Friday, August 12, 2011

Easy Microwave Pink Lemonade

Earlier this summer I threw a few lemonade concentrates into my grocery cart to make popsicles. The popsicles were delicious, but I wondered if I could make my own with ingredients I already had on hand, and maybe a tad healthier (no corn syrup). I think it ends up being a little cheaper too.

Here is my recipe, which I adjusted from several recipes I looked at online:

Easy Microwave Pink Lemonade

Add 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water in a microwave-safe container.
Microwave approximately 3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved, stirring after 1 or 2 minutes.

Add 1 cup lemon juice.
Add 3-4 cups water. Use 3 cups if you are going to be making popsicles, serving with a lot of ice, or just like tangy lemonade; use 4 cups for a more standard lemonade.

Add 4 drops red food coloring if you would like your lemonade to be pink. I did this because I had used rapadura sugar, which is brownish, and it gave the lemonade a dark color.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vitamin D: You Make Me Happy When Skies are Grey

Vitamin D: a fat-soluble vitamin that can be manufactured by the human body in the presence of sunlight, and that has many functions within the body.

With my prenatal bloodwork, my midwife had my Vitamin D levels tested, and it was 31. Levels of less than 30 are considered deficient, and many experts believe that 50 or above is much better, with 80 or above being great. I was surprised to be "low" since I was taking vitamins that included D (approximately 600 IUs, which is marked on the vitamin label as 150% of the recommended daily allowance) and do spend time outdoors without sunscreen.

She recommended a supplement of 5,000-10,000 IUs a day to help me catch up, as well as a smaller supplement for Tobias, since I was likely deficient during the last almost 3 years in which I have been pregnant and/or nursing. I am curious what a few months of this supplement will do for my Vitamin D levels, and I plan on getting them re-tested if it is not cost-prohibitive. (Update: after taking daily supplements of ~8,000 IUs, my Vitamin D blood levels rose to 50-something a few weeks before my due date)

Why is Vitamin D important?
  • Important for bone health
  • Good for the immune system. Low levels of Vitamin D during the winter due to less sunlight may be one of the reasons for "flu season".
  • Babies born with low Vitamin D levels are six times more likely to get RSV. Taking a supplement while pregnant can reduce the risk of this happening.
  • Babies born with low Vitamin D levels are more likely to experience childhood dental problems. Tobias has some tooth decay between his front teeth that will likely require some pricey fixing (at his age they would have to put him out to fill it); perhaps Vitamin D supplements during my pregnancy with him would have made this less likely to happen.
  • Levels of higher than 40-60 ng/ml are likely to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  • Low levels of Vitamin D contribute to high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems

Supplement, Salmon, or Sun?
  • The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that adults take 1,000 IUs per day during the winter.
  • This article from Harvard Medical School states that if you live above the 37th parallel, you are not getting much Vitamin D from the sun, except in the summer months.
  • Salmon, mackerel, and tuna provide 200-360 IUs of Vitamin D per serving
  • Your body can generate 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D during a day at the beach. Vitamin D is an oil-soluble substance that is manufactured on the surface of your skin, and soap breaks up oils so they can wash away. Avoid soaping up your entire body after your beach adventure, or you might lose a lot of the benefits. Water will not wash away the Vitamin D.
  • Older people's skin is not nearly as efficient at producing Vitamin D, and dark-skinned people also do not get as much from the sun.
  • If you're not sure whether or not to supplement, you can always get your blood levels tested. All the published incidences of too much Vitamin D involved doses of over 40,000 IUs a day, so it is unlikely you'd get too much by taking a supplement.
  • Vitamin D supplements are available in an inexpensive, almost tasteless drop form.
I wish I had found out more about Vitamin D sooner! I'm glad that it is such an easy and cheap thing to improve about our family's health. We don't like to think about it now, but the dark winter months always follow summer, so look into Vitamin D!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Vos Reunion 2011

We had a great time at Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, at a Vos family reunion. At the last reunion, Nate and I were not engaged yet, so a lot has changed for us, and it was good to get to see others too and catch up with them. Tobias enjoyed being teased by his great-great-uncles and going hiking. We did have one trail injury; Tobias tripped on our very first stop and cut his forehead, and then the next day got it bleeding again by running into a rock. Thankfully it wasn't more severe and it seems to be healing well.

