Lunch Box News

5 Summer Vacations Your Tween Won’t Hate

What tween wants to go on a family vacation when she could stay home and text her pals? Not to mention, avoid the sheer humiliation of being seen with her parents in public.

But we asked travel experts to offer up trips that will guarantee even your hardest-to-please tween will crack a smile -- or two. We've got five options to consider when planning your next adventure.

1. Pick a theme, any theme. Tweens like to feel as if they have control over their own destiny, and letting them choose a vacation itinerary that appeals to them makes everyone happier.

Jeff Siegel, author of "RelationTrips," the true story of his quest to see every Major League baseball field in the country, along with his son, tells ParentDish choosing a theme for your trip that interests both you and your child can not only reduce the number of complaints you hear, but also will bring you closer together during this dicey phase of their lives.

"Brainstorm about common interests shared by family members," Siegel advises. "This can take a few hours or a few weeks. Consider surfing the Web for ideas or placing a suggestion box in the kitchen. Then hold a meeting to choose the official theme."

2. Get on your bike. Biking is experiencing something of a Renaissance these days, and, thanks to the Tour De France, your tween is certain to love the idea of a trip that not only taps into a popular sport but also allows for a lot of room to change your mind -- for which tweens are notorious.

"The days are designed for ease and flexibility, so each member of the family will enjoy the perfect amount of activity," Dede Sullivan of DuVine Adventures, a company that arranges bike tours abroad, tells ParentDish.

3. Take them on the grand tour. Gone are the days when parents used to send their children on a grand tour of every country in Europe, but, with planning, you can still take your kids abroad for a week or two.

Tweens are the perfect age to deal with the air travel required to get to the Continent, and they are also ripe to get the most out of their exposure to other cultures.

"In our experience, kids ages 7 to 16 are ideal for traveling on family adventures (abroad) that include everything from hiking and biking to river rafting and sea kayaking," Edward Piegza, president and co-founder of Classic Journeys, a tour company, tells ParentDish. "And right in the middle of that ideal age spread? The what-have-you-done-for-me-lately tweens."

Piegza says part of the equation for happy family travel is making sure the plan includes something for everyone -- even the grown-ups. After all, it's your vacation, too.

"As a parent, I personally can vouch for the joy of sharing hydrofoil rides and peering into a volcano alongside our tween sons on the Amalfi Coast," he tells ParentDish. "But that's not to say my wife and I don't welcome the chance to spend time with the other grown-ups on tour, whether it's lingering over a gourmet meal or wine tasting or taking long, leisurely walks that would only make the kids antsy."

4. Pitch a tent. There's just something special about sleeping under the stars. Going into the wild for family fun ensures that you have to unplug from all your phones and gadgets and actually talk to one another.

You don't have to limit your trip to a tent and a campfire, either. With a little research, you can plan a trip that includes plenty of outdoor adventures, from whitewater rafting to ziplines in the forest to rock climbing and hiking.

5. The last resort. When all else fails, even the grouchiest tween will have a hard time resisting the idea of an all-inclusive tropical resort. Pools, beaches and all the tropical mocktails you can drink make for a relaxing vacation for the whole family.

A resort vacation also lets tweens have plenty of alone time, without causing too much angst for their parents. Kids can wander the confines of the resort to their hearts' content without getting into trouble.

Some resorts, such as the Montage Laguna Beach in California, even offer structured fun for your tween -- sans parents. Activities including kayaking, snorkeling and extreme scavenger hunts make the days fly by -- and they let you relax poolside while someone else entertains your kid.

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Sneak Veggies Into Your Kids Meals

Can't get your kids to eat their veggies?

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have a cunning plan. They suggest you discreetly add broccoli, zucchini and all that other green stuff to kids' meals.

Reuters news service reports their research found kids get more vegetables that way. And, while most of us might detect puree of broccoli on our macaroni and cheese, the little rubes don't even seem to notice the difference.

"We think of it as not deception, but recipe improvement," Barbara Rolls, one of the researchers, tells Reuters. "In this group of kids, we got most of them meeting their daily vegetable requirements -- that's pretty amazing."

Although the study was done in day care centers, researcher Maureen Spill tells Reuters parents could easily pull the same stunt at home. All they need is a blender.

Rolls says the technique can even work on older but equally stubborn children ... like husbands.

