Dear Holly: Sneaking Chocolate Candy Behind Empty Christmas Toy Boxes

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

Last week during our Christmas vacation at Nonna and Papa’s, Mommy and I went out for a few hours to get coffee. While we were out, Nonna caught on to a sneaky little trick that your brother set up for the two of you.

He took two empty boxes from Christmas gifts, Scented SlimyGloop and Play-Doh poop, and placed them upright on the kitchen table.

Then he placed the jar of mint chocolate M&Ms behind them and slowly began dispersing them, one at a time, to both of you.

The exact number of M&Ms obtained during this mission remain unknown.

But even though it wasn’t your idea, the look on your face in this picture makes it very clear you were quite the accomplice.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The Art of “Finding an Activity”, to Properly Focus Your Restless Energy

6 years.

Dear Jack: The Art of “Finding an Activity”, to Properly Focus Your Restless Energy

Dear Jack,

A fairly recent rule I have created for you in our house is this:

“If you can’t figure out what to do, then you’re going upstairs for a nap until you fall asleep.”

You’re a boy. That means you’re full of energy that needs to be directed with a purpose. If not, it becomes restless energy. And I don’t allow restless energy in our house. Because restless energy is not Feng Shui.

I don’t believe in spanking you as a form of punishment. I believe that your “misbehavior” has everything to do with me properly attending to your needs, based on you being either hungry, tired, bored, lonely, or sick.

So I know that if you’re acting a little crazy, yet you’ve recently eaten, and aren’t due for a nap, you likely are bored. You need me to remind you that you are responsible for entertaining yourself.

Dear Jack: The Art of “Finding an Activity”, to Properly Focus Your Restless Energy

We have a house full of toys and games and crafts. Plus, if the weather allows, and I’m not in the middle of taking care of your sister, I’m always eager to take you outside and burn some curious energy with you.

As for this past weekend, I was quite proud of you for how you figured out what to do, in the midst of nasty weather outside.

Saturday morning, as a family, we ventured to Target and bought a new Hoover vacuum cleaner. After you helped me unbox it back at the house, you were quick to take the box and turn it into a spaceship of sorts.

Then you spent most of the rest of the evening using the Styrofoam from the packaging; using it to make scientific experiments in; using water, leftover Halloween candy, and Christmas stamps.

Dear Jack: The Art of “Finding an Activity”, to Properly Focus Your Restless Energy

And on Sunday, after you and Mommy decorated the Christmas tree while I cleaned the bathrooms, you decided to use some of the extra lights to illuminate your bedroom.

You really are a creative kid. You just need me sometimes me to remind you that with your talent comes a built-in responsibility to actually do something with that talent.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The Art of “Finding an Activity”, to Properly Focus Your Restless Energy

Dear Jack: Our “Practice Halloween” Night as a Family/We Watched Gremlins

4 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: Our "Practice Halloween" Night as a Family

Dear Jack,

Tonight we were able to “practice Halloween” at your preschool with all your friends. You got to be the coolest person possible: Captain America.

It was funny because all your friends who were boys were also dressed up as super heroes; but there were conveniently no duplicates: Batman, Iron Man, Spiderman…

As for Mommy and me, we took a more minimalist approach:

Mommy wore a zebra mask and I wore my cave man hat which I’ve owned for years.

(At Target, your costume only cost us $10 and Mommy’s mask was only $3.)

I like the fact you wanted to make sure your stuffed animal, Kitty, was dressed in costume too; as a baby in a onesie.

And by the way, you got a whole lot of candy! The proportion of candy-to-kids was definitely in your favor.

However, there’s a decent chance it’s going to rain on Saturday, which is Halloween.

So even though we are finally moved in to a nice suburban neighborhood where we can truly just walk door to door, instead of driving to a decent place, we may get rained out! Therefore, tonight served as our back-up plan to that happening to us.

