Nearly a month ago while I was converting your crib into a bed, you managed to make your way over to a wooden panel I had just removed and set aside on the other corner of your bedroom.
Unfortunately, your innocent curiosity led to the wooden panel falling and hitting you in the face.
It frightened you more than anything. While it didn’t leave a bruise, it did cut you.
If only you had my oily Italian skin, the cut would have been healed up already. Instead, weeks later there’s still a visible mark there.
Mommy and I have been faithfully applying aloe vera and Mederma for Kids on it.
I feel horrible that this happened to you.
The problem is, you’re a boy, and you wanted to be part of the action. You wanted to see me “build your big boy bed.”
Son, I am very sorry. Hopefully, the cut won’t become a permanent scar.
At the same time, I know I can’t shelter you from everything. You’re going to get hurt, no matter how much I try to protect you. There will always be some random way for you to get hurt; one that I just didn’t see coming.
For what it’s worth, last weekend while I was playing trains with you on the floor, you came charging at me with your closed fists up in the air.
Smack! The toy train in your right hand hit me directly in the middle of my forehead. What was a cut for a few days became slightly infected, officially making it a stubborn zit.
So right now, you and I both have noticeable red dots on our faces. They’re just our matching battle scars.
Still, if you end up not having a scar from this, it will be a big sigh of relief for me.
Not because you would be any less of a beautiful boy, but because it would serve as a reminder that ultimately you got hurt and I had something to do with it.
As you are well aware by now, you have a health-obsessed, mountain-bike-riding-during-his-lunch-break vegetarian for a dad, who is attempting to make it taboo for food and drug companies to be shy about what they generically list as “natural” and/or “artificial” ingredients.
I’m still trying to figure out what in this world is not either natural or artificial…
Pretty sneaky, right? Well, the FDA approves this ridiculous behavior in regards to companies listing their products’ “ingredients of ingredients.”
So while I am so “one with nature” that I chose the wooded outdoors as the location for my head shot for The Dadabase, I also want our family to be aware of other subtle “health landmines” we encounter everyday without realizing it.
Today I want to focus on microwaves; as they are machines that convert even the healthiest foods into processed foods.
Neither Mommy nor I trust them. Yes, we have one at our house, but it’s something we subconsciously feel shameful about.
Fortunately, because we are so serious about avoiding processed foods, that prevents us from eating anything that would require its sole preparation in a microwave; like a frozen snack or meal, for example.
For the frozen vegetables we sometimes eat, like broccoli and okra, we heat them up in a pan on the stove, with olive oil.
As explained in this 2 minute video by Organic Liaison Health Director Deborah Klein, MS, RD, microwaving creates radiolytic compounds in food (not naturally produced in the body) that could be carcinogenic, or cancer-causing:
In other words, no matter how healthy or organic a food is before it enters a microwave, it always becomes a processed food by the time it leaves the microwave.
I wish I could say we never use microwave. It’s something to aspire towards. As for now, we only use our microwave to reheat leftovers, which unfortunately for me, is about once a daily since I eat leftovers basically everyday for lunch.
Something I do to reduce the amount of time my food goes in the microwave is I set it out on the counter for a while, so it’s not as cold.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll get so serious about this “Microwaves Are A Dangerous Science Experiment On Our Bodies” campaign that I will find a way to start using a toaster oven, despite our time-starved family schedule. Don’t put it past me.
My conscience really bothers me about our family using a microwave. It can’t be good for any of us; especially not you.
Winter has arrived. Now each morning I must wake up early enough to warm up Mommy’s car and my car, scraping off any ice or snow from the windows and spraying deicer on them as well.
For the past few weeks, I have also been awkwardly strapping you in your car seat, struggling to get the buckle around your big blue puffy coat.
I never felt confident when I was doing that.
So I am grateful for the fortunate coincidence that this week I got an email on behalf of Julie Kleinert, North American Child Safety Technical Lead for General Motors and Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, asking me to share their Winter Safety Tips for Driving with Little Ones.
As the first tip explains, there is a better way than how I have been doing things. So, lesson learned. This list also brought to my attention some things I wouldn’t have thought about, like watching for sleds or keeping a blanket in the car.
I’m no safety expert, obviously. So I’ll let the pro’s take it from here:
“1. Avoid Bulky Winter Clothes. We know you want your little ones to be warm this winter season, but please don’t strap your child into a car seat with a bulky coat as it can affect the ability of your car seat to do its job. A bulky coat can compress in a crash and create a loose car seat harness, putting your child at greater risk of injury in the unlikely event of a crash. To properly secure your child, the harness straps must be snug and close to their body.
