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Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
Joe DeProspero has two sons and a wife, and he is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is also writing a parenting humor book. He posts twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
Speaking for myself (and likely 99% of the parents reading), getting children to willingly eat vegetables without bribery, blackmail, or an embarrassing combination of the two is a challenge, to say the least. It often feels like I’m trying to set one of my single friends up on a date. And the second they lay eyes on each other, there’s a palpable feeling of, “You’re single for a reason.” But the truly gifted salespeople are the ones who can get that friend (or kid) to move past that initial phase of reluctance, to take the plunge, set aside preconceived notions and just go for it. The gifted ones are able to convince children that vegetables are somehow “cool” and establish them as something children should clamor for! You’re one of those truly gifted salespeople, right? Yes, me neither. So let’s hear about someone who’s trying a different approach…
Through colorful characters Colby Carrot, Erica Eggplant, and Brian Broccoli, Super Sprowtz is an up-and-coming children’s multimedia program with one mission: get kids to associate veggies with superpowers. And to teach children at a young age that there’s more to life than chicken fingers and gummy snacks. Think “Muppets” meets “Popeye.” I don’t know about you, but seeing Popeye guzzle that can of spinach was the one and only reason I had interest in greens as a kid.
Premiering tomorrow (Thanksgiving) via YouTube at 12 pm ET on the biggest eating day of the year in America, the Sprowtz have already confirmed celebrity guests Shaquille O’Neal, New York Yankee CC Sabathia, and White House chef Sam Kass. The show will include singing, cooking, and, if the reel I saw was any indication, even some beat-boxing.
They’ve also received the support of a very special (first) lady you might recognize, who stopped by during s recent tour…
To see what Colby Carrot and crew have in store, check out their intro video below about their purpose and mission statement of these super-powered Sprowtz. It involves walking vegetables, so be warned.
Clearly, we all want our children to ultimately live healthy lifestyles, and that starts with the food they put into their bodies. And although there are no certainties with kids (mine change their minds 25 times a minute), one thing we know is that, children are more likely to listen if a superhero is doing the talking. Here’s hoping the next orange stick our children put in their mouths is a carrot instead of a Cheese Doodle. I know it’s something I’d love to see for my own sons.
Tune in tomorrow at 12 pm ET to Super Sprowtz RAW! The Super Sprowtz will air a new episode every Thursday starting Thanksgiving.
Thanks for reading. You can follow Joe DeProspero on Twitter by clicking here or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Monday, November 25th, 2013
Thanksgiving is almost here and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m looking forward to unhealthy amounts of reality TV, my grandmother’s sausage stuffing, and a slice of pumpkin pie. But I won’t help prepare my family’s Thanksgiving dinner before dashing off to the grocery store for another family first. Here’s why.
Adopting a family for Thanksgiving was one of my favorite activities in my high school peer leadership group, and also one of the most heartwarming. The social services department in my town provided us with lists of each family’s requests, which we needed to fulfill before the holiday. Most families wanted the basics for Thanksgiving, but others didn’t even want extras like pie. (Who turns down pie?!) All they wrote down was food to get them through Thanksgiving and beyond.
I didn’t think I would need to shop for a family like that in 2008, but I did. It was the height of the recession. Friends I knew since kindergarten suddenly had their parents out of work, and the town paper urged the community to donate to the food pantry.
I’ll never forget the last time I adopted a family in need. I laughed when the two young boys found soup ladles and used them as light sabers. I held back tears when the mother embraced me and said she was so happy her kids wouldn’t go hungry this year (we turned her pantry into a food fortress). I didn’t do it to feel good about myself, and it certainly didn’t feel like a chore. Their gratitude made me think differently about poverty in my town, something that rarely crossed my mind in my hectic day-to-day of school, sports, and college applications.
It’s nice to be home after four years away at college and do a good deed for someone else this Thanksgiving. When I sit down to feast with my family, I’ll feel good knowing that another family is doing the same in their home.
Image: Thanksgiving dinner via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Each year, I think the flurry of pre-dawn shopping madness that is the legendary Black Friday can’t get any worse. But somehow, it always does.
While there’s no denying that steals and deals are to be had by one and all, as I see it, the very premise of Black Friday precariously balances between being a festive, family tradition and a maddening rat race that’s become an obsessive, American sport. That’s all good and well since Thanksgiving Day is reserved for food and family (and maybe a little football). At least it used to be.
However, this year, stores like Kmart, Target, and Best Buy will be opening their doors Thanksgiving Day, according to Yahoo! Finance. And while a dirt-cheap cashmere sweater or half-priced, flat screen TV is enough to make any shopper’s day, these stores that are supposedly “just giving customers what they want” by being open are taking the emphasis away from family time and togetherness and instead catering towards our ever growing need to have more, to do more. I have to ask: Why isn’t Black Friday enough? Are we really so desperate for a distraction from the “slow life” that we must go-go-go, even on a day we specifically reserve for feasting in the company of family and friends?
