Melamine, It’s Not Just for Babies Anymore

125px-hazard_tsvgOk, this isn’t a joke at all. Melamine a very dangerous chemical which can cause renal failure (death) when ingested, has been found in more food in the United States. The Food and Drug Admin. has issued a recall of some biscuits from Vietnam that contain Melamine and were sold here in our country. I am scared to death that we will be poisoned by all of this. I suppose the best way to avoid all of this is to give our babies breastmilk and stay away from processed foods. Come to think of it, it’s not a bad idea. What will it take to get the FDA to sit up and take notice that so much of our food is poison? Will people have to start dying simply for enjoying tea and biscuits?

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School Lets Little Girl Try to Walk Home

school24iconThis recent story in the Chicago Tribune had me angry and scared. Little Arejohnnae Powers was only six when her elementary school in Waukegan allowed her to wander off, failing to make sure she went home with her teenage sister, who had made special arrangements with the school to pick her up. This poor little girl was wandering the streets looking for her home for two hours before relatives found her. Understandably, she is traumatized. I know, I’ve gotten under some people’s skin for complaining about parents who leave their children home alone (see my post at Chicago Moms Blog). In this case, the child was neglected by her school. A school that deals with dismissing children every day and should have done better.

How often does it happen and how often can it happen that our little ones can fall through the cracks and be forgotten by school officials? I don’t know much about our elementary school’s pick up policy. For Kindergarten (a separate school in our district), the parents and caregivers lined up outside the door and waited while each child was dismissed one by one, paying careful attention to the notes on a clipboard listing authorized pick-up names. My six-year-old, now in first grade, takes the bus home. I have seen the chaos that comes just before dismissal. The “busers” as they are called, gather their coats and backpacks and head out for the back door where the buses wait. The children who are picked up are dismissed out the classroom door and are supposed to head for the front door, where they mill about, play on the playground, jump into waiting automobiles or are greeted by someone to walk them home. I think there are a few teachers watching this scene, but I don’t know how diligent they are.

I took Arejohnnae’s case as a chance to talk about school dismissal with Eva. I told her about the news article and asked her what she should do if she was told to walk home without me, her father, or her grandmother. She now knows that the best thing to do would be to walk right back into that school, go right to the office and tell them there is no one to pick her up and she will not go anywhere alone. I hope this never happens, but one never knows. Also, I hope Arejohnnae Powers feels safe again soon.

Toy Review: Discovery Ultimate Star Planetarium

starThe Discovery Channel people were kind enough to let me and my family try out a cool toy from the Discovery Store: Discovery Ultimate Star Planetarium. Oh my gosh is this amazing! If you program where you are on the earth, it will show you your night sky, in the comfort of your home. This is perfect for us, because we live way too close to Chicago to be able to see very many stars (not to mention the pollution and numerous cloudy days we have). It will also show you any night sky, from anywhere around the globe at any given time. There are tons of other things to do. You can look at the planets, the moon, and the constellations. You can use the night sky as a night light for relaxing or sleeping. The machine will automatically go off after an hour if you want it to, leaving the time aglow for when you awaken and need to glance at a clock.

Forget about the kids, Gadget Man and I were fighting over which thing to view first. He wanted to look at all the planets, while I wanted to see some of the constellations. He had it programmed and up and running in a few minutes and we could view the night sky all over the world.

Ok, now for the kids. We will be using this for years and years as they learn about space in science class and here at home (Gadget Man loves to look at the stars).

I would say the the one problem we have has to do with our own home, not the toy itself. It has to be very, very dark to get a crisp picture and the only really dark place we have is our basement. The basement has a few problems that are not “ideal” according to the instruction manual. First, it is not a dome or a square, it is an irregularly shaped room. Also, it is full of furniture, shelves, and knick knacks on the wall. Finally, our ceiling is that yucky porous (asbestos?) stuff of the drop down ceilings of decades ago, so it makes for a blurry picture. For our home, our new toy works best when the sun is down and we project on our bedroom ceiling. Sweet dreams, and thanks Discovery!