Food for Thought

I applaud my friends who on a daily basis offer healthy food choices to their children. It is a full time job being a parent, and it’s not easy making the time to read up on the latest info to better our kids’ lifestyle. Yet, I am surrounded by moms who selflessly sacrifice precious sleep to do the research and pass it along via text, Facebook, Pinterest and whatever other social media outlet reaches the masses. I have learned so much from you! And am excited to see that other moms care so much about their children’s’ well-being, even if it means its not popular to all who scrutinize us under their microscopes.

Why is it that most people in the the generations preceding us can’t get the clue? Are they so exhausted from parenting that they’ve “earned the right” to throw junk food down our kids’ throats? Or is it ignorance? Why do I constantly have to justify or explain that I’d rather feed my child blueberries or grapes than crackers and cookies. I don’t care that they’re organic! But thanks for the effort.

If a grown adult ate bread, cookies, and crackers all day, any right-minded person would know this leads to diabetes and a slew of other health issues. Why are these ok to give our kids?

I’m not saying these are never ok, but my goodness, they don’t need to be the go-to foods. You can wash an apple just as fast as you can open a cracker box.

Our precious innocent children, who have yet to create their own bad eating habits, are being subjected to this junk to pacify the whines. No one wants to support the younger, educated, “health obsessed” generation in raising healthy kids simply because of the old-school thought, ” I did it this way, you-turned-out-fine” argument. If we all turned out fine, than why are we all doing so much research to find a better way?

If everyone’s fine than why are so many people suffering from digestive disorders, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and the like? Every doctor wants to blame anxiety. Why don’t we face the facts and look at the side effects of some of the preservatives put in our food?

Disodium phosphate or tripotassium phosphate for instance-the binding agent in most foods such as the popular Cheerios. Almost every household in America is taught by doctors that these fabulous O’s help infants strengthen their dexterity. Has anyone bothered to look at the side effects of these ingredients? Or the OSHA warnings for that matter ? Or what these ingredients are also used for?

I’m not here to claim to be an expert and provide all that info to you, but what I’d like is for people to stop pretending they know what’s best for my child, and stop questioning my parenting choices. I doubt and question my choices enough. I don’t need aunts, uncles, grandparents, or random strangers at the grocery store giving me funny looks, ignoring me telling them not to feed my son that cookie because “he says he wants it.” Of course he does!! He’d watch hours of television (don’t get me started on my thoughts on tv and other media) or drink a piña colada I’m sure, if I let him. Does it mean its good for him? NO!! of course not!!

My sister shared a link that’s been circulating Facebook about how parenting choices that are failing this generation of kids. One of the author’s points is that “we’ve lost the village”. I totally agree. The village needs to support the parents’ choices. It’s not “your mommy/daddy says no”. It’s “that’s a no” “we all agree its a no and support each other in setting healthy boundaries.” A toddler throws a tantrum because (s)he is learning how to process and express emotion. This does not mean we give her/him anything (s)he wishes.

I feel like I just went on a rant, but this is a desperate cry for people to learn respect! I thought that as I became more confident in my parenting choices that I wouldn’t care so much about all the opinions or that I’d get more respect or a response from people. Wrong! Nothing’s changed, and quite frankly I’m tired of it!

We’re expecting our second child at the end of the year, and I’m sure I’m going to learn more about myself and this process with our new addition. But Lord help me if I have to deal with more comments about “how different two are” or “I’ll lighten up when the second comes” or “I won’t care as much.” I’ve seen plenty of moms with multiple children still making the same healthy choices as they did with their first. I pray I can be that diligent, and I have so much respect for their choices!

We all parent with different perspectives, paradigms, realities, and choices, but it’s up to us and the communities around us to support each other in those differences. But why is it that children with cellulite on their legs get “goos” and “gaahs” and cute nicknames as they shove chicken nuggets and donuts in their mouths and then we wonder in disgust why adults have eating disorders? People celebrate those parents and tell me to lighten up.

I talk to moms that don’t get to be home all the time with their kids that complain that they “can’t tell someone else how to raise their child.”

I’m here to say, “yes you can! (S)He’s your child!! I know that in order for a lot of people to survive these days two incomes are necessary, but guess what, don’t sacrifice your child’s well-being by making excuses for the caregiver. They’re getting paid, and if not, then its someone who loves your child enough to watch him/her for free and therefore should love him/her enough to make healthy choices. If not, do the extra work and pack the food yourself so there’s no excuse.

I know I’m not going to make everyone happy every time I write, but please know my heart is to encourage you. I want to learn from my own mistakes and other’s successes. I welcome feedback and questions with love.

Until my munchkin’s next nap (or my next sleepless night), I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I hope my life lessons can promote community and respect for others. Now, I need to figure out how to smile and shut off my brain so I can sleep. Now is a good time to let go and let God.

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My March of Indulgences with “The Traveling toddler”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been a little absent from the writing world.

Well, here I am back for a brief visit. I’ll spare you some details (not because they’re uninteresting, in fact if you love a good roller coaster ride, the last two years of my life would probably give you quite the thrill) because, honestly, I’m still in the middle of a long two year ride on the “Dave Ramsey Plan”.

There is so much reward in all the sacrifice financially, emotionally, and my dear sweet sanity, but we’re just still working on it and waiting for it.

When I’m on the victory side of the long underground tunnel, I’ll share the dirty details. For now, there’s this faint light at the end that seems to be getting brighter, but a lot slower than I’d like.

To distract myself from the emotion of these life lessons, I’ve been learning some fun new indulgences recipes in the wonderful healthy, mom-on-the-go, crockpot-cooking world as well as some indulgent not-so-healthy, but organic desserts in the meantime.

