Monday, October 31, 2011

Nightmare Movies from Childhood

So, when I was a kid, I would have called my oldest daughter a wuss when it comes to what scares her in movies. She can barely handle any tension--villains are just awful for her. I've tried to watch a few of my favorite movies from childhood with her to no avail. The Little Mermaid? Can't hold her attention--we didn't even make it to Ursula. Labyrinth?

Oh, yeah. Those goofy puppets (to me) are an absolute terror to a sensitive four (now five) year old. Thinking on other favorite movies of childhood, they're basically all out. The Neverending Story, Willow, Goonies, Legend... We were just expected to be tougher as kids in the eighties. No Dora, Max and Ruby, Caillou and the like to give us fun, happy stories without scary bad guys.

These Cracked articles illustrate that: 1 2 3

(the scene with Artax (Neverending Story horse) is definitely one that's never left me. Scary? No. Traumatizing? Well, I still get upset in movies when someone kills a horse--more so than when most humans die.)

I think it was the fear that these kids' movies inspired that led me to love the horror genre. So, what scared me as a kid? Not all are hugely different from an adult perspective, but I at least watched the whole damned movies (and seriously? Who let me watch these? Often, the answer was: my sister, but you'd be surprised how many times it was my mother). I'd never intentionally expose my children to these movies before they're cynical teenagers.


I used to swear I saw the little bastards in the grass at night when I stared out the windows. And I still, to this day, cannot stand open cabinets or closet doors.


That thing has been haunting my nightmares for I have no idea how long--only that I must have been exposed to it as a very, very young child.

The Gate

This movie is why I will forever hate claymation to the depths of my soul.

Twilight Zone the Movie

Poor John Lithgow. Yes, there were some scary moments with the kid with the mind powers, but nothing traumatized me as thoroughly as the gremlin on the wing of the plane. I seriously want to cry looking that thing up.

Tales from the Dark Side: Seasons of Belief

Not a movie, but I've never forgotten this. I don't think I ever will. Nor will I say Its name.

Child's Play

Really? You need an explanation? I owned this doll and promptly went home, tied her up with a jump rope and lobbed her at the back of my closet, not to look at her again for months. I actually still own her, though she has dreadlocks, no cartridge and no batteries. So my kids can play with her. If she ever talks, I know there's no batteries. Although I always thought Chucky was more of a My Buddy doll.

So, there's a list of movies that terrorized me as a kidlet. What movies haunt your nightmares?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Amber Teething Necklaces

So, these have become really popular among natural circles. I didn't hear about them until my second daughter, really and she was six months old before I decided to give it a try. I was quite skeptical, but I figured if it didn't work, it was pretty enough.

I didn't really notice any difference. She was clearly just as drooly as before and still displayed teething behaviors (gnawing on everything, drooling away, etc.). I just kept moving it from her leg at night back to her neck in the day and then one day, I realized that she had finally broken through a tooth. Her behavior had not changed. She had not become any more fussy than usual (she was a very fussy baby in general) and in fact, had not even been all that fussy that week.

The real test came when she got in two molars at once--and I had no idea she was teething until they were in. Now, maybe she was an easy teether, but with her personality and sensitivity level, I find that notion utterly preposterous.

Surprisingly, she's still somehow benefiting from it and she's over two and a half years old. Within twenty-four hours of the necklace not being on, her ability to deal with stress and unpleasant situations plummets. I have no clue why. It was why we bought another necklace to replace the first one that she broke.

That's right, she broke her necklace. Did she choke on it? Nope! She was pulling on it and, as it was designed, it broke rather than choke her. Only one bead came off--the bead at the place of breakage. See, when I got a necklace, I made sure it was designed so that every bead was individually knotted and small enough to easily pass through if swallowed. No choking hazards.

I know that's a big concern for parents--it's a necklace on a baby. Honestly, seeing how they were designed, I didn't worry about that.  I could tell it was made very safely and since I cosleep, I could see how it fell on her in her sleep after I stopped moving it from her ankle to her neck (yes, I don't take it off at night, but you certainly can if you like).

I don't know how scientifically supported they are. There are very mixed answers on that. But I don't believe in homeopathy for the most part. I'm a "I'll believe it when I see it" kind of person (I even tested Hyland's teething tablets on myself when I had a broken tooth: totally worked--the Hyland's teething gel did not, at all). Well, I've seen it and I believe it works. And sorry, but babies cannot react to placebos--how can the power of suggestion work on an infant? I'm not the only one that I know who had a baby show an obvious change when the necklace was no longer on and then a reversion to a happier baby once it was back (took about 24-48 hours for the positive change to come back, around 24 hours or less for the negative reaction to set in).

So I do recommend these. Like I said for my own daughter, if nothing else: they're pretty. They work by excreting succinic acid (amber is not a stone, but a resin) when warm, through the oils that come out when in contact with skin. Baby does not chew on them for relief. I mostly kept it under her clothes so that she didn't have much access to it, but honestly, since she'd been wearing it so long, she didn't really try to get to it that much. It was just a part of her.

Despite talking about my daughter, these are just as popular for boys! They are gender neutral and quite attractive on little boys, too.

