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And we’re back

8 Apr

Toy trains and wooden tracks were strewn about on the living room floor. The couch cushions we stacked precariously to make a little cubby house, or as Daniel likes to call it, a “bug house.” A big plastic truck sat in the middle of the hallway. Daniel’s pants were laying on the playroom floor (he likes to take them off). Dishes were piled on the kitchen bench. I only do them once per day, and I hadn’t and that time hadn’t come yet. Crumbs covered parts of the dining table because I didn’t have time to wipe them up before taking Hannah to school.

Daniel in his "bug house." Rosie loves bug houses too.

Daniel in his “bug house.” Rosie loves bug houses too.

At least I was dressed properly when the Telstra guy unexpectedly knocked on my door today though.  Not like the time the mailman knocked on the door when I was brushing my teeth and only wearing a towel. TPG did say that someone would come today, but then we called Optus, and requested to switch carriers. I assumed the Telstra guy wouldn’t come. Even if he did, I didn’t expect him to come inside.  How embarrassing.  Normally it wouldn’t be so bad, but Daniel has bronchitis and wasn’t at daycare today. Or yesterday.  He only goes two days a week.  I let him watch movies all day and even put the train stuff in the living room.  I normally don’t let them bring toys in there.  That’s what the play room (a.k.a. the dining room) is for.

Today was his second day at home all day, and he was feeling much better.  Yesterday he sat on the couch pretty much all day feeling pretty miserable and coughing lots, but today he was jumping around, dumping out toy buckets, making messes, and getting stir crazy in general.  I couldn’t play with him very much though because I have to keep up with my uni work.  The two days that he normally goes to daycare, I do my university stuff.  If I don’t, I’ll fall behind, and there’s no way I’ll be able to catch up.  Not with chemistry.

Needless to say, it was kind of embarrassing letting someone in the house when we were sitting on the couch watching a movie in the middle of the morning (I was watching my lecture on my computer. Daniel was watching a movie as he jumped on the couch and spread trains all over the floor) while the house is a bomb.  Oh well, we have internet now, so I don’t care.

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I have no internet

3 Apr

I’m going to make this short because it’s 9:31 (I’m usually in bed by now because I get up at 5am) and I’m still at YaYa’s house, borrowing her internet connection.  I had to come over and do all the uni work that needs to be digitally turned in by tomorrow.

The internet is kind of important when you’re an external university student (where everything is online except the 3 day workshop), and a blogger. But TPG doesn’t seem to care about that.  We haven’t had any internet in a week.  First it started annoyingly dropping out, then it totally died and hasn’t resurfaced since.

Aaron called TPG (our provider) who said they’d call us back in 48 hours.  They didn’t.  Needless to say, we called them back, and they guessed that the problem was due to all the recent rain.  Perhaps the exchange is flooded.  They rent Telstra’s lines, and they said Telstra can’t come fix it until the 8th.  Yes, the 8th.  That makes keeping up with uni very hard.  Not to mention my blog, emails, etc.

Instead, we decided to switch our service to someone more reliable, but the new connection isn’t getting hooked up until the 11th.  It’s to be another rough week, but hopefully it will be better in the long run. Plus we will have cable TV, which is a whole lot better than what we currently get.  Right now, sometimes we have reception, sometimes not.

So if you’re wondering why I haven’t answered your email, or posted anything, it’s because I have no internet, and when I do get a moment to steal someone else’s connection for a bit, I have to catch up with all the uni work I should be doing.   Sorry.
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Puppies: dream vs. reality

7 Mar

Before getting Rosie, I had all these nice images in my head about what life would be like with a dog.

1. Dream: After a long day, the puppy would lay on my lap enjoying a pat and a cuddle.
Reality: Like a racing dog chasing a rabbit, Rosie thunders toward the couch, jumping onto my lap as her pointy claws scratch my legs.  Despite the scratches, I’m happy to finally have a moment of lap dog so I stroke her fur.  She lets me for about two seconds before she realises that my hand would be a fantastic chew toy.

2. Dream: When we’re outside in the back yard, the kids play together with Rosie, bearing the biggest grins on their faces that I’ve ever seen.
Reality: Rosie excitedly jumps up on them, accidentally clawing them in the process and makes them cry.  When the kids are playing with one of their outdoor toys, Rosie steals it and runs off. Daniel cries some more.

