Living with the Food Police

I was never much of a health conscious person growing up.  My parents didn’t allow me to devour sugar all day, but we would eat out just like most families.  A Friday night pizza, a monthly Sunday lunch, and maybe a parental date to some place special.  I used to think that I was a pretty healthy person….until I met my wife.

I have now entered the uncharted territory of food “snobbery”.  Don’t take this as an attack, this is just how my wife (self-proclaimed) describes it “…my glazed and braised Brussel sprouts with my Lemon Pellegrino… ah snob snob snob”.  While making a kissing motion with her hands and lips.  I spent 4 years eating “food product” and MREs from the military, so when I started coming home to freshly cooked meals and organic products, I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into.

I asked Chelsea for some food pics to give an idea of what I eat now ▲

And what I considered food pre-wife ▼

 (she completely lost her cool when reading the ingredients - 'our government thinks THIS is acceptable nutrition for soldiers putting their life on the line?!?!)

I was the classic guy who would go to the grocery store and find whatever was the cheapest.  Needless to say, I'm no longer allowed to get groceries by myself.  Chelsea and I would be at the store to get something as simple as bananas….

TO MYSELF:  No way I can mess this one up, there is only one type of banana!  It’s either a banana or it isn’t!

…I bring this lovely bundle of bananas back to the cart only to be met with a face of disgust from my wife.

CC:  Um…you have got to be kidding me, those are hegemony bananas!

TC:  No, I’m pretty sure they are Chiquita bananas

CC:  Exactly!  They are made off the sweat and tears of farmers in a country (Jamaica, maybe... I think)  where they aren’t even allowed to sell their locally grown bananas because of the global monopoly Chiquita (or Dole.  Geez, I don’t know) has on bananas!  We definitely don’t support that so go put them back!

At this point we usually find the 1 banana that was hidden under a pile of turnips (that’s where they hide them because let’s be honest, nobody likes turnips - even my food snob wife) and we pay the same price for that 1 banana as we would have for the 17 bananas that I originally picked out.

This is a common scene in our household.  I'm not the only one benefiting from the food snobbery.  The kids do too.  They make trips to Findlay Market for fresh produce, dairies, meats and baked goods on average twice a week!  They've been introduced to so many flavors (both 'mmm, yummy!' and 'tastes yucky to me...')

This is a common scene in our household.  I'm not the only one benefiting from the food snobbery.  The kids do too.  They make trips to Findlay Market for fresh produce, dairies, meats and baked goods on average twice a week!  They've been introduced to so many flavors (both 'mmm, yummy!' and 'tastes yucky to me...')

All jokes aside, Chelsea really has changed the way I look at food.  I now take notice of the ingredient labels and whether or not the food is non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism, ‘chemical seeds’ as she says, 'If a bug won’t eat it - and a bug will eat poop, so we are clear - then we shouldn’t eat it' in reference to pesticides).  She is also very good at finding exactly what we need and still pinch pennies.  She has brought to light things about the food industry that I had no clue about.  On top of my new found respect for my wife and her food prowess, I can honestly say that I have never eaten better in my life!

authored by Trent Crutcher

Around Here - Schedules

For the love of schedules.  Sometimes our lives feel like just that.  ONE-big-fat schedule. 

5:30 - TC wake up and leave to the Police Academy, 6am - at the latest, CC gets ready, 6:30a - at the latest, brood awakens and body slams CC,  feed, make lunches, vitamins, clothe, brush teeth, 8:30a - leave for school, drop off 8:50-9:10a, etc....

Schedules mean planners for me.  I am a list maker and 'check off-er'.  My lists help me feel accomplished and put me in a better mood all around.  I use it to plan meals (which isn't much in the way of planning.  I really like to cook, so I don't dread changing my mind and dragging the kids to the market for the third time in a week.  They love the waffles).  I'm lusting over this  Passion Planner .  With all of the pending changes in our lives this would be a perfect fit.

Schedules mean planners for me.  I am a list maker and 'check off-er'.  My lists help me feel accomplished and put me in a better mood all around.  I use it to plan meals (which isn't much in the way of planning.  I really like to cook, so I don't dread changing my mind and dragging the kids to the market for the third time in a week.  They love the waffles).  I'm lusting over this Passion Planner.  With all of the pending changes in our lives this would be a perfect fit.

