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May 2010

Today I read an article about the growing problem of malnutrition in developing  countries. According to the article in voanews.com,

Hungry and under-nourished children find learning difficult.  Their growth is stunted, their brains fail to develop properly and they suffer life-long health problems.

Although we have an abundance of food in this country (we have a staggering amount of obesity), the quality of food available today is pathetic.  In developing countries children go without food because of the lack of it and in turn end up malnourished.  Here in the United States many children end up malnourished even though they are eating three or more meals a day.

The devastating effects of under-nourshiment not only impacts the individual but the economy in which they live. They end up earning less for themselves and by extension their economy. This cycle only makes it harder for the people of said economy to reap the benefits of living better.

Poor health and impaired mental and physical development associated with under-nutrition reduce people’s ability to learn and work. Economists estimate that every child whose development is impaired by under-nutrition will lose up to 10 percent in lifetime earnings, according to the article. You can read more here.

Now granted, this may not create huge changes in the way we live here in the US, but is that really the point? The point I’m making is that it is a shame we live among such wealth and opportunities that children of all classes can be under-nourished.

Take a look at the labels of most prepared or packaged food. If you are shopping the average grocery or warehouse store what you will find is mass produced crap. Air, garbage, empty calories and chemicals (read: fake food), make up a large portion of those products. We spend loads of money on them and in turn it makes us fat and stupid and lowers our children’s health.

It isn’t easy to eat better. I have spent a lifetime in the health and fitness world. I returned to college to become a dietitian and sports medicine doctor and even I get stumped by the ingredients list.

We have to learn to read and think for ourselves, so what I propose, since most of us don’t have a degree in bio-chemistry, is that if you can’t pronounce at the least the first five ingredients, put it down.

Start there and in six weeks look into your pantry and see if it’s different. Then follow me, I’ll be looking for good real food and easy recipes and maybe together we can help our kids get the nutrition they need to be at the top of their game.

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tribe |trīb|noun 1. a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader : indigenous Indian tribes | the Celtic tribes of Europe. Source: Apple dictionary.

I have found my people. More specifically, my “moms.” I am an older mom, I had my first and only child at the young age of 41. Which puts me in an odd place. Moms of first children my son’s age are about 10 years younger than I am. But moms that are my age have kids somewhere in their late teens or beyond.

But thanks to my dear friend, Lindsey Murphy (whom I think is the leader of said tribe), I have found moms that are my age AND have kids my son’s age. These moms have more than one child, and consequently are closer to my age which means they think more like me. That and they are what my husband calls “co-op” moms.

Co-op moms are by definition moms (or dads as the case may be) who spend a part of each month working in their child’s classroom. At our school, Discovery Tree, it is a requirement.

What I’ve learned or experienced rather, is that these co-op moms really do become the village that raises your kids. Because we moms spend time with the kids each month, we get to know them on a deeper level. We become invested in their well-being. And, not ironically, we moms (and dads) become closer to each other by default.

To come back to my declaration of finding my tribe, I mean that I am more “old school” in raising my son. I do not worry about him eating dirt, hugging his teachers, or playing naked in the backyard with his friends (who may or may not be naked). I have found that these co-op moms, even the younger mothers, think the same way. We are linked by a common culture of beliefs in child rearing.

We are also linked by our socio-economic standing. My tribe moms have, at a minimum, a four year degree, worked at their career before having children and chose motherhood as their next career. Don’t get me wrong, some mothers still work at their careers, but they are careers – not part time gigs of interest. These moms juggle work, preschool, and playtime without the help of a nanny.

These women are my tribe.

Not because I judge the mothers who do it differently, but because these mothers are like me. These mothers believe the best place for kids to play and learn social skills is in the backyard with their friends.

Tribe moms focus their time at home with kids running in and out the door, dripping popsicles in hand as opposed to running around from gym-time to music sing-alongs to play-dates at the mall. Rather, a tribe mom encourages the love of music by impromptu concerts with dancing, lip-syncing and costume changes. Tribe moms cheer for the kid quick or nimble enough to dodge the mud bomb or hose wielding naked screaming banshee in the outdoor gym, aka backyard.

This is how I grew up and I loved it. I want my son to be able to do the same. To experience life in the real sense, to feel the mud between his toes and the sticky, drippy, sweet taste of melting popsicles down his arms – even if he is being yelled at to take it outside – because that’s really life.


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