And to set the mood for Halloween, I let you watch the 1984 Steven Spielberg movie, Gremlins; which is currently free on Amazon Prime right now.

gremlins_gizmo Dear Jack: Our "Practice Halloween" Night as a Family/We Watched Gremlins

I admit to having a few reservations in that it, along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Jones, were the very first movies to be released under the PG-13 rating; as opposed to PG.

Granted, you watched Ant-Man and it was no issue for you.

I don’t regret my decision. You didn’t recognize the bad words, since to you, “stupid” is the one that concerns you the most right now.

And though parts of it are obviously creepy and violent, it was nothing you hadn’t seen on Goosebumps. I’m not saying I recommend showing Gremlins to all 5 year-olds, but I feel confident in us being able to enjoy it together.

You were on the edge on your seat the whole time, and you loved Gizmo. Not to mention, you’ve already proclaimed that when we go to Nonna and Papa’s house next time, you’ll be bringing home my old Gizmo doll.

Love,

Daddy

Sour Brown Is The New Peanut Butter

March 13, 2014 at 8:27 pm , by 

3 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

I’ve always had this idea for a Saturday Night Live skit, in which a group of adults speak dialogue based on the previously recorded conversations of young children.

It could potentially be hilarious, as 3 year-old such as yourself come up with some off-the-wall stuff without even trying.

Yesterday when I picked you up from school, you informed me that before we left, you needed to pick out a prize from the treasure box, since your daily report indicated you were well-behaved and took your nap.

As we looked inside the treasure box, there were stickers, actions figures based on the KinderCare mascot, and Dum Dum lollipops.

While I’ve established myself as the most hard-core dad in a 50 mile radius when it comes to preaching the evils of kids eating petroleum-based food dyes, I give you some grace when it comes to special treats you get at school; especially when it’s a very small amount, and based on good behavior.

Last week you got to try your first Dum Dum, which was sour apple flavored: You called it “sour green.”

Yesterday you chose a brown Dum Dum. With joy, as I was carrying you out the door as we left, you proclaimed: “Daddy, maybe it’s a sour brown one!”

I couldn’t stop laughing. You didn’t know what I thought was so funny, but you joined in the laughter.

The concept of “sour brown” is… Willy Wonka-ish.

“Sour” and “brown” are such an odd match.

Seeing that you had such an open mind on the subject, I didn’t tell you which flavor the brown Dum Dum actually was; I wanted to get your natural take on it.

“Daddy, this sour brown one is peanut butter… Daddy, it doesn’t sound good. I don’t like it.”

Interesting. I could see how peanut butter could taste like root beer, to a 3 year-old.

However, you weren’t completely convinced that the brown Dum Dum was actually sour brown or peanut butter, so you asked me to be sure.

I figured that trying to explain to you what root beer was would be too confusing, so I just told you it was soda flavored. Your response:

“Daddy, soda isn’t healthy. I don’t like the way it sounds.”

I now realize you haven’t learned the word “tastes” yet; you use “sounds” instead.

So basically, when it’s all said and done, sour brown is the new peanut butter, and you don’t like the way that sounds.

 

Love,

Daddy

healthnutshell: Ketchup Vs. Mustard

What’s so fancy about ketchup, anyway?  I have faith in mustard seeds.

My dad always said, “You are who your friends are or you soon will be.”  That is indeed the case with both ketchup and mustard.  Though they are as much as a pair as salt and pepper, they tend to attract different “friends”.  Bottom line: Ketchup is a bad influence, but mustard is a role model.

On occasion, I have no problem enjoying some good fries that I know actually came from whole potatoes from a reputable restaurant (meaning they don’t have a drive-thru there).  Same thing with a good juicy burger that is hand-pattied.  And when that happens, that means ketchup is involved.  Other than that, I don’t eat ketchup.

Because ketchup, in most cases, is paired with unhealthy foods that are either processed or fried.  For me, it’s sort of disgusting to think about what ketchup really is: tomato concentrate, vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, “spice”, and onion powder.

