Did You Hear The Rumor? On Food Day We Target Obesity

Last updated on August 29th, 2015 at 08:22 pm

I heard a rumor that there is an obesity issue in the US? Have you heard that too? Do you believe it? I have to admit that when I look around, I have to say, yes- I do.

I heard a rumor that the obesity issue is getting worse not better. Have you heard that too? Do you believe it? I do.

I heard that this obesity issue even affects our children – our kids – kids in elementary, middle and high school. Have you heard that too? Do you believe this? Sadly, I do.

I heard the rumor that October 24 is Food Day a national program designed to not only call attention to the issues described above- but to offer solutions. Here are the goals of the group:

  • Reduce diet related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
  • Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness
  • Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
  • Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms
  • Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
  • Support fair conditions for food and farm workers.

Many well known people support Food Day, people such as, Dr. David Satcher, MD, former US Surgeon General, Elle Krieger, Chef, Author and TV food host, Michael Jacobson, PhD, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

With activities in thousands of locations across the country, I’m sure you can find a way to participate. For more information, locations and activities please go to Foodday.org.

We can all do more to promote healthy eating in our homes, schools and communities. The better we eat, the better our health, the better the feel. We can teach our kids a better way forward and offer the hope of a long and healthy life.

Halloween Pumpkin Carving Safety Tips

Last updated on October 6th, 2015 at 01:10 am

Halloween is a fun time of costumes, candy, and carving of pumpkins. Unfortunately, one little slip and that fun could be over and you might be rushing to the emergency room.

Accidental lacerations and puncture wounds to the hands and fingers are common injuries seen in emergency rooms around the country during this time of year due to Halloween pumpkin carving. Some of these injuries require surgery and months of rehabilitation, such as the injury Brad Gruner, starting quarterback for the University of New Mexico, suffered last Halloween when he sliced a tendon in the pinkie of his throwing hand and was out for the rest of the season.

If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin before, you know from experience how slippery and tough they can be. It is all too easy for a knife to slip or for it to go through the skin and out the other side where your other hand might be holding it steady. Do yourself (and your family) a favor and follow a couple of safety tips this year to prevent an accident.

Leave the carving to the adults. Kids under the age of 14 should not do the actual carving or cutting. They can draw on the pumpkin the design they want it to have but let an adult carve it.

Use special pumpkin carving tools instead of kitchen knives. Pumpkin carving kits are easy to find in most stores in the weeks before Halloween. These tools are usually smaller, less sharp, and easier to control than a kitchen knife and less likely to cause a laceration or puncture wound. Make sure to use a well-lit, stable, dry surface to work on. Keep hands and tools clean and dry to minimize slips. While carving, leave the top on so you don’t stick your hand inside the pumpkin and risk cutting it.

Decorate your pumpkins without carving them. There are many ways to decorate a pumpkin that do not require risking an injury. Kids can use markers, paint, and even glue on embellishments to create a fun or scary pumpkin design.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!


Safe Halloween pumpkin carving

Halloween Safety Tips That Are No Trick

Hand Surgeons Warn of Pumpkin Carving Dangers

If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin before, you know from experience how slippery and tough they can be

Want a Child with Values & Self-Respect? Set Rules & Say No

Last updated on March 18th, 2017 at 09:55 pm

By the time they reach school age, a child is as skilled at debating as politicians on the campaign trail. But while their persistence can wear you down, giving in to their pleas will only encourage them to keep it up.

“If you’re looking [to raise a] respectful child with good self-esteem, then start saying no,” says Michelle Borba, educational psychologist and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. “If you say no, and your child learns to accept it, your child learns to accept your values.” Borba also notes that research shows kids who are raised in less-permissive homes have higher feelings of self-respect and more confidence.

You have to start saying no now, though, because it only gets harder later, says Borba. Here are her top five steps for how to say no — and have your child really hear it.

1. Review your rules.

Every six months, take time to think through exactly what your expectations and values are: what you’re saying yes to, what you’re saying no to, what is non-negotiable and why you feel that way. Also consider what you want to teach your child with the rules you’re setting. Without the conviction of your beliefs — knowing what you won’t accept and why — you’ll be more likely to cave in when he starts pushing.

2. Make a formal announcement.

Once you’re sure what you will and won’t tolerate, call a family meeting and explain the rules. Be matter-of-fact and non-critical; laying out your expectations shouldn’t come off as punitive. And by explaining your reasons for each rule, you’re showing your kid that you’ve given this a lot of thought and you’re serious. “It’s a guideline for your values, a family mission statement,” says Borba.

