My School Lunch Revolution

Click here to go to my recent post on Chicago Moms Blog about my three-year long battle with our school lunch program and what we can do about it now (write your representatives!).  Also, see this recent article here (not written by me) and one in the New York Times (also not by me).

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Gun Toting Birthday Boy

cowboy_clipartPlease read my latest post at Chicago Moms Blog about my friend’s Lazer Zone birthday party, violent toys and the upcoming 10 year Anniversary of the Columbine Massacre here.

I Am So Sick of Family Right Now

ballet feet

Right now, I am feeling very sorry for myself. I feel like my extended family (as in the various in-laws) is really letting me down. I grew up in a very close family. That is, closely bonded, but not closely located. My grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins would come great distances for any family event. For example, I had twelve family members travel long distance to my college graduation. I had to beg borrow and buy extra tickets. I felt so special! I have been granted unconditional love, affection and attention throughout my life. Naively, I assumed all families were as caring and as involved.

Take my mother-in-law, for example. Seven weeks in advance, I told her the date of Eva’s ballet recital. “Oh, I have Goodman tickets.” She reported. She has a subscription. “Well, you’ve got plenty of time to change them.” I suggested. She replied, “We’ve already changed them once and our friends are too busy to change the date along with us.” Casually, I remarked, “Well, I’m sure they will understand.” Her response shocked me. “No, we are not going to change our tickets. We will not make it to the ballet recital.” She said matter of factly. Excuse me? You will not be attending your own granddaughter’s ballet recital? A ballet recital that occurs just once a year? I was flabbergasted. I simply can’t understand why this particular date with these particular friends at this particular theater is more important than her own granddaughter’s performance! I just can’t get past this. She has always proudly insisted that she “has a life” beyond grandchildren. But this is taking it too far! My whole view of her has changed.

Right now I am also pissed at my brother’s in-laws because they insist that he be completely unavailable to visit with me and my children (his niece and nephew) for the three days he will be in town for his wife’s sister’s wedding. They insist that the entire weekend will be taken up with events and that as a family member and a groomsman, he must attend them all. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if my brother didn’t live two thousand miles away. He will be in town for this wedding and they don’t want him to visit with us at all! Thankfully, he has promised to get away. He won’t miss the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding or the formal brunch the next day. However, he may miss some other ambiguous events (of which they refuse to divulge the details). Hers is a family that seems to value appearances over substance. They don’t want to have to make excuses for why he is missing an event. Don’t they realize that if anyone inquires about his absence at an event, it is perfectly understandable that he would want to see his niece and nephew? They claim that family is sooo important, yet they can’t see that my brother’s family is just as important.

Finally, there’s my brothers-in law and sisters-in-law. My father-in-law, who seems to be losing it, spread the word, to all of them, that Charlie had the mumps. Actually, he had the chickenpox, but that’s not the point. Do you think that even one of these people called to check on the health of their nephew? No! I just don’t get it. I know we are all busy, but are we too busy to make a telephone call to a sick family member to check up on them? I’m just disgusted by the lot of them!

The Power of the Blog: Katie Couric Posts on Our Sister Site!

I also blog for Chicago Moms Blog. Our sister site, New York Moms Blog had a special guest recently — Katie Couric! You can check out what she has to say about the blogging atmosphere and cyberbullying right here.

Personally, I don’t like cyberbullying for obvious reasons. No one likes a bully! However, I posted the following comment to Couric’s post: Back when I was a high school teacher, I began the first day of class discussing the power of language. I asked them if the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is really true. Actually, it is the opposite. I broke my arm when I was a child and I can’t remember that pain. However, some people called me “big nose” in junior high and I still remember how that hurt. Words are VERY powerful. We need to preserve our rights to use them freely. However, just because adults have the right to free speech does not mean minors should. Parents and teachers have a duty to help children understand the power of language before these children earn the right to use it freely. I’m not saying that the answer is to censor or gag these children, I’m just saying that children have a lot to learn before they are able to use words wisely. As far as all this hateful stuff going on at college campuses, I hope that, by now, these kids have been around long enough to recognize bullsh*t when they see it. We need to give them more credit. True, anyone can say anything online these days. But it is that very fact that will negate most of the hatred and lies that are being posted. In this brave “new” world of the internet, we all must learn how to determine fact from fiction.

Moody Mommy is Interviewed and Quoted at She Knows

I was interviewed and quoted in an article at She Knows.com on the advantages and reasons for blogging under a pen name. Check it out here!

Genetic Testing: Do It Before You Do It

I’m really disappointed in my friend Barb. Already three months pregnant with her first child, she decided to get her genetic testing done. She tested positive for Canavan’s Disease. Now, her husband has to have the test to make sure he doesn’t carry that gene too. If he does, well, if you don’t already know about the disease, you can read about Canavan for yourself. I guess I’m disappointed in her because, as a college educated woman in her late thirties, I expected more from her as she prepared for pregnancy.

