Thursday, July 31, 2008

boo-bah bah

Just having a little taste.
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Blueberries anyone?

g at Johnson Family farm
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mommy confession

9:22 pm - This is arguably the best part of the day. Yes, I admit it. It is quiet in the house. I am watching "The Next Food Network Star". I have poured myself a rather strong glass of plum wine. For the first time in my typical day, I breathe. Not that the day is over but that I can at least work at my own pace. There is still a lunch and/or dinner to prepare. More often there is a document or two that needs to be prepared for work. There is some cleaning that needs to be done. The list goes on and on and on.

As much as I love motherhood, I need this quiet every night.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Disease proof your child

I can't recall anymore how I found this book, Disease-Proof Your Child by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. In the book, he advocates for nutritional excellence. As defined in the book, nutritional excellence is mainly a vegan diet. Though he feels that vegan is the way to go for everyone (including and especially kids who have started solids), he makes a little compromise for some lean meat and some dairy (but only low fat).

There are some tips that are pretty useful in the book. For one, he lists ten super foods which is a great guideline to incorporate. (Excerpted from the book/website)

Avocados are a clean, healthy source of healthy fatty acids. They are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols and high in the powerful anti-oxidant glutathione. Avocados are healthy anti-cancer food. Use it in place of butter, mash it with bananas for young children, and use it in lots of avocado-based dressings and dips.

Blueberries/Blackberries are packed with tannins, anthocyanidins, flavonoids, polyphenols, and proanthcyanidins that have been linked to prevention and reversal of age-related mental decline. They also have powerful anti-cancer effects. Use frozen organic berries in the winter when fresh ones are not available.

Cantaloupes are another vitamin powerhouse. With only 56 calories a cup, one gets a huge amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene as well as folate, potassium, fiber, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6.

Carrots/Beets are colorful root crops that add beauty and flavor to dishes. Shredded raw in salads, cooked, or in soups, they are high in fiber and antioxidants compounds such as cartonoids abd betacyanin, a powerful cancer protective agent found to inhibit cell mutations.

Flax Seeds are rich in lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, and scientific studies have confirmed that flax seeds have a positive influence on everything from cholesterol levels and constipation to cancer and heart disease. Use ground flax seed in oatmeal, or add them to whipped frozen bananas, stewed apples, and cinnamon and nut balls. Keep in mind that the scientifically documented benefits from flax seeds come from raw, ground flax seed, not flax seed oil.

Green Lettuce is exceptionally low in calories, but contains an abundance of phytonutrients, plant proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eat salad with lettuce every day.

Kale is a fantastic high-nutrient green vegetable to add to soups and to serve chopped.

Sesame Seeds are one of the most mineral-rich foods in the world and a potent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamins, and fiber. They are also rich in anti-cancer lignans that are uniquely found in sesame seeds alone. Grind some unhulled sesame seeds into a powder to sprinkle on salads and vegetables. Toast lightly and mix with eggplant, chickpeas, scallions, and garlic for a healthy and delicious dip.

Strawberries are high in folic acid, flavonoids, iron, and vitamin C. They provide a good source of dietary fiber and potassium yet contain only 60 calories per cup. Use strawberries and frozen strawberries frequently. Try a fruit smoothie by blending together a banana, orange juice, and frozen strawberries.

Tomatoes have been a hot topic in recent years because their consumption has been linked to dramatic reduction in the incidence of common cancers. One of the tomatoes' heavily investigated anti-cancer phytochemicals is lycopene, which has been shown to be protective against cancer, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancers."

The other tip that I liked is regarding nuts. He liked nuts as an alternate (read - better) form of fat. However it shouldn't still be consumed in large quantities.

There is one point though that he made regarding picky eaters that turned on the "light bulb" for me. His advice was to never coerce a child to eat. Seems like an oft repeated mantra but he follows it up with a new mantra - "I will not be concerned with the number of calories consumed by my child" It finally clicked. I really did just stop pushing s to eat. It was getting more and more frustrating. I've tried many things but often she will eat as much as she wants and as often as she wants. So now I don't push anymore. I stopped completely. I would ask the nanny how much she ate. However much it is, it is enough until she asks for more. That has been such a relief.