Make sure your child’s harness is adjusted correctly year-round by using the “pinch test,” which is the best way to make sure your child is secure. First, remove bulky clothing and blankets. Make sure the harness straps are adjusted to the correct height – they should be at or just below the child’s shoulders when they ride rear-facing, and at or just above the child’s shoulders when they are forward-facing. Then buckle and tighten the harness straps. Place the chest clip at armpit level. Now pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
2.Ensure Comfort and Safety at the Same Time. So how do you keep your little one warm and safe? Remove bulky coats and snowsuits before putting your child in their car seat or opt for outerwear that is not as heavy like a lightweight fleece or hoodie. To keep your child warm and toasty after you remove the bulky coat, you can use a blanket (or even the removed coat) placed over the tightened car seat harness. It also helps to warm the car up before leaving – those remote car starters are pretty nice and make a great holiday gift.
3.Check your Tailpipe. Before you get in your car, do a quick walk-around and check to make sure your tailpipe is not blocked with snow. A simple check can ensure you won’t have any problems with carbon monoxide, which is dangerous.
4.Prepare for Mother Nature. You never know when you might get stuck in the cold and snow, so always have an emergency bag stocked in your car. Be sure to include necessities like baby food or formula, water, diapers, extra blankets and a spare set of warm clothing. You’ll probably never need it but it’s nice to have just in case.
5.Watch Out for Sleds. One of the great things about snow is the chance to go sledding. And kids will do it anywhere, anytime, often cruising right into the street. That creates one more thing to look for when you’re driving. A few ways to be prepared are to slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones, turn on your headlights earlier in the day if your car is not equipped with daytime running lamps, and, as always, reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
6. Buckle Up. This is an “all-weather” tip. We know that when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every trip. Your kids are safer in a crash when everyone in the vehicle is buckled up.”
By now, however old you are as you are reading this in the future, you have figured out that I have raised you differently than most of your friends. Sure, there’s the obvious vegetarian thing—but that’s only a fringe quirk of our family’s lifestyle.
What it ultimately comes down to is, you have a dad who has always questioned the social norm, even at the risk of looking like a weirdo with ulterior motives.
As I write this now, it is during a time in American culture where most people are not questioning “pink ribbon product promotions.”
Because we all personally know someone who has suffered from breast cancer, we want to do what we can to help the suffering, so we raise money and awareness.
However, we are not being told how much of that money actually goes to find a cure, nor are we told what our donations have actually accomplished so far.
Part of the reason we as a family are vegetarians is that, according to “The China Study” referred to in the documentary Forks Over Knives on Netflix, the activation of our bodies’ “cancer cells” is directly related to the level of dependency on animal proteins for nutrition, versus a dependency of plant-based foods.
A couple of years ago in my blogs I started pointing out that, ironically, the companies most likely to contribute a portion of their proceeds to find a cure for breast cancer, are often actually selling products that are likely to cause cancer in the first place…
Like junk food, fast food, cosmetics, and personal hygiene products.
I know we’re really strict on the amount of sugar we let you eat, but it’s because I’m so aware of the link between sugar consumption and auto-immune deficiencies. The reason I know this is because both you and I have psoriasis- one of the ways we keep it under control is by eliminating processed sugar (including fruit juice!) from our diets as much as possible.
So when I see cookies for sale with the pink ribbon on the package, I don’t know whether to laugh or to be disgusted. The foods that help fight cancer and auto-immune diseases, like fresh produce, have no reason to need to capitalize on pink ribbons to emotionally entice us to buy their highly processed product.
That’s because fresh fruits and veggies are actually part of the cure, not the disease. Needless to say, we now have a policy in our family that we deliberately don’t buy products with the pink ribbon on the package, as it signals to me that it is a processed food we are trying to avoid in our lifestyle.
This is something I decided to implement after watching a documentary on Netflix called Pink Ribbons Inc., which attempts to answer the questions I have been asking for years:
How much of America’s “pink ribbon” donations actually go to help find a cure for breast cancer? What has the research actually taught us since 1982? Which exact companies sell “pink ribbon” products that are linked to cancer?
I give Pink Ribbons, Inc. the credit for telling me about a really cool and important website called Skin Deep.
We can instantly search and find out, on a scale of 1 to 10, just how harmful and toxic our household personal products are to us. It shows a break-down of each secret ingredient and rates its link to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies, and immunotoxicity..