Sneak Veggies Into Your Kids Meals
Adding pureed vegetables into adults' meals meant they ate more veggies and fewer total calories, she adds. Most of them couldn't taste the extra veggies, either.

According to Reuters, researchers fed prepared meals to 40 kids ages 3 to 5 one day a week for three weeks. The meals looked the same each day -- zucchini bread at breakfast, pasta with tomato sauce at lunch and a chicken noodle casserole at dinner.

One day's worth of meals was prepared normally -- with a typical veggie in each entree. On the other two days, researchers added pureed cauliflower, broccoli, squash, zucchini and tomatoes to triple or quadruple every dish's dose of vegetables.

After each meal, researchers weighed the food to determine how much kids ate. The preschoolers were also allowed to eat non-doctored side dishes and snacks during the day -- including fruit, cheese and crackers.

Compared to the day when they ate standard meals, Reuters reports, kids almost doubled their total vegetable intake on the day they ate high-vegetable dishes.

"I would urge parents to try to get vegetables into their kids' meals wherever they can," Rolls tells Reuters. "This is an additional strategy that you put on top of exposing kids to real vegetables, eating the vegetables with the kids, (and) being persistent in exposing them to vegetables."

Kids are Like Scientists, and Not Just Mad Ones

"Experiment. Make it your motto day and night. Experiment. And it will lead you to the light." -- Cole Porter

We commonly refer to something simple as mere child's play.

Kids are Like Scientists, and Not Just Mad Ones
However, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University say there is nothing "mere" about child's play. Children are actually performing complex experiments.

They are little scientists, Wired magazine reports.

To prove just how scientifically children approach their work, researchers gave a group of them a toy that lights up and plays music when the child places certain beads on. When children didn't know which beads would activate the toy -- what scientists call "ambiguous evidence" -- they tested each variable in turn.

Laura Schulz, a professor at MIT, tells Wired it's like someone trying unsuccessfully to open a door with a key.

"You might change the position of the key, you might change the key, but you're not going to change both at once," she says.

Researchers say their study begins to "bridge the gap between scientific inquiry and child's play."

Remember that the next time you find flour scattered all over the kitchen. Scientific discovery can be messy.

When New Mom Can’t Breast-Feed, Dozens of Women Help Out

Eva van Dok Pinkley, a Brooklyn, N.Y., actress and magazine researcher can't breast-feed her newborn because she had a double mastectomy last year.

No matter. The London Daily Mail reports 25 women are pumping and donating their breast milk.

When New Mom Can’t Breast-Feed, Dozens of Women Help Out
"What they are doing, it's not easy to do," van Dok Pinkley tells the newspaper. "I'm just stunned at the amount of trouble that they are going through for me. I think of them and what they have done and give thanks."

Van Dok Pinkley got pregnant last September after a battle with breast cancer so intense she had given up having children. She had abandoned hope after miscarriages, failed fertility treatments and then her cancer.

When she and her husband, Stuart, finally found out they were having a baby, she knew she couldn't breast-feed. So she began doing research on the Internet.

After consultations with doctors and lactation consultants, the Mail reports, she began asking for donations from other expecting mothers at her yoga studio, via email lists and through friends.

Among the women who responded was Kristi Guigliano, the mother of an 8-month-old boy.

"The first time Eva and I met, it was a very emotional thing to, first of all, have found someone so perfect, so close and so in need of the milk," Guigliano tells the newspaper.

The Mail reports the women are either ongoing donors, one-time donors or soon-to-be moms who have pledged milk if they have some left over.

"When they told me what they were doing, I thought, 'Only in New York,' " Stuart Van Dok Pinkley tells the Mail.

Only in New York? Not really.

In 2009, ParentDish reported on Robbie Goodrich, a widowed English professor in Marquette, Mich. When his wife died shortly after his son, Moses, was born, more than two dozen women shared their breast milk with the infant.

Pregnant Moms Who Use Mouthwash Not as Likely to Have Preemies, Study Finds

"Floss, floss, floss!" You've been commanded by dentists for years to heed that advice. Now, it may be time to add "mouthwash, mouthwash, mouthwash!" to your oral health routine.

