Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mom with ALS finds way through long goodbye's health section has a story about a mother of three young children struggling to deal with the onset and progression of ALS. The candour with which the parents have tackled this horrible situation is heartbreaking.

As parents we want more than anything to shield our kids from painful situations. Sometimes these things are inevitable, and must be dealt with.

How do you deal with tough subjects in your house?

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ParentHacked Again!!!

Thanks to Asha over at for posting my hack about using Quik to get kids to drink hypoallergenic formula.

There are very few resources for families dealing with Bovine Protein Intolerance, and a lot of misconceptions. For example, it is NOT an allergy, and having it does not mean that your child has a greater chance of having allergies.

Although our son has grown out of his intolerance (as the vast majority of kids do), I am still busily compiling lists of things that breastfeeding moms and kids with BPI can eat.

Stay tuned.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Wow! 23 hits today!

This might be a new record. I'm sure it has nothing at all to do with getting mentioned at Obviously. If you read this site, you might know that I'm a huge fan of John Gottman. When Asha reviewed the book "Babyproofing Your Marriage" I mentioned his new book "And Baby Makes Three".

Anyhow, thanks for the nod Asha, and keep up the good work.

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I guess this is preaching to the converted...

Although I have mixed feelings about Dr. Sears, it is nice to see an article about daddy-baby bonding.

I figure that anyone reading this blog is already putting effort into being a connected parent, but in case you're looking for hints at how to be a more active participant in your kid's life.. here you go.

Dr. William Sears

The daddy-baby connection: everyday ways to help them bond

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hydrogen-powered Lawnmowers? Sign me up

I know, I know. There are still a lot of problems generating hydrogen in a clean, efficient and sustainable manner. But fuel-cell lawnmowers and chainsaws.... A green dad's dream!!

In a breakthrough that could make fuel cells practical for such small machines as lawnmowers and chainsaws, researchers have developed a new mechanism to efficiently control hydrogen fuel cell power.

Many standard fuel cell designs use electronics to control power output, but such designs require complex systems to manage humidity and fuel recovery and recycling systems to achieve acceptable efficiency.

The new process controls the hydrogen feed to match the required power output, just as one controls the feed of gasoline into an internal combustion engine. The system functions as a closed system that uses the waste water to regulate the size of the reaction chamber, the site where the gasses combine to form water, heat and electricity.

From Science Daily

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Good news for coffee-addict moms-to-be..

A new study of 1,027 pregnant women in Denmark has shown that moderate caffeine consumption does not affect length of pregnancy or birth weight.

There is no evidence that moderate levels of caffeine consumption during pregnancy lead to a greater risk of premature births and underweight babies despite warnings from some public health officials, finds a new study in the online edition of the British Medical Journal.

Previous research has puzzled public health authorities. While some studies have suggested that a high caffeine intake can lead to lower average birth weights of as much as 100 -- 200g and an increased chance of preterm babies, others have found no connection between caffeine and problems with foetal development.

From Science Daily

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Friday, January 26, 2007

FDA Advisers endorse 5-in-1 Vaccine

Knowing how much kids hate vaccines, and as a consequence come to hate going to see the doctor, I hope this passes and makes its way up here...


The vaccine is meant to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough,
polio and bacterial infection caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b,
or Hib. Hib disease can cause meningitis, pneumonia and arthritis.

approved, the vaccine could eliminate seven of the 23 federally
recommended injections children now must endure through age 18 months,
according to Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines business of Paris-based
Sanofi-Aventis. The vaccine would be given in four doses, at 2 months,
4 months and 6 months and finally at 15 months to 18 months.


There still some questions to be resolved about the efficacy of one of the vaccine's components though....

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Alternadad - A load of sh*t?

CBC.CA has a scathing look at the new urban parent concept, taking a stab a Neil Pollack, Elisha Cooper and

Pollack’s new book, Alternadad, chronicles the first four years of Elijah’s life, which began in Austin, Tex., before the family moved to its current home in Los Angeles. Pollack writes about the boy’s nail-biting delivery, which ended with the doctor admonishing Pollack, “It was the most harrowing birth I’ve ever presided over. Make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Other highlights: a verbal scrap Pollack had with his parents over circumcision; Elijah’s first gymnastics class; and the day the little biter was turfed from day care. But Alternadad is less a compendium of vignettes than a manifesto for a specific type of parenting.

