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April 2010 Archives

April 7, 2010

The Woman Behind HeLa Cells

Immortal_Life_Henrietta_Lacks_HeLa_Cells_Book_Cover.gifToday we held a virtual science fair for WhyMommy, who had (hopefully successful!) surgery to remove more tumors for inflammatory breast cancer.

During one of her pre-surgery posts, Susan wrote, "As the six tumors are removed from my body, they will be flash frozen in vials designed to keep them usable by scientists and medical researchers. The doctors will use what they need for me, and then the rest will be sent to the IBC Biobank for future research or out for the Target Now Complete testing, one of the first to look at molecular markers that may indicate additional options for my treatment. "

Ironically enough, one of my favorite recent reads surrounds a woman whose "destiny" came from having pieces of tumor taken from her.

For those science-y types out there, you no doubt recognize "HeLa cells." We used HeLa in high school bio. We used HeLa in college bio and genetics. We used HeLa in grad school for a multitude of different courses and reasons.

I was intimately acquainted with HeLa cells. But until about a month ago, I had no idea who was truly behind HeLa. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, and her story is phenomenal.

Continue reading "The Woman Behind HeLa Cells" »

April 9, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon Right at Home

How_to_Train_Your_Dragon_Nintendo_DS.jpgBoth my boys have gone completely "bonkers for Berk" so to speak. How to Train Your Dragon has replaced Star Wars as being "the" thing to talk about, play with, and wear. My sons have begged to go to the "M-Place" to get Happy Meals so they can hopefully get a plastic dragon that they don't already have. Of course, said dragons lose their wings pretty quickly because they are Happy Meal toys, so I think I've injured my fingers from all the re-attaching I've done of late.


But the important thing is that my kids are smitten with Astrid, Hiccup, and the rest of the gang. They haven't seen the How to Train Your Dragon movie yet, but I anticipate it will be one of the things we do as spring break wraps up. What they have done, though, is play the How to Train Your Dragon Wii Game and the How to Train Your Dragon Nintendo DS Game.

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April 14, 2010

Dreambox Math is now for Kindergarten through 3rd Grade!

dreambox_logo_dl.gifLast year my boys were very excited when I introduced them to Dreambox as part of a review of their excellent online K-2 math program.

I was impressed with how the program evaluated both boys such that their adventures were tailored to their ability level. At the time, my youngest son was still in preschool, so having him do a Kindergarten math program had the potential to be a stretch, but Dreambox accurately assessed his knowledge and instructed him accordingly.

Meanwhile, my then-second-grader was assessed at a higher level. He is gifted in math, so immediately went to some of the more advanced concepts. Although both boys were playing the same game, Dreambox individualized the lessons so they were at the appropriate level for each.

My boys loved Dreambox, so I paid for a subscription for several months after my free-for-review trial had ended.

Although my oldest son enjoyed the game, I could tell that towards the end of his second-grade year he wasn't really challenged by it. Since I wanted to give him access to more advanced concepts, I enrolled him in a free trial of another online math program that went into more challenging material.

Continue reading "Dreambox Math is now for Kindergarten through 3rd Grade!" »

April 15, 2010

Home Gardening with Triscuit and Urban Farming

home-farming.jpgThree years ago we moved from a big house with a little yard to a little house with a big yard. I had excited ambitions for planning my own garden, but my plans fell flat. Embarrassingly, the gardening work the previous owners had done was wasted when my purple thumb came along. In the midst of my farming failure out in our back yard, I noticed that the containers I planted in our front yard actually did well. A lime tree gave us limes for our beer, and an initially small rosemary plant is now enormous and can provide seasoning to whatever I happen to be cooking. (Okay, I don't cook much, but I have big plans for that, too!)

I hope to plant other easy-to-grow herbs in containers in an attempt to incorporate more fresh seasoning into my (future) cooking, and to essentially take "baby steps" towards having a more sustainable experience. Maybe I'll cook more if I know I already have basil, sage, and rosemary growing right there?