Oh, I suppose I’m being too judgmental here. I’m one of those people who do a whole bunch of research before I get myself into something like a pregnancy. I’m surprised when others do not behave similarly. Before we tried to get pregnant for the first time, I went to my nurse midwife for a full work up. I told her I wanted to start trying for a baby, and asked her what I needed to do to prepare. She told me I should go off the pill for at least three months and start taking prenatal vitamins. Because Gadget Man and I are Jewish and of Ashkenazi decent, she also recommended genetic testing. Genetic testing is often recommended pre-pregnancy for certain ethnicities that are potential carriers for diseases such as Canavan, Tay-Sachs (Jews of Ashkenazi descent) and Sickle-Cell (Blacks). (French Canadians, Cajuns, and Irish Americans are also at risk for Tay Sachs). Thankfully, our health insurance paid for the test. But even if they didn’t, the few hundred dollars it cost is a small price to pay compared to the medical expenses we would have to endure (not to mention the emotional hardship) if we had a child with Tay-Sachs, Canavan, or any number of diseases my ethnicity is known to carry.

I suppose I can’t blame Barb. The blame really lies with her ob/gyn. When a married woman (or a woman of a certain age) goes to her doctor for her annual, that doctor should ask whether his patient plans to have children in the future. Aside from genetic testing, there are many other life changes a woman should make before becoming pregnant. For example, there are many prescription drugs to avoid when pregnant. Also, folic acid is most beneficial at the very beginning of a pregnancy, before any such pregnancy is apparent. Indeed, it has been suggested that all fertile women take folic acid, just in case. Isn’t it a doctor’s duty to make sure we, as female patients, are well-informed about our bodies and the choices available to us? The medical community in our country is far more concerned with treating medical problems than preventing them in the first place. As for Barb’s baby-on-the-way, all we can do is pray that “daddy” is not a Canavan carrier too.

This post can also be found at the cool site http://www.chicagomomsblog.com

Our School Cafeteria Food Sucks

My daughter just started kindergarten, so this is our first experience with school cafeteria food. Maybe I am naive, but I expected healthy food. The very first day of school should have been a clue for what was to come. The “special” of the day was hot dogs! This month’s menu has a hamburger or cheeseburger special every week and Tyson’s chicken patties or nuggets twice a week. The milk and cheese is chock full of artificial hormones and antibiotics. The chocolate milk has high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavoring. When I had lunch with my daughter one day, I discovered the pizza slices are heated in plastic wrap! Also, the “salad” consists of plain lettuce shoved into one of those condiment cups you get with take out (and, of course, the dressing had high fructose corn syrup in it). How can this be considered a serving when the entire salad fits on one fork? Besides the potentially soggy cheese pizza served every Friday, there are few meatless options for our family. Approximately twice a month, the special may be macaroni & cheese and some other pasta thing. Every day, the school has grilled cheese and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, but my little one won’t eat either of those.
I could go on and on but by now, you get my point. Or maybe you don’t. Whenever I try to discuss these problems with the other parents, I get blank stares or a parent will say, “Why don’t you just pack a lunch?” Well, of course, I do. But why am I the only one up in arms about all of this? I thought the people in Skokie were more enlightened than this. I don’t expect tofu and bean sprouts. I do expect fresh food, abundant fruits and vegetables, and no artificial ingredients and hormones. Our district speaks over fifty languages (I can’t even name twenty!). Where’s the hummus, the Jerusalem salad, the rice & beans, the lentil soup the Thai noodles, the edamame?
School is about education, and that should include food. Furthermore, I believe that schools should set an example of what to eat to be healthy. If obesity is such a big problem among children, no one in this school district seems to notice. Oh, how I wish Alice Waters had a child at this school. She could rally the troops. I just met someone from the Healthy Schools Campaign. I hope she can help.

Ideally, I wish the school cafeteria served whole, unprocessed foods that were organically and/or locally grown. At the very least, I believe schools should not be providing foods with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial colors and flavorings, and artificial hormones and antibiotics. High fructose corn syrup is scientifically linked to obesity and can be found in most processed foods. Hydrogenated oils are trans fats which also contribute to obesity. Artificial food additives like colors and flavorings have been linked to cancer and hyperactivity in children (even ADHD). Artificial hormones, also known as rGBH and rBST (banned in the European Union) are administered to cows to aid in milk production. The hormones make the cows sick, thus causing the need for high doses of antibiotics to be administered. Ultimately, the hormones and the antibiotics get passed on to our bodies whenever we consume dairy products from these cows. These artificial hormones and antibiotics wreak havoc on our children’s bodies.
The two best books I have read on American obesity and food ingredients are Greg Crister’s Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World, and Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. Indeed, I believe every adult in this country who eats food or feeds food to children should read these books (yes, I know this means everyone, I’m being cheeky). So, the next time you find me standing next to you in the school pick up line, ranting on and on about the cafeteria food, you’ll say, “Right on, sister!” and we’ll start the revolution together.