In summary, he makes a lot of interesting points though many of his points were made in most health magazines for years. So there is probably no reason the book should have gone to almost 230 pages.

My rating - read through the website. Everything is there and the information is indexed for quick access.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Darfur - a primer in 10 minutes

I know that this is not mommy related but I was so impressed at how clearly and succinctly this short video was able to explain the conflict that even I with my mommy (read - foggy) brain could understand.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Boston, part 3 - Whale Watching

This is one of the few pictures I took. The whale watching trip really went well. I was so hesitant about the whole thing because I was afraid that we would not see whales and that we would all get seasick. This was taken with no zoom lens. The whales were really that close.

We booked a tour with Boston Harbor Cruise. I booked over the phone. It was a little annoying that I never got an email confirm of my booking. I had to call back and get a confirm number. I also like this tour operator because unlike the New England Aquarium tour that was going to charge for every person onboard (so for us. that's 2 adults, 1 senior and 2 kids). Whereas this operator will only charge for adults and seniors. Kids under 4 are free.

Though the tour turned out to be 3 1/2 hours (it was advertised at 3 hours), the time went by really quickly. We had the first whale sighting within an hour or so. It was pretty awesome to see.

Now some words of caution:
Whales don't breach very often. A breach is when the whale basically jumps out of the water. We found out that whales only breach about 10% of the time and usually as a result of trying to get to some "itch" or some irritation that has latched to its skin. It can also be a form of communication. However since it takes a lot of energy to do this move, it doesn't happen often. So adjust your expectations. Because if you came to see jumping whales, you'll be disappointed.

It's colder in the open ocean, especially when the boat is traveling at top speed. When the experts say this online, believe them. I forgot my jacket at home and thought that since it was a warm summer day, I would be fine. I don't get cold much but it was chilly on the upper deck. I should have listened. So if you are planning to be on the upper deck, plan on bringing a sweater or thick windbreaker with a hood.

If you're feeling lucky.... I chose to go with the advice of staking a spot on the upper deck for the best view. However I think everyone got that advice, so it got pretty crowded. Whereas Gmom, G and the kids remained downstairs inside the cabin so that they can stay warm. When the whale sightings began, everyone made a dash for the upper level, leaving the windows of cabin open for viewing. G got some really great video of the whales without leaving the comfort of the climate-controlled cabin. He was lucky. Later on, a bunch of kids came back from upper deck and his clear view got obstructed.

Boston, part 2

After a great time at the Children's museum, the family C retired to our hotel.
for a nice afternoon nap. Instead of the whole production of taking the kids out trying to scope for food, we left them with Gmom napping while G and I tried to find get food. We found Thai Basil Restaurant. I was very encouraged by the amount of local kids (probably university kids) who were piling into the place. Lots of small families too.

The food was acceptable Thai. Of course, I made the mistake of ordering a lo mein, thinking that the kids might like that. Instead they took to the Mango fried rice. The lo mein looked a little sickly but everything else was just ok.

After an arduous swim in the hotel pool, it was time for fireworks or more accurately, it was time to wait for the fireworks which did not happen till almost 11:00 PM. For young families who want to watch fireworks, I think this might have been the best decision. I paid more than I would normally for a smallish hotel room but the view to the fireworks were amazing.

From my research, this is one of the few hotels in the area that actually has a view to the fireworks display from the rooms. We played the broadcast on TV to listen to announcements and watched the fireworks through the window of our climate-controlled hotel room. It was fabulous.

Some tips for those wanting to book a room for the 4th of July Fireworks in Boston:
1. The hotel that we used was the Westin Copley Place. There are other Westin properties in Boston, so make sure you have the right one.
2. Request a room on a high floor. We were on the 22nd floor and we are slightly obstructed by the roof of the building next door (check picture above). 22nd floor is the lowest floor to be on for a good view (I think).
3. Request a river view.

Was it worth the extra $$$? I think so. g really wanted to see fireworks. To try to bring the kids to the waterfront in the heat and have her waits HOURS just felt excruciating to me. It was a once-in-a-lifetime expense. She has these pictures. We can check this off the list.

The hotel was clean. The pool was also clean. The staff were easy to deal with. The hotel was also convenient in the sense that it is near the subway.

