Earth Hour is Tonight!

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Turn off your lights from 8-9 in honor of the WWF Earth Hour. Gadget Man is out of town, and the kids should be fast asleep by 8, so I’ll be sitting alone in the dark for the hour. I guess I’ll read a book by candlelight.

Genetic Testing: Do It Before You Do It

I’m really disappointed in my friend Barb. Already three months pregnant with her first child, she decided to get her genetic testing done. She tested positive for Canavan’s Disease. Now, her husband has to have the test to make sure he doesn’t carry that gene too. If he does, well, if you don’t already know about the disease, you can read about Canavan for yourself. I guess I’m disappointed in her because, as a college educated woman in her late thirties, I expected more from her as she prepared for pregnancy.

Oh, I suppose I’m being too judgmental here. I’m one of those people who do a whole bunch of research before I get myself into something like a pregnancy. I’m surprised when others do not behave similarly. Before we tried to get pregnant for the first time, I went to my nurse midwife for a full work up. I told her I wanted to start trying for a baby, and asked her what I needed to do to prepare. She told me I should go off the pill for at least three months and start taking prenatal vitamins. Because Gadget Man and I are Jewish and of Ashkenazi decent, she also recommended genetic testing. Genetic testing is often recommended pre-pregnancy for certain ethnicities that are potential carriers for diseases such as Canavan, Tay-Sachs (Jews of Ashkenazi descent) and Sickle-Cell (Blacks). (French Canadians, Cajuns, and Irish Americans are also at risk for Tay Sachs). Thankfully, our health insurance paid for the test. But even if they didn’t, the few hundred dollars it cost is a small price to pay compared to the medical expenses we would have to endure (not to mention the emotional hardship) if we had a child with Tay-Sachs, Canavan, or any number of diseases my ethnicity is known to carry.

I suppose I can’t blame Barb. The blame really lies with her ob/gyn. When a married woman (or a woman of a certain age) goes to her doctor for her annual, that doctor should ask whether his patient plans to have children in the future. Aside from genetic testing, there are many other life changes a woman should make before becoming pregnant. For example, there are many prescription drugs to avoid when pregnant. Also, folic acid is most beneficial at the very beginning of a pregnancy, before any such pregnancy is apparent. Indeed, it has been suggested that all fertile women take folic acid, just in case. Isn’t it a doctor’s duty to make sure we, as female patients, are well-informed about our bodies and the choices available to us? The medical community in our country is far more concerned with treating medical problems than preventing them in the first place. As for Barb’s baby-on-the-way, all we can do is pray that “daddy” is not a Canavan carrier too.

This post can also be found at the cool site http://www.chicagomomsblog.com

Team Mom Toy Review: Baby Jamz Jammin Microphone

0067357902526_500x500.jpgThanks to Team Mom, Charlie (age 2 1/2) and Eva (age 5) got to try out the new Baby Jamz Jammin’ Microphone. My kids love to pretend they are putting on a show, so any microphone is a great toy for them. Before letting it loose into their hands, I took out my household lead check kit. Happily, it tested negative for lead content. After handing it over to the little ones, the biggest problem we had was that we had just one. After the grabbing and the fighting was over, my children eventually agreed to take turns.
The microphone has several functions. It records voices alone, records voices with prerecorded “hip hop” nursery rhyme tunes (B-I-N-G-O, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Skip to My Lou, This Old Man, and Twinkle Twinkle), amplifies voices, or plays the hip hop tunes. Oh, and one button speeds all of this up, while another speeds it all down. I needed to read the instructions to find out how it works, b/c the buttons are not marked too well. However, Eva got the hang of it quickly. Charlie, on the other hand found his entertainment by just pushing the buttons randomly. The manufacturer recommends the toy for 18+, but I doubt someone this young would be able to figure out how to record his/her own voice and then play it back. Regardless, any child of this age and up would find something amusing about it.
The children really enjoyed this toy and didn’t seem to be as bothered as I was by the awful quality of the voice recorder. Another thing that bothered me was that the recording feature shut off after only a few seconds, thus making it impossible to record more than a line or two of song. Nevertheless, this toy is priced right at only $ 9.95 . One should note that the toy is exclusively sold at Walmart.

