Thursday, April 23, 2015

Children’s Program Review: Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse

by M. J. Joachim

Materialism and supreme self-indulgence were among the first words that came to mind when I watched Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse. I’ve never been a huge fan of Barbie anyway - negative self image messages aside, she never fit the bill for what I believe woman should aspire to be.

Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse is a major disappointment, and for many more reasons than one might think. Let me share the short list, which you can expand upon simply by adding anything and everything related to the same categories.

  • Male and female stereotypes (extremely dated, outdated and everything in between)
  • Dumb characters (literally acting beyond stupid in their roles)
  • Vanity (promoted, expected and influenced as a positive attribute for anyone watching)
  • Greed (strongly encouraged)
  • Immediate satisfaction (everything is easy, no one has to work, life is about getting what you want NOW)
  • Sexuality exploitation (girls getting way too girlie to please and keep the boys; boys being way too macho for their own good to get attention from the girls - Mattel makes money on this message)
  • Infighting (Who knew there were so many sides in the Barbie Wars?!)
  • False self image (girls don’t and never will really look like that; neither will boys)
I could go on…

Instead I’ll simply say that if there were a list of shows trying to dumb down our kids, this one would definitely be near or at the top of the list.

I know there are a lot of Barbie fans out there; I also know there’s a whole lot of money to be made on collectible Barbies and I’m pretty sure Barbie is one of Mattel’s most successful toy lines. Well, I guess we can surmise why this show made the airwaves. Follow the money trail. Such a sad state of affairs when money is so much more important than providing our kids with positive and meaningful messages in their program choices.

Here’s to raising healthy, happy and educated kids, regardless of any message the toy market sends their way.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Barbie Dreamhouse, Barry Haynes, CCA-Share Alike 3.0 License

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Children’s Program Review: Life (BBC TV Series)

by M. J. Joachim

Life is an amazing show featuring detailed documentaries about all types of animals and their behavior. Narrated by David Attenborough, this series provides intriguing videos that can easily capture the attention of kids of all ages, allowing everyone to get up close and personal with living animals in their native habitats, watch their mating traditions, see their survival skills at work and learn about them while enjoying their contribution to our world.

This series seemed to spare no expense in providing unique close-ups of the animals being discussed, which is undoubtedly why it became an international success story, after it was sold for world wide distribution. Episodes have been re-scripted, edited and tailored to their respective audiences around the globe. Oprah Winfrey narrates Discovery Channel’s American version of the series. Though I haven’t seen this one, I’m sure I will enjoy it, if given the chance. The original BBC version I watched was on Kids Netflix channel.

If you love animals or are just curious about their behavior when no one else is looking, you will most likely enjoy BBC’s Life series, or any of its series made available in your country.

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading this review today. Here’s to learning more about animals than we ever thought possible, and seeing them in their natural habitats too.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: US Fair Use Copyright

Children’s Program Review: Maya the Bee

Maya the Bee is loosely based on a German tale written in 1912. Maya is a free-spirit learning to work as a team member. Ultimately, she ends up being true to herself, leaving the hive and making many friends along the way. She’s one of those difficult little personalities who likes to think for herself. Yet she earns the respect of many in her former hive, and she proves herself to be a true friend.

The animation of this children’s program is vibrant and delightful. The stories are interesting and thoughtful. There are several science lessons taught, everything from how bees live in hives to different types of flowers and how they are pollinated. There are other characters that come into play teaching how grasshoppers make noise, worm dig underground and all critters depend on each other for various reasons.

I suppose the best endorsement I can give for Maya and the Bee is that it makes me happy. It’s a fun show that teaches teamwork, while praising individuals for their unique gifts and talents. It also teaches young children a lot about the great outdoors, which I believe is so important. If you have little ones, I'm sure you can rest easy when you let them watch Maya and the Bee.

You can find Maya the Bee on Youtube, Netflix, television and in several places on the web. 2014 even released a movie based on Maya the Bee, and you can also find traditional and ebooks through various free and paid sites on the web.

As a mother and grandma, this Children's Program Review series is very enlightening for me to work on. I hope it helps you in your quest to make positive viewing choices for your children too.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Pixabay, Nick Rivers, CC0-Public Domain License

Health & Wellness: Digestive Issues and Elimination

by M. J. Joachim

I was watching Shark Tank a few weeks ago when the owners of Squatty Potty made their pitch. Shark Tank is an American reality show where entrepreneurs can ask successful venture capitalists to help them financially jumpstart their businesses. Squatty Potty is a specially designed footstool with the goal of helping people feel better by eliminating waste from their bodies more efficiently and proficiently.

While I didn’t run out and purchase the product at record speed, the concept of it was not lost on me. If you’ve ever had chronic digestive issues, you know elimination is an element of them that could always use improvement. As someone with Celiac disease, this is something I state unequivocally. However, I’m also a bit of a sceptic, and decided to test the theory first.

Ever the one to think outside the box, but not one to take credit that isn’t mine, my daughter suggested propping our feet up on the bathroom trashcan to see if squatting is a viable option for eliminating waste more effectively. It is, and we didn’t need to purchase a squatty potty to prove it. That said, I’m planning to pick one up sometime in the not too distant future, as the rim of the trashcan is rather uncomfortable on the bottom of my feet.

Cavemen and all of our “uncivilized” ancestors squatted. From what I understand, so do a lot of avid campers and hikers, who spend days at a time in rugged nature settings where toilets are simply not available. Our spines, and therefore, our digestive tracks, line up in a straight line when we squat, making it easier to eliminate waste without kinking our intestines, thereby blocking the flow of elimination and possibly leaving unnecessary remnants in our bodies, which can and sometimes do make us feel a little (or a lot) under the weather.

