Tuesday, February 09, 2010

I am in such a bad mood today. TURN BACK NOW!

When I filled out Harry's midterm course evaluations at preschool, I went off on a rant about the snack list they sent home. Because of allergies, we can ONLY buy items on the list, and all of the items (except, of course, for the fresh fruits and veggies, which I send every time it is my turn for snack, along with other junk that Harry begs for because he wants to pass it out to the class like his friends do) contain some combination of red dye, yellow dye, HFCS, and partially hydrogenated oils. Everything has to be milk, egg, peanut, and tree nut free (which? I totally understand and have no problem with, especially the nut thing). The thing is, small organic companies and places like Trader Joe's that feature healthier processed snacks are rarely nut-free because their equipment processes food with nuts and because these companies are small, they don't have separate nut-free equipment/facilities. I HATE that 3 times a week, he is eating processed crap and that this chemical-filled garbage disguised as food is on a list of "healthy" snack ideas. HATE it.

The reason I am writing about this now is that my parent-teacher conference is coming up, and I am afraid they'll ask me about my snack rant, and I don't know what to say. There isn't a good solution. Except, MAYBE, making sure everything is entirely nut-free but having kids bring in their own snacks? Then the kids who need milk and egg free stuff will have it, and other kids can maybe eat some milk or egg products as an alternative to dyes, oils, and HFCS? (stuff like yogurt and string cheese is a more "whole food" alternative to some of the processed garbage on the list). I don't know. I just hate that I'll ask him what he had for snack and he'll say bologna and fruit snacks. Yuck. I know that things are okay in moderation, and I know that we don't eat like this all the time. I just don't like being encouraged to buy stuff I wouldn't normally feed my kids.

But then I thought about what we ate this weekend. OMG. McDonald's. Denny's. Starbucks. Donuts. Cupcakes. Pizza. Buffalo wings. So I guess I am just a big crabby hypocrite.

I know right? First we turn the car seat around, then we start shoving refined sugar and transfats in his pie hole.

Shut up. I am sure this Cheesecake Factory cupcake at B&N is totally organic.

Harry was a supah chatty coffee date. But he didn't object when I ate his entire giant cookie (can't eat cookies slowly when I am your date, dude), so all in all, it was a win.

We had an unbelievably glamorous Saturday night that included a trip to Super Target and a 4:30 dinner at Denny's. Harry fells asleep in the car on the way to Denny's and was in NO MOOD to have his picture taken.

I know-- Denny's is nasty (and most certainly not good for us in any way), but as you can see, Harry and Jack barely have the manners or social skills necessary for dinner in public-- any kind of public.

Jack did not want a doggy bag, but he did want to bring these two pancakes home for later.

Jack is yelling "Otter! Otter!" because the lazy otter was nowhere to be found. Harry is getting his Bangles on.

All of us by the missing otter.

Harry spent a long time "skating" on this slippery patch of sidewalk.

Jack and I did this.

A better mother would have broken up this ball pit fight.

I just wanted them to leave me alone so I could watch the Super Bowl commercials.


  1. I think you should get to decide what your kid eats, you know? No matter what you feed them, healthy or crap, it's your decision. If you want to feed them healthy foods eighty percent of the time so you can go to Denny's and Starbucks once in a while, I would be pissed off too if someone wanted to mess with the eighty percent!

    That pic of Jack with the pancakes was TOO FUNNY. OMG. Charlie used to do the same thing.

  2. My complaint would be that you have to buy (not just pay) for snacks you won't allow in your house. I think it might make me feel a little better if I wasn't having to buy them because then my kids wouldn't ask me to buy them (as much).

    We just try to limit the amount of "junk" AJU5 gets. We have the fruit snacks, but she doesn't eat them very often. Most everything else we eat is "safe", boring foods.

    And I agree with Becca- that picture of Jack is hilarious!

  3. Here's my take on it. Why is there not a policy where the parents with the children who have allergies bring their own snacks. Are there really that many children in Harry's class with allergies? Then, if a snack was brought in that was one they could eat, they could partake, and if not, well they have their own stash of snacks, so it's no big deal.

    I had a kid in my 3yr. old class I taught whose family were vegetarians. So, for lunch, he would bring his own meal. He also called me a "meat eater" when angry, but that's another rant for another time.

  4. I don't understand why the school doesn't just do a blanket fresh fruit and veggie policy? I mean, granted, you're in (brr) Wisconsin, but it's not the North Pole.

    I understand not wanting to do "bring your own" snacks, because kids might want to share and/or trade. I always felt kinda bad for the kids with allergies, who couldn't have birthday cupcakes and whatnot when that's what everyone else is eating.

    Likewise, you don't want to set up a (no doubt precious) little monster like Virginia's student, to make conflict with the kids who eat differently. I can so picture Harry looking at a kid with a bologna-on-white-bread and repeating his, "I can't believe people let their kids eat that," line.

    I guess what bothers me about it is, the failure to recognize the health hazards in processed foods. No, it's not going to cause instant anaphylaxis (sp?)... Then again, maybe that's the point. The school can't get sued for later life problems born of poor nutrition.

  5. I just laughed my ass off at Jack carrying the pancakes in his hands.

    As for snack, I would definitely suggest only offering fruit or veggies for snack. Oranges, apples, baby carrots, grapes, pineapple -- all available year-round in bee-you-ti-ful Wisconsin. And also found at your local Trader Joes or Whole Foods if you want to get organic. But even non-organic is fine. I would absolutely rant about the crap they are giving the kids. Jack's class policy is simply no nuts, so we have a lot more options, but the parents are generally pretty awesome bringing in yogurt, pretzels, fruit, veggies, hummus, pita, etc.

