Halloween candy, allergies and other preoccupations

I think most people agree that life-threatening allergies, or any allergies, are scary. They are scariest when the child is young and dependent but continues to be scary as the child grows and venture out into the world, sometimes on his own. Children with allergies have a special need of sorts, but in today’s society are somewhat protected in most public places like schools, or activity centres. The protection however is limited, as we all know. For parents with kids who suffer from nut allergies, for example, food dangers prevail through their entire childhood and beyond. One must maintain a vigilant eye at places like the rink or playground which are not necessarily designated as nut-free.

Point is, families with allergies adhere to a life of rules specific to their needs (just as families with a child in a wheelchair, or visual impairment, adapt to their own specific set of rules). Continue reading

And Halloween’s upon us

*Before you let your kids eat twizzlers, read this first.*

I woke up in a bad mood. My first thought was what a stupid holiday this Halloween thing is. With the rain, and forecast storm tonight, this whole trick or treating business will put a damper on the whole evening. (Get it? DAMPer? lol) Continue reading

Good and bad candy in North America

This post is partly inspired by the still full boxes of Halloween candy in our house, partly because of this article in PhD in Parenting, and partly because I am about to increase the sweet factor by baking Christmas cookies.

* * *

It starts with Halloween.

Then comes Christmas, Valentine’s day, Easter…

The candy/chocolate/sweets overload begins with each celebrated event and never seems to end.

There’s an interesting thing happening at my house. The kids’ Halloween boxes are still full of candy.

FULL.

In our North-American-peanut-free-allergies-anxious childhood, my kids picked out all the peanut candies first (Oh Henry and the like) and left the rest of it in their boxes.

They ask me ‘mom can we have candy’ and sometimes I say yes. They go to their boxes, pick through them, and then return to me and say ‘mom can we have some chocolate’.

I say ‘do you still have chocolate bars in your boxes’ and they say ‘yes, but we don’t like that kind’.

?

I go check.and see more ‘candy’ than ‘chocolate bars’…

So I go to my pile of Swiss chocolate, recently brought back by my mom from Switzerland, and hand out a couple of pieces to each child.

They eat it, and stop asking for more.

Why?

Because the Swiss chocolate that mom brought back is made with good, whole ingredients, rather than corn syrup and artificial flavourings. At least that is what I tell myself is the reason.

Benjamin gets headaches every single time he eats artificial candy. He does not get headaches after eating a good quality piece of Swiss chocolate.

So I say ‘go ahead, pick out a piece of chocolate Grosmami brought back’ and leave it at that.

Now, what to do with all this candy? Can you donate Halloween candy? I am not sure I feel comfortable donating crap to children…so throw it in the garbage? No way I’m composting this stuff…but if it ends up on the landfill, will I poisen the sea gulls?

Argh.

Halloween crafts with preschoolers and toddlers

Halloween never meant much to me BC (before children). I mean, sure, I liked the candy, or the idea of candy at least. But considering that I’ve researched what goes IN some candies these days make me not only not want to eat it, but also keep it from the kids.

Of course the 4yo will have issues with that.  But we’ll cross that bridge later.

In the meantime, I still have to keep these little monkeys occupied and stimulated while they are home with me. So what’s a mother to do?

Why, crafts, of course!

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I don’t know where I got the idea to make these spider-like bugs. Probably a combination of googleing and pondering during the many hours of peace and silence I enjoy each day (enter loud and hysterical laughter).

Anyway, I was at the Dollar Store and saw black pipe cleaners. Once I got home I saw stuff that needs to be thrown out, so I kept a black garbage bag aside after purging to my heart’s content (enter more hysterical laughter). The funky eyeballs I had in my craft bin, and there are always old newspapers hanging around in every nook and cranny of this house.

Here’s how it’s done:

Get the child to crumble up the newspaper into a ball.
Cut the garbage bag into a square that is large enough to cover the newspaper ball.
Tie the four ends at the bottom (the spider’s tummy).
Use the scissors to punch holes into the plastic-covered newspaper, near the bottom where the knot is, and feed the pipe cleaner through. Those will be the legs.
You will have to twist the pipe cleaner to stay in place if you have a toddler who likes to pull things out of things.
Attach the eyeballs with some glue.

* * *

Another day, Benjamin started bugging while I was busy flickring and picniking. So I pulled out black and orange paper and helped him cut them into strips. We were going to make a garland.

Cutting paper has been something he enjoyed doing for many years. They teach cutting with real scissors at Montessori to toddlers, and with supervision, you’d be surprised how quickly they master this tricky skill. Using tape or glue just adds to the fun!

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While he was busy cutting and taping, I used the strips of paper to teach him some simple addition and subtraction.

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* * *

Of course cutting paper that is folded in half, making interesting holes to peek through, is a big hit too. So one night after dinner, when there was little effort on their part to play quietly, I pulled out paper and scissors and had them sit at the table. I had no clue what to make, and just starting fooling around with the paper. Before you knew it, we had this on our living room wall:

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I’m really enjoying this preschool age. He is such a sponge when it comes to learning new things, and introducing him to new things has stimulated me beyond my wildest imagination.

As far as the 2yo is concerned, she wants to participate, and so I let her. Not that I have an option here…but she is very interested, and as long as she doesn’t destroy other people’s stuff, I can usually find something to keep her occupied as well. She loves glueing, she likes taping tape to paper, she’s trying to manipulate the scissors, and when she gets bored, I give her things to sort, or count.

So far, so good. And our house is all decorated with homemade stuff!

Food dyes in cereal

Back around Valentine’s day I wrote a post about the crap they put in candies, such as Twizzlers. You can read it here.

Yesterday, the National Post had a blurb about food dyes in breakfast cereals such as Lucky Charms in their financial post section, taken from Bloomberg News. It talks about food dyes affecting kids’ behaviour.

Also yesterday, my neighbour and I talked about food colour in things like icing on cupcakes. Neither she nor I enjoy blue or green icing, unless it’s made with a natural substance such as blueberries for the blue colour, for example.

It never ceases to astonish me how much mostly unidentifyable crap we put in our bodies in the nation…

 

 

 

 

Candy crap

Or crappy candy?

So Valentine’s Day has come and gone. And as usual, Benjamin got all kinds of candy. He got other things too, non-edible items, but there was plenty candy to go around.

I placed it all in a jar and allowed him to choose one candy after lunch. The others I’ll use as incentive to keep the pooping in the toilet momentum. Or until he loses interest in the candy. He doesn’t ask for candy much if he can’t see it, and since we keep little of it in the house, other than good quality, dark chocolate, it’s not a huge problem. And he knows he has to brush his teeth extra-well when he eats sticky candies.

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But back to the crappy candy. Benjamin chose a  Twizzler today. This one says Strawberry in large letters, and underneath it it says flavoured candy in smaller letters.

Intrigued by the flavoured part, I turned the wrapper around.

Here’s the list of ingredients that make up this candy, in order:

Corn syrup
Liquid sugar
Wheat flour
Corn starch
Palm oil
Soybean oil
Modified palm oil
Salt
Artificial Flavour
Citric Acid
Mineral Oil
Colour
Potassium Sorbate
Soy lecithin

So let’s go google some of this stuff:

Continue reading