Tomato concentrate is processed tomatoes.  Vinegar is okay.  High fructose corn syrup and corn syrup are both forms of processed sugar.  The rest of the ingredients are fine.

Ketchup is candy.  For a serving the size of one tablespoon, there are four grams of sugar.  But honestly, when I eat ketchup, I typically have a bit more than that.  For a typical serving of fries at a decent restaurant, it’s pretty easy to consume four tablespoons of ketchup with the fries alone.  That’s 12 grams of sugar, (one tablespoon of sugar) the equivalent to smoking one cigarette.

So my general rule of thumb is, I stay away from foods that are enhanced by ketchup.  Not only is ketchup really just candy sauce, but it attracts the wrong kinds of friends.  I don’t even keep ketchup in my fridge.

Mustard on the other hand is much more legit: Vinegar, water, mustard seeds, salt, turmeric, and paprika. None of those ingredients are processed.  In fact, there are actually health benefits of turmeric and paprika.

Tumeric– linked to possible benefits in arthritis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, aids in digestion, is an anti-flammatory agent as well as an antibacterial agent

Paprika– rich in vitamin C (more than lemon juice) and high in antioxidants

Of course that doesn’t mean that I recommend eating a bottle of mustard a day in order to prevent diseases.  But compared side by side to ketchup, it’s pretty obvious that mustard is actually healthy to eat, whereas I can’t truly consider ketchup to be nutritious.

Mustard easily goes well with healthy foods.  People don’t put ketchup on a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread.  That would be gross.  But mustard would be great.

Foods that go well with mustard- good.

Foods that go well with ketchup (or both ketchup and mustard)- watch out.

Choose this day whom you will follow, ketchup or mustard.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on ketchup, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one


healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette?

A new way to view the worth of the happiness that sugar brings us.



I have never understood the addiction a person encounters who is dependant on alcohol or nicotine. Half-jokingly I have even said that I should take up smoking to prove that I have the will-power to stop. And while my body knows no enticement to the addictive qualities of alcohol or nicotine, I have been fighting a physical addiction my own life.

In high school, when I was “using” the most, I quickly became aware that I had symptoms of an unhealthy person. I had a lot of difficulty breathing, to the point it took hours to fall asleep at night. Not to mention my abundant allergies. So what was my addiction? Refined Sugar. (Sugar that is added to a food or processed in any way.)

Back in those days I ate a king size Little Debbie fudge round for breakfast every morning and another for an afternoon snack. And that was just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.

Evidently, men aren’t supposed to admit to loving sugary things. But I openly acknowledge my love and addiction. Chocolate. Ice cream. Cookies. Milk shakes. Peanut butter brittle. Candy. Sweet tea. Dr. Pepper.

Since childhood, I could never finish a meal without having some kind of sweets. My worst vice was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I even overdosed on them one time back in 2003, eating 36 of them in a 16 hour period. From that day I developed a rash that lasted 6 years. Six years, not days.

In October 2008, I “hit rock candy bottom” after my hand eczema (dyshidrosis) got “out of hand”. Take a look at the pictures on this Wikipedia entry to see what I was suffering from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyshidrosis.

I stopped eating shellfish and realized that it helped tremendously, because I learned by wearing my metal wedding ring that my hand eczema is triggered half by contact with heavy metals, which shellfish are full of. The other 50% is the consumption of refined sugar.

It has taken me since October 2008 to get to the point where I am now.  Which is basically a 0% tolerance policy on refined sugar. I couldn’t quit cold turkey. I needed my sugar too much.  Like any threatening drug, I was addicted.  Mentally and physically.

It’s been a long process. The only sugar I eat now comes from 100% fruit juice, fruit, and whole grain bread. Sweets are out of my life.

