too soon) cannot be repaired and subjects the child to lifelong disability or death.

What if I am hit from behind?  Won't my child be safer facing forward?

Frontal and side impacts are the most common type of crashes. They account for 96% of all crashes. They are also the most deadly type of crashes (especially side impacts) and rear-facing children have MUCH more protection in both types of crashes than forward-facing. In the 4% of rear impact crashes that a rear-facing child would be in, they have at least the same amount of protection that a FF child would have in a frontal impact, with the added benefit of less crash energy being transferred to them, and the fact that the rear impact is usually not as severe.

The forces in a rear impact crash are much different from the forces in a frontal impact crash. In a frontal impact, the forces are much greater because the vehicles are usually traveling in opposite directions. Experts suggest that a frontal crash is the same as hitting a concrete barrier � the vehicle and all occupants come to a dead stop within less than 1 second.

When you are struck in a rear impact, the vehicles involved are traveling in the same direction, and the vehicle that is hit in the back has room to move forward. The crash force on the occupants is much less than in a frontal impact. The movement of the impacted vehicle, in addition to the crush zone, absorbs a lot of the crash energy, so it is not transferred to the child. Additionally, the majority of rear impacts are at low speeds.

In short, if your child is rear-facing, he has optimal protection in the types of crashes you are most likely to be in. If he is forward-facing, he may have optimal protection in a rear-end crash, but statistically, that is the least likely to happen and he is 60% more likely to be injured or killed in the types of crashes (frontal, side impact) you are most likely to be in.

You can learn more about the physics of rear-facing at

This website contains several links and videos.

Infant Car Seats

This is the first of a series posts that will address baby products and labor and delivery. 

Let me just start by saying that I do not particularly care for infant car seats. They certainly have their place, but I hate seeing babies stuck in those things for long periods of time outside of the car. More on that later. 

There are a few good options when it comes to infant car seats.

Graco Snugride: If you are going to purchase this seat, make sure that the straps can be adjusted from the front. We had a rear adjusting snugride and it was very difficult to get the straps how they need to be. The snugride is not the easiest infant seat to install and you may need to use a pool noodle to get the proper 45 degree recline.  Snugrides are good for infants 5-22 lbs and less than 29 inches tall. This seat will last anywhere from 4-8 months, although that depends greatly on the the build of your baby. My babies were 22 lbs by 4 months. Compatible with all of the Graco strollers and many other strollers. 

Graco Safeseat: Safeseats are generally easier to install than snugrides and last many people a year due to the higher weight limit. Safeseats are for infants 5-30 lbs and up to 32 inches tall. Compatible with all of the Graco strollers and several other strollers. 

Chicco KeyFit 30: KeyFits are highly recommended on all of the car seat boards. They are for babies 5-30 lbs. I can't find the height limit, but I imagine it's similar to the Safeseat. Easy to install. Compatible with the Chicco (pronounced "key-co", by the way) strollers and some others. 

Yes, there are other infant seat options on the market. However, these are the three that are most recommended. For what it's worth, we will be purchasing a Chicco KeyFit for baby #3. I really like the higher weight limit and since our baby will only be three months by the time winter is here, it will be nice to get the baby bundled and buckled in the house.

Read here, here and here for the dangers of leaving a baby in a car seat for too long. Or you can talk to your pediatrician if you have more concerns, although it has been my experience that pediatricians don't know a whole lot about car seats or car seat safety in general. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Moderation My Ass

The Corn Refiners Association is sponsoring commercials about high fructose corn syrup. The two commercials that I've seen show a conversation between two teenagers or two young college students. They go something like this:

Dumbass #1: Want a popsicle?
Dumbass #2: No way. Those contain high fructose corn syrup.
#1: What's so bad about that?
#2: Umm....Well you know what they say.
#1: What? That high fructose corn syrup has the same calorie content as sugar or that it's fine in moderation?
#2: *laughs* Did you only bring one popsicle?

Let's assume for fun, that high fructose corn syrup isn't the devil. Let's also assume that it is, in fact, fine in moderation. Moderation.

If you are not into reading labels, you probably haven't noticed that high fructose corn syrup is in just about everything. Rice Krispies cereal (and others, but that one surprised me), fake syrup, soda, juice, bread (even some of the "healthy" ones), jellies, fruit snacks, ice cream, pizza sauce, popsicles, and many, many other foods. Where is the "moderation" in that?

Saturday, January 10, 2009


First thing tomorrow we are headed to Super Target to buy the best ranch dressing in the world so I can make myself an enormous salad. Hard boiled eggs, shredded cheese....

I'm going to have good dreams tonight.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Boy and His Gun

Mathew bought Finn a shooting cans thing for Christmas and he loves it. And by "he" I'm talking about both Mathew and Finnegan. 

Finn insists that Mathew watch him shoot the cans and is so proud when they pop off of the platform. 

I'm sure this is just the beginning since Mathew bought Finn an SKS (I think) rifle shortly after he was born. 

Workers Girls

Prior to Christmas, my mom bought Finnegan a singing Charlie Brown. 

Then it broke.

Everyday for probably two weeks, Maeve insisted that I sing "Charlie Brown is broken broken" while she and Finn fixed Charlie with their tools. Fixing Charlie Brown involved things like measuring him, putting his hat in a vice grip and pounding him with a hammer. 

Then Charlie was fixed! Or my mother-in-law bought a new one that we passed off as the fixed can never be certain.

But the broken Charlie resurfaced and still needed fixed. 

Unfortunately in a moment of stupidity, Maeve placed both Charlies next to the bathroom sink that Finn had completely filled with water. The Charlies took a bath and are now undesirable because the working one made creepy noises while shorting out. 

My Glorious Closet

Three days and four doors later, the office closet is almost done. My husband and father-in-law are perfectionists when it comes to building things so the entire closet and frame had to be torn out and rebuilt. 

There was a huge storage area above the closet that was ripped out as well. They aren't going to put the original doors back on that part so I'll probably make some curtains to cover up the crap that we'll store there. Mathew was very motivated and has already painted one set of closet doors. I was very impressed by that because I'm still waiting for handles and paint on all of the closets upstairs. 

Maybe in six years. 

It's a good thing I'm patient when it comes to home improvement. 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Getting Organized

We have been organizing and improving our house since we bought it almost six years ago. Here's a small list for those who are curious:

-Gutted the original house. The only thing that remained was the bathroom vanity and toilet, the porch and a few windows. 
-New kitchen
-New floors
-New wiring
-Added three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a family room and a garage

Mathew is finally revamping the closet in the office (it used to be the only bedroom in the house) and is going to give me closet doors. You have no idea how excited I am for closet doors. I have been staring at that mess for way too long. 

Mathew ordered upper cabinets for part of our kitchen which will be nice since that's where I keep all of the kid crafting supplies. I'm tired of looking at that mess too. 

I think my project for tomorrow will be to organize the laundry room. I am great about doing laundry, but terrible at folding and putting it all away. I end up with piles and stacks of blankets and clothes all over the laundry room. 

Things I'd like to get done this year:
-finish painting stairway and kitchen
-paint doors, closet doors and trim in addition
-organize front porch
-landscape the terrible looking front yard
-expand the garden
-plant some bushes along the fence
-put knobs on closet doors
-make some sort of walk way between the house and shed
-In a perfect world, I'd have both of the maple trees cut down in our front yard and plant something a little farther from the house.
-Cut down enormous, overgrown lilac bush that Mathew hits the van with everytime he drives