Lunch Box News - Pregnant Moms Who Use Mouthwash Not as Likely to Have Preemies, Study Finds
A new study finds pregnant moms with gum disease have a better chance of delivering full-term babies if they use mouthwash while they're expecting, Reuters reports, as pregnant women with periodontal disease have more premature babies than moms with healthy gums.

Researchers found when women used an alcohol-free mouth rinse, the risk of early labor seemed to be decreased by three-quarters, according to the news service.

Reuters notes staff and funding from the study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, came from Procter and Gamble -- a company that makes mouthwash.

The study doesn't draw specific conclusions, but Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, lead author and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, tells the news service dental care is crucial.

"They need to use a soft toothbrush and floss the right way," wrapping the floss around the tooth, she told Reuters in an earlier interview. "The first goal with almost all dental disease is prevention, prevention, prevention."

Teacher Reinstated After Blogging That Students are ‘Whiners’

A teacher in suburban Philadelphia blogged that her students are "rude, disengaged, lazy whiners."

No doubt. They're high school students.

Lunch Box News - Teacher Reinstated After Blogging That Students are Whiners
But can anyone be that honest and remain employed? Natalie Munroe has defied the odds. Reuters news service reports the English teacher will return to face a fresh crop of rude, disengaged, lazy whiners in the fall. She might just select different adjectives.

Munroe was suspended with pay earlier this year after her comments ("My students are of out of control," she blogged) turned parents into a chorus of scorched cats.

Although school officials have reinstated her, Reuters reports Munroe has misgivings about returning to Central Bucks East High School on Aug. 30. She had to be escorted from the building in February.

"She wants to be an effective teacher and does not know what environment she will be going back to," her lawyer, Steven Rovner, tells Reuters.

Meanwhile, Munroe is blogging again. This time, Reuters reports, she's outlining the sequence of events that led to her return. She whines (uh, make that complains) she had to contact the district five times about returning and portrays the phone calls as unpleasant.

Not that it will keep her out of the classroom. She would just prefer a different high school.

"She's a teacher and will be glad to be going back to the classroom," Rovner tells Reuters. "As a teacher, she is like a celebrity now. Emotions would not be as high if she went to another school."

Tooth Fairy Latest Victim of the Economy

Cutting back on cable, new clothes and trips to the gas pump are all indicators of a bad economy, but when the Tooth Fairy starts shorting kids, you know things are serious.

The Denver Post reports U.S. kids are getting an average of $2.60 a tooth these days, compared with $3 a year ago, according to a recent survey by Visa. For those who don't like math, that's $.40 less than last year -- but still a heck of a lot more than we used to get, when a quarter was considered a score.

Lunch Boxes News - Tooth Fairy Latest Victim of the EconomyThorton, Colo. fourth grader Alicya Rodriguez tells the Post she gets a $1 a tooth. She may want to have a word with the Tooth Fairy. The average amount traded for teeth in the West is $2.80, while kids in the East get $2.10, kids in the South get $2.60 and kids in the Midwest get $2.80.

"The survey gives parents the opportunity to start talking with kids - even pretty little ones - about money management," Jason Alderman, Visa's senior director of financial education, tells the newspaper. Read more...

Go Ahead and Sleep With Your Toddler, Study Says

Does sleeping with a toddler leave the child socially maladjusted and lead to other developmental problems?

Not according to fresh research from Stony Brook University in New York.

Go Ahead and Sleep With Your Toddler, Study Says
"After statistical adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics, there were no behavioral or cognitive differences at age 5 between children who bed-shared with a parent during their toddler years and those who did not," researcher Lauren Hale of Stony Brook tells the website LiveScience.

LiveScience reports that's good news for roughly a third of parents who believe it's OK to sleep with toddlers. The rest of the parenting community is evenly split, according to the website, between those who oppose and those who have no opinion one way or the other.

Those who oppose it argue that it will give the child developmental problems down the road.

But researchers followed 944 low-income toddlers and their parents beginning when the children were a year old. After two years, any developmental problems could be traced to other factors (socioeconomic status, parenting style, etc.) rather than bed-sharing.

There was virtually no developmental difference between children who slept with a parent and those who slept on their own, Hale tells LiveScience.

"Since we did not find a difference, this study suggests that bed-sharing patterns are not contributing to divergent developmental trajectories," she says.

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends against sharing bed with infants because of the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, but Hale says that has nothing to do with this study.