A highlight for me was our hike to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. I thought it was neat how each lake was different: Nymph Lake had lots of lily pads and baby ducks, Dream Lake was very clear and reminded me of the book Hatchet, and the highest, Emerald Lake, was secluded and surrounded by steep rocky sides. I was carrying 25 weeks worth of baby on me and felt tired by the end, but Nate had 25 pounds of Tobias on him for most of the hike.

Emerald Lake
Julie, Doug, Rebecca, Ryan, Lois, Nate, Tobias (in backpack, asleep), Hannah + baby
click here to see more of Doug's reunion pictures

Letter to Sioux County Board of Supervisors

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, the Sioux County Board of Supervisors will meet to make a decision on whether or not to allow a gun range to be built at Sandy Hollow. This is my letter to them; I encourage you to write a letter or e-mail ( if you would also be affected by this decision, or to sign the petition if you have not already.

To: Sioux County Board of Supervisors: John Degan, Arlyn Kleinwolterink, Al Bloemendaal, Mark Sybesma, Denny Wright

I am writing concerning the NIOSC application and my correspondence is for the record. I lived in the vicinity of Sandy Hollow for many years and now visit my parents and family there a few times a year. I am concerned about how the proposed NIOSC shooting range would affect myself, my family, friends and former neighbors in the area.

The first thing thing that would affect me as a regular visitor is the level of noise. I have one toddler who loves spending time playing outdoors and another child on the way who doubtless will as well. My husband and I like to spend time playing games, gardening, grilling, sledding, doing photography, and enjoying the fresh air at my family's house.

The noise of the shooting, especially so close to the Sandy Hollow driveway, would make it unlikely that we could continue such activities at the level we currently enjoy. Walking down the Sandy Hollow driveway to get to the playground, campground, or bike trail would expose my children to levels of noise that would be frightening and could damage their hearing (an estimated 105 decibels, the level of a rock band). Even in the yard of my parents' residence and in their home, the noise would be enough to disrupt conversation and activity, and would likely even disrupt sleep. A decibel level of 45 is considered enough to make it difficult to sleep, and in my experience, kids can be very sensitive to unexpected noises while trying to fall asleep. Gunshots would be louder and much more surprising to a child than the "whoosh" of a car going by or muffled conversation through the walls. Of course, with two kids and possibly more in the future, I know that sleep is important for a child's health, and for their parents' well-being as well!

The noise from a shooting range is the reason the NRA strongly recommends a 1/2 mile buffer between the range and nearby residences; there are 70 residents within a 1/2 mile of Sandy Hollow, in addition to businesses and farms. Many of these are in areas zoned as "residential" and they deserve to have the residential character of their beautiful homes and yards protected. The level and frequency (2500 shots per day at half capacity, more during busier days or tournaments) of noise generated by a shooting range would not be tolerated in an area immediately bordering a city residential housing area, and Sandy Hollow area residents deserve the same respect. In addition to the 70 residents in the immediate 1/2 mile area, there are an unknown number of people within 1-2 miles that would certainly hear the shots while trying to enjoy their own yards, and there are many people who currently enjoy the fishing, biking, and camping opportunities at Sandy Hollow that would choose not to visit there if the shooting range were to be built. Many people would be negatively impacted.

I am convinced that a shooting range does not mix well with a family recreational area, for safety reasons. With the shooting stations so near to the edge of the proposed range, nearer than recommended by the NRA, I would avoid walking or taking my children along the Sandy Hollow driveways and trails during shooting hours even if it were not for the noise. Accidental shots do happen, and a buffer safety space around shooting stations is recommended for legitimate reasons. I think a site should be found that can accommodate those types of safety recommendations instead of trying to squeeze a shooting range into the Sandy Hollow site.

In addition, the airborne lead dust and lead shot deposited by the shooting range would pose a health and safety risk. The ideal level of lead in humans is zero; it serves no purpose to the human body. Lead poisoning, even at low levels, can cause symptoms such as fatigue, behavioral problems, raised blood pressure, headaches, reproductive problems, and anemia. It can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of such symptoms, meaning that children or adults with lead poisoning can suffer for an extended amount of time and incur permanent damage. As a mom and a teacher, I am glad that our society has taken steps to eliminate lead in fuel, paints, and toys. Allowing a shooting range so close to crops, water supply, residential and recreational areas is a step backwards that would be hard or impossible to undo.

Please make the sensible choice that benefits and protects the whole community: reject the NIOSC application.


Hannah Vander Wilt

P.S. Read Heather's letter too, or browse them all.