Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lay off my kids' Happy Meal

I am all for eating healthy and for teaching my kids the importance of nutrition; both my husband and myself have struggled with our weight and we work very hard to shed unwanted pounds. None of my children are remotely obese, they all eat fruits and veggies, whole grains, and they get plenty of calcium from milk, yogurt, and cheese. I am proud to say that my kiddos eat things like asparagus, spinach, and broccoli. It is very rare that we find ourselves going through a drive thru not only because it costs a small fortune to feed nine people that way, but we as parents know that although a quick and easy choice, it's not the healthiest. BUT when we do make that choice, it's for the sake of having fun and getting a treat, not to get our daily dose of fruits and vegetables!
You know, we live in a free country. We have the right to choose the food we put into our bodies and feed our children. We maybe eat out or get drive thru three times a month. I think that's pretty good considering the fact that I don't get home from work until six or so and it would be so much easier to swing by McDonald's and pick something up for dinner. I suppose my family is lucky in that I absolutely love to cook. I love trying new things and exposing my kids to nutritious foods that most kids have never even heard of. Our local grocery store is a Meijer and they offer a variety of exotic fruits and vegetables. It is so much fun to try them out! In an effort to lose weight, my husband and I have tried a number of things. We have tried eliminating junk food and buying organic, and foods that do not contain preservatives or artificial junk. This is expensive and difficult to maintain, especially when you have four boys ages 16 down to 8 home for the summer. Sure I buy them things like chips and cookies, but I also buy them cheese sticks, fresh fruits, carrots and celery, and other healthy snacks. It all comes down to choice and discipline.
We do things as a family. We eat as a family, we exercise as a family, and we play as a family. We want our children to learn from our example. Yes, if you choose to eat at McDonald's three nights a week, you are going to create bad habits and very likely become obese. The key word here is CHOOSE. We as Americans should have the right to say, "I am not cooking dinner tonight so let's go to McDonald's!"
Recently, McDonald's has been sued over their Happy Meals for enticing children with the toys that come with the meals. Are you kidding me? They make it sound like all kids kick and scream every night for McDonald's. I am sure that there are kids out there that do have a tantrum if they don't get a Happy Meal for dinner, but that is just bad parenting and a whole blog within itself. I have seven kids. Not a single one of them has EVER thrown a fit when we have said "no" to dinner at McDonald's. Not a single one of them has seen the toys in an advertisement and said, "I want a Happy Meal so I can get that toy!" As a parent you are responsible for making a positive, healthy choice and for disciplining your child if they don't like the choice you make. Be the parent.
I don't think the government should be telling me or anyone for that matter how much salt, sugar, and fat a person is allowed to ingest. If I want to sit around and eat a bowl full of sugar, who the heck cares? When it comes to your kids, have some common sense. I know I don't want my kids all "jacked up" on junk, so I don't let them have it all the time. My kids have been taught the difference between healthy and unhealthy. They have been taught the importance of exercise. Where did they learn it? From their parents, not from a "Healthy Happy Meal." I reserve the right to treat my children to an occasional junk meal. It's getting scary out their America. Soon, they will come up with a pill supplement that they will force us all to take in order to be "healthy". Until then, eat the junk while you can- McDonald's changes their Happy Meal in September!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Breastfeeding Controversy

My mother called me at 8am this morning to tell me to turn the channel to Fox and Friends (part of Fox News). As I did so, she proceeded to tell me what was going on that made her call me. Mom is very supportive of me and reads my blog. She has been there for a few of my seven childbirths or arrived shortly after the babies did. When I chose to breastfeed, she supported my choice, and assisted me when I needed a helping hand. The purpose of her call and me watching Fox was so that I could see a new baby doll that is coming out called "The Breast Milk Baby."
This is a new baby doll that comes with a little tie on bra type top that the little girls can put on (it has pink cloth discs where nipples would be) and mimic their mother's breastfeeding. The doll actually makes a sucking noise and the mouth moves as if sucking. Their is nothing in the top that sticks out like actual breasts or nipples, so the doll does not actually latch on to anything. You can see the advertisement and news clip if you go to I am sure if you just Googled "Breast Milk Baby Doll" you could see it that way too. Apparently, the toy company that has come up with the doll is catching a whole lot of heck.
During the news clip, they interviewed a psychiatrist and a mommy blogger/parenting expert. Of course the doctor had nothing good to say. He declared this doll to be "damaging" and said it blurred the line between child and adult. Forgive me if I am wrong, but haven't young girls immitated their mothers' feeding babies for centuries? He also made several references to young girls thinking of their breasts in a sexual way. Personally, I do not know many young girls that think of the breasts sexually. Unless they have witnessed some sexual behavior, how would they even know that at some point, breasts become sexual? Well, the mommy blogger called him out on it. Kudos to her because she made him look like a goober. She disagreed with the man saying that breastfeeding is not a sexual behavior. It has nothing to do with sex, and if he thinks of it that way, then he must have issues. I have to agree.