"Our finding is not in conflict with this recommendation, because our study looked at bed-sharing at ages 1, 2 and 3 (past the period of infancy)," she tells LiveScience.

Helen Ball, a researcher at Durham University in England, wasn't involved in the study, but tells LiveScience it's welcome news.

"The study is helpful in debunking the myth that bed-sharing is associated with negative developmental outcomes," she says.

Working Moms Don’t Hurt Their Kids, Study Says

You can stop feeling guilty if you work away from your kids during the day.

Well, a little less guilty, anyway. You are a mother. A certain amount of guilt is part of the job description.

Working Moms Don’t Hurt Their Kids, Study Says
If not freedom from guilt, you can at least find validation from a British study that concludes mothers do not harm their young children emotionally or socially by going out to work.

As a matter of fact, London's Guardian newspaper reports, girls seem to benefit from being in a household where Mom works. Researchers from the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London found no evidence of detrimental effects on young children of mothers working part-time or full-time.

The ideal scenario for children, according to researchers, is for both parents to live at home and for both to be working. The Guardian reports the finding will encourage policymakers to help families stay together.

Lead researcher Anne McMunn tells the Guardian there seemed to be many benefits from both parents working "as long as parents are supported, do not have to work long hours and are able to combine child-rearing with paid work."

"In this study we did not see any evidence for a longer-term detrimental influence on child behavior of mothers working during the first year of life," she adds.

The Guardian reports thousands of parents, mostly mothers, answered questionnaires about their children in infancy and when they were 3 and 5. They covered external behaviors such as hyperactivity, tantrums and aggression, and internal ones including unhappiness, tearfulness and worry.

Katherine Rake, the chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute charity, tells the Guardian the study is welcome news.

"This study shows what mothers know intuitively," she says. "If you are able to get the balance right, your child and your career can both flourish."

Day 5 - The Kitchen Sink

Well here we are, the 5th and final day of sandwich recipes found all over the web.  Except today I took it upon myself to throw some ingredients together and see
school lunch sandwich burrito
if I could create something unique.  I also drew inspiration from the Great Sandwich Lawsuit of 2006 that I mentioned in previous posts.  Even though the verdict in that case was that a burrito was NOT a sandwich, I decided to concoct a recipe that combines elements of both a traditional sandwich and a burrito.  I started with a soft taco-size flour tortilla, then added black beans to form the base of what would appear to be a burrito.  But then the rest of the ingredients would be found in a sandwich, specifically things that HAD been used in the sandwiches I had made on Day 1 and Day 4.  These were low-fat alpine lace swiss cheese, smoked ham, pre-chopped salad mixture, sliced bell pepper, cucumber, and stone-ground mustard.  I’ll admit, this one was easily the messiest and most involved of the entire week’s crop, as you can see in this mid-assembly (photo on left).

The two main difficult parts of this recipe are heating the tortilla properly and rolling the tortilla.  To heat, I put an ungreased skillet on the stove and turned the heat up to medium-high. 
School lunch sandwich burrito
Then, although it seems like a very short period of time, I put the tortilla on the skiller for 10-15 seconds and then flipped it and kept it on for another 10 seconds.  This softens it up and makes it warm, so I made the bottom ingredient the cheese, followed by the beans which I had cooked for about 6-8 minutes under medium heat to further encourage the melting of the cheese and keep that tortilla soft.  I quickly piled on the rest of the ingredients and then attempted to roll the thing into a burrito.  I failed miserably on my first attempt and ended up eating it for breakfast over the sink like a taco.  Then I realized that the secret is to SQUEEZE the ingredients as you roll it.  First fold over the ends of the left and right side.  Then (yes you have to get your fingers messy) roll the part closest to you up and over with your palms down and your fingers curled under and into the ingredients, squeezing them into the tortilla as you go.  If you heated the tortilla properly and it was a fresh one, it will be nice and stretchable so you can just tuck the flap underneath so the burrito is sitting on the folded crease, like in this shot of the two finished burritos (photo on right).

The taste is not bad at all – basically like a sandwich with a twist or these wraps that you can get.  But for me, it’s the inclusion of the beans (and maybe next time I would use a little salsa) that makes it a true synthesis of the burrito and the sandwich…The Sandwich Burrito!!!!

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