Author: Marye Audet

Did You Ever Eat a Pine Tree? Oh Yes You Have

Posted on Dec 17, 2014 by No Comments

In the 1970’s there was a commercial starring a guy named Euell Gibbons. He would look at the camera and ask, Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible…

Apparently fast food companies took him at his word. You know that hamburger you had at lunch? Well it’s likely that it had cellulose in it as a filler. That bun that your burger was wrapped in? Cellulose. Your shake, fries, onion rings, nacho sauce,  chicken strips, gravy, and soft serve ice cream?

Cellulose.

If you weren’t aware of it, cellulose it is simply wood pulp. It goes by many names:

  • Celluslose gum
  • Methylcellulose
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Cellulosee powder

Fast food companies and restaurant chains are using it more and more because it saves them money. More cheap filler and less actual food means more profit and helps them keep their prices low.

It also takes a food, almost void of nutritional value and sucks out what little it has left. But, by golly, you can get a burger for a dollar on the dollar menu!

It isn’t going to make you fat and it isn’t going to give you cancer. It is even all natural. The point is that you need and have a right to know what you are paying for. If a hamburger is 3.99 and cellulose is in the bun, cheese, meat, and sauce you could be paying a much as 1.99 for cellulose alone.

That’s one expensive tree.

Be sure to know what you are buying and know what you are eating. It’s kind of important.

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Age Appropriate Bedtimes

Posted on Dec 17, 2014 by 1 Comment

It can be difficult to choose a fair bedtime for kids, especially as they get older.

I love being around my kids but I am usually ready to have some adult time in the evenings.

When my older two were small my (now ex) husband couldn’t handle coming home to kid chaos and so I got in the habit of feeding them and putting them to bed by six-thirty or seven. They absolutely hated it and, looking back, I wish I had put him to bed and kept them up for company.

Live and learn.

My other kids generally have an eight-thirty bedtime until they are fifteen. Then I just let them decide what works for them. I don’t know why I decided that fifteen was the magic age but I did.

I will say that I tend to look the other way if they are reading in bed after bedtime and I have one child that is a Jack-in-the-Box for about an  hour.

Web MD makes the following suggestions:

  • Up until about age three they need about fourteen hours of sleep per day.
  • From four to six they need about twelve hours of sleep a day.
  • From seven to twelve they need about eleven hours per day.
  • From thirteen to eighteen they need about nine hours of sleep per day.

My schedule works for us and I think that the kids do get close to the recommended amount of sleep each day. I can tell when they don’t just as much as I can tell when I don’t get enough sleep.

How do you handle bedtimes at your house?

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Kids with One Parent Are Not Missing Out

Posted on Dec 16, 2014 by No Comments

Single moms and dads take note — pack up that excessive guilt and send it away. Researchers from UK’s NatCen Social Research recorded information from 13,000 children and then analyzed the data. Guess what?

Children’s happiness has no correlation to the type of family they lived in. When the team questioned seven year olds about their happiness 36 percent said they were happy all of the time and 64 percent said they were happy sometimes or never, regardless of whether they were raised by two biological parents or one.

The percentages were the same even when they divided the children up according to social classes. The results were similar in the 11 to 15 year old age group.

So, what does affect a child’s happiness?

The researchers say that a child’s relationships with his family members and friendships at school were the main predictors of his happiness level. Factors such as negative peer pressure, bullying, and fights had a much larger impact on a child’s happiness than how many parents he lived with.

Single parents, and parents contemplating divorce, have been smacked around by much of society questioning the happiness and emotional health of their children. This study would seem to be a win on the side of the single parent.

Divorce is tough on kids and I am willing to bet few parents contemplates divorce without counting the cost to their children. I know that when I was moving toward divorce, concern for my children was uppermost in my mind.

My thought then, and this research kind of backs me up, is that children in homes where the parents are fighting and unhappy are more likely to have emotional trauma than a child in a home with a single parent who is content.

I grew up as the only child in a two parent family where there was constant bickering and fighting. It did not get physical but the stress level was high. I was (and still am) very sensitive. I’ve always felt, and been affected by, the atmosphere of a place.