When a Mom is Summoned for Jury Duty

Recently, I was summoned for jury duty. For some time in my former non-SAHM life, I was a practicing attorney and, for now, I still have my license. I have always wanted to serve on a jury. Not only do I consider it a privilege, I think it would be fascinating. Upon receiving the summons, I noted that, thank goodness, I was called to the Daley Center and not to the dangerous area of 26th and California. Then I walked over to the calendar to mark off the day. Just as I was about to put pen to paper (yes, I have a wall calendar, not some electronic thing), I hesitated. “What am I going to do with the kids?” I wondered.

In over five years since we had children, we have never hired a babysitter. If Gadget Man and I go out without the children, my mother or his mother watches the children. My mother-in-law works some weekdays and even if she were free, she won’t do anything before 10 a.m. Even if my mother was able to take the kids for the entire day, what would I do if I were assigned to a trial that lasted more than one day? I was fairly certain that if I showed up for one day and explained my lack of childcare, that I would be dismissed. Why waste the court’s and my time to explain my situation? The summons stated that one may be excused from jury duty “because of undue hardship.” Surely, this is a case of undue hardship.

Prior to drafting the request to be excused from jury duty, I conducted some research on the matter. As it turns out, Illinois Statute 705 ILCS 305/10.2 (b) provides that one may be excused from jury if one is the primary caregiver to children under the age of twelve. The provision states:

When an undue hardship caused by a family situation is due to the prospective juror being the primary care giver of a person with a mental or physical disability, a person with a medically diagnosed behavior problem, or a child under age 12, then the county board, jury commissioners or jury administrator shall excuse such a prospective juror, if it finds that no reasonable alternative care is feasible which would not impose an undue hardship on the prospective juror or the person for whom the prospective juror is providing care, or both.

Happily, I discovered that there is also a provision excusing nursing mothers (see 705 ILCS 305/10.3). It seems Illinois is quite enlightened and “family friendly.”

I wrote my letter and sent it to the Jury Administrator as instructed on the summons. I never heard a word. Usually, I am incredibly responsible (some say anal) and, in such a case, I would telephone the administrator to make sure he or she got my letter and that I was, indeed, excused. However, I completely forgot to call. I woke up in the middle of the night just before the date in a panic. “What if my letter got lost in the mail?” “What if this particular administrator doesn’t like to excuse caregivers and I’m really not excused?” “Will they find me in contempt of court?”

It has been over a month since the jury duty date and I believe the system worked. I pleaded my case as a caregiver of young children, and I can safely say that I was, indeed, excused. Thank you, Illinois legislature, for valuing the family and the primary caretaker’s responsibilities. Thank you, Cook County Jury Administrator, for understanding this SAHM’s particular situation.

This is cross-posted at http://www.chicagomomsblog.com

Help Needed: Bone Marrow Donor Drive in Palo Alto, California

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One of my sisters at Silicon Valley Moms Blog is promoting a bone marrow drive. It is taking place on April 19th. The details can be found at the previous link. If you live in the Palo Alto area (and especially if you are a minority) please go and sign up to get on the donor list.

Book Review: Forgive Me by Amanda Eyre Ward

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Prior to Forgive Me, I had never read an Amanda Eyre Ward novel. After finishing this one, I ran out to get another, Sleep Toward Heaven. Forgive Me is about Nadine, a thirty-something print journalist addicted to danger and adverse to commitment (with, it turns out, a couple of exceptions). Nadine’s best friend, Lily, a SAHM, stands as a clear contrast to Nadine. Lily spends her days worried about stuffy noses and diapers, yet Nadine can hardly recall the names of her own best friend’s children. Instead, she takes the reader into the tumultuous lives of drug dealers in Mexico, and those suffering from Apartheid in South Africa. At each location, the reader is introduced to its politics, its communities, as well as the landscape. Indeed, Ward is quite adept at making one feel as if one is really there with Nadine, right down to the actual smells she encounters.

As a SAHM, it was quite a treat to read something entertaining, educational, and thought provoking. As the title indicates, the novel subtly touches on the concept of forgiveness. Upon finishing it, I was left contemplating my own experience with forgiveness, recalling the times I needed to be forgiven, and the times I needed to forgive. I loved this novel. Please read it and let me know your thoughts.

PETA’s New Eat No Animal Campaign

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Check out the celebrities and funky t-shirt for PETA’s Eat No Animal Campaign.  I’m ordering one . . . MOO!