You get the idea.  It's chaos in the most controlled fashion.  Thing is - I didn't realize just how dependent I am on the schedule until my husband told me to go in the bedroom and sit.  Defensively and DEFIANTLY, I replied 'uh - no!  I have a schedule.  The kids need....' and so on.  He looked at me with wide eyes and said 'yeah.  And I am their father.  I can do that.  You can go sit down.  That's what you can do.'

This is another book I REALLY want.  It's created by one of my favorite bloggers, Elise Blaha and would fit me to a T.  I've got to get one of these!

I got in the room and had NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF.  Sad, I know.  So I write - Around Here? Is our giant schedule filled with laughter, tears, craziness, chaos, and love.  Doing everything to keep it together day by day with three little humans, two full time working adults, a lazy pit bull and anti-social beta fish.

Then there is the 'family' calendar.  I've got hubs convinced to do this DIY with me.  Click on the image to see the step-by-step process to create this sleek looking calendar sure to keep everyone in sync from  A Beautiful Mess.

Then there is the 'family' calendar.  I've got hubs convinced to do this DIY with me.  Click on the image to see the step-by-step process to create this sleek looking calendar sure to keep everyone in sync from A Beautiful Mess.

authored by Chelsea Crutcher

Parenting - Discipline

My wife introduced me to this book.  It's fantastic and even has role play/worksheet scenarios to work on better, more respectful ways to speak to our children.

My wife introduced me to this book.  It's fantastic and even has role play/worksheet scenarios to work on better, more respectful ways to speak to our children.

Being a father to 3 five-year old (cough* monsters *cough) children, I would say that I deal with discipline regularly.  Like - every 2 hours or rather, 2 minutes.  I am not an expert and would not trust anyone who thinks they are.  We are all learning through this parenting thing.  But, there is a very thin line when disciplining children.  Too much and I risk the guilt that comes with my child crying for hours, too little and I risk raising a child that has no respect for adults or others.

In the past (sociologically), there is the working father and stay-at-home mother and generally the father’s role was to deal out the discipline.  How many times have I heard “Just wait till your father gets home!” growing up.

Here are some of the key elements I remember when disciplining and what I have learned in my short but fast 5 years of parenting:

Be In Control:  Keep your emotions under control!  Children are extremely good at testing patience and limits.  Maintain a calm demeanor and try not to use a raised voice, it will only escalate the situation.  Secondly, and what I believe to be the most important, Chelsea and I agree on our disciplinary stance and NEVER contradict one another in front of the kids.

Let the Punishment Fit the Crime:  Don’t give over exaggerated discipline.  Telling the child that if they don’t listen that they will never get dessert, is just not physically possible to enforce.  This also weakens the authoritative position with older children - they know it is impossible to deliver the disciplinary promise.

Physical Punishment:  I’m pretty sure I thought that Home Depot carried spanking paddles growing up.  I know now, they are actually paint stirrers.  I have mixed feelings on physical punishment.  When I became a new father I thought for certain corporal punishment was the way to go.  I have since changed my outlook.  Spanking a child resulted in an ineffective swat on a mushy diaper, causing the child to giggle, which in turn ends in frustration.  Something to also be careful of is what that teaches the child “you resolve conflict with physical force”.  Doesn’t particularly set a fine example for problem solving.

Mental Punishment:  “I gave up so much for you and you can’t even do XYZ!”  Children are exactly that, A CHILD!  Taking out regrets or personal frustrations on them is absolutely not acceptable.  Also - all children are unique people, even siblings.  I have identical twins, but they could not be more opposite when it comes to their personalities.  Do not compare one child to another.  They all have strengths and challenges and the idea is to have them work together.  Cooperatively.

Chelsea swears by Dr. Sears.  'He's honest and real.  The advice comes from a place of education AND experience' she says.  I guess I have some reading to do.

Chelsea swears by Dr. Sears.  'He's honest and real.  The advice comes from a place of education AND experience' she says.  I guess I have some reading to do.

Most importantly, my job is to be a teacher.  Provide an environment for learning within safe boundaries.  Not judge, jury, or executioner.

authored by Trent Crutcher

Kiddos Say - God

I am an atheist.  That means that I don’t believe in God.