3. Dream: A dog will protect my vegetable patch from birds and other large pests.
Reality: She chases birds away only because she notices them whilst digging big holes in the garden, pulling leaves off of my beans, and pulling out and tearing apart anything that is not already established.  I even got a special plant that is supposed to deter dogs and keep them away from the garden in hopes of keeping her out.  She pulled it out and tore it up.

some of the holes in the garden.  This part of the garden isn't yet planted because it was finished too late for last seasons crops. Now if I plant anything, she tears it straight out.

some of the holes in the garden. This part of the garden isn’t yet planted because it was finished too late for last seasons crops. Now if I plant anything, she tears it straight out.

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4. Dream: Going for walks with the family would be an almost daily, fun activity, with our puppy loping along happily next to my heel.
Reality: The whole walk is spend trying to keep Rosie from tripping the kids by erratic walking/running/pulling.  My arm is dead by the time we get back from my attempts to keep her on one side only and not pulling like a maniac.

5. Dream: When in a playful mood, the kids and I can have lots of fun playing fetch with the dog.
Reality:  We throw the ball once and then she runs off with it.  Unless we have treats, in which case she brings it back and puts it at my feet knowingly every single time.

6. Dream: We could all enjoy watching Rosie frolicking about with her numerous toys when she’s in a playful mood.
Reality: Immediately she stashes all of her toys outside and then steals whatever she can (undies, shoes, kids’ toys, cups, toilet paper rolls, etc.) to chew to pieces inside.  I have lost numerous pairs of undies, a pair of pants, some of the kids’ art, pens, an expensive bra (one of only 3 that actually fit me properly), Aaron’s favourite shoes have a shoelace chewed clean off, and countless non-dog toys.  At first she stole whatever was on the floor.  We obviously started getting vigilant about putting things away, so now she takes things off shelves, out of laundry baskets, off tables, and off desks.  Things we would be happy for her to chew up outside, like small tree branches get taken inside and chewed to bits on Daniel’s pirate lounge.  The other day, she brought an earth worm inside and put it on the couch.  The night after that, she brought in two snails (one without a shell by the time she got it inside), a cockroach, and a cricket.  After playing with bugs to the point of death, she enjoys rolling on them to ingrain their stink into her fur.

One of Hannah's lovely drawings all chewed to pieces on the couch

One of Hannah’s lovely drawings all chewed to pieces on the couch

7. Dream: Visions of leisurely morning jogs with a dog running quietly by my side filled my head.
Reality: She is practically running on two legs because I have to hold her back so much, whilst at the same time she is darting this way and that, almost taking me out with every stride.  Even when I hold the leash below the handle to make it shorter, she still manages to trip me up.  Sometimes she stops suddenly.  The whole run is spent with my arm muscle engaged in vain attempts to keep her at only one of my sides.  The other night when I took her for a run, I dropped my phone after nearly falling over her and decided walking would be the safest option.  So much for our exercise.

The last run I tried to take Rosie on.

The last run I tried to take Rosie on.

9. Dream: Once trained, naughty behaviour would be a thing of the past.  Puppies don’t know what they aren’t supposed to do until you teach them.
Reality: Rosie does know what she is not supposed to do.  She just waits to do it until we’re not looking.  If we catch her in the act, she runs off immediately after only a glance in her direction.

10. Dream: The backyard we worked so hard to get looking nice, with lush green grass and a cleaned up cement patio thing would look a whole lot nicer with an adorable puppy running around.
Reality: Rosie is a digger. Everyday she digs holes.  As soon as we fill them in, she digs them up again, past bare earth to the point of dangerous ankle grabbing holes.  Bits of stuff she steals and chews up adorn the lawn and patio.  The thick plastic sheet I put on her dog crate when it’s outside is being systematically torn up each day and the little bits of chewed up plastic are strewn about on the patio, lawn, and even in the house.

Little bits of black plastic are everywhere

Little bits of black plastic are everywhere

One of the lawn holes.  Aaron tried to plant grass seeds in it after filling it up, but that didn't last very long.

One of the lawn holes. Aaron tried to plant grass seeds in it after filling it up, but that didn’t last very long.