When my parents fought I holed up in my room but being alone didn’t muffle the sounds of their fighting, nor did it help to calm the anxiety attacks that usually hit me in waves. When I was older I just left the house so it didn’t bother me quite as much but even so, the animosity level was thick around our house nearly every day.

I was not a happy child. I’d say that I was among the 64 percent who weren’t happy very often. My happiest moments where when I was with just one of my parents at a time. They were each more relaxed away from each other and peace prevailed.

I think that it’s important to keep the big picture in mind when making decisions and, while it’s good to get advice from people you trust, take what other people say about your situation with a grain of salt. They don’t know the specifics and they aren’t the ones living your life.

It’s true that if you’re happy then it’s likely that your kids will be, too.

So, single moms and dads? You can be confident that your kids are going to be just fine. You might want to keep an eye on peer relationships at school, though.

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Should Hop on Pop Be Banned?

Posted on Dec 15, 2014 by No Comments

Should the Dr. Seuss book, Hop on Pop be banned? One dad thinks so.

Hop on Pop is one of the first books my kids learned to read. I say this so that you understand that I probably will be writing this with a bias no matter how hard I try to be fair.

I bet you’re wondering why this man would want to ban the book and have it removed from his library? Simply put, he feels that it promotes violence against fathers. That’s not all. This dad also requested that libraries issue a formal apology to fathers and pay for damages that resulted from the book.

Seriously?

First of all, I am a firm believer that books are a right and therefore should not be banned. I am personally quite offended by Anton LeVay’s Satanic Bible but I would never ask that it be banned. That’s just opening yourself up for people to randomly ban books that they find offensive.

I know that several high schools in my state talked about pulling Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer from their library shelves and curriculum because of the use of racial slurs that were common in the South in the 1800s and early 1900s. The problem is that without books like that you don’t get a good understanding of the culture in that time period.

Anyway, I am not sure that it’s a great idea to start banning books because someone feels they promote violence. It’s more important, in my opinion, to teach kids a respect for the feelings and rights of others. If they have that ethic then a book is not going to make a difference.

And anti-Seuss Dad? Man up.

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Dear Divorced Dads: Child Support Is Not about Your Ex-Wife

Posted on Dec 11, 2014 by 2 Comments

If you are in a loving, first marriage feel free to skip this post and find something that you can identify with, but if you are a mom who is supposed to be getting child support, or more importantly, if you are a dad who resents paying child support please read on.

I am in my second marriage. My husband also has an ex-wife and child from his marriage. I watched him pay child support without one complaint until the child was of age. At that point I watched him continue to care for his child on an as needed basis.

I say this to let the world know that there are men out there who do actually understand the concept of child support. On the other hand, I also know, and have experienced, men who resent the child support they pay and complain about their ex-wife and the money they pay to her.

Here’s a concept. Child support goes to benefit the child. More than likely your ex-wife is not getting $500.00 spa days with the money you send for the kids.

I know that I work hard to provide for my kids and, while I can make it without child support, the money that I get from the ex allows me to work a little less so that I can actually spend time being a mom.

The custodial parent doesn’t just support the kids financially, she is there for them in every way she always has been. You can’t put a price on that kind of care and kids need it.

So, divorced dad, the next time you get angry and resent paying that child support bill? You aren’t resenting your ex-wife you are resenting that you have to take care of your kids. Your ex-wife just manages their money for their benefit.

Puts an entirely different spin on it, doesn’t it?

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Family Vacation Idea: Hoover Dam and Boulder City

Posted on Dec 10, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re planning on taking a family vacation this year you might want to consider something a little out of the way and check out Hoover Dam.

It’s an easy, thirty minute drive south from Las Vegas on U.S. 93. You’ll need to stop at a security checkpoint but this is very quick to get through.

You have several choices for parking but if you drive across to the Arizona side of the dam you can find free parking. It will mean you’ll need to walk a bit but the $7.00 you save can buy you ice cream later in the snack area.

