Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stop Bulling Pt2; Being 'Fat' in Kindergarten

Bullying and low self-esteem issues start early. A lot earlier than you might think. Things have changed since we've been in school, for better and worse.
Half of all girls ages 3 to 6 worry about becoming fat according to a news segment done by Good Morning America. Unfortunately my daughter fell into that category half way through her kindergarten year. The segment asked children ages 5 to 8 with many of their health answers revolved around body image from eating healthy so they don't get fat to eating less so that their stomach won't bulge.
Childhood obesity is a problem, but is the way we are handling it solving the problem? These anti-obesity campaigns single out 'fat' kids which more often than not will only lead them to eating more out of depression. This anti-fat culture that both parents and society in general is doing more harm than good.

What are the consequences? To give a personal example a couple of girls took the childhood obesity awareness week to whole other level. The school itself, which also co-runs a community garden, emphasised eating healthy and exercise. However, my little girl became obsessed at the fact that she was 'fat'. My daughter is actually on the very thin side of body shapes. She went quickly from being thin to skin and bones. She began to refuse food and was starving herself. She would only eat out of extreme hunger and even then very little. She also stopped eating school at lunch along with many other girls.

Luckily, between the school intervention and myself we were able to start getting her to eating normally again with out medical intervention. It seemed like forever but it lasted a week. The girls who has started this had to be separated during lunch because they were nit-picking other students telling then they were going to be fat and not to eat. None of these children that were bullied were what could be considered 'fat' in any sense of the word.
While she is eating now and at a normal weight the damage that those girls did is said and done. My daughter still refuses to eat at school along with several other students. Luckily, I have been able to get her to eat breakfast before school and lunch as soon as she gets home. Hopefully, by her next school year in 1st grade we can make further progress together to actually eat at lunch time at school.
Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated incident. Stories like these are spreading in many schools. If you dig deep enough it usually comes down to 1 - 2 kids in a classroom that started the bullying and name calling. Body image shouldn't be an issue with children this young but it is. Instead of focusing on who is and isn't 'fat' it should be on what we can all do to be healthy. The anti obesity campaign had their heart in the right place but bullies have found a way to damage its efforts.
So this summer talk to your children about body image and what's really important, being and staying healthy. Eat right and stay active. It's that simple. Help your child know what IS healthy and not to tease and name-call others. It's easier said than done but we should focus on what's on the inside not the outside. Many of you may have a child like mine who takes what others say very seriously so it is important that you get the first say on issues like these and not wait like I did. In cases like this, knowledge is the key to thick skin.
Click the links bellow for articles for information on how and what to talk about regarding body image. You can also call NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) at 800-931-2237 if you feel that your child might have an eating disorder.

With all the love in the world,
Vanessa <3

Body Image: Help Kids Love The Shape They're In Body Image and Self-Esteem

Saturday, June 9, 2012

And I Have Declaired War

As I have mentioned before I haven't really had time to do that much gardening. Last year in one foul swoop all of my crop was suddenly infested by aphids. Oh, and ever heard that aphids hate mint? It's all lies. They loved my poor spearmint.

And now again today my entire backyard as become a full scale invasion of epic proportions. There are so many aphids that showed up over the last few days that they are even hanging out all around the soil and not just the plants.

This means war. Their hostile actions towards my veggies will not be tolerated.

Plan of attack:

Spray with soap water (water with a little bit of dish soap) until reinforcements of the ladybug division arrive. May God have mercy on your little bug soul.

I feel so evil right now ....

Friday, June 8, 2012

Soil Improvement, What To Do & Use

When someone talks about 'soil conditioners' they are talking about what you can mix into your garden to improve the quality. Mixing in these conditioners is easy and needs be done in either Spring before planting or Autumn to prepare the ground for next year. In can also be done in the Summer for a boost of nutrients and texture in the soil.

How to improve soil:

1. Water the garden area well and let dry a couple of days before digging. (This step is for new beds.)
2. Run a rotary hoe or use a garden fork to turn the soil over.
3. Add the soil conditioners. If using more than one type layer them as evenly as possible.
4. Run the rotary hoe or use a garden fork to mix in the conditioners.
5. Use a rake to smooth over the surface, then water the ground thoroughly.

Types of Soil Conditioners To Use:

Compost. Use this to add nutrients into the soil and improve its texture. The amount and kind of nutrients will depend on what was put in the compost.

Composted Manure. This will increase the nitrogen levels as well as improve drainage and moisture retention.

Builder's Sand. This is natural sand that is a little bigger than what you find at the beach. This will improve drainage and loosen the soil, however, do not add to clay soil.

Peat Moss. It will loosen heavy, hard soil and increase the ability to maintain moisture.

Limestone. It contains calcium and magnesium; use only if a soil test recommends it. This will also lower acid levels.

Sawdust & Ground Wood. Wood chips will improve soil texture and drainage.

Leaf Mold. It will increase the levels of nitrogen and potassium. Other nutrients will be slow released acting like a long lasting fertilizer.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Compost 101

One common piece of advice that many new gardeners get is to start a compost pile. However, there are many different types to choose from. Here is a list of the three basic forms and their structure. If you would rather watch a Youtube Videos on the subject scroll down for some that I found on the subject.

1. Vermicomposting: It's actually much simpler than it sounds. The worms break down the food scraps, eat their own weight in food every day. The end product are worm castings and 'worm tea.' The worms need a well ventilated container along with damp bedding (coconut coir, newspaper, cardboard, etc.). The worms will gradually eat the food scraps.

2. Anaerobic Composting: (a.k.a. fermenting compost) This is simply composting with out the need for air. This is relatively low maintenance in that it doesn't need to be regularly turned over, but the smell can get pretty bad. However, with the right container there should not be a problem unless opened. This type of system will gradually kill off any parasites and uses bacteria to break down the materials.

3. Aerobic Composting: This is method is commonly used. It is basically composting with air. The oxygen levels allow bacteria that create heat to thrive which gradually breaks down the organic material. This method can create a bad smell and look unattractive. Some areas, especially if you live in an HOA, may not allow these types of composting. This is usually the method used in 'backyard composting.'

YouTube Links:




Recommendations & Resources:

Benefits of Recycling: Anaerobic Composting