I am not a die hard breastfeeder. I nursed four of my seven children and am terribly sad that I did not nurse all of them. It is a personal choice and I in no way shape or form hold it against anyone that feeds their baby via bottle and formula. Nor do I hold it against those moms that nurse babies for years. The longest I managed to nurse my babies was for six months. I think breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural way to bond and feed an infant.
What is wrong with breastfeeding is how society views it. America seems to be the only country that has issues with it. Breastfeeding is becoming much more popular and many businesses provide private, quiet places for a mom to nurse a baby. Hospitals, as well as doctors, are strongly supporting breastfeeding. There are so many new and cool things to help breastfeeding moms. With my last baby, I had purchased nursing shawls. These are like aprons that can cover an infant while nursing. I was able to go to the store, walk through the mall, or go anywhere in public while nursing my baby. They come in a variety of funky fabrics too. No mom should ever feel that breastfeeding is wrong, or should be made to feel uncomfortable for it.
So what is wrong with a baby doll that allows a young girl to "feed" her baby? Isn't that what you do with bottles too? There is absolutely nothing sexual about breastfeeding. Those people who think so are just uncomfortable with it and therefore they have issues with it. Nursing is the most natural, healthy, inexpensive way to feed an infant. What did women do before formula? They breastfed. I doubt anyone complained then.
When my baby was just a couple of weeks old, I was sitting on the couch feeding her. My two year old daughter had been watching and went and got one of her baby dolls. She came up to me and lifted her shirt and held her doll as if breastfeeding and said, "I feed my baby too." I never made a big deal out of the fact that I was using my breasts to feed the baby. Of course my two toddlers were curious. They had questions. I simply explained that when mommies have babies they get milk in their boobies to feed the babies. And that was enough. They said okay and never appeared distracted or disturbed by it. I did my best to be conservative about it because I did have a fifteen year old who over-exaggerated his emberrassment at seeing his mom's breasts.
It is all in how we portray breastfeeding. I think that it is most definately becoming more mainstream especially because it is so cheap! If we give our children the notion that breastfeeding is gross or wrong or inappropriate, then that is how they will perceive it. If we show them that it is perfectly natural and acceptable, then that is what they will think too. Little girls feed their baby dolls with bottles, why not with a shirt that makes it seem as if they are nursing? It teaches them that this is a practical way to feed an infant, just like with a bottle. My children watched the Fox and Friends video clip with me and I asked them if they would be bothered by it. They all said no. They said that we should get the doll for their sisters.
My husband believes that there is nothing wrong with the doll also. How could there be anything wrong with teaching a young girl how to feed a baby? They make baby dolls that poop and pee, that cry, that talk, that walk, and that eat baby food. They make baby dolls that have heartbeats and get red cheeks like they have a fever. There is nothing wrong with children immitating their parents- it's how they learn.
I think the negativity surrounding this new baby doll would be better spent on things like magazines that portray unhealthy images like half naked anorexic looking stars. What kinds of messages are young girls getting from that? There are many things out in society now that are far worse than a breastfeeding baby doll. Like my husband said, "If you have a problem with it, don't buy it. I don't like those BRATZ dolls that they have on the shelves, but I don't try to persuade the toy company to take them off the shelves. I just don't buy them for my daughters." Hmm. Sounds logical to me. If you don't like it, don't buy it. If it bothers you, turn your head. Just because you are uncomfortable with breastfeeding doesn't mean that it should be outlawed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tricks of the Trade

I love to tell my kids that I have special powers. I firmly believe that when a woman becomes a mother, she morphs into this being that can do amazing things like speak while her teeth are clenched, see things behind her because she has eyes in the back of her head, bring a teenager to his knees just by pulling his ear lobe, has ESP, can speak in tongues when things are especially challenging, and get the attention of a room full of rowdy kids just by using her quiet voice.
On a good day, I only have to use one or two of my special powers. Some of my powers are a two for one kind of deal. I love catching my kids in the act of unruly behavior and surprising them when they least expect it. I have been known to clench my teeth, point at my children, and speak in this strange language that I am pretty sure is native only to the women on my mother's side of the family. I have many memories of my mother doing the same thing. She still has the power to over annunciate words in order to get her meaning across. I think the powers may also be genetic because I can also do things like "box your ears" and send you to "manners school." You can ask my kids. They will not only tell you that I do these things, but their mamaw does to.
I truly enjoy hearing my kids say, "How did you know I was doing that?" They always seem so shocked when I know what they are going to do before they do it. When I tell them about the eyes in the back of my head, they usually laugh-nervously.