The dam gets about 1,500 visitors a day on an average, maybe a few more during peak vacation time. Still, we found a parking spot easily and the crowds weren’t bad at all.

hoover dam mascot

Once you get there you have a couple of choices. You can take the paid tour, which allows you to go right into the dam and see how it works, or you can stay on the top for free and enjoy the view — which is gorgeous.

There are plenty of historic plaques giving snippets of information and trivia about the process of building the Hoover Dam. For example, there is a sweet plaque marking the grave of a stray dog that the workers took as a mascot. The dog was accidentally killed and the mourning workers wanted to make sure every visitor to the dam knew about him.

Near the gift shop and snack area, which is on the Nevada side of Hoover Dam, you’ll see two statues which are truly beautiful examples of classic Art Deco design. These statues, Winged Figures of the Republic, are about 30 feet tall.

Sculptor Oskar Hansen, created the figures from over four tons of bronze that sit on bases of black diorite. There is no official symbolism to the figures, although they are speculated to be angels, winged humans of the future, or even demons.

The monument is surrounded by a floor with a celestial chart that shows the exact position of the stars on the day the Hoover Dam was dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt, September 30, 1935.

nevada arizona line

Be sure to point out to your children that you can travel back and forth in time. There is a spot on the dam that shows where Nevada begins and Arizona ends. This is also the spot that the time changes from Mountain to Pacific, so there is an hour difference except during Daylight Savings Time.

I was surprised at the low level of the water. There are white borders that show where the waterline used to be. When I was there the water level was significantly lower than the white lines. The water itself is a beautiful blue in the midst of the orangey-red sand of the surrounding desert.

Once you’ve seen the dam head back into Boulder City where there are small cafes, antique shops, and lots to look at in this quaint, historic town. No matter where you go, or how long you plan to be out, take plenty of sunscreen and water with you — the sun is vicious.

images credit: marye audet

My Kids Are Leash Free but You Go Right Ahead

Posted on Dec 8, 2014 by 2 Comments

There is a serious controversy about toddler leashes or whatever you want to call them. I’ve read posts from moms that are seriously opposed to them, even violently opposed to them, and I’ve read posts from moms that see them in the same light as coffee in the morning and Baby Einstein.

Indispensable.

I hate them and not for the reason that you may think. I don’t care if it does make your kid look like it’s on the same level as your dog. In fact, the other day I saw a woman carrying her dog and walking her toddler on the leash. I rolled my eyes but it’s really none of my business.

I dislike leashes on toddlers for one reason and one reason only — it keeps you from having to train your kid.

Say what you want about my parenting and how I handle discipline but my kids did not run away from me at the mall or anywhere else. The minute they misbehaved they were told to put their hand on the stroller and not let go (if we also had a baby in tow) or to hold my hand.

There wasn’t another option, there weren’t any warning, there was no grace or deviation. Running away from a parent is dangerous stuff and, whether you agree with me or not, my kids were given three swats for doing it. I didn’t yell, I didn’t scream.

It usually didn’t take more than once.

At the same time, I couldn’t care less if you have a leash on your child. You are doing what you think is best to keep him safe and in my book that is good parenting, regardless of my personal feelings about leashes. I just ask you to make sure that you also do some sort of training so that the first time he is off the leash he doesn’t take off for Timbuktu with you valiantly trying to catch up in  your favorite high heeled pumps.

So, what are your thoughts? Leashes or no leashes?

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Radiation Levels in Tuna Are Not Dangerous

Posted on Dec 8, 2014 by No Comments

If you’ve heard reports that tuna is high in radiation because of Fukushima and given up your tuna fish sandwiches for lunch, a new report from Oregon State University may have you breathing a sigh of relief and heading out for sushi.

Word has been traveling around the Internet that Oregon tuna samples were showing signs of a higher radioactive content than they were before the nuclear disaster in 2011. Many people, concerned for their health, have decided to leave the popular fish out of their diets.

While it is true that the radioactivity is higher, it is also true that the increase is so tiny and insignificant that it does not pose a threat to anyone. If you have a real tuna habit and eat 700,000 or more cans of tuna a day you’ll still only be exposed to about the same amount of radiation that all humans are exposed to just because we live on the planet Earth. One or two sushi rolls?

No problem. You won’t be glowing in the dark anytime soon.