Aside from the hell that resided on both of my hands for most of last decade, something else helped inspired me to stop my sugar addiction. A realization. A new mindset:

Consuming a tablespoon of sugar is equal to smoking one cigarette.


That may seem like a broad claim since I am not a doctor nor has there ever been a clinical study to prove it. All we really have to go on is the following research I have done, along with the fact my hand eczema is currently 95% cured (thank God).

But consider this: It wasn’t until people began adding sugar into their diets that they began getting cavities. Toothbrushes and toothpaste came about because people starting eating sugar.

Even today, people from tribes in the world that do not have access to Coca-Cola and do not have a concept of adding sugar to their diet coincidently do not suffer from tooth decay. Nor do they suffer from the rate of cancers and diseases that the rest of us do.

I’m not the first to say it: There is a definite link between the health of a person’s teeth and how prone they are to developing health problems in the rest of their body:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/pubs/oral-bucco/2009-smile-sourire/index-eng.php

No one needs to be told of all the horrific things smoking does to the human body. Just in case, here’s an overview:
http://quitsmoking.about.com/od/tobaccorelateddiseases/a/smokingrisks.htm

However, most of us truly don’t realize that arguably, the presence of sugar in our diets causes all kinds of cancers and diseases as well.  Most notably, the consumption of refined sugar leads to diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay.  Plus:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060818171925AA5czDQ
http://www.rheumatic.org/sugar.htm

This isn’t to say that consumption of refined sugar causes lung cancer and the same exact health problems that tobacco causes. But eating foods that are processed with refined sugar leads to just as many health problems.

I am confident that a person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day (20 cigarettes), compared to a person who consumes 20 tablespoons of sugar a day, will be just as affected with an unhealthy body. Whether it’s for 5 years or 30 years.

The more sugar in a person’s daily diet now, the unhealthier they will be later in life. Like cigarettes, the damage isn’t instantly obvious. It can take decades before the person’s body begins to scream for help, like mine did.

To find out how much sugar is in a product, take a look at the nutrition facts. Look under “Total Carbohydrate”. Then scroll down to “sugars”. Divide that number by 12. That is how many tablespoons (not teaspoons) of sugar is in one serving of that product.

The average can of soda contains around 3 ½ to 4 tablespoons of sugar, or according to my analogy, has the same health dangers as smoking 3 ½ to 4 cigarettes.

Therefore, a person who drinks a 2 liter of soda (or the sugar equivalent of it through other sweets) a day will have the comparable health risks of a person who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day.

(For some great visuals, click here: http://www.sugarstacks.com/ )

But as we know, it doesn’t take smoking an entire pack of cigarettes day for a person’s health to be affected by it. So it’s important to check out those forgettable smaller amounts of sugars we consume as well.

Let’s a take a look at a classy favorite, Starbucks. Just a tall (the smallest size) Caramel Frappaccino has 53 grams of sugar, which is 4 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or 4 ½ cigarettes. A tall iced white mocha has 41 grams of sugar, which is 3 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or 3 ½ cigarettes. http://www.starbucks.com/retail/nutrition_info.asp

A Snickers bar has 28 grams, or nearly 2 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or cigarettes.

Ten years ago, the Atkins diet surged with popularity, and suddenly everyone was avoiding carbs. But we need carbs. It’s the sugar in them that’s bad.

Whole grain bread is an important part of our diet, since it contains a good amount of fiber that we need to our food to push through our intestines. But even whole grain, whole wheat fiber has some sugar in it. It’s a matter of finding bread with the most fiber and the least sugar. And dividing that sugar content by 12 to find out how many tablespoons of sugar it contains in a serving.

From all my research, it’s difficult to find a nutritionist who will give a solid number for the amount added sugar we are allowed in a day. Because many that I talked to said ideally, none. But for the ones would give me an answer: 37.5 grams of added sugar per day. About 3 tablespoons.