  6. Hi Sarah,

    I think you are right to work towards changing this policy. I was reading some commentary on Michelle Obama's push against childhood obesity (can't remember where), and the article had some phrase like "a generation of children who think that food comes out of a wrapper." That is so true, and it's really very sad. And it needs to be changed.

    My kids' daycare/preschool has a snack policy with many rules, but they are intended to keep the foods brought in both nut-free and minimally processed. I emailed you the handbook they give to all families in case it might help your conference.

    Good luck!!

  7. I completely here you on the snack issue. One of the huge reasons I was thrilled w/ Fynn outgrowing his allergy was the ease of snack shopping. Because otherwise? I had to make all sorts of muffins and crap that I knew what was in, because he's so sensitive to red dye and that stuff (he turns into satan. Seriously).
    Totally understand. I wish the health food people understood as well.

  8. Ok, two (precious) cents coming from me here. I seriously think they need to let parents send their own snacks for their kids. We've had it both ways, and it's easier on everyone. (I HATE trying to do snacks for large groups of kids!) What would happen if you "opted out"? Told them you will pack his snacks from now on and need to be taken off the list?

    Would they fire you?

    Another note... your dang picture of Jack with the two pancakes made me laugh out loud--so loud it warranted a pause on the TV and an eye roll from Adam.

    He thinks I'm dreamy.

    Thanks for the laugh! :)

  9. I think your idea of the kids bringing their own snacks is totally reasonable. The way I figure it, if I can't be home with my kid (soon to be kids), then I want the place they're at to be BETTER than my day-to-day. That means no TV, stimulating activities, and healthy snacks and lunches. So while I fully intend to feed my son a hotdog for dinner, maybe even with fries, I would not want my daycare to have hotdogs on the lunch menu. I struggle with whether that makes me a hypocrite, but for now I'm okay with it. Good luck at the conference. I think its great that they're so open for feedback. Hopefully they'll change some things.

  10. I struggle with this every time we have a daycare 'class party' and we have to sign up for treats... We only have a no nut restriction and in general I think the lunch they provide is good (meal set up by a nutritionist) but I think the snacks offered on a daily basis are pretty much crap. There is much hand-wringing but I really don't know what to do (and honestly, I'm too lazy and stressed at night to pack a snack for Blake every. day. my. god)!

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  12. I absolutely LOVE your blog, your boys are so cute & funny to follow!


    <3 Priya

  13. I cannot stop laughing at Jack swiping the pancakes for later. It sucks that I can't get away with that. LOL

    The snack situation would infuriate me. Why is fresh fruit or veggies so hard? Or bringing your own snack? I do not get the idea of making other parents responsible for what my kid eats at snack time.

  14. I am glad someone mentioned Michelle Obama's program on taking a good look at our school lunch programs. It seems the thought has been to bulk up lunches for large percentage of children who may not be getting adequate nutrition at home. Currently, more than 30 million kids get HALF of their daily calories from the foods that they eat in school. We really need to look at processed foods better in this country. Our food is cheap and processed, and our health care is sky high. 30% of our kids are overweight, 50% of our kids will be diagnosed with adult onset diabetes, and this is the first generation of kids with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. The biggest reason is the food we eat. Food has changed more in the last 50 years than since the beginning of time. Virtually everything in the grocery store is full of High Fructose Corn Syrup, hydrogenated oils, super high levels of sodium, preservatives, chemicals and dyes all in the name of mass production. But, we are a society on the move, fitting it all in, and there is no longer a traditional role at home keeping the home fires burning. With the necessity of dual income homes, the traditional meal preparation has long gone by the wayside. There are good alternatives our there, however many require a lot of investigation and time (like the Trader Joe’s reference of healthy snack produced in facilities that also produce peanuts) that you mentioned. I invite you to check out Wildtree. This is my line of all natural, preservative free pantry staples and go-to nutrient dense meal solutions. I discovered it after feeling just like you. Your comment about turning the car seat around and shoving HCFS and other junk into the pie hole is so true. You can hardly get away from it … even if you try. Since converting my kitchen to a Wildtree kitchen about a year ago, I’ve been thrilled with the result. Our meals out have decreased by 75% and I’m saving 50% on our groceries. I never struggle with “What’s for dinner” and I don’t feel bad about the occasional McDonald’s trip with the kids. I know that is not the problem. The problem is the incredible amounts of hidden stuff in our supermarket aisles that nobody has the time to really be aware of, so they look the other way. With Wildtree, I never worry about reading labels or what’s in it because I know it’s just food in the most natural form. On top of that, the whole line is Peanut and Tree Nut free and produced in a tree nut free facility. I was so impressed with how easy and economical it was to cook with Wildtree that I became a representative for the company a few months after trying it for the cost of a grocery bill. It’s been a wonderful experience and I invite you to check it out a little more. Here’s my contact info: www.Mot.mywildtree.com or my email is Mot.mywildtree@gmail.com. I’m happy to answer any questions that you have, but it sounds like you may find the line interesting. I enjoy reading about Jack and Harry! We have a 2 year old, Jack, who has a twin sister, Lily, and they have a big sister Ella who’s 4. I’m really worried about school lunches next year and may just invest the time to send her with her own…and yes, it will be Wildtree :)