Monday, June 25, 2007

"Vaccinated" (and thankful)

Today, while at his annual well child check-up, my five-year-old received three vaccinations. Because of these shots, he will never know the itchy, burning feel of chicken pox in his throat. He will never experience the disabling affects of polio. He won't lose a day of school due to measles or mumps. And because of a compelling read by Paul Offit, I know exactly who to thank for this.

"Vaccinated" tells the inspiring story of Maurice Hilleman -- a humble man who grew up in a Montana farming community. Hilleman's tough childhood shaped him into the driven and determined man who not only discovered several vaccines, but improved upon a myriad of existing ones. (Hilleman is also the first person to invent a cancer vaccine as well as purify, characterize, and produce a drug now used in cancer treatment.)

Offit's extensively-researched tome also gives great insight into the history of vaccines. For example, although biologist Alexander Flemming discovered penicillin in the 1929, he was unable to purify the substance. At the start of the second world war, Howard Florey picked up where Flemming left off not only purifying but figuring out how to mass produce the product.

As doctor and author of three other books, (The Cutter Incident, Vaccines: What You Should Know, and Breaking the Antibiotic Habit) Offit chose a fascinating topic. The book is rich with compelling facts. I liked the way the book was organized and the way he presented his information. I also liked his writing style. He doesn't offend readers by "dumbing down" the information. But he does present the information in a way a lay person can understand.

Offit is also not afraid to present the darker side of vaccine discovery. Newly discovered vaccines always needed test subjects. For a period of time, those test subjects were institutionalized mentally retarded people or even children from poor countries. Often times, if a researcher fully believed in his work, the serum's were administered to their own children and even coworkers. Offit admits -- sometimes the vaccines worked. Sometimes they didn't. Sometimes the serum's side effects were so toxic, they caused problems that were worse than the actual illness.

And yes, "Vaccinated" addresses the controversy that ensued when Andrew Wakefield, a London doctor, alarmed the world with his "findings" that the MMR vaccine caused autism due to mercury levels. (Offit refutes Wakefield's concerns.)

Offit made a point at the end of the book that really hit home for me. When vaccines work, nothing happens. People take them for granted. And he's right.

When the author mentioned a new vaccine for rotovirus, I had a flashback of my son at 20-months laying on the couch too weak to move and too sick to even care. For five days, he couldn't even keep down a few swallows of water. He lost more than six pounds in a 12-day period. My husband was out of town. I was alone and overwhelmed with fear for my little boy. I'm grateful that now other children won't have to endure such misery. And many parents won't have to either.

This review was written for The Parent Bloggers Network. If you have a product you'd like PBN to review, click on this link for more info.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

True Blue is good for you!

When the marketeers of True Blue Blueberry juice asked me to try their product, I was excited. I love blueberries! But "the boy"? Not so keen on the taste.

What did he think of True Blue juice? In one word, "Yummy".

According to True Blue's website, "each glass of TrueBlue contains as much juice as 1/2 cup fresh blueberries. TrueBlue has 25% fewer calories per serving." The juice is lightly sweetened with cane sugar -- not high fructose corn syrup which is linked to obesity.

Since we received several 64 ounce bottles of True Blue Blueberry juice, we decided to share the wealth. Overall, the product was well received. Here are a few thoughts from busy moms:

"I thought the juice had a nice blend of flavors...the blueberry taste wasn't overwhelming and wasn't sugary. I thought it was refreshing and didn't leave an aftertaste, which I find with some juices." -- Bunko Babe Stacey.

"Product taste was good however my kids continue to ask for apple juice since it is such a staple item; I (mommy) drank the blueberry juice. Boys seemed to enjoy it if I gave it to them without offering a choice of apple juice." -- Bunko babe Traci.

"My kids loved it. This was a big treat for them. I rarely let them have juice or soda because that's too much sugar." -- my sister Linda.

Seth really loved the product. In fact, he asks for "that yummy purple stuff" several times a week. But he's not the only fan in our house. I joked with a few people about how I liked the juice so much, I'd love use it to create some cool cocktails. But in perusing the website, I see someone is one step ahead of me.

True Blue Blueberry juice can currently be found in Dillon, Krogers and Shop and Save in Missouri. Suggested retail price is $3.99 for a 64oz bottle. But if you go to this website, you can get a $1.00 off coupon!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Get a Hobby! (A PBN Review)

Got some free time on your hands? Feel a bit restless or unfulfilled but don't know what to do with yourself? Get a Hobby!

From African violet cultivation to whittling, Get a Hobby! author Tina Barseghian, offers "101 all-consuming diversions for any lifestyle."

Before checking out the list of hobbies, you can initially take a short quiz to help identify personality traits that determine your hobby personality. As you flip through the book, you can then match your traits to the personality characteristics of the many people who gravitate to and enjoy that hobby.

Each hobby segment gives an overview, a history, a list of materials needed, how to get started, a list of resources, and a project idea. For certain hobbies, like ant farming, there's also a sidebar regarding hobby hazards.

The book is an easy, speedy read. And hobbies are alphabetized so you can easily find an interest. Plus? The hobby list includes a bit of everything -- whether you have plenty of money and time to devote to a new hobby or not much of either -- you'll be able to find something of interest. (Featured diversions that sparked great amusement with my hubby and I were dumpster diving, taxidermy, and urban animal husbandry.)

While I do understand that Tina is trying to provide snippets of information to keep the reader engaged, at times, I wished for more information regarding certain hobby sections.

But overall? Get a Hobby! was a fun book to browse through.

This review was written for The Parent Bloggers Network. If you have a product you'd like PBN to review, click on this link for more info. To be entered to win a copy of the book and a $100 gift card to Michael's Arts and Crafts, visit the Parent Bloggers Network site and leave a comment in the Get a Hobby! campaign launch.