She will settle down with age, right?

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The underwear monster

20 Feb

Aaron’s underwear.  Hannah’s and Daniel’s.  Mine.  Clean. Dirty.  New. Old. The underwear monster is firmly against discrimination.  At first our undies were only stolen if we carelessly left them on the ground, or in a newly folded clothes pile we lazily didn’t put away.

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As we caught on to the underwear monster though, we started making sure our undies were never, ever left out.  As soon as they are folded, we put them away.  When we get undressed for showers or baths, we put  our undies high up, out of reach until it goes in the hamper afterwards.

For a while, due to our vigilance, our underpants were safe.  But the underwear monster couldn’t resist.  She brazenly found new ways of fuelling her underwear addiction.  Despite the hamper being much taller than she is, she somehow managed to steal underpants without detection.  Today alone, I’ve lost two pairs.  They are now so full of holes that I had to put them in the bin.

When the kids forget to close their bedroom door, the underwear monster sneaks in, like a ninja in the night and snatches Hannah’s underwear from its home in a Dora the Explorer hanging pouch thing.  I think it’s supposed to house shoes, but whatever, underwear fits there too.

There is no stopping the underwear monster, she is an addict and underwear is her crack.

The underwear monster aka Rosie

The underwear monster aka Rosie

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The bug cage

14 Feb

I seem to have accidentally killed all of the snails that were occupying Hannah’s bug cage
by not feeding and watering them, and leaving the cage in the sun.  Oops.  I guess that whole hibernation thing is negated when it’s 40 degrees (104 f) out.  

The snails ended up in there because they were eating my lettuce and I don’t particularly enjoy the crunching noise their shells make when killing them.  The kids liked looking at them in the cage anyway. “Can I see the snails?” Daniel asked me every day.  You’d think that would remind me to feed and water them, but what can I say, I still have baby brain.  I don’t think it ever goes away.

About a week ago, while I was watering my beans and corn, I found a weird looking bright green grasshopper trying to eat my crops.  I chased him all around the yard, jumping on the ground with my hands cupped, hoping the little brat would be under there until I finally caught him and shoved him in the bug cage with all of the now empty snail shells.  Turns out he is a vegetable grasshopper.  Good thing I captured him.

vegetable grasshopper

vegetable grasshopper. Image courtesy of Queensland Museum.

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 He probably would have made an awful crunching noise if I tried to kill him, so a life in captivity is much better (for me at least…).  

Our heirloom beans (climbing blue lake which have a green pod and white beans inside, and Australian butter beans which have a white pod and purple beans inside) are actually growing beans now, as opposed to leaves only, and then leaves plus flowers, so I check them every day for pests.  My garden is organic; I don’t blanket spray with insecticides, and if I do need to spray anything, it’s home made white oil with an earth friendly brand of biodegradable dish soap, and vegetable oil.  I’ve only had to use that on the grapefruit tree though.

Yesterday, we found a cheeky caterpillar on one of the immature beans.  Nearly the whole bean had been devoured! He/she went straight in the cage with the grasshopper.  Hopefully grasshoppers don’t eat caterpillars.  We did put a very small baby grasshopper (regular grasshopper, not a vegetable one) in the cage with the vegetable grasshopper, but it disappeared after only a couple of hours.  It was a bit too big to get through the air slots, which can only mean that we are in possession of a cannibal grasshopper.

The bean eating caterpillar

The bean eating caterpillar on some lettuce we gave it.

A year ago, Hannah found a caterpillar on her pillow, and we put it in the bug cage.  A couple days later, she turned into a moth and we let her go.  Needless to say, Hannah is crazy excited for our new caterpillar to turn into a moth, only this time “we have to keep it in the bug cage or I will miss it too much,” Hannah told me.  That’s even better, then he/she can’t proliferate with other moths and lay eggs all over my vegetables (which hatch into caterpillars and eat whatever they are on after emerging from their eggs).  

Now that we have vegetables growing, I think we need a bigger bug cage.  Captivity is the price they have to pay if they eat my vegetables (or even go near them). *insert evil laugh here*

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maggots

21 Jan

We don’t have a doggie door.  We plan to get one soon, but for right now, there is no such luxury.  For the first week or so when we got Rosie, we would just leave the back door open a little bit.  Just far enough so she could go out and in when she wanted/needed.  I wanted to make this whole potty training thing as easy for both of us as possible.