In other words, a king size Snickers bar or a Starbucks tall iced white mocha will meet this limit 100%. (Though a can of soda would be over the limit.) So we have a fun snack like that and think we’re okay. But, what about the rest of the added sugar we are going to eat that day too?

Like bread? Fruit juice? Whole grain cereal? Yogurt? Milk?

By simply eating the healthy foods we should be eating already, we are naturally going to get close to that those 37.5 grams (or 3 tablespoons) of sugar. So it leaves out room for any sugary snacks.

Because even if we eat completely healthy balanced meals, once we add a bag of M&M’s, we exceeding our daily allowance. And keeping in my unproven theory that a tablespoon of sugar is equal to a cigarette, just one sugary snack on top of an already healthy diet would be like smoking a few cigarettes.

But the truth is this: Most people don’t already eat healthy, balanced meals. So that’s even more “cigarettes” in a day.

The good new is, we don’t have to count all sugars against our 37.5 gram allowance:  Like whole foods such as bananas or blueberries. Or really any food that has not all been processed and has had some kind of sugar added to it.

Because even healthy bread and yogurt have added sugar, even if its organic evaporated cane juice. For example, I just finished a serving of Stonyfield strawberry yogurt which contained 34 grams of sugar. They added organic sugar and strawberry juice to sweeten the yogurt. That’s my full allowance of added sugar, and that was an attempt to be healthy. Not to mention the grape juice I drank earlier today. Lesson learned. Next time I’ll go with cottage cheese and strawberries I slice myself.

And even 100% fruit juice is processed- juice is only a part of the whole fruit. So it must count against the 37.5 gram allowance.

But somehow if the fruit is eaten whole, with the fruit flesh, it counteracts the negative elements of the sugar it contains.

And of course, there’s no cheating the system. Artificial sweeteners are not a safe alternative, with links to potential cancer risks, negative effects on the liver, kidneys, and other organs, gastrointestinal problems, developmental problems in children and fetuses and headaches, to name a few:
http://www.truthaboutabs.com/artificial-sweeteners-natural-stevia.html

I think the most motivating element for me in all this is not so much a fear of getting cancer, but more about getting diabetes. Multiple sources continue to report that 1 out of 3 American children will become diabetics as adults if their current lifestyle continues:
http://www.truthaboutabs.com/artificial-sweeteners-natural-stevia.html

I have lived the first 28 years of my life in favor of becoming a diabetic. After seeing a few photographs of people who had to have their legs removed because of the disease, I decided that I don’t mind getting old, but I do mind getting old and unhealthy and account of my carefree lifestyle in my young adulthood.

So which is worse? A tablespoon of sugar or a cigarette?

At best, they’re the same. They both have enough potential to give us cancer and diseases. I’m not willing to risk my life for either one. I want to be the next Juice Man. Out of control eybrows and all.

Related posts by the same author:

Barley into Beer  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2L

1.2 Billion People Can’t Be Wrong  http://wp.me/pxqBU-43

 Beauty and Self-Worth aren’t the Real Issues  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2c

Gorilla Costumes + Pizza Delivery = Awesomeness!

If I knew I couldn’t be arrested or die, there are certain social experiments I would like to participate in. They are not violent or hurtful at all. But they could easily go wrong if I wasn’t immune to police arrests or gunshots.

The one that comes to mind is this: I would dress in a gorilla costume and show up at someone’s front door with two hot pizzas. Mumbling in grunts that I was there to deliver their pizzas they had ordered (which they hadn’t), the goal would be to get them to take the pizzas. If that happened, I would walk back to my car nonchalantly and drive away. And the pizza-accepting family in the cul-de-sac would never receive an explanation of what happened. Just free, hot pizza.

While the thought of a person dressed up in a gorilla costume delivering pizzas to a family who did not order them may seem bizarre, we do live in a country where it’s normal and accepted for kids dress up in silly costumes in order to accept candy from strangers. And we call it a holiday.

Match point.

gorrila_deliver