Get a necklace that has knots before and after each bead with a screw clasp (this will come apart in the event of the necklace being pulled on hard enough and can be repaired). If baby doesn't wear it at night, it might help if you do--around your ankle or wrist, to keep the amber 'warm.' Do not leave a baby alone in a crib with a necklace on! My children do not sleep alone, so she was able to wear it at all times. Take it off for baths to protect the necklace thread. Check your sources to the best of your abilities before purchasing, to be certain you get Baltic Amber and not an imitation. The lighter the stone: the higher the concentration of succinic acid, supposedly (some people say this is not true, so choose as you like!).

Courtesy stockxchng

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Don't Fear the Microwave

photo courtesy stockxchng
There is a human tendency to fear or demonize anything poorly understood and especially anything new. While this is an excellent survival mechanism, unfortunately, it lingers beyond its usefulness in many circumstances. Fear is an excellent tool of control, so very often, it is encouraged by those in authority (or those desiring authority).

What does this have to do with microwaves? Quite a bit! Since no one is trying to control us through microwaves, it would seem people would get over this irrational fear, but instead, it continues to perpetuate itself through the very mystery of microwave technology itself.

I believe we can largely blame x-rays for this. For 30 years, we were assured repeatedly that x-rays were safe: so safe, women of money received them at every prenatal visit and they were available in shoe stores to see the fit of your foot inside the shoe, to ensure a proper and healthy fit.

Of course, we know now that x-rays cause cancer, infertility, pregnancy complications, fetal mutations and birth defects. Why the hell would we trust that any technology is safe after that? Well, you can either be a technophobe and take that route (why are you using a computer then? Electromagnetic radiation is coming off your screen right now!) or you can do your best to study the information available and make as informed a decision as possible.

Now, the microwave. People have many fears about this device. The first is safety--are microwaves just pouring out of the oven as it goes? No.1 Not 'pouring out'. Yes, they do leak a tiny amount of microwaves, which are non-ionizing and rodent studies have repeatedly found no damage, even from nearly an entire lifetime of chronic exposure--more than you would be exposed to even if you stood in front of one and cooked in it every day. The material that the microwave is made out of protects you. The risk from microwaves is burns--which you have to find a way to keep the door open to be exposed to (or be inside one).

Now, that brings us to how microwaves cook in the first place: "Microwave ovens cook food with waves of oscillating electromagnetic energy that are similar to radio waves but move back and forth at a much faster rate. These quicker waves are remarkably selective, primarily affecting molecules that are electrically asymmetrical — one end positively charged and the other negatively so. Chemists refer to that as a polarity. Water is a polar molecule, so when a microwave oven cooks or heats up food, it does so mainly by energizing — which is to say, heating up — water molecules, and the water energizes its molecular neighbors."2

It basically bounces around the interior of the microwave in irregular patterns, heating what it comes into contact with. So, it's not like waves pouring around inside and it's why microwaves heat unevenly much of the time.

So, okay, you either are convinced with the science or you're not, that the microwaves are well contained and even when not, they are not cancerous, due to their nature.

pic courtesy of stockxchng
The latest myth about microwaves, however, comes from the raw foodists. In pushing their agenda (as we all do), they have perpetuated partial study results that showed that nutrients are leeched in microwaves during cooking. This is true! They are also leeched, in greater amounts, in oven, stovetop, steam and grill cooking, due to the slower nature of the cooking methods. Nutrients are leeched during any cooking at all into the water it's prepared in.

So, raw foodists have that on their side. But that's not the message that got spread to the public (nor is it the whole story by any means). If you're a raw foodist, good for you. I'm not. I, like all generations of homo sapien before me3, like my food cooked. So, for those of us who cook our food, what is the real story here?

"Several studies have shown that microwave cooking, if properly used, does not change the nutrient content of foods to a larger extent than conventional heating. In fact, suggests that there is a tendency towards greater retention of many micronutrients with microwaving, probably due to the shorter preparation time. Does not describe non-thermal effects. The main problem with microwaving is the uneven heating of the food, which has raised concern regarding microbiological safety. Microwaving infant formula and breast milk has become increasingly popular. The content of nutrients and antibacterial factors in milk are maintained unchanged provided the final temperature does not exceed 60°C." 4

In fact: Spinach retains nearly all its folate when cooked in a microwave; in comparison, it loses about 77% when cooked on a stove, because food on a stove is typically boiled, leaching out nutrients. Bacon cooked by microwave has significantly lower levels of carcinogenic nitrosamines than conventionally cooked bacon.5 Steamed vegetables tend to maintain more nutrients when microwaved than when cooked on a stove top. Microwave blanching  is 3-4 times more effective than boiled water blanching in the retaining of the water-soluble vitamins folic acid, thiamin and riboflavin, with the exception of ascorbic acid, of which 28.8% is lost (vs. 16% with boiled water blanching).6

So, in conclusion: microwave cooking is not for every food, certainly (broccoli retains more flavanoids when steamed, for example, but if you're not going to steam it, it will retain more nutrients by microwaving than boiling on the stove--it's best eaten raw, however, for maximum nutrition: but it still contains plenty of nutrients even after cooking), but it is a valuable tool and shouldn't be as feared as it is. At the very least, don't feel guilty about using it once and a while. It's not hurting your food any more than any other method of cooking.