Unfortunately, with the open door, came the flies.  There were only a couple at first.  But then, seemingly overnight, their population exploded, which I suppose is not surprising considering a female lays 75-150 eggs per batch.  Flies were everywhere.  They followed us around the house trying to get moisture from our faces with their stupid sopping mouthparts, landing repeatedly despite our many attempts at the Aussie salute (for you non-Aussies, that means waving your hand(s) in front of your face to ward off flies).

a housefly and it's disgusting sopping mouthparts. Image courtesy of

a housefly and it’s disgusting sopping mouthparts. Image courtesy of jangala.co.uk

I made sure the bins in the house were tightly sealed.  I washed the dishes straight away after every meal, no food was left out, and I stopped leaving the back door open (resulting in lots of pee accidents).

But still, they lingered, copulating like wild dogs on our countertop, in the air, and in the bathroom, multiplying all the time.  At least when they are distracted by coitus, they’re easier to swat.

We cut the tops off two water bottles, inverted the top into the bottles like funnels, taped them on, and filled them with sugar syrup – home made fly traps.  A few flies wandered into the sticky liquid, unable to escape, but the majority of them flew on.

Upping the ante, we bought fly spray.  Aaron sprayed the bathroom and shut the door, killing about nine of the little buggers.  We covered everything in the kitchen with towels and he sprayed them as they slept on the kitchen ceiling.

Still there were more.  Not as many as before, but enough to be pretty darn annoying.

I went to clean the guinea pig cage yesterday morning and discovered about a thousand (I’m not even exaggerating, I mean, literally, a thousand) maggots in the bottom of the outside organics bin, and decided to kill them all.
 
Before finding the maggots, I remembered that Aaron said dog shampoo kills them, so yesterday morning when I was at the supermarket, I bought some.  Upon discovering the disgusting present in the bin, I promptly went online in search of the correct way to use said dog shampoo to kill the little suckers.
 
Unfortunately, only dog shampoos with a particular ingredient are useful in killing maggots.  The one I got does not have the needed ingredient.  Probably because I got one labelled “gentle.” My bad.  I did find a number of other ways to kill maggots though, so I picked one and got to work.
 
First, I chose the vinegar mixed with water trick, since I had a whole bunch of vinegar in the laundry cupboard (because I use it for cleaning and got it in bulk at Costco).  I poured it in, as well as down the sides of the bin to wash the creepers that were trying to escape back down into the pit of doom.  A bit later, I looked in the bin and found that a lot of them were still alive.
 
Another way to kill maggots is with boiling water, so I boiled a full pot of water in the kettle and poured that all over them too, then shut the lid to help lead them to their steamy deaths.
 
A bit later, I opened the lid of the bin again and peeked inside, nearly puking from the putrid smell of vinegar mixed with half cooked, off food scraps and dead maggots.  The whole bottom of the bin was covered in dead maggots, floating around in their watery grave, but a bunch more of the little brats were crawling up the sides of the bin, once again attempting escape.
 
A third way to kill maggots is with good old salt.  Just like with slugs and snails; pour it over them and watch them shrivel up as they dehydrate.
 
I grabbed our bulk salt container and headed back outside.  Before opening the bin, I salted all the escapees who had successfully exited the bin and were crawling around on the top of it, just outside the lids edge, and watched them shrivel up as they tried to wiggle away from the lethal dose of salt.
 
I opened the lid with my left hand and started salting more almost-escapees that were at the top of the bin.  As I salted them to their deaths, something hit my salting hand.  I glanced down at it immediately, realising with horror that a maggot had fallen off the bin lid and landed on my hand where it was currently wiggling around, mocking me.
 
A split second later, I was flapping my hand around like mad woman and accidentally dropped the whole bottle of salt into the pit of doom in the bottom of the bin.
 
I know it’s an organics bin, which is only for food scraps, twigs, grass, etc., but there was no way that I was sticking my hand all the way down into the festy bin full of putrid food and at least a thousand dead maggots.  So I shut the lid and ran off, leaving the hundred or so almost-escapees there in the bin, climbing the sides to freedom.
 