I find myself agreeing with the author quite a bit. Most articles on make me chuckle, but they never really do more than scratch the surface. We are a self-obsessed generation, and in the face of a very selfless duty, many struggle to find some balance.

People used to raise kids with a sort of quiet stoicism; the fact that humans have been reproducing for millions of years was enough to humble any new breeder. But in this era of unfettered narcissism, child rearing has become a spectacle. The tabloids stalk famous females in search of a “bump” to monopolize the news cycle; Tom Cruise buys his pregnant wife a $200,000 US ultrasound machine for home use; and Oprah exalts celebrity mothers as though having a child is as novel and courageous as space travel. And non-celebs? They bloviate in blogs.
The author has little patience for the the endless drivel about passing on cool tastes in music as well. Making sure that your kid's playlist has been vetted by does seem stupid - and I don't think that it has anything to do with your kid at all. Kids like to listen to what their parents listen to. Our guy loves Raffi, sure. But he loves Ella, Tony Bennet, OutKast, Kanye, James, U2 and Mozart. So what. That is the music that is always on in our house so he's used to it. I find Ramones onesies vaguely disturbing ("Beat on the Brat" anyone?)

Look. I hate the idea that most of who I was is gone, and that most of who I am is defined by a how much my kid slept last night. Tough shit. Parenting is not cool. It's hard. My kid pushes my buttons, pushes my limits and pushes me to recognize that I love him in a way I never imagined before I became a parent. How lame is that.

Pollack and his ilk have undertaken a dubious task: to make parenting
seem cool. Alas, there’s nothing cool about arriving at a party in a
shirt flecked with milky drool. Parenting advice is a lot more useful
when it shrugs off the hipster yoke and embraces child rearing as the
messy, demanding yet enriching job that it is.


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Thursday, January 25, 2007

All the misery of becoming a parent, none of the fun getting started...

Scientists hail Komodo dragon's virgin birth

A British zoo on Wednesday announced the virgin birth of five Komodo
dragons, giving scientists new hope for the captive breeding of the
endangered species.

In an evolutionary twist, the newborns' eight-year-old mother,
Flora, shocked staff at the Chester Zoo in northern England when she
became pregnant without ever having a male partner or even being
exposed to the opposite sex.

From CBC

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

My first post with Flock ... well really my second

The previous post about First Life was my first post from inside Flock

Flock: The Social Web Browser.

Built on the Mozilla platform and styled as the browser for the Web 2.0, Flock seems integrate more functions in a more streamlined manner.

We shall see.....

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First Life...

All the talk about Second Life has led to the obvious, and fantastic parody "First Life"

Join Second Life for FREE!

I am constantly worried about how much time my family will evetntually spend outside, and even though the kid already has his first computer game I hope that the PC does not become too central to our family life.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Shaken (and a little stirred)

Previously, I talked about the Consumer Reports article where infant car seats did very poorly in general. Turns out, CR outsourced this test and misrepresented the data. The tests were done at much higher speeds than indicated, sometimes as much as twice as fast.

In the past I have always considered CR as my primary source for reliable, unbiased information on consumer goods. I certainly that this is a one-off error and that I can still rely on them.

CR plays an important role in the marketplace, reminding us that the primary role of companies is to sell us stuff. I still believe that impartial, third party testing and reviewing of products is critical.

I hope CR learns some important lessons.

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A geeky snowsuit

This isn't typical Philosopher Dad stuff, but I had to post it anyway. We bought the kid a new snowsuit, and aside from being branded with everyone's favourite, bouncing and irresponsible feline (Tigger) it is also a promo item for one of my favourite blogs... I always hoped my kids would be less geeky than me... alas it is unlikely.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I've done some housecleaning and updating on the site. The changes are minor, but helpful (I hope). First of all, the "Labels" widget that was in sidebar is now a cloud at the bottom of the page.