I do not know some of the mysteries of our existence but do not subscribe to the explanation that a ‘God’ created the things that I do not know.  I am NOT an anti-theist - I do NOT condemn or belittle those that DO believe in a higher power or existence of a supreme being.  I do NOT discriminate and DO follow science, physics, and biology.  These things fascinate and make sense to me.  And yes, I enjoy the writings of Dawkins and yes, dear Hitchens (RIP) - as vulgar as he may have been at times.

That being said, here is my conversation with the kiddos (kiddo initiated I might add).

MR:  God made the world, right Ms. Chelsea?

MA:  Yeah, he did!

SP:  furrowed brow

ME:  Yes.  For those that believe in God - he did!  For those that don’t believe in God, he did not.’

MR:  People who don’t believe in God are bad, right?

ME:  Not necessarily sweetie.  It’s not bad to not believe in God.  Some people do, some people don’t.  Some people say ‘I don’t know!’.  That’s all ok.  We are all different and believe different things.

MR:  But you believe in God, right Ms. Chelsea?

ME:  No, I don’t actually.  And that’s ok.  You do, and that’s ok too!

Then we talked a little about baptism and what that means in the church they attend.  He wanted to be baptized this morning and I promised to thaw him out afterward since it was so cold outside.  We had a good chuckle.

Mayer and Soren were listening intently.  I was really impressed with the questions and the willingness to talk about it.  Soren had his furrowed brow and Mayer’s were raised - I adore their ‘taking it all in’ facial expressions.

The conversation got a little hairier when I was asked where people came from.  I offered up the Christian belief - 'Man was created from the earth' and the Theory of Evolution - 'Man came from Apes, but it took a REALLY REALLY LONG time'.  I should’ve just rolled with the mommy and daddy explanation, but honestly - it wasn’t what they were looking for.  They know that.

I tried so hard to speak on their level and fairly for both sides.  One of my issues with some (not all, I am not stereotyping) organized religion is the discrimination that to think differently about God makes you ‘bad’.  But when you are 5, this could be a simple misunderstanding and I treat it as such.  I don’t think people that believe in God are ‘bad’ or ‘evil’, either.  I am not a fan of discrimination of ideas in general.

So this conversation was a bit of a double edged sword.  I’d hate for the kids to face discrimination for the way their mother/step-mother believes but I simply can’t and will not lie to them.  Ever.  But being informed about the differences in belief systems and having the knowledge to choose for one’s self is invaluable.  Knowledge is power.  Power of confidence and individuality.  That is what we all are - individuals.  And that should be celebrated.  NOT discriminated against.

authored by Chelsea Crutcher

Parenting - Technology, the New Drug

I took a step back this weekend and saw my children in a different light.  They are drug addicts!!!

This image is taken from a great Chicago Tribune article about the adverse effects screens are having on children's eyesight, which is pretty severe.  In addition to macular degeneration associated with the blue light emitted from the screen.  

This image is taken from a great Chicago Tribune article about the adverse effects screens are having on children's eyesight, which is pretty severe.  In addition to macular degeneration associated with the blue light emitted from the screen.  

The new drug?  Technology (iPad, iPhone, Tablet, TV, etc…).

The next time your child is playing on a tablet, phone, or video game console – take it away and see what happens.  In my experience?   MAJOR melt downs with crying, yelling, screaming, more crying and then the pleading.   All over a piece of technology.  Being in the Police Academy, I’ve learned this behavior is disturbingly similar to addicts once their substance of choice has been revoked.

When I was growing up and you wanted to play, it was simple - you went outside.  My parents created a system call “Chips”.  You would do your chores and other odd jobs around the house to earn these “Chips”, which then purchased your “screen time”.  It was by far, the most effective system I have seen as of yet (now a parent myself).  I strived every week to obtain my screen time “Chips”, which I “chip-pinched” and saved for rainy days when going outside wasn’t an option. 

We, as a society and generation, have grown up with technology.  Most of us remember the development of the current technologies we have today (the first iPod, mp3 player, etc…).  Our children do not, they haven’t grown up without or in anticipation of the life-like graphics they get today.  It’s instantly at their fingertips.  As such, they’ve been robbed of imagination. The ability to create with originality, experiment – play without parameters.  As Catherine Steiner-Adair, psychologist and author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age says:

"They need time to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share them with parents, who can provide reassurance."

The next time a child asks to play on their technologic device, bust out the dusty Legos, a board game, a science project, or a game of hide-and-seek and present that to them instead.  You’ll be surprised how much they would rather play with you than a touch screen.

authored by Trent Crutcher