Oh well, at least I got most of them.
 
A couple hours later, I decided it was time to go back out again and finally clean the guinea pig cage, happy in the knowledge that most of the maggots were dead in the bin and I wouldn’t be merely adding dinner to their plates when I dumped the used straw into the bin.
 
I rolled the dirty straw up in the now urine soaked newspapers that lined the bottom of the guinea pig cage with gloved hands, in preparation to easily throw the whole bundle into the bin.
 
As I rolled, I was met with a horrible sight: hundreds of maggots had made their home in the bottom of the guinea pig cage, between the soiled newspapers and the green plastic.
 
I wish I still had the salt.  Or more vinegar (I used it all up in the bin).  Instead, I put the hose on jet stream mode and blasted those disgusting little creatures right out of there.
 
Hopefully, our that was the end of our fly problem.
 
The inside of the bin after all of my maggot killing. Only a few maggots escaped my wroth

The inside of the bin after all of my maggot killing. Only a few maggots escaped my wroth. I should have taken a before photo, but trust me, it’s better if you don’t see that.

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The insect bite

1 Jan

Last year (technically, the year before last, since it’s now 2014…), we attempted to camp at our friend’s property on New Years Eve.  The result was lots of screaming, lots of crying, not much sleeping, and going home to our familiar beds in the middle of the night.

Call us crazy, but we figured Daniel would be old enough this year (err…last year) to be ok with sleeping in a tent, so we gave it another go.  When kid bed time came around, once again, there was lots of screaming, lots of crying, and not much sleeping.  By Daniel, Hannah was loving the whole tent thing.  In the end, we let Daniel watch Thomas on the couch in the house until he was practically asleep, and then I laid in the tent with them until he was out.

He woke up in the middle of the night, stood up, and walked around the tent whilst crying until I laid him down in his bed (he had been sleeping with his legs on Hannah’s bed and his face on the bottom of the tent).

But we made it through the whole night without having to take the kids home, so that’s progress. Even Rosie (the puppy) quietly slept all night in her crate and only asked to go out for a potty break once. The kids slept pretty darn well too.  I, on the other hand, had a horrible nights sleep.  Clearly, 30 years old is too old for sleeping on a very thin Therm-a-Rest mattress.  I tossed and turned all night, with whatever body part I slept on getting sore rapidly.  I think it’s time we bought a thick, comfy, needs-a-pump-to-blow-it-up air mattress.

As we woke up in the morning, we noticed Daniel’s bright red ear.  We thought that sleeping with his face on the tent floor must have irritated it.  Maybe there was something hard under his ear as he slept for who know how many hours.

By 1pm though, it was still bright red.  It looked like a Santa coloured ear balloon.  Today is New Years Day though, so the doctors office isn’t open.  Instead, I called the after hours doctors, who told me they were full until 5pm and it could be a number of hours after that until someone could finally come to my house to see Daniel.  I called the medical advice line, who advised me that he should see a doctor in the next 24 hours, but didn’t think it warranted a visit to the hospital.  So we waited for the after hours GP.  And waited.  And waited.

At 7pm, the doctor came, and told me it was an allergic reaction to an insect bite, though he couldn’t say for sure what kind of insect.  In addition, he thought it likely that the bite was infected.  A bottle of antibiotics, another of anti inflammatory, and another of antihistamine later, and hopefully his ear will go back to normal.  If the redness spreads, he has to go straight to the hospital. We’re hoping that doesn’t happen because, obviously, that would suck for poor Daniel, but also because we’re driving for 4 hours tomorrow to go see Aaron’s dad and attend the funeral of Aaron’s Nanna.

Stupid bugs.

Daniel's freakishly swollen right ear.  I tried to get a photo of the front and side of the ear, but he moved his head too much. So sticking him in the swing and taking it from the back as he watched Rosie

Daniel’s freakishly swollen right ear. I tried to get a photo of the front and side of the ear, but he moved his head too much. So sticking him in the swing and taking it from the back as he watched Rosie

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Fighting

22 Dec

“I’m playing with my balloon.” Daniel told me with a smile on his face.

“I WAS GOING TO PLAY WITH THAT!” Hannah said in that really obnoxious whingey, whiney voice as she bounded out of her room with her hands on her hips upon hearing Daniel’s toy choice.