It was with a hope that I can make this a reality that I happily accepted Mom Central's opportunity to review Triscuit's Home Gardening Program. Triscuit has placed plantable herb cards in four million boxes of Triscuit crackers. I was fortunate to receive one of those boxes in exchange for spreading the word about their program.

Continue reading "Home Gardening with Triscuit and Urban Farming" »

April 19, 2010

Roll Over! from Cottonelle

pic 013.jpgI can think of many ways that people can argue over toilet paper, but none is so polarizing than whether you "roll over" or "roll under."

Cottonelle knew such a question would get plenty of opinions. Indeed, they conducted a Roll Poll.

Not surprisingly, my side won.

Yeah, that's right. I am a roll-over!

It was with passion for my roll-over-ness that I gladly decided to participate in Mom Central's blog tour about Cottonelle. After all, I love validation, and who is to turn down free toilet paper, particularly soft and fluffy paper like Cottonelle?

Continue reading "Roll Over! from Cottonelle" »

April 20, 2010

Wubbzy Goes Green!

Wubbzy_Goes_Green.jpgDuring "Earth Hour" we were at a hockey game, but they weren't going to turn out the lights on men with sticks, sharp blades, and hair-trigger tempers. But hopefully my family and I will do something meaningful for Earth Day - two days from now. (Today is apparently some sort of pro-marijuana holiday, which I guess is "green" in its own way. Our old phone number - with a different area code easily confused with ours - was the number for a medical marijuana dispensary. That was an interesting thing.)

At church Sunday, I was thrilled to find a green-centered sermon accompanied by some unconventional and exciting "hymns." One such hymn included a coyote, and was truly gorgeous. I don't talk about religion much because I know it is quite polarizing, and I'm of the belief that people can find meaning and spirituality a variety of different ways, so I don't want to give the impression that I'm attempting to preach a specific faith here. But let's just say that I was pleased that Sunday's sermon was about positive impact and respect. It was about being good stewards of the Earth. It was not about politics - as environmental issues frequently can be - it was about a way of life that honors what we've been given.

One of my old pals, Wubbzy, has already been educating kids about the need to be sensitive and respectful to our environment. On a regular basis, Wubbzy and his pals teach kids about positive social interaction, and about respecting each others' differences.

Continue reading "Wubbzy Goes Green!" »

April 29, 2010

Light Up Their Lives with Marble Racers

Marble_Light_Logo.jpgMy boys had a very pleasant surprise when they came home from school today. Thanks to Mom Select and LightUp Racers, they had six different marble cars waiting to be decorated, raced, and admired.

Of course when I opened up the package there was a collective "Ooooooh, cool!" as they divvied up which three they each would claim. My eldest chose "volcano," "cat's eye," and "confetti." My youngest chose "fire chief," "police chief," and "cyclone." All six cars are identical; it is the accompanying stickers which determine which identity the racer will assume.

light_up_marble_racers_cars.gif light_up_marble_racers_cars_2.gif

Continue reading "Light Up Their Lives with Marble Racers" »

April 30, 2010

Autism and Animals: Stories Exploring the Bond

theCatintro.GIFToday is the last day of April, and thus the last day of "Autism Awareness Month." Honestly, I don't know what to think of autism "awareness" since it doesn't really make people "aware" so much as it frequently spreads unhelpful stereotypes.

Each child is different, regardless of whether he or she has a "diagnosis" and as such, their strengths and weaknesses differ.

I'm tired of the tragic stories of autism: those that focus on hardship, despair, and lost dreams. Although there are definitely aspects of a spectrum diagnosis that fall into those categories, it is much more useful to acknowledge these children's (and adult's) strengths.

Fortunately, I've had the opportunity to review two different stories about children on the spectrum, both of which acknowledge challenges, but also celebrate their subjects for who they are as people beyond the diagnosis. Both the book Cowboy and Wills and the independent lens film The Horse Boy have animals in their title. ("Cowboy" is the name of Wills' golden retriever.) This is no coincidence.

Continue reading "Autism and Animals: Stories Exploring the Bond" »

About April 2010

This page contains all entries posted to A Spectrum of Reviews in April 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2010 is the previous archive.

May 2010 is the next archive.

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