To give you an idea of the amount of radiation involved experts say that it’s the equivalent of spending 23 seconds in a stuffy basement. The level is still only 0.1 percent of what the Environmental Protection agency says is the level to be concerned about. The four year old fish had higher levels and scientists say that many of the three year old fish didn’t have any radioactive isotopes at all.

I guess fishermen will need to start checking the age of the fish they catch!

When you read information that concerns you make sure you dig a little deeper before making a decision. Many people will feel that the slightest increase in radiation takes tuna off the table but others will decide it’s not such a big deal. As long as you make informed decisions you’ll make good decisions for your family.

Tuna consumption is decreasing because of reports of high levels of mercury and now higher levels of radiation. Are there those that should be concerned? The United States Environmental Protection Agency says that tuna is safe for most people

Those that might want to limit tuna consumption (because of mercury not radiation) are:

  • Women Who Might Become Pregnant
  • Women Who are Pregnant
  • Nursing Mothers
  • Young Children

Tuna is a healthy, lean protein that is generally affordable. It’s low in saturated fat and contains those omega—3 fatty acids that are so essential to a healthy body. The current recommendation for people in the categories above is two meals a week of fish following these guidelines:

  1. Don’t eat shark, swordfish, mackerel, or tilefish. These varieties contain high levels of mercury.
  2. Up to 12 ounces per week  low mercury fish such as canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, catfish, and shrimp.
  3. Albacore is higher in mercury than canned light tuna so limit your intake to six ounces of albacore per week.
  4. Up to six ounces of local fish, depending on local advisories.

Have you taken tuna off of your menu or not? Are you concerned?

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What’s in Your Kid’s Yogurt?

Posted on Dec 5, 2014 by No Comments

I am old enough that I remember the time when there was no such thing as yogurt in conventional grocery stores. It wasn’t until the health movement in the 1970s that yogurt started showing up.

Of course now you can find yogurt in all flavors, types, and containers. Essentially, it is a healthy food as long as you take a few precautions.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

This is a controversial ingredient. Some people feel it is OK while others try to stay away from it. Do your research and come to your own conclusions.

Personally, I don’t like eating highly processed foods so this is a no in our household. Yoplait has taken it out of their yogurt and started using real sugar again but most companies are still using the HFCS.

Aspartame

Aspartame is a sugar substitute. It is falling out of favor with the public because there are new studies that show that it may cause adverse effects both long and short term. It is being replaced in some brands with sucralose which more people feel comfortable with.

I don’t let my kids have artificial sweeteners of any sort because I don’t really trust them. I prefer that if we use something other than pure cane sugar, it is stevia.

Artificial Colorings

Artificial colorings are controversial. In fact, they are not permitted in food in many European countries so the American companies make European versions of their product without colorings. This is another one of those issues that you should do a little research on so that you can form your own educated opinion.

Carmine is a red coloring that people sometimes get upset about. Not me.

Carmine is made from ground cochineal beetles. Now, while it may sound disgusting it is natural and has been used for hundreds of years. Plus, people of many countries, including Mexico, still do eat various insects as food.

Gross as this may sound I would rather have ground bugs that are not going to affect my health than an artificial dye which is questionable.

Carrageenan

Carrageenan is derived from seaweed and is added to products to make them creamier. You’ll find it in heavy whipping cream, cottage cheese, puddings, and yogurt plus a ton of other (mostly dairy) products.

There are some reports that it can cause gastrointestinal issues, including some forms of cancer. Buying organic yogurt may not totally solve the problem either. Many of the companies that produce organic yogurts use the product. Look for alternatives like guar, locust bean, and xanthan gum.

Make Your Own

Yogurt is a cinch to make and you can control what is going into it. Homemade yogurt is much cheaper than commercial yogurt, too. There are instructions all over the Internet so I won’t go into that here.

One of the things I like to do is to heat a vanilla bean in the milk as I am heating it up for the yogurt because it adds a delicate vanilla flavor. I also like to put jam on the bottom of the jars before I add the yogurt.

You can copy any kind of yogurt your child likes and make it cheaper and healthier at home.

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