“Well you weren’t playing with it, and you didn’t say you wanted to play with it, so Daniel can play with it right now” I told her.

“But I was about to go and get it.” She told me, as if I would suddenly steal the balloon away from Daniel and joyfully place it in her hands instead.

This scenario is played out many, many times every day.  Not just with Hannah wanting something Daniel is playing with, but vice versa as well.  It seems like every time one of them has something, the other wants it too, even if he/she was happily playing with something else.

I never used to understand why moms of twins buy two of everything.  Two of the same outfit, two of each toy.  When I only had one kid, I thought that was a total waste of money.  Couldn’t one twin play with one toy while the other played with something different?

Ha.  Not. Even. Close.  My kids may not be twins, but I suspect that with twins, this whole sibling rivalry thing starts much earlier and is probably more intense.  Considering Hannah and Daniel’s constant fighting makes me feel like screaming, or running away or something, I can definitely see the value in buying two of everything now.  After all, you can’t put a price on sanity.

It’s not even limited to actual toys though.  When we’re in the car, they fight over imaginary things too.

“Mommy, can I have Milo?” Daniel asks me.  As in Milo from Milo and Otis.  I hold out my hand and he pretends to take Milo from it, happy that he is in possession of his favourite cat.

“Can I have Milo too?” Hannah asks.  I repeat the process, handing Milo to her this time.

“I have Milo.” Daniel tells me happily as he pats his pretend cat.

“No, have Milo.” Hannah says grumpily.

“You both have Milo.  I gave one to each of you, remember.”

“I have Milo.” Daniel says, taking the fight bait that Hannah put out for him.

“I HAVE MILO!” Hannah yells.

“NO I HAVE MILO.” Daniel yells back.

Eventually Daniel starts crying as he shouts that he has Milo and Hannah’s grumpiness turns to anger.

It’s not always about Milo.  Sometimes it’s about Otis, or sometimes they argue about who Hannah’s imaginary friend Meet Lilly is sitting next to.  Sometimes it’s about which toy they will play with when they get home.  But it’s always something.  Every car ride.  Every day.

By themselves, they are both sweet, lovely kids, but together they turn into little fighting monsters and I have no idea how to make it stop.

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Is the USDA subsidising obesity?

8 Dec

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.), 69.2% of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight or obese.  12.1% of 2-5 year olds, 18% of 6-11 year olds, and 18.4% of 12-19 year olds are overweight.  To me, those seem like astoundingly high numbers, especially the fact that 12.1% of 2-5 year olds are over weight.  12.5%.  I know there are lots of body love campaigns out there right now, designed to lift the self esteem of overweight men and women around the globe, but looks are not the issue here.  The issue is that being overweight and/or obese causes heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, high cholesterol, infertility, and even cancer.  It’s estimated that obesity in the United States costs 147 – 210 BILLION dollars each year.

For decades, low fat products graced (and still do) the shelves of American supermarkets.  You can pretty much get anything in a low fat version over there, and low fat diets were/are recommended for people in general, but especially for heart attack and cardiovascular disease patients.  There’s even low fat peanut butter.  A quick check of the label reveals a huge part of the problem that a lot of people wouldn’t even think twice about: sugar. Low fat peanut butter may have had some fat taken out, but the fat replaced with sugar.  Don’t get me wrong, there are fats that are very unhealthy, and going through that McDonald’s drive through isn’t going to do your health any favours, but there are also fats that, despite being fat, do not elevate cholesterol levels or give us all sorts of medical problems.  They actually promote cardiovascular health, and health in general.  Good fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil, salmon, etc.) should have a regular place in our diets, and we will be healthier for it.  Just look at the Mediterraneans – their diet is rich in good fats, yet they much lower rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and diabetes.

image courtesy of Oldways (click to read about the Mediterranean diet)

image courtesy of Oldways (click to read about the Mediterranean diet)

All of these low fat products compensate for the loss of fat, which equates to loss of flavour by other means, usually with sugar, and in the U.S. that often means high fructose corn syrup.  Not only is fat being replaced by high fructose corn syrup (sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup are linked to obesity, diabetes, and many other health problems), but heaps of other products such as cookies, other baked goods, yogurt, jams, granola bars, and pretty much anything else you can think of that is packaged, contains high fructose corn syrup.  One of the biggest culprits though, is soda, and other beverages, which generally contain around 16 teaspoons of sugar or high fructose corn syrup PER CAN.  Adult women should be getting no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, and adult men no more than 9 teaspoons.  These days a lot of the high fructose corn syrup in soda is being replaced by sugar, which, in the U.S., is generally from genetically modified sugar beets.