Moms are also healers. We fix boo boos with kisses and bandages. We bring them ginger ale and soda crackers when they are sick. We make sure they are comfortable and have everything they need. We know our children and what they need. We know their cries, their fears, and what makes them laugh.
Moms are teachers. Our children learn valuable lessons from us. We are role models. Whether we mean for them to or not, whether we want them to or not, our children mimic us. Maybe that's why I act like my mom as much as I do.
We only do the things we do because we love our children. They may not believe it when we tell them it's for their own good, but really, it is. I hate to think what my kids would act like if I didn't have my special powers. Kids need discipline as much as they need love. Could you imagine having kids like the ones on Willy Wonka? Oh, and then, little Oompa Loompas would pop out and sing songs everytime they acted like spoiled brats. I might actually try it myself-"Oompa Loompa Dopity Do I've got another puzzle for you."

Maybe I will just stick to clenched teeth and ESP. My kids might try and lock me up if I sang that song all the time. I will continue to mold my children in ways that I was taught. And I will continue to tell them that I have super powers. Cuz I do-really.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Whatever happened to those family vacations where everyone just piled into one vehicle and drove off into the sunset? It didn't matter how many people were in the car because we didn't have to wear seatbelts. Everyone just crammed right in; personal space stayed home. Picture a bunch of clowns getting into their tiny clown car.
That's what we look like everytime we go somewhere as a family of nine. A bunch of clowns. For the holiday weekend, we went home to visit family. We drove seperately; I had three kids and the dog, my husband had the other four kids and all the luggage. For a long weekend, you wouldn't think you would have to pack everything under the sun, but when you are packing for nine people, it certainly seems that way. We crammed in fishing poles, sleeping bags, 3 suitcases, 3 large duffle bags, and a partridge in a pear tree. I was grateful for the fact that I got to ride with the baby, my oldest, and our five year old. No one took their shoes off, so we avoided the "stinky foot funk" that almost always surfaces on long car rides. The dog didn't whine and cry, and the baby only tortured us for fifteen minutes. The radio station played some of my favorite tunes before we lost the station and I had to turn on my ipod. My oldest brought his own and even though he wore earphones, I could still hear his as well as my own.
It was actually kind of fun caravanning (forgive me if that is not a word). I wish we had walkie talkies instead of cell phones just to add to the excitement. My husband and his crew felt the need to air themselves out by sticking their feet and hands out the windows and sunroof (I am guessing it was because they all took their shoes off or passed gas or both if they were really wound up). I did my best to sing and dance while driving not only because I am naturally talented and love to share said talents with everyone, but also because I wanted to emberrass my oldest son. I must be losing my touch-he seemed unphased by the whole show.
Everytime we were able to pull up next to each other on the highway, my twelve year old who was riding shotgun made the most fascinating faces I have ever seen. I wanted to tell him that if someone were to smack him on the back while he made faces it would actually stay that way. All we were missing was a sign that said, "To Beverly or Bust." What the heck does that mean anyway?
I can remember as a kid going on vacation all those great games we used to play, you know, before technology ruined everything? Games like I Spy, liscense plate games, On the Way to the Zoo, Twenty Questions, etc. Those were the days. My younger brother and I liked to play a game called, "Mom, she hit me!" and my personal favorite, "Thumb War." Thumb wars almost always turned into more violent games and led to Dad shouting, "If you two don't cut that out I am going to pull this car over!" Memories.
I was shocked by the fact that we didn't have to stop once on our trip home to go potty or to find a pacifier or sippy cup. Granted, it's only a four hour drive, but with that many kids, we made it without pulling over! I am terrified to discover how long car rides with two toilet trained girls go. Our three year old is still working on getting rid of her pull-ups. At least with boys you can just pull over to the side of the road. I told my husband that we need to bring the little potty when we go on trips so the girls can just use that.
Aside from enduring the "car ride stench," family vacations are so much fun. They provide plenty of bonding time, spontaneous teachable moments, and they create memories that last a lifetime. Even if your vacation destination is just an hour away, there is always that excitement that comes with being somewhere else. Who could forget those lasting memories of someone barfing in the backseat? Of shoving matches over who sits where? Of leaving half of what you packed back home? Of older siblings telling younger siblings to stop singing because they are trying to sleep? Of older siblings asking for a bite of younger siblings candy bar and taking half of it because they are mean?
Family vacations are a right of passage for every family. Some of my favorite movies are all about family vacations. As long as you don't eat food in the picnic basket that the dog whizzed on and you don't get the car stuck under a logger truck, vacation should go smoothly. I highly suggest brushing up on some kiddie songs and some travel games before leaving. I find making a list of everything I need to pack, buy, and do before leaving helps tremendously (that is if you check everything off that list and don't forget anything at home). And one last little tip-don't forget the Benedryl! You can knock the kids out or yourself if you're not driving!