This amazing chocolate, peanut butter cup double layer cake with peanut butter whip topped with more peanut butter cups is one of them.20140327-142759.jpg</a
Recipe:

I opted for an organic chocolate cake and organic pudding mix as well as chocolate peanut cups from Sprouts Farmer’s Market, rather than the Reese’s, and let me tell you:

“it was the best cake I’ve ever had in my life!!!”

The confidential feedback from several family members who didn’t want to offend anyone. 😉 But at the end of the day we all agreed so I don’t think they’d mind my divulgence of information.

Another indulgent treat on this Dave Ramsey Plan journey, is implementing the “put a name to every dollar” idea. This discipline allowed us to plan a wonderful, much-needed family vacation to Seattle.

We visited the Space Needle:
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We went to the Seattle Zoo:
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This is my munchkin making his giraffe face.

We visited the Aquarium:
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My Boys Impersonating the otter’s eating.

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Pike’s Market:
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Our indulgent SIX Dollar Apple Fritter:

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Wine Tasting with our incredible friends who hosted us at there beautiful home:20140327-145533.jpg20140327-145557.jpg20140327-145617.jpg

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Seattle Science Center:

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Overall such a fantastic trip I wanted to share some of our memorable moments with you. Here’s one last one of me and my amazing hubby:
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Until my munchkin’s next nap time: Smile and just remember, when you’re going through a tough time, make time for yourself, your family, and your friends. It’s amazing how a brief break from the everyday routine can rejuvenate and reenergize you to finish the course.

I was reminded at Bible Study this morning to “finish the race”. Don’t quit along the way because it gets rough. You can do it! I believe in you! A lot of other people do too. Now, YOU just new to believe you can do it!<

Does anyone care what I have to say? Validation

Validation
We all want it! Don’t we? Why exactly is it so important to thriving in our work, home, relationships? Is it that we want to be heard? Understood? Encouraged?

Maybe you long for your boss to acknowledge how hard you work. Or is it your boss that needs to feel important and respected in his or her position? Do you wish your spouse (or maybe a roommate) would thank you for doing all the dishes, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and doing the laundry after a long day at work or taking care of the kiddos?

Think about your conversations with your friends. This topic and awareness of the human need for validation keeps smacking me in the face. A friend reminded me this weekend that everything we talk about can be debated. It made me think. When I was younger I used to love to get in heated discussions, sometimes without a leg to stand on. The ironic thing is now that I actually am educated or have life experience to back up my perspectives, I find myself more annoyed by how argumentative people get if they don’t agree with you.

A few years ago my husband brought to my attention that me an my loud Italian family constantly cut each other off when we’re talking and don’t actually pay attention to what each other is saying. To me, this fact was just our way of showing we were participating and caring about the topic of conversation. To him, who comes from a family of amazingly active, attentive listeners, us cutting each other off was rude! This awareness made me realize why I thought his family was so compassionate and soft spoken. The result: I started working on listening more and asking more questions.

Now, here is the crazy thing I’ve found (most of the time): people get defensive with questions (confirming that his family is on a different spectrum of effective communication than the rest of the world). We’ve become so confrontational as a society and so quick to give our opinions. When someone asks us a question, we think they’re getting ready to tell us what we’re doing wrong. As more studies are done and an increasing amount of information is available to us, we’re becoming more ignorant and close minded. This information should foster an environment for people to make their own educated decisions, but instead it’s stirring up fights all over social media. What are we trying to prove?

Take parenting for example. My friend who’s expecting a baby in a few months posted a comment asking if anyone had a couple specific baby information books she could borrow as she prepares for this amazing and exciting journey. I was appalled at the responses. Her simple question was followed by a floodgate of people vomiting their opinions on those particular parenting philosophies; sharing how wonderful their kids turned out because of everything they did “right”. One person went as far as saying one of the philosophies has actually killed babies.

It’s just not fair! Parenting is one of the most rewarding adventures, and everyone thinks its their right to tell moms what they should and should not be doing. My favorite is when other moms tell me how easy I have it compared to them. When I wasn’t a mom I got the you-just-don’t-understand tone, “oh just wait until you have a baby.” Now that I am a Mom I get, “oh, just wait until he’s older, now is when it’s easy,” or “just wait until you two kids,”the best was, “you’re not really a mom ’til you have two.” Really? Is me thinking this is extremely rude because I need validation as a mom? Or are these moms so under appreciated they need to put other people down so THEY feel validated? What moms really need is to support each other and, yes, learn from each other, but not judge how each is raising her child(ren)!

Does this need for validation come from insecurity? Or is it just apart of the human experience of community? How do arguments or misunderstandings happen in the first place? Is it because we’re so anxious to be heard that we’re not listening to the other person.

Recently, my friend was going through a really difficult situation and needed to process her thoughts and talk out how she was feeling. Rather than allowing her to express herself, her other friends turned the situation into how they were emotionally affected by the circumstances and how upset it made them. Empathy and sympathy are both necessary at times, but so is discerning when its best to simply be quiet and let someone else talk.

What would happen in our relationships if we all just stopped thinking about the next thing to say and started appreciating the way other people think? We’re taught to ask good questions, which is important, don’t get me wrong, but are we spending too much time thinking about the next question that, again, we’re not actually listening? If everyone is seeking to be heard and understood, then questions really aren’t that important because we already have our mind made up of what we are wanting to say, right?

I’m not by any means claiming to be the best in this area. In fact, maybe because I’ve seen it as a personal weakness is the reason I’m so passionate about it. So, I’m getting off my soapbox now, but I really want your validation opinion on this topic! 🙂

Well, until my munchkin’s next nap time: I encourage you to smile, lighten up, start listening, start loving, start appreciating differences. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone! Please, no! Autonomy is boring! Just look at the person talking and hear her heart rather than the subject with which you may or may not agree.