Tag Archives: children

Interaction, love, and attention….a heartfelt reflection.

Although my wife and I come from two different backgrounds, were born on opposite sides of the world, were raised by two completely different parenting styles, we still manage to do our best in raising our son. Obviously there is no perfect way to do so, there is no magic formula, book, or checklist to complete to ensure it’s done correctly. However, the one constant we can grant in a child’s life is love. Love can be shown in many different ways, as we know our families show love in different ways, from food, to gifts, to helping out, but perhaps the most impactful way of showing love in a child’s life is simply attention, interaction, and affection.

We live in an era of fast paced everything, from I pad’s, I phones, e-mail, text, groupon, the chive, Facebook…. I could go on forever. There is plenty to keep us distracted from our family, especially children as they are the most moldable and often suffer the most from the lack of interaction. I am far from perfect and often get caught up in the cyber world. However, I look into my child’s eyes and see the innocence of a little boy that will only last for a few more years, as innocence seems to disappear earlier and earlier as society constantly forces our children to grow up too fast. Once I see that look in my son’s eyes, the look of joy, I see a little boy who has such a vivid imagination; the world is an unknown place waiting to be explored! I’m not talking about travel, but taking an adventure through a book, or perhaps I make up a story to make him laugh, state some awe inspiring facts about the tallest mountain in the world, or at the end of my 18 hour day, take him down in the basement to participate in a ball fight with him, in which he repeatedly hits me in the head for at least an hour.

Am I super dad? Hopefully to my son I am just as my dad is and was for me. My dad suffered from a sleep disorder that was undiagnosed for years, he would stay up 24,48,72 hours in a  row never knowing when he was going to bed. He was self-employed and worked his butt off to pay for my clothes, college, and trips to Disneyland. Along with the financial support the things I remember the most were him coming to my school over recess to play kickball, coaching my little league baseball and basketball league, playing “big guy vs little guy” in the basement in an indoor basketball challenge. Even through my high school years, he would have just fallen asleep for two hours and then wake up to be at my cross country race even though he was going to suffer from a heart attack. On a lighter note, I dedicated my two JV cross country championships to him. He would also wake up Christmas morning if he slept, and he would have the camera out to record our family Christmases.  Perhaps the thing I remember the most was him staying up 72 hours on a trip delay going to California, and instead of getting to the hotel and taking a nap, he took me to Disneyland right away. I looked over next to me and he had fallen asleep on the ride, it was at that moment I wanted to cry thinking of all the selfless sacrifices this man has made for me as a father, friend, and hell of a role model.

When my son was born, I knew I may never be able to financially provide for my son like my father had, but I could damn sure be there for my son to raise him, teach him, and interact and play with him. Often times I question if I am doing enough, or when I get mad at him for doing something wrong, if I really should have got mad or tried a different method of communication. I don’t have a manual to refer to, only the parenting tips my loving parents have shown me. I want him to tell me all about Godzilla, his school day, his favorite game he plays at grandma. We read books, go to the zoo, say prayers, and sometimes I just don’t know if I’m doing it right or enough.

There is no doubt life is challenging and the trials and tribulations we face unexpectedly, or the ones we bring on ourselves, we will undoubtedly have to face. In that time of difficulty, are we as parents able to put aside our needs, thoughts, and feelings, to ensure our children get that extra attention? We only get one shot at this parenting thing, and I’m certainly not saying we neglect our medical needs or disabilities, but when we are tired, sad, or upset, we still have  a responsibility to a child we brought in this life. Perhaps we can put our feelings a side at least until they go to bed, or even explain to them why we had a bad day.  I only hope that I will have raised a wonderful young man who will look back and say, “My Daddy was a great father, he taught me, played with me, and was always there.” While there is no guarantee in life, there is a guarantee that I will give him all I have to offer while I am here on this earth. I deeply love my wife, son, and my parents and sometimes love comes with self-sacrifice, I just hope this article helps us reflect on the time and attention we give our children, they are our future and need our attention and guidance now, more than ever. To those of you conflicted, those of you doing a good job, those of you who perhaps haven’t been, it’s never too late to try to change. At the end of the day, only God can judge us, but the man or woman in the mirror can tell us an awful lot. Thank you, and may you be blessed.


Dietary musts for children

by Dan McCarthy

One cannot enter a grocery store without being bombarded with the onslaught of temptations for sweets, chips, and sugary drinks. The advantage of being an adult is the ability to be educated on the contents of the often vibrantly packaged and clever marketing tactics of these food companies. By being educated, we can make healthy choices for our children to help the fight against childhood obesity. However, through clever marketing these food companies entice our children with  toys, celebrity endorsements, or a cute cartoon characters,  and often leave us the “bad guys” when saying no.  Instead of being the bearer of bad news, we can educate our children on the benefits of healthy eating and the importance of the nutrients fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and water, has on their growth and development. Below you will find some helpful “Do’s” and “Do not’s” to help you plan your child’s daily food menu.


The Do’s

All children need the same food and nutrients as adults just in smaller amounts

When selecting food for your children you don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary or special as they require the same nutrients as you, just in smaller amounts. These nutrients are all the same vitamins and minerals that you get from eating healthy fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, grains, and dairy.

 A 2-3 year old will require about 1,000 – 1,400 calories a day, while boys that are 4-8 will require 1,200 to 2,000 based upon activity, and girls 4-8 will require 1,200 – 1,800 a day


Keep portions small

When you are preparing a meal for your children, you may want to consider using a smaller plate. This will help you regulate the serving size, prevent them from wasting as much food, and help you ensure they are getting the right amount to eat without overfilling their plate, and then encouraging them to “clean their plate”. Encouraging them to clean their plate can force them to eat too much. Instead, give them a smaller plate with smaller portions, they can always get more.