In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture spent $2,702,462,268 on corn subsidies (the most subsidised crop in the U.S.), which means the USDA paid farmers to plant corn.  The very corn that is used to make high fructose corn syrup, which is added to so many unhealthy, waist expanding food products.  Not only that, but   85% of corn grown in the U.S. in 2012 was genetically modified corn, and that percentage is going up all the time.

Only 4.7% (around 511 million bushels) of the total U.S. corn crop is used to make high fructose corn syrup, but the news isn’t good for the rest of the corn crop either.  The majority of corn is used as livestock feed.  That doesn’t sound so bad, but non-industry funded studies have shown that rats fed GM corn had an increased incidence of tumours, early death, and kidney and liver problems, just to name a few.

Rats with tumours after being fed GM corn (max 11%) and/or water laced with roundup (under the legal limit allowed in the water supply)

Rats with tumours after being fed GM corn (max 11%) and/or water laced with roundup (under the legal limit allowed in the water supply)

One biotech company, Syngenta, was even criminally charged when a German farmer’s herd of cattle began getting critically ill after consuming a diet consisting solely of genetically modified Bt corn. Syngenta paid the farmer $40,000 compensation.

Livestock are fed corn because it fattens them up faster than their natural grass diet, which makes them able to be slaughtered earlier, but yields much fattier (saturated fat) meat, thus contributing to obesity considering U.S.Aliens eat the second highest amount of beef per person in whole world. Grass fed beef is higher in vitamin E, omega-3, and has 1/2 – 1/3 less fat than grain fed beef.

Me pretending to eat GM corn in Minnesota

Me pretending to eat GM corn in Minnesota. Photo by John Beath.

It’s not just corn though.  I said before that sugar in the U.S. primarily comes from sugar beets.  They too are included in the farmer subsidy program, with 95% being the genetically modified variety.  The resulting processed sugar is used in all sorts of packaged goods, from yogurt to cookies to soft drinks.  Excess sugar has been shown to contribute to obesity, diabetes and a plethora of other health problems and added sugar is lurking in all sorts of foods you wouldn’t suspect.

The packaged goods on your supermarket shelves containing added sugar are mostly from huge multinational corporations with many different brand names under their umbrellas that make gigantic sums of money annually.  Take Nestle for example.  Brands owned by Nestle include: Gerber, Maggi, Hot Pockets, Herta, Stouffers, Dreyers, Lean Cuisine, Jenny Craig, and of course all the confectionary and coffee that clearly say Nestle above the name of the bar or blend.  In 2012, Nestle made 11.55 BILLION dollars in profit.

Or how about Coca Cola, who also makes billions in profit each year, and not only makes Coca Cola, but owns or partially owns 500 other brands in countries all around the world, such as, Odwalla, Dannon, Powerade, and Vitamin Water.

So the USDA pays farmers to plant corn and sugar beets, that are then bought cheaply by billionaire corporations to make packaged and bottled goods that in turn contribute to obesity and diabetes.  Why is the U.S. subsidising unhealthy foods for billionaire corporations?

Not to mention, since the USDA is subsidising corn and sugar beets, both of which are mostly genetically modified, doesn’t that also mean that the U.S. government is indirectly funding huge bio tech corporations like Monsanto (who, by the way, made 2.94 billion dollars in 2012)?

*Sources below vote banner

*I am not saying to eliminate all forms of sugar from your diet.  Fruit contains natural fructose, honey contains both fructose and glucose, and both honey and whole fruits are incredibly good for you and should definitely have a place in your diet.  I am strictly talking about added refined sugars in this article.