It makes perfect sense to me, and having tested the theory, I’m convinced it’s a rather good idea. Obviously, we’re still required to eat right, exercise regularly, get quality sleep and avoid unnecessary anxiety in our lives, but as for the goal of improving digestive issues and eliminating waste more efficiently and effectively, the idea of squatting when you potty seems to be a very good idea.

Here’s to feeling good!

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Toilet with flush tank, GNU Free Documentation License

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Children’s Program Review: Uncle Grandpa

by M. J. Joachim

Uncle Grandpa is undoubtedly one of the strangest and most unacceptable programs I’ve watched so far! The subliminal sexual connotations are beyond disturbing, and it’s lack of respect for authority figures definitely gives children the wrong message!

Watching this show made my stomach turn. The illustrated phallic symbols and dialog are completely inappropriate, so much so that I’m not sure how it got disguised as a kids show meant to help children with their problems. And some of these problems - well, they are nothing more than an excuse to draw more phallic pictures, create more phallic dialog and animate some really gross scripting.

History revealed that Uncle Grandpa is a spin off of Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, which didn’t do well with its ratings and was put on hiatus. I guess this show won a few awards despite being rejected by the majority of viewers, so producers and the Cartoon Network gave Uncle Grandpa a try.

Regardless, this is not a good show, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for pre-pubescent teens or anything. In fact, I’d block it from youtube, netflix and anything else if I could, especially if I had teens in the house again. It’s weird, gross and not worthy of a viewership at all! Even the name is creepy!

How do you feel about sexual subliminal messages being in your face and too difficult to ignore? Do you think it’s appropriate for kids to be exposed to extremely sexual messages in a cartoon show? What do you think about the name of this show? And are you concerned that too much of the programming geared toward kids has a lack of respect for authority?

Thanks so much for visiting Effectively Human today. Please take a moment to comment and let me know you’ve stopped by. I really appreciate your visits and would love to visit your blog too.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Uncle Grandpa main characters, US Copyright Fair Use Law

Health & Nutrition: Rhubarb

by M. J. Joachim

Upon learning that rhubarb leaves contain high amounts of oxalic acid and are poisonous, I quickly moved my new rhubarb plant to the front yard, where kids and pets wouldn’t accidentally ingest it. Then I proceeded to research the health benefits of this plant. I have fond memories of eating rhubarb pie as a child, which is why I spontaneously picked up a couple of plants when I was at the garden store recently.

Rhubarb stalks are similar to celery stalks, containing lots of fiber and minimal calories. This loosely translates into the idea that they aid in digestion. Rhubarb is in fact a vegetable, but is considered a fruit in the U. S., most likely because we add sugar and use it more for culinary desserts and jams than anything else.

According to Prescription for Nutritional Healing by, Phyllis A. Balch CNC and James F. Balch M. D., (Rhubarb) “fights infection and eliminates worms.” Numerous sources claim it is eases constipation, helps heal colon, spleen and liver ailments and has a lot of necessary vitamins and nutrients necessary to fight various cancers and alzheimer’s disease. It is said to be high in calcium and rich in Vitamin K and essential B vitamins, as well. A U.S. government study conducted in 2009 indicates that rhubarb “has a noticeable antidiabetic effect and could potentially be used as a new agent to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus and its complications.

However, there is some contradiction in the research. It seems the ancient rhubarb plant, da huang, is one of the oldest healing plants in Chinese medicine. Used primarily for its root, and often sold as a powder in homeopathic and health food stores, this particular rhubarb is quite different from the species sold in grocery stores today. Several sources claim the high amount of oxalates in rhubarb promote kidney stone formation. High concentrations of oxalates is another reason to avoid eating rhubarb raw, as this can be problematic; processing helps break down oxalates in the cooking cycle. (Not to mention, rhubarb is very sour and bitter, thus making it almost mandatory to add some sort of sweetener before consumption.)

The beauty of the rhubarb plant is what prompted me to purchase it in the first place, that and the fond memories of rhubarb pie mentioned earlier. The leaves are broad, quite delicate and very pretty. Placed these on top of that bright red stalk, and it truly is a gorgeous plant. I may well cut the stalks and use them as filling for thumbprint cookies when my plants are fully mature. However, I don’t think I’ll be going crazy over this plant anytime soon, considering there are plenty of ways to get Vitamin B’s, K and fiber, without worrying about high concentrations of oxalates.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. And please leave a comment sharing your thoughts and knowledge about rhubarb with me.

M. J.

Food Your Miracle Medicine, Jean Carper ©1994
The Ultimate Calorie, Carb, and Fat Gram Counter, Lee Ann Holzmeister, RD, DCE ©2010
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch CNC & James F. Balch MD ©2000
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies, C. Norman Shealy MD, PhD ©2002

©2015 All Rights Reserved  Photo credit: M. J. Joachim, rhubarb, ©2015 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Children’s Program Review: Curious George

by M. J. Joachim

Fond memories of reading Curious George books as a child flooded my mind as I spent some time watching Curious George today. Narrated by William H. Macy, this children’s animated series is unmistakably charming. Stories come to life, sharing the curious nature of George and the man in the yellow hat.

Within each story are educational lessons about science, math and other problem solving activities. Friendship is an important theme, as George and other characters spend time helping their friends and neighbors, along with continuously striving to make their community a better place to live. Teamwork is also an important theme stressed throughout these animated short story clips.

Language is simple enough for very young children, with lessons and themes that are appropriate for older kids too. This is one where parents can’t go wrong, in my opinion, because it’s light, fun, educational and thoughtful. Besides, who doesn’t love a curious monkey? And yes, there is an app for that:

Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting today,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Curious George, US-Fair Use Copyright Law