Healthy Snacks

Keep fruits and vegetables washed and ready to consume so they will be easy snacks for your children to grab. Explain to them the various vitamins and antioxidants each one contains to help encourage them to make healthy snacking decisions.  The occasional bag of chips or cookies is okay and its part of being a kid, but make sure you read the serving size on the back to help ensure you child doesn’t get too many bad calories.


The Do not’s

Avoid Breakfast Cereal

I’m sure we all remember the excitement of digging to the bottom of the cereal box in a mad frenzy to capture the toy that lay at the very bottom of the box. The thought of getting a “reward” for eating cereal was almost as thrilling as purchasing one you wanted from the toy aisle. Whether it’s John Cena encouraging your child to apart of “team fruity”, or a funny little leprechaun encouraging you to “follow the rainbow”, the cereal aisle is loaded with colorful boxes filled with sugar and toys. We are often hard pressed to believe that a box with cartoons on it could be unhealthy to our children, but the sugar content of ¾ of a cup of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Cereal is 15 grams! To put that in perspective that’s 4 teaspoons of sugar!


Drink’s that say “No added sugar” are not as healthy as you think

Sugar, whether added or natural, is sugar! With all the drinks marketed to children, and all of these loaded with sugar, it’s no wonder why were in the middle of an obesity epidemic! An 8 Oz serving of Sunny Delight is 130 calories and has 30 grams of sugar, that’s almost 8 teaspoons of sugar! A 12 ounce can of coke contains 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar; it is drinks like these that are contributing to the rapid weight gain among our youth!


Bake instead of fry

In an age of fried Twinkies and pretty much fried anything; it’s easy to get something quick and fried. While chicken tenders are my favorite food, it’s hard to deny they are certainly less healthy and provide extra calories and fat versus the much healthier baked option. Many recipes offer baked alternatives to our fried favorites that do not sacrifice the taste, but they exclude the calories.


Just remember to keep it simple with fruits, vegetables, lean cuts of meat, fish, chicken, whole grains and dairy.  All of these items are found on the exterior of the grocery store while all the boxed items are located on the interior. Children can easily drink most of the caloric intake with sugary juices and soda pop so remember; “no added sugars” does not mean the drink is healthy; water is always the best form of hydration. If your kids think that water is too bland simply squeeze lemon or lime into the water or you can look how to infuse water with various fruits. Childhood obesity is an epidemic, and this is a simple way we can help the keep our children healthy, not a statistic.








Death by diet soda?

Diet soda was created in 1952 by Kirsch Bottling in Brooklyn, NY, in the form of a sugar free ginger ale called “No Cal”. Diet Soda was originally created for people who had health problems like diabetes and contained sugar substitutes. Diet Rite was developed by the RC cola company in 1958, followed by Dr. Pepper in 1962, and Coca Cola in 1963. These companies originally used sweeteners like cyclamates and saccharin; however, cyclamates were banned by the FDA in 1970 because they found evidence the chemical caused cancer in lab rats. In 1982 Aspartame became the primary sugar substitute used in diet sodas. Since its approval, many consumer advocates have tried to link its usage of aspartame to seizures, headaches, and even cancer. So with all of the ingredients that go into diet soda, is it a safe alternative to its sugary sibling?  I decided to do some research to separate known facts from fiction and try to come to a conclusion on a still unknown and speculative topic.

Does the artificial sweetener aspartame, cause cancer?

According to data, aspartame has been one of the most studied food additives ever tested by the FDA, with countless years of research; they have found no link to aspartame and health problems with the acceptable daily intake of 50 mgs per kilogram of bodyweight. Just to put into perspective what the daily recommended intake is for artificial sweeteners, you would have to drink 21, 12 oz sodas to surpass the FDA’s daily recommended limit. The FDA and 90 other countries, have approved that aspartame is safe for consumption with no proven link to cancer in any trials.


Diet Soda actually can trigger weight gain instead of weight loss!

Researches from the University of Texas did a study and found that people who consumed one diet soda drink a day had a 70% greater waist circumference than those who did not drink diet soda daily. For those people who drank two or more diet sodas, their waist circumference increased by 500%. From what studies and research have shown, the main reason for the weight gain is that the mind perceives that you are taking in sugar and is expecting the calories. In reality, your body is confused when it doesn’t receive the calories and continues to crave more and more. However, you can effectively avoid weight gain by planning out your diet in advance to substitute fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth.


Can the Dye that makes the soda caramel colored cause you to die?

Possibly, the dye, 4-methylimidazole, usually known as 4-MI and sometimes 4-MEI, has been shown to possibly cause cancer in studies done on unfortunate lab rats. However, the trace amounts in the soda is very, very minimal, and the FDA and the ABA (America Beverage Association, have thrashed the comments that this causes cancer. The ABA stated, “”leading public health organizations have reaffirmed that caramel coloring, including the trace amounts of 4-MEI found in it, is safe for use in colas and countless other foods.” According to an article a Vanderbilt biochemist told the Time’s that 4-MI would only increase a person’s risk for cancer if they drank 1000 cans a day. California has listed 4-MI as a carcinogen and soda companies that use it will have to produce a warning label. 

The verdict

As with anything in life, moderation is the key. Diet soda does contain chemicals and different substances that, in large amounts, can be harmful. After years of consumption, maybe it could possibly cause cancer or other health issues. Many of the other items we consume on a daily basis contain dyes, chemicals, preservatives, so singling out diet soda might not be fair. If you are concerned about the chemicals, stick to water, and research local farmers markets or organic food sources. Until then, I will drink a diet soda from time to time to avoid the 30+ grams of sugar in a regular soda