Monday, August 31, 2009


I gave Thomas a whole apple for the first time a few days ago. He's eaten apple slices before but I'd never just handed one to him.

You'd have thought I'd given him my new IPod Touch (thanks Daddy!) for his very own. He loved it. He took it into his room and asked me to put him in his crib. He lounged around in bed for half an hour eating that apple. He started at the bottom and ate toward the stem so he ate a big chunk of the core. Though he did call me in at one point to hand over the dry, spiky part on the bottom.

Apple Eater

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Carton Trust Issues

I've been meaning to find out what the labels on egg cartons really mean for a while now. Could we trust that labels like "cage free" and "free range" mean we're eating eggs from humanely raised chickens? I finally got around to doing the research and as it turns out, not so much.

Conventionally raised chickens are kept in battery cages packed so closely together that they cannot spread their wings. Industrial chicken farms cut off the hens' beaks so they can't peck each other to death. Not only is this painful but chickens get most of their information about the world through their beaks. It's brutal and so we're committed to avoiding conventionally produced eggs.

When we lived in KC our supermarket carried eggs produced on a local Amish farm. The carton had a description of the chickens' living conditions on the side. They also included a strip of paper in each carton with a story or poem about what was going on at the farm that month. It was great. When we moved to Sacramento, I started buying cage free eggs at Trader Joe's. I won't be doing that anymore.

Eggs labeled "cage free" come from chickens kept in huge windowless sheds by the thousands. They aren't kept in cages but that still doesn't mean they have enough room to live like chickens, nesting and dusting themselves in dirt. They have no access to sunlight and are fed an entirely unnatural diet. "Free range" chickens live in basically the same conditions but they have access to the outdoors. This usually means a small door that virtually none of them use.

Fortunately, there's an egg vendor at our farmer's market. We buy a flat of 30 pasture-raised eggs for $4 which lasts for about 6 weeks. We were paying $2.89 a dozen for our Trader Joe's eggs so this is definitely a happy ending for us. However, if you don't have access to a local egg producer and you want to avoid conventional egg production, the only option is to buy certified organic eggs. Organic hens nest, roam, and eat a natural, antibiotic-free diet. But they're expensive, around $4 a dozen. Depending on how many eggs you eat that can be a pretty serious deterrent. On the other hand, organic eggs are better for you. They ahve

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times mroe omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
than conventionally produced eggs. So, you're still getting a nice bang for your buck. And so are the chickens.

*Carton labeling information from this article on Culinate by Kelly Myers.
*Organic egg nutrition comparison from Mother Earth News which sites the following studies:
  • In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50 percent more folic acid and 70 percent more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens.
  • In 1988, Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, found pastured eggs in Greece contained 13 times more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than U.S. commercial eggs.
  • A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher omega-3s and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens.
  • A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat, and found it to have 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.
  • In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.
  • The 2005 study Mother Earth News conducted of four heritage-breed pastured flocks in Kansas found that pastured eggs had roughly half the cholesterol, 50 percent more vitamin E, and three times more beta carotene.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Food Friday - Industrial Agriculture Sucks

Time magazine has a great article about what's wrong with the way America produces food, Getting Real about the High Price of Low Cost Food.

I like this piece for a couple of reasons. First, it's fairly comprehensive and covers the varied problems with the food industry. American food production is unsustainable for economic and public health reasons, not just the more politically charged reasons of animal welfare and environmental impact. Second, since it appears in a mainstream media source, it's hard to dismiss as the ravings of radicals.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Hey, remember when Mary turned 7? That was awesome, right? It was especially great that she got to go to Disneyland.

Wait. I forgot to mention that? Strange.

First, Jeremy drove 10 hours to Los Angeles. 6 hours driving and 4 hours in L.A. traffic to get to Seal Beach!

At 7 am the next morning, they went to the place where dreams come true.

There were princesses!

And tschotskes!

And rides!

And they stayed all day!

Seriously, people, 15 hours. This man deserves a medal.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Two More!

I forgot two words:

poo poo
bye bye

That's 21! Take that so-called child development experts!

Maybe Not So Far Behind

Thomas had his 2-year-old checkup yesterday. He weighs 27 lbs 1 oz and he's 33 and 3/4 inches tall. He's just below average in weight, right at average for height, and just above on head circumference. He also got his last two shots until Kindergarten (except for annual flu shots). Yay! Shots are horrible.

At each checkup, I fill out a developmental checklist. The speech requirement for 2-year-olds is a 20 word vocabulary. I was shocked. I thought Thomas's speech was still way behind. Not so; he has a 19 word vocabulary. He says:

ruah = truck
argh = quack (and lion, tiger, bear, dinosaur, etc.)
hoo hoo (owl)
mo = more
pway = plane
uh oh
ahh = all gone
wa = water
tee = teeth
ju = juice
ca = car
ffuu = fan
cook = cookie
oh wow
pea = please

He'll also repeat just about anything you ask him too.

I'm glad he's not too far behind, but I'm also a little angry. Maybe he wouldn't have caught up without speech therapy but given that he never freaking talks at speech therapy, I think he probably would have done it on his own. We've worried about him so much over the past year. For most of that year, I've thought that we're just caught in a particular moment in time, when everyone is on the lookout for speech delays. Ten years ago (and likely 10 years from now), no one would have thought twice about Thomas's speech at 14-months-old. And while speech therapy certainly doesn't hurt him, I hate it. The only time I've ever really thought there might be something truly wrong with Thomas was during a therapy session. So, I don't take him anymore; Jeremy does. I couldn't take it anymore.

I'm rambling. I'm just frustrated because I think we could have avoided this whole stupid thing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thomas Turned Two

Thomas is two! I have no idea how that happened. Pictures from his actual birthday are up at our flickr page. On his first birthday, he started walking. We had hoped he would start talking on this birthday but no such luck. However, he did score lots of great loot from his birthday money. First, we bought him a sandbox and some sand toys.

Then, we found an awesome lot of Cars stuff for his room on Craigslist. There's a rug with a track on it to play cars on.

And a sleeper sofa that he loves.

We also got a traffic light and a little book case to go with them. He likes to turn off the lights in his room, sit on his sofa and look at the traffic light. The woman who sold it all to us threw in a bunch of books too.

Thomas also got clothes and cars and new shoes. The shoes were surprisingly a big hit. I guess he really didn't like the sandals he'd been wearing all summer. (I got new shoes too.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Curious George

Thomas Reads from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

A birthday round-up is coming soon.