For example, my cologne scored a 9 (10 being the worst). Mommy’s nail polish scored a 7. Fortunately, your shampoo scored a zero.
Each search on Skin Deep automatically shows you safer alternatives with a zero rating, which is the best, that you can buy instead.
I know that at times our lifestyle seems a bit over-the-top and even unnecessary. But this is me doing my part to raise awareness about what cancer-linked ingredients are going into our bodies, as well as ingredients that promote auto-immune diseases.
Why were cancer and auto-immune disease rates so much lower a hundred years ago? One obvious reason is that we didn’t have as many mysterious chemicals going into our foods, personal hygiene products, and cosmetics.
So needless to say, tonight I threw away the hair pomade I’ve been using to spike your hair. It scored a 6 on Skin Deep. I’ll be going to Whole Foods Market this week to buy you some more that doesn’t include ingredients linked to cancer and allergies.
You know the reason I’m so obsessed about all this stuff is because I care about your well being, right? It’s not simply because I’m weird, I promise.
Imagine gratefully sitting down at the table for a classic American Thanksgiving meal, only to notice the glorious turkey is nowhere in sight.
As strange as it sounds, a survey shows there are around 7 million Americans identifying as vegetarians; meaning this Thanksgiving they will intentionally pass on the traditional turkey, ham, and chicken-infused dressing.
If you happen to be in a room of 100 people right now, look around you: Statistics would predict that 3 of those people are vegetarians; meaning they choose not to eat meat.
Cue the Shell family from Nashville, Tennessee. Every time they walk into a room of 97 people, they become the token vegetarians.
How is it possible to have a Thanksgiving meal without any meat? Doesn’t that somehow defeat the purpose of the feast?
Nick Shell, father to 2 year-old Jack and husband to wife Jill, gives some insight on what will be on their Thanksgiving menu this year:
“We have this awesome recipe for vegetarian meat loaf. I know this sounds weird, but you make it with cottage cheese, bran flakes, French onion soup mix, chopped walnuts, and an onion. You mix it up in a big bowl then bake it in muffin tin in muffin form. It so believably tastes like real meat loaf, I often feel guilty when I eat it.”
While many of the Shell family’s daily typical meals are simple and based around whole wheat pasta, they plan to prepare some of their more special recipes for this Thanksgiving.
To accompany their “meat loaf,” they also plan to indulge in “baked spicy fries” and cucumber sandwiches on Jewish Rye bread. Of course, it goes without saying they will have a salad to start off their vegetarian Thanksgiving feast.
It sounds like the Shell family have their menu figured out for this year, but how would things be different if they were guests at someone else’s dinner instead?
“It’s actually not that big of a deal,” Nick explains. “When you live the extreme lifestyle of ‘no meat’ every day, you’re already accustomed to coming up with a Plan B. A lot of times, it becomes our responsibility to bring our Plan B with us to a dinner. We’ll volunteer to being a dish or two that we know will fill us, and that will also contribute to the meal as a whole, so others can enjoy it too.
For our son Jack, we seem to always be carrying out a bag of Cheerios and pouch of pureed veggies with fruit any time we drive him somewhere anyway. Or he can try what we’re having. So we really don’t have to worry about what to feed him; this lifestyle is all he knows. Even at his daycare, he’s used to being the only kid in class to have a separate vegetarian version of what the other kids are eating.”
But even with a fancy vegetarian selection, does a person truly enjoy their Thanksgiving as much as the other 97% of America? Nick shares his perspective on this:
“Honestly, I never really was a big fan of the Thanksgiving meal. For me, I always felt obligated to eat too much turkey and overcooked vegetables, becoming too lazy to escape whatever VH1 countdown was on TV. But now, as a vegetarian, I can be completely full, yet not feel bogged down. In fact, it’s becoming our tradition to go for a long walk after our Thanksgiving meal. Fresh air and sunlight are basically part of the menu too.”
Of course, vegetarians aren’t really limited when it comes to desserts. Sure, marshmallows and pudding are made from the skin and bones of pigs and cows; but other than that, a vegetarian can enjoy pumpkin pie, homemade cookies, and egg nog with the rest of the crowd.
However, if you are of the majority of America who will be eating turkey this Thanksgiving and the concept of a vegetarian Thanksgiving meal does not intrigue you, then there’s one more thing to be thankful for this year:
Be thankful you’re not a vegetarian.
To see the actual recipes of the menu items Nick Shell mentioned today, check out his Pinterest and click on his page called “Proven Vegetarian Recipes.” Then you can make your very own vegetarian meat loaf out of cottage cheese and bran flakes.