Monday, March 21, 2011

A For-Real Serious Post, Seriously

All right. I have an actual ethical dilemma to sort out, and I'd appreciate your (collective) thoughts on the matter.

Let's talk about the March of Dimes for a minute. You all know that the MOD is all about the preemies, right? They help promote and fund research to help preterm babies and to prevent preterm births. Okay. So, for many decades, obstetricians have used progesterone (a hormone naturally present in women's bodies during pregnancy) to help pregnancies along -- for reasons I'm ill-equipped to explain, it seems to help first trimester pregnancies stick, and to prevent preterm labor in the second and third trimesters. So this company, KV Pharmaceuticals, branded their own progesterone and got FDA approval to market it, under the name Makena. And guess what happened? Can you guess? The cost of each shot went from $10 to $1500. FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Here's what that means for someone like me. If I were to successfully get pregnant again (this is a for instance -- don't go getting all wound up, people), I would start receiving progesterone treatments starting at week 15 or thereabouts. I would get them for the rest of that pregnancy. If I were to go as close to full-term as they'd let me (about 36 weeks, thank you two previous c-sections), that's about twenty weeks of progesterone. Which now would cost $30,000. $200 last year, $30,000 as of last week.

Why? Because the FDA cannot control the pricing. And under the FDA's orphan drug laws (meant to promote research and development of treatments for rare diseases and conditions), KV has a seven-year monopoly on progesterone. They apparently can sue any company that mixes a generic version of their drug (which has not been patented, but they've been sending out cease and desist notices to companies that have been mixing non-Makena progesterone for years).

What on earth has this got to do with the March of Dimes, you ask? Well, turns out KV (actually Ther-RX, the subsidiary that will market Makena) has donated loads of money to the MOD. And guess who praised this new drug? Go on, guess. That's right! The March of Dimes! Surprise!

So, here we are. And it just so happens to be the time of year when people (like my awesome sister) start putting together teams to do the annual March for Babies to raise money for research on prematurity.

I was all set to walk this year for Jane. And now this. I am really uncomfortable with raising money for an organization that would make such an ethically questionable alliance. And yet, I know that the March of Dimes does good work in helping babies like Jane.

Many of you donated money to the March of Dimes in Jane's name. What do you think of all this?

There are many, many places to go to read more about this. Here are a few sites and articles:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Peer Pressure

I haven't gone missing or anything. I, uh, have been playing tennis.

Tom has been trying for years to get me to play. And of course I resisted. Ain't no man gonna tell me what to do! 

Okay, no. That wasn't it at all. I just thought I was going to suck at it, and where's the fun in that?

But then... peer pressure. Yes, the insidious force that is peer pressure still holds sway, even over a forty-year-old. My friends made me do it! I'm like an After School Special here.

Except that it's exercise. Which is good for you. So, sometimes peer pressure is good?

Anyway, leaving the ethical quandary aside, for the last two months-ish, I've been putting on actual tennis shoes and hitting actual tennis balls -- with increasing success, even! People, I don't suck! It's totally fun! (Don't tell Tom I said so. He'll only gloat.)

Remember all that running I was going to do last summer? I even bought snazzy sneakers for it and all that? Well, being me, I couldn't just run for running's sake, so I only ran when I pushed Sarah in the jogging stroller to school and eventually -- you might even say inevitably -- messed up my back. Apparently the lesson there is not to multitask when you exercise.

But you gotta do something, right? So when one friend said she was going to start up lessons again, and my other friend said she'd do it if I would, what could I do?

I think I'm going to buy my very own racquet this week so I can stop using Tom's heavy old hand-me-down. I'm so stoked!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Have You Met My Cousins, Julia Child and JFK?

I have a new(ish) obsession.

Genealogical research. Mock away, people, mock away.

I started poking around online a few years back, mostly to see what funky names might be lurking in the family tree (Ulysses Grant K__, anyone? Or his uncle, Commodore K__ [that would be his first name, not his title]). Being cheap, I only looked as far as free searches would get me. Got me pretty far, actually, but only in the well-documented (coughGermancough) branches of the family.

But this winter I finally ponied up and became a paid member of an online genealogy website. It is utterly fascinating. I keep uncovering weird bits and pieces of my family's past: my thirteen-year-old grandmother being listed as a boarder at her aunt's house, her father's family's brief residency in Wisconsin (the rest of all of their lives spent in West Virginia and Ohio), my other grandmother's ancestors being French Huguenots... Every day I learn something new, and often something surprising, but always something frustrating.

By which I mean, what is it with the Irish? I mean, my Irish? I mean specifically, my Irish relatives who didn't document anything, changed their answers on the federal census every ten years, and seem to have sprung, fully formed, from the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania in the latter part of the nineteenth century?

