Parenting in Light of the Sinking of the Essex

What does parenting in the 21st century have to do with the sinking of a whaling ship, Essex, in 1821. Nothing, really. But I think our approach to parenting has a lot of do with what happened after the Essex sunk and the captain and 20 crew had to decide what to do next. Essentially, they had 3 choices—head to the nearest island grouping about 1200 miles away; head to the Hawaiian islands even farther away; head south 1000 miles to pick up some trade winds that could eventually cast them upon the South American coastline…an additional 3000 miles. All choices were fraught will peril. Rumor had it that the nearest island group was the home of a cannibalistic culture. To head to the Hawaiian Islands meant certain death; the small whaling boats could not weather the severe storm systems at that time of year. The third option, due to its length, held visions of starvation and thirst given the limited supplies aboard the small vessels. Eventually, the captain and crew chose to head to South America. Eight survived the ordeal and not without reverting to cannibalism.

According to