Second, I have added's very cool link preview tool. This tool gives you a visual preview of the page that is linked. Just hover over any link for the popup.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Umm, no kidding? Really?

While not specifically parenting related, lots of kids kill or are killed (or seriously injured) by improperly stored firearms in their homes. Now it turns out that lots of people are killed by guns; and the more guns there are, the more people are killed by them.

A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health, shows that in gun ownership and homicide rates are directly linked.

No kidding.

Firearms are used to kill two out of every three homicide victims in
America.. In the first nationally representative study to examine the
relationship between survey measures of household firearm ownership and
state level rates of homicide, researchers at the Harvard Injury
Control Research Center found that homicide rates among children, and
among women and men of all ages, are higher in states where more
households have guns. The study appears in the February 2007 issue of
Social Science and Medicine.

Matthew Miller, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Injury
Prevention at Harvard School of Public Health, and his colleagues David
Hemenway and Deborah Azrael, used survey data from the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention’s 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor
Surveillance System, the world’s largest telephone survey with over
200,000 respondents nationwide. Respondents in all 50 states were asked
whether any firearms were kept in or around their home. The survey
found that approximately one in three American households reported
firearm ownership.

Analyses that controlled for several
measures of resource deprivation, urbanization, aggravated assault,
robbery, unemployment, and alcohol consumption found that states with
higher rates of household firearm ownership had significantly higher
homicide victimization rates for children, and for women and men. In
these analyses, states within the highest quartile of firearm
prevalence had firearm homicide rates 114% higher than states within
the lowest quartile of firearm prevalence. Overall homicide rates were
60% higher. The association between firearm prevalence and homicide was
driven by gun-related homicide rates; non-gun-related homicide rates
were not significantly associated with rates of firearm ownership.


"From my cold dead hands". Right.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

ASL for infants

I have always been somewhat skeptical of training infants to use sign language. Not that I don't think it works; I had seen it with friends kids. Rather I always figured that it wasn't worth the effort. Yesterday, when I was playing with the kid, he spontaneously made the sign for "more" and now my whole perspective has changed. For those interested, here is a free (as in beer) site from Michigan State University's Communication Technology Lab that hosts a very thorough ASL video dictionary.


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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pregnant and fired: A rising trend?

It seems like people simply need to have someone to discriminate against. As workplace sexual harassment and racial bias suits are decreasing, pregnancy-discrimination claims have risen 14% since 2000.

/>Fromm the Charlotte Observer:

Hives erupted across her torso. Her hands swelled to fleshy catcher's mitts. Jennifer Walls, about four weeks pregnant and in a panic, rushed to the hospital emergency room.

The doctor said her pregnancy triggered the skin condition. He gave her steroids and ordered the then-34-year-old mother-to-be to stay home.

She returned to work within a couple of weeks. Four months after that trip to the hospital, Transamerica Occidental Life Insurance Co. in Charlotte fired Walls. The reason: She allegedly lied about calling the help desk to report a computer problem while on a business trip.


In Canada, and especially here in Quebec, the protection against pregnancy discrimination is strong. The federal and provincial governments have instituted paid maternity leave (up to 1 year, some of which can be shared by both parents). Having these programs institutionalized keeps pregnancy/maternity on the forefront of many people's minds and employers are acutely aware of the problems that they will encounter if they pull anything. Of course, this does not prevent discrimination from occurring and many women are still afraid to speak up for fear of losing their current job or having trouble finding another.

The article does include some hope though; the percentage of pregnancy-discrimination cases where the victim wins has increased over the years.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Child Soldiers

We saw the excellent film "Blood Diamond" last week, and beyond thinking about diamonds, it also got me thinking about child soldiers. The film treats the issue with clear-eyed honesty. No kid[sic]-gloves.
has a heartbreaking slide show of images of child soldiers from the last 100 years or so.