Anyway, impossible-to-trace Irish ancestors notwithstanding, I've found some pretty fun stuff. Tonight I discovered that part of the website has a thingy that allows you to find possible links to famous relatives. Through just my mom's parents, I may be related to Richard Nixon (no!), Ronald Reagan (no!), George W Bush and his mother (that one almost killed me dead), JFK and Jackie O, Vermeer, John Glenn, Shirley Temple, Jonathan Swift, Jimmy Stewart, Doc Holliday and (hold on to your ladles) JULIA CHILD.

A couple clicks of the mousepad, and I'm suddenly related to one of my heroes.

(And more than a few of my least favorite people of all time. Sorry about, um, pretty much everything in the 70's, 80's and 00's. If only I'd known sooner about all the influence I might have wielded. My bad.)

Interestingly, I've been unable to make a connection with the one famous person that my family has always claimed kinship with: Daniel Boone. Whatever, Grandma K__. The internets say you were wrong.

EDIT: Elizabeth II is totes my (eighth) cousin (four times removed). Bow down, people. There's a royal blood cell in these veins.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Winter Math

Two fresh feet of snow (yes, feet -- yes, two of them, in about twenty-four hours) somehow equals one eight foot snowbank? Here it does, now it does, when none of the earlier layers of snowfall have had the chance to melt off. If you never hear from me again, it's because this glacier has finally moved and wiped out the house. Or melted and drowned us all.

At least it's pretty. And I can't see what an outstandingly poor job I've done cleaning up after the dog this winter. And, um, good for the sugaring season? Maybe?

Sunday, March 6, 2011


We're making some changes around here, and I'm pleased (and relieved, and maybe just a teensy bit sad) to say they do not involve canines. No, the puppies found homes elsewhere (although the rest of the litter in St. Croix is available, and I have contact information for the shelter if anyone's interested in taking in some sweet, smart puppies).

No, the changes are in our kitchen. Color! Lights! Um, color!

The walls here have just gotten their first coat. (I can take credit only for choosing the color; Tom was determined to have someone else do the work, but I honestly have no idea why. Could it be he has... issues with my painting skills? Hmmm.) Anyway, I made a radical choice and went for yellow. Yes, yes, we're living on the edge here.

The new color is there on the left, the old color (which was on both the walls and ceiling) on the right. Continuing with the theme of wild and crazy, I grabbed a gallon of "white ceiling paint" for the ceiling. It was right there on the label. I couldn't mess up. 

Our kitchen only had two fixtures, both by the back wall, so I found these babies to replace them plus two more for over the island. Pretty handsome, I thought. And the idea of those old-fashioned light bulbs with the exposed filaments was appealing.

Appealing right up until the moment we turned them on. Turns out that back in the day, everything was bathed in an orange-y golden light. A dim, sleepy kind of golden light. An expensively dim, sleepy golden light. 

We finally realized that these were meant for accent lighting in one of them fancy kitchens with recessed lighting in the ceiling to supply the bulk of the light. Oops.

I still like 'em. And when I find bulbs that look good in our silly handsome fixtures AND give sufficient light to cook by without putting us to sleep, we can finally consider our kitchen finished, only two and a half years after we started. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I Apologize In Advance

So, our friend just got back from St. Croix (don't even get me started). You know how people bring home, like, frames made from shells and tacky beach hats and, I don't know, contraband cigars and stuff when they go away for an island vacation? Bill brought home puppies. His family found a litter of six, and the shelter on the island only had room for four. Today, they were in my house. With me. And my kid. For six hours.

Puppies. Puppies looking for a home.

I'm such a sucker for a mutt. Look at those little faces! They're tiny little things, only ten weeks old, but so sweet and already well on their way to being house-trained. 

Sarah was completely smitten. Me? What?

Do me a favor, people. Adopt these dogs before I do something stupid.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reluctant Domestic

Ah, laundry. The yardstick of my life.

As of this afternoon, all of the laundry in the house has been washed, dried, folded AND put away. Furthermore, not only did I separate out the whites, I bleached those bad boys within an inch of their thread count. Mount Washmore has been defeated! Fear the Reluctant Domestic!

But this raises a question: bleach. Necessary evil? Or just plain old evil? Whites get abused in this house. Tom swabs the ketchup spills and barbecue puddles on our counters with our white dishtowels. Cocoa dribbles, "washable" (HAHAHAHAHA) marker residue, berry stains and tomato sauce decorate most of Sarah's wardrobe. I have more than my fair share of sweat stains (thank you, Dad, for that particularly appealing genetic gift) and food, uh, mishaps.

So, bleach, right? I mean, for the whites. Except bleach sucks. (I think, but these articles are making me a little less worried about household use.) What do you guys do? Bleach? Lemon juice and sunshine? Wear only black clothing? The Reluctant Domestic needs to know.

One thing is for sure: after doing just a little reading, I'm going to make a bigger effort to use way fewer unbleached paper products. Dudes. My little cup of Clorox ain't nothing compared to what the pulp mills are churning out.

White clothes. Brown paper. I think I can live with that.