3. Get on the same page.

Whether you live in the same home or not, try to reach an agreement with your parenting partner about which rules are non-negotiable. Then, put them somewhere where everyone can see them. “Even if there are only three rules, mark them in stone,” says Borba. “If you don’t have them written and posted on the fridge, your child will water you down.” The other benefit to hanging them up? “Whenever your child has a friend over, he can point to the fridge.”

4. Don’t engage.

When your child starts pestering despite the rules, say as little as possible in response. If you’ve told him that you don’t want a video game system in your home but he argues that everyone else has one, respond with, “That’s what they do in their house.” If you have a gaming system but have decided that your child is too young for teen-rated games, don’t hesitate when he says, “But I’ve played them at my friend’s house.” Say “Not in my house,” — and leave it at that. “Too much explanation continues the power struggle,” says Borba. “How you handle a wordy kid who wears you down is to stop talking yourself.”

5. Avoid confrontation.

If your child pesters for sweets at the store after you’ve told him no, don’t tolerate one minute of it. He’s been disrespectful by ignoring the rules, says Borba, and that demands action. Follow your conviction, even if it’s inconvenient for you. As soon as your child starts pestering, stop shopping and tell him you’re going home. Or give him a time-out in the car while you stand by. Will it be embarrassing for him? “Yes,” says Borba, “and thank goodness it is!” Sometimes, a little embarrassment makes the point better than any scolding could.

Sync with Your Spouse on Discipline Style

Last updated on March 12th, 2018 at 10:08 am

Is your wife a strict disciplinarian, while you prefer to let things slide? Is your husband a yeller, while you are an “inside voice” kind of mom? When you have different parenting styles, it can often feel like you’re at odds with your spouse. Here are strategies from Harvey Karp, M.D., author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block (Bantam), for navigating this common parenting conundrum.

Don’t sweep your differences under the rug. To raise happy, well-behaved children, it’s crucial to try to find common ground. Otherwise, kids get mixed messages and quickly learn which parent will let them get away with more. Once a month, hold a “parents only” meeting to discuss your discipline differences. This is your chance to be honest about your concerns. “Write down two or three things each,” says Dr. Karp. “You and he get a turn without interruption. The only ground rule is you both have to listen with respect and speak with respect.” Your goal isn’t to sway each other, but to ultimately come up with some rules that you both feel comfortable enforcing.

Don’t disagree in front of your kids. “Kids look at us as a loving and safe force in their lives,” Dr. Karp says. “Seeing parents arguing, especially about them, shakes them to their foundation.” Kids might get angry or frightened and feel like they’re the “cause” of the parents’ problems – which lowers their confidence and self-esteem. So if you object to the way your spouse is handling a situation resist the urge to say anything until you are alone.

Find creative ways to compromise. Let’s say it drives you crazy that your husband yells at your child when she exhibits normal toddler behavior, like sticking her hand in the cat’s food bowl or pulling away from you while walking on the sidewalk. It drives your husband nuts that you’re lax about situations that could put your child at risk for physical harm. Try to decide together that it’s OK for him to raise his voice when Katie’s darting toward traffic or engaging in other dangerous behavior, but for mild, age-appropriate infractions, he needs to try distraction before yelling or scolding.

Keep family members out of it. “Don’t bring up each other’s family,” says Dr. Karp. For instance, avoid making remarks like, “Of course you yell and scream; you’re just like your father.” Besides being disrespectful, this behavior forces your partner into a defensive mode, making it harder to move forward and find the best solution.

Embrace a little bit of difference. “It’s crazy to expect all the adults in a child’s world to react in exactly the same way,” says Dr. Karp. In fact, by maintaining a dash of your individuality – even when it comes to discipline – “you’re teaching your child emotional intelligence. They learn what they can expect from one adult versus another. And that’s a good thing.”

For National School Lunch Week: Childhood Obesity Revealed

Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 01:27 am

This past Monday marked the beginning of National School Lunch Week (NSLW) 2011. According to Sarah Fudin, Social Media and Outreach Coordinator for MAT@USC (the Master of Arts in Teaching program for the University of Southern California), “it’s important that we help students understand where food comes from and the nutritional benefits that go along with the food they consume. During National School Lunch week, the School Nutrition Association, as well as teachers, parents, community members and educators around the country will help highlight to students the benefit that school lunch can provide for kids to grow strong and healthy.”

According to the School Nutrition Association, this year’s NSLW theme, School Lunch – Let’s Grow Healthy provides an opportunity for schools to try something new while promoting locally sourced foods. “From a harvest-of-the-month menu to a school garden to a meet-the-farmer educational presentation, there’s a farm-to-school model or activity that can fit the needs of any school or district!”

In support of the School Lunch – Let’s Grow Healthy theme, MAT@USC has created an infographic on childhood obesity with statistics sharing lifestyle, nutritional, activity-related and consequential facts relating to children. It is an easy to read (and pretty disturbing) cause and effect diagram that shows how we got here and what can happen if we continue.