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Tuesday, January 09, 2007


A Vancouver woman gave birth this past weekend to sextuplets. The family is keeping a low profile, but apparently the babies were born at 25 weeks gestation and each one was no more than 2 pounds. The first one was born vaginally, and the rest by emergency C-Section. (LINK)

Although the hospital says that everyone is doing well, a recent study has shown that 61% of infants born at less than 30 weeks gestation had one or more disabilities at 5.5 years (corrected age). (LINK) Another study showed that at 30 months, 49% of infants born before 25 weeks gestation had had disability.
Engl J Med. 2000 Aug 10;343(6):429-30). Neither of these studies take learning disability into account.
Remember that at 25 weeks gestation, the chance of survival is 80%.

Multiple births are becoming more prevalent due to increased use of fertility drugs and procedures. In a situation like this, parents are often encouraged to "selectively reduce" some of the embryos. In this case, the pregnancy appears to have been unassisted and the parents are Jehovah's Witnesses. This would explain why there was no reduction and why the attempt to deliver vaginally was made. (LINK)

The Philosopher Family wishes the family all the best in the coming weeks and months, and we hope for the best possible outcome for Mom and the six(!) kids.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Pregnant Women In The Dark On Prenatal Screening

The Philosopher Mom and I spent a lot of time thinking about the implications of prenatal screening. We opted out when she was pregnant with the Curious Boy, but went ahead for Number 2 (in progress). She works with kids with intellectual handicaps and me, well... I worry about things like that (Hence this blog).

A new study from the Queensland University of Technology has brought to light something that those of us who have been through the process already know.... nobody tells you what you need to know and you have to take it upon yourself to learn and ask as much as you can.

..midwives, obstetricians and counsellors agreed prenatal patient eduction was important, many assumed that another practitioner had taken responsibility for delivering the information.

Researcher Eleanor Milligan, from QUT's Applied Ethics Program, said when talking to practitioners it emerged that no-one was charged with ensuring pregnant women were being educated about prenatal screening.

"There is often blurred accountability for patient education between practitioners," Ms Milligan said. "They all agree it is very important but often presume another practitioner has provided it."

Ms Milligan said some doctors felt it was up to obstetricians, midwives often relied on doctors, and counsellors agreed the education process could be "haphazard".


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Pregnant Women In The Dark On Prenatal Screening

The Philosopher Mom and I spent a lot of time thinking about the implications of prenatal screening. We opted out when she was pregnant with the Curious Boy, but went ahead for Number 2 (in progress). She works with kids with intellectual handicaps and me, well... I worry about things like that (Hence this blog).

A new study from the Queensland University of Technology has brought to light something that those of us who have been through the process already know.... nobody tells you what you need to know and you have to take it upon yourself to learn and ask as much as you can.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Infant Car Seat Reviews - Big problems for little people

Consumer Reports has carried out it's annual tests of infant car seats, and the results are far from reassuring.

The seats were subject to 35 mph (56 km/h) frontal crashes and 38 mph (61 km/h) side impact. Of the twelve tested, only two performed well enough to be recommended by Consumer Reports.

Here is a summary of the important findings:

Of 12 infant seats tested, only two performed well enough to be
recommended by Consumer Reports: the Baby Trend Flex-Loc and the Graco
SnugRide with EPS.

Nine infant seats provided poor protection in some or all of the tests,
even though they meet the federal safety standard. One seat, the
Evenflo Discovery, didn't even meet that standard. CR is urging federal
officials to order a recall of that seat.

Many infant seats sold in Europe undergo more rigorous testing than do
models sold in the U.S. Indeed, when CR crash-tested an infant seat
purchased in England, the Britax Cosy Tot, it was the best in the
tests. An infant seat sold in the U.S. by the same manufacturer, the
Companion, failed CU's tests.

CR's findings offer added evidence of problems with LATCH, the
federally-mandated attachment system for child car seats. Many car
seats performed worse with LATCH than with vehicle safety belts. And
LATCH attachments aren't always easy to use.

Although the tests are tougher than US federal regulations, they are more reflective of real-life situations.

We use the LATCH/UAS system in our 2006 Honda Civic, and I have to admit that it does take some getting used to. Taking the seat in or out of the car is not something that I do on a whim. When we went on holiday and left the kid with my in-laws, it took me nearly an hour to install the seat in their 2002 Sentra.

From PR NEWSWIRE (via the amazing DAYLIFE)

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