RIPOFF ALERT - the hotel has valet parking ($42 for the evening) and self- parking ($32 for the evening). Both prices are highly inflated. When we inquired about other parking options in the area, we were told that there weren't much. Driving around the corner to look for the hotel self-parking entrance, I saw another parking garage sign for $9. I parked there. Not knowing that metered parking is suspended because of the holiday. I found out the day after. So I could have parked for free. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A word on sunscreen

I found this website and found it to be incredibly useful in understanding about sunscreens. It is a huge read for busy moms but well worth it when you consider that it does not recommend some of the most popular brands of sunscreens like Coppertone.

It breaks down each product by toxicity and by effectiveness. It is interesting that it also recommends a common drugstore brand above the leading ones in the field.

This site is not limited to sunscreen but covers all manner of cosmetics and skin care. I also like the fact that this is primarily a research group, not affiliated with any company and not trying to sell any other product of its own.

Cosmetic Database

Monday, July 07, 2008


The Family C has just returned from a wonderful trip to Boston, MA. We went there for the 4th of July fireworks. g has always liked fireworks. We set out early Saturday morning, hoping to arrive in Boston around 1:00 pm.

With Gmom in tow, we set off more or less on schedule. Almost as soon as the car started, Gmom proceeded to serve up a variety of snacks. Most surprisingly, after an hour or so of snacks, g & s fell asleep at 10:30 AM. I can't remember the last time these kids went to sleep that early but they both did.

Upon arriving in Boston at noon (a whole hour earlier than my expectation. Thanks, Tom tom), we were primed for some of that famous New England seafood. Our first stop was the Barking Crab Restaurant.

Our rating - too much for too little

We had asked about their crab bowl. It's basically 4 lbs of different types of crab "clusters" (not sure what a crab cluster is.) I think there should be snow crab, dungeness crabs and king crabs. All this for the "bargain" price of $80. Hmmm....No. So instead of the crab bowl, we got 3 appetizers, 4 sides and a kid's meal. Our total ended up being $80 anyway which is the irony. The food was ok though not worth $80. It's a shack albeit a glorified one. We had the steamed mussels, calamari and crab cakes. For sides, we had 2 orders of jasmine rice, green beans and bok choy with shitake mushrooms. The portions were really small. Flavorwise, well, it's nothing to write up. I'll leave it at that.

Next stop, Boston Children's Museum

This was not part of the original plan but since we saw a sign for it at the Barking crab, I thought, "why not?" The kids were rested and we needed something low key to do before the fireworks tonight. So we went and it turned out to be one of the best children's museum I have gone to.

It had a ton of things to do. There were the usual animal displays, bubbles, water area and oversized climbing structures. I also liked that there were cultural displays as well. They had a recreation of a traditional Japanese house. A new exhibit for the rest of the year is about Hangzhou, China. There was a recreation of a typical Chinese kitchen (funny, looks a lot like mine - complete with oyster sauce, wok and steamer). There was a video class on working an abacus. There was also a water wall where kids should be trying Chinese calligraphy (ie excuse for kids to play with water and a brush). Costumes and a small stage for a Chinese opera was also available for play. I would post a particularly incriminating photo but for the sake of the marriage, I won't.

The most fun was a "photo souvenir booth" where there was a background set and camera hooked up to the internet and pc. You take the picture, enter your email address and voila!!!

In summary, Love it.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

g says the darnest things #251

The back story - The Family C finally got a new set of wheels. It was long overdue considering all the mechanical difficulties that poor civic had and about $1500 in repairs due. One major repair was air conditioning. The AC stopped working months ago. So while driving to a playdate, g and I were talking about the new car. She mentioned she wanted to show her friend, a, her new big car. She also said that a had a small car while she had a big car. Not wanting to make her feel that somehow having a big car was any better than a small car, I explained that our small car's AC had broken down and that is why we needed to get the bigger car. That some people did not want or need a bigger car.

Fast forward to actual story....

G was doing brain quest with g. In one picture, she was asked to identify what was missing from the image. The image was of a car interior with no steering wheel.

So G asked, "what's missing, g?"

g responds, "the car has no air conditioning."