I think it’s time we started paying attention to childhood obesity… What do you think???

Childhood Obesity Epidemic Infographic
Brought to you by MAT@USC Masters in Teaching

Ray Ray’s Story: A Call to Action for Parents and Caregivers

Last updated on June 25th, 2018 at 03:14 pm

Our Story

On May 25th 2011 our lives changed forever. Though we awakened a little late, the day started as usual: we played for an hour with our daughter (she was a morning person) before getting her dressed for daycare. It was tropical day: the children were to wear “tropical” attire. We dressed Ray Ray in a cute little flowered dress and she smiled back as if she knew she looked so adorable. We carried Ray Ray to the car and placed her in her car-seat. We kissed her and told her we loved her as we buckled her in her seat, and she waved the most mysterious goodbye to us: a wave we had never seen before and one we would never forget. It was the last goodbye we would ever have from our little angel.

Brett drove away in his truck with Ray Ray tucked securely in her carseat. She dozed off into sleep, probably tired from playing all morning with us. Then our perpetual nightmare began: for reasons we do not know or understand, Brett drove past the turn that he would normally take to drop Ray Ray off at daycare. A simple left hand turn, beyond which daycare is only about 300 yards away. He turned right instead. Why? This is a question that will haunt us forever. Brett continued his drive to work, assuming that our daughter was safely in the hands of her daycare teachers and enjoying tropical day. We carried on with our regular work routine.

A few hours later we met at Brett’s office for a lunch date before I went out of town for a business event. As we drove to lunch, we talked in the car about Ray Ray and how pretty she looked for Tropical day. Suddenly, Brett’s heart skipped two beats and his mind raced chaotically as he tried to understand why he could not remember seeing the reaction from her loving teachers about her cute little Tropical day dress. Reality hit. Brett’s heart sunk to the bottom of his chest: he couldn’t remember dropping Ray Ray off at daycare that morning! He screamed out loud for me to get us back to his office as fast as possible.

We raced through traffic lights, stop signs, one-way streets, and arrived at Brett’s office in record time. We called the office manager as we drove, instructing her to check the truck. As Brett was awaiting a response from the office manager I called the daycare. When the teacher confirmed she was not there, I hung up and immediately called 911. Simultaneously the office called 911 as well. The nightmare had happened. Ray Ray had been forgotten in the truck for nearly three hours in 90 degree heat.

The office manager took Ray Ray out of the truck, ran cool water over her body, and began rescue efforts—she was still alive, making gurgling sounds and having difficulty breathing. I continued aggressive attempts at resuscitation once we arrived while the office staff stayed on the line with 911. Our last visions of our living daughter were of her lying on the floor as she lost consciousness and CPR was being performed. She gazed into mommy and daddy’s eyes one last time. That will haunt us forever. One hour and 19 minutes after this nightmare began she was pronounced dead.

We have asked ourselves thousands of times how could this happen. Where did we go wrong? How could either of us ever possibly forget our most precious gift? How can we ever move forward? How can we ever live after this? Can we ever forgive ourselves?

We searched for answers and to our shock we found that we were not alone. Data derived from media reports of child hot car deaths from 1998 through 2010 suggest that, in 51% of cases, these children were “forgotten” by their guardian. Forty-four percent of these “forgotten” children were supposed to have been dropped off at daycare/ pre-school on the morning of their tragedy. That’s more than 1 in every 5 child deaths due to vehicular heatstroke!

Ray Ray’s Call to Action

Ray Ray’s Pledge aims to prevent the more than 1 in every 5 child hot car deaths due to heatstroke that occur because the child was not dropped off at daycare in the morning and his/her whereabouts went unquestioned. It takes a village to raise a child, and good communication in this village is key to prevention of tragedy. Ray Ray’s Pledge is designed to create a safety net surrounding a child’s morning drop-off time at daycare—a time when parents may be vulnerable to human error, as history has proven from our story as well as the stories of more than 100 other known families who also never imagined that this could happen to them.

This CAN happen to YOU! Please don’t be the next victim! By signing the pledge, you are committing to keeping your child’s teacher informed of any planned changes in morning drop off. In exchange, your child’s teacher is committing to you that he/she will act as your guardian angel by calling you if your child does not arrive on time and a planned tardiness/absence has not already been communicated. The first and most important step relies on YOU: please communicate planned absences to the teachers so that they can provide an effective safety net to your family when one is needed. DO NOT allow yourselves to become a statistic! MAKE THE PLEDGE, and take it seriously. The risk of heatstroke is too often an unheeded risk to child safety, one that we learned of after it was too late.