Cow Parsnip – Dangerous Plant in the Pacific Northwest

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest my whole life, the wild forest are familiar. Salal, oxalis, elderberry and nettles are instinctively identifiable. It’s nice knowing that there aren’t any poisonous snakes and few poisonous insects, so the woods should be a peaceful serene place. However, last week a friend’s child got into Cow Parsnip and now he will probably have permanent scars on his legs from this hugely scary plant.

Check out these pictures of the 3 year old child and his reaction to Cow Parsnip:

day 1

Day 1

day 2

Day 2

Day One: it looked like a sunburn so wasn’t too concerning. It was red and tender, but not overly hot. Didn’t know what it was at the time. Initially thought it might be a sunburn or rash. Kids had been playing outside in the woods, not too worried. Plus this kiddo just loves tromping through the woods in his rubber boots, so thought it might be irritation from the boots in the 90+ degree weather.

Day two: it was getting worse. Still didn’t know what it was but it didn’t seem to bother him much so figured it would eventually go away.

Day three: Drew the outline of it with a marker to track if it was getting bigger or smaller. Noticed small blisters forming.  Decided to go to urgent care. The urgent care doctor wasn’t able to identify it either. Ruled out poison oak, doctor thought it might be some variety of poison sumac and treated it like a burn with bandages.

day 3

Day 3

day 5

Day 5

Day five:  changed the bandage.  Look how horrible it is.  Can’t imagine this poor kid.

Almost two weeks out and it’s almost healed over but will likely have permanent scarring.  Based on this experience here’s what you need to know:

Cow Parsnip is reputed to be native to the Northwest.  It looks similar  to Giant Hogweed which is not native.  Although I have read conflicting sources about the origins of the plant so don’t know for sure and some sources say you can eat it….I’m tempted to try and fry it out of revenge for what it did to this sweet child!

day 11

Day 11

Day 12

Day 12

Cow parsnip juices contain a phototoxin that acts on contact with skin, triggered by exposure to ultraviolet light. Reaction differs sharply among individuals — from next to nothing to a mild rash to blistering and severe dermatitis, depending on the sensitivity of the individual. Generally, heat, sweating and wet skin intensifies the symptoms. The light-triggered reaction happens quickly.  So your skin will react as a sunburn since the chemical binds to the skin.  If you use a string timmer (weed whacker) be careful since this spreads the juices and stalk everywhere.  Be sure to wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves to protect the skin.  If you are exposed, wash the skin immediately.  In the case of my friend, it took almost a week to identify it and the damage was already done.

More resources for reading:

"Cow Parsnip". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Cow Parsnip”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Eye Mask for Sleeping

eye maskGot this eye mask to test. The idea is that in the summer time when it’s light later, and it’s time for sleep that you can block the light and get more sleep.  I have a couple other eye masks from several years ago.  They are cotton.  This eye mask is made from a silky material — probably polyester.  So it feels nice and silky.  That is good and bad — it’s smooth on your skin, but then can also come off easier.  If you are the type of sleeper who stays in one spot the whole night, this will be perfect for you.  If you move around a lot, this will probably come off.

*I received this item for free.  The opinions are my own.*

Turmerex Turmeric Capsules

turmerexTurmeric is reputed to be a magic cure-all so I make my kids take it to stay well during the winter.  This brand is nice since it is in easy-to-swallow capsules.  I like that it has no added flavors or coloring so it seems pure.  According to WebMD, turmeric can ease pain from arthritis pain and is anti inflamatory.   There don’t seem to be any side effects, and it is a staple in Indian food.    

Received a free sample to test, the opinions here are my own.

Australian Gold Sunscreen

australiangoldOn our travels, we always take sunscreen or we have to buy it there.  Found one that we love so much, we’ll be taking it everywhere with us!  This is great smelling so the kids won’t complain, plus it’s waterproof and works!  I received a free sample to try, and truly loved it!  Check out @AusGoldSPF and @Influenster

Mom, why won’t you buy me a phone?

Teen TextingThis is where it starts…. at what age to kids need either own phone? Seemed like a relatively simple parenting decision, but no… If she has her own phone then it will open up a world of Instagram, Snapchat, Yik Yak, Kik and whatever the newest social media sharing world comes out with. Our family is pretty tech-heavy. We’re not Luddites (although there is an awesome restaurant in town called Ned Ludd) and there are no safety issues requiring a phone.  A year ago when my daughter was almost 12 we got her a computer.  Ostensibly it was for doing homework, and mostly it has been that.  The privilege of having a computer came with a TECHNOLOGY USAGE CONTRACT that lays out the rules of the land and also provides a framework for discussion (both formal and impromptu).

Fastforward a year….. the computer has been working well.  A couple minor issues with email threads that got out of control, but all within normal expected parenting issues.  Now the child is turning 13 and she tells me “MOM, EVERYONE else has a phone.  Why won’t you get me one?”  Now, first I know it’s not true that EVERYONE has one and second, she assumes incorrectly that it’s a constitutional right to get a phone.  Those matters aside, what is the best choice?  I don’t think there is one RIGHT answer and one WRONG answer.  It depends on so many different variables.

In doing some research, went to a talk by Eric Anctil, one of his points was that we are charting new territory — these are new issues that were not present in previous generations of parents, so there are no role models and best practice data.    His talk brought out even more things to be afraid of (argh!) and no real answers.   Another realization is that the constant use of technology IS their real world, so avoiding it or forcing them to stop can cause more harm than good.

What are the right choices?  I don’t know.  But I do know that being present and trying to engage my teenager in these uncharted waters is the best thing I can do.  Talking with my teen about my very real fear of the unknown and working together will get us both through this intact!  (hopefully!)