Sure, there’s only so much togetherness you can stand. I totally get that. So maybe you treasure the opportunity to slip out of the house and clear your head. (If you ask me, there’s no better place to regain your sanity than the Macy’s shoe department, which will be open this year, according to USA Today.) But if turkey, cranberry sauce, and marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole aren’t enough to keep you seated at the table, engaging with loved ones and sharing favorite memories, then I don’t know what will. This year, let’s all make an effort to put the emphasis back on the people, rather than the things, that you’re thankful for. After all, memories of a holiday spent together are sure to outlast any $15 spa gift set.
Bored on Thanksgiving Day? Use our Fun Finder tool to find the perfect game or activity the whole family can enjoy. Or, get everyone involved in making festive leaf chips to decorate the table. Just watch the simple how-to video below.
Image: Crowded mall via Shutterstock
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Monday, November 18th, 2013
For many, Thanksgiving conjures up images of sweet potato pie, good company and relaxing in a tryptophan-induced state in front of a TV tuned to football. For me, it’s Popeyes.
Yes, the Cajun-inspired fried chicken chain never fails to give me the warm holiday fuzzies, because their turkeys are front and center at the Haskins family Thanksgiving table. It’s a tradition that began in jest, but has become a source of bonding for me and my parents. And it suits us perfectly — an offbeat turkey for a quirky family.
I first proposed the idea in high school, having spotted some mouthwatering posters for Cajun deep-fried Thanksgiving turkeys at a local Popeyes franchise. My mom was offended. Would I seriously choose fast food over her lovingly prepared, if admittedly slightly dry, turkey? I didn’t want to answer truthfully. But for years I pleaded, both to playfully torment my mom and because a Cajun deep-fried turkey really did sound delicious.
“Moooom, can we get a Popeye’s turkey this year?” I would beg each time we passed the restaurant, my nose pressed against the car window with the smell of Louisiana goodness wafting in.
“Absolutely not,” she’d scoff, and the car would zoom past the Popeyes, the scent of oily, fragrant chicken trailing us. End of discussion.
But my only child charm and the impending thought of my last Thanksgiving at home before heading to college coerced my mom into granting one silly request before our little family split up. So for Thanksgiving of my senior year, my mom relented, stuck a Popeyes turkey in the oven, and several hours later, we enjoyed (somebody else’s) scrumptious home cooking. (But as far as I’m concerned, putting something in the oven totally counts as cooking. And by that token, mom cooks a mean bird.)
We’ve all grown fond of the Popeyes turkey, and dare I say, proud, of our odd family practice. I don’t like homemade cranberry sauce. But I do like deep-fried turkey with a side of mashed potatoes and spicy gravy. If it works for my family, why bother with a Rockwell portrait spread? Even my dad, who always claims to be on some sort of diet, delights in the now almost annual treat.
Everyone has their own endearing shortcut that makes their meal their own, I’ve found. The only Thanksgiving I spent at college, a beloved professor let me and a few students in on his little secret. Two words: Boston Market.
It’s these imperfections that make family traditions so memorable. I’m sure some mythologically flawless families would be horrified by our low-key holiday, but we’re the ones who are enjoying every last bite. It’s your family tradition — I say, really make it one that you can look back on fondly, no matter what that entails.
Image via Shutterstock
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Monday, November 11th, 2013
I’ve been engaged in an informal experiment lately that has been eye-opening (to me and perhaps some others) so I’m going to blow my cover and encourage you to try it too. After Parents published this story about child poverty in the U.S., I decided to make it a point to bring up the most noteworthy statistic from the piece as often as I could in casual conversation: One in five children in this country now live in a family where the total annual household income is below the federal poverty level of $23,550. One in five. In New York City, where I live, the number is actually closer to one in three. Which might explain why some people hardly blink when I share the fact. Others, however, are shocked.
It can be very easy to get nose-down in our own little world and lose track of the larger one. But for all of us—and for our children–the future is at stake. Children living in poverty are at risk of troubles both physical and academic, starting with impaired brain growth and weak acquisition of language as babies and progressing right through to higher dropout rates, increased risk of both hunger and obesity and, eventually, diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Perri Klass, one of my all-time favorite writing doctors, makes the cost of childhood poverty upsettingly clear here.
We can’t change a problem if we’re not aware of it, of course. So as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, I challenge you to help raise awareness by also sharing the one-in-five fact. And then to look for ways to make a difference. In my case, our family lives close to the Harlem Children’s Zone, so we both see what poverty looks like and help fight it by donating to the organization. And no matter how much or how little your own family has to give, we can all teach our kids how to appreciate what they do have–it’s the first step to learning how to share our blessings with others.
Use our worksheet to figure out how to make room in your family budget for charitable contributions.
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