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… Clicking the link brings you to the Top Mommy Blogs home page. You don’t have to do anything else. Any clicks from my site to theirs is a vote.  THANKS! Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory Like my blog? ‘Like’ it on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mommy-Adventures/203964682967827?ref=tn_tnmn Pin It You officially have my permission to pin this (as long as it links back to my site).  Just don’t act like you wrote it. Because you didn’t…. Copyright 2013 Sheri Thomson

SOURCES (In no order and most are not Harvard referenced because that takes too long and this is not a university assignment.  Where I could, I’ve just provided links as that’s easier for you to find, but some are from databases that you have to pay for and you won’t have access to, in which case I have properly referenced them)

CDC http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm

http://www.mediweightlossclinics.com/patients/resources/articles/obesity-facts/

http://newsroom.heart.org/news/leaders-from-cities-states-with-declining-childhood-obesity-rates-share-strategies-for-success

http://oldwayspt.org/resources/heritage-pyramids/mediterranean-pyramid/overview

http://www.nestle.com/brands

http://www.cspinet.org/new/201302131.html

http://farm.ewg.org/progdetail.php?fips=00000&progcode=sugarbeet

Bocarsly, M, Powell, E, Avena, N & Hoebel 2010, ‘High fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: increased body weight, body fat, and triglyceride levels,’ Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behaviour, vol. 97, no. 1, pp. 101-106.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Sugars-and-Carbohydrates_UCM_303296_Article.jsp

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/32543288/#.Un_ZQ5QpZgI

http://news.yahoo.com/nestle-makes-11-55-billion-profit-2012-062612714–finance.html

http://www.card.iastate.edu/iowa_ag_review/fall_01/concentration.aspx

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx#.Un_b9pQpZgI

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/sugar-sweeteners/background.aspx#.UpEE-pQpZgI

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/corn/background.aspx#.UpEFCZQpZgI

Séralini, G.E., Clair, E, Mesnage, R, Gress, S, Defarge, N, Malatesta, M, Hennequin, D, & Spiroux de Vendomois, J 2012, ‘Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,’ Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 50, no. 11, pp. 4221-4231, viewed 25 April 2013, Science Direct, DOI 10.1016/j.fct.2012.08.005

Belvoir media group 2012, ‘Cut back on added sugar, especially in beverages, to protect your health: many drinks and healthy sounding foods contain excess sugar that is linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease,’ Women’s Health Advisor, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 6.

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Syngenta_Charged_for_Covering_Up_Livestock_Deaths_from_GM_Corn.php

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/beef/as1238.pdf

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/safe/know.html

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/06/27/155527365/visualizing-a-nation-of-meat-eaters

http://www.monsanto.com/investors/Pages/quarterly-earnings.aspx

http://www.alternet.org/food/monsantos-earnings-nearly-double-they-create-farming-monopoly

http://www.coca-colacompany.com/brands/all/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Coca-Cola_brands

http://www.coca-colacompany.com/press-center/press-releases/the-coca-cola-company-reports-full-year-and-fourth-quarter-2012-results

If you are interested in the entire corn process, from planting to subsidy to high fructose corn syrup, I highly recommend watching this documentary:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GY3wBsncI2c

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Devastating fires

19 Oct

The last time bush fires in the Sydney area were this bad was about 12 years ago.  I was staying with my host family (for the second time) and the fires were very near.  We were on high alert with our bags packed, ready to flee at a moment’s notice. It was terrifying.  We never did have to evacuate, and we were thankfully spared from the fires.  I can’t imagine the terror and anguish affected families are feeling right now.

A lot of people were not so lucky this time around.  Already 200 homes have already burned down, one person has lost his life, and a horrendous amount of domestic and wild animals have lost theirs.

The worst fire in this area is about 20 minutes from me, in the same suburb I completed my high school exchange in. It’s gut wrenching looking towards the mountains and seeing the rising black smoke.  I thought it was really foggy this morning until I stepped outside and realised it wasn’t fog at all, it was smoke.  It was so thick that objects only few meters away looked like silhouettes.

It is wonderful to see the generosity of the community though.  So many people have donated to affected families, people have opened their homes, and restaurants are giving away free meals.  Please pray for those affected.

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If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… Clicking the link brings you to the Top Mommy Blogs home page. You don’t have to do anything else. Any clicks from my site to theirs is a vote.  THANKS!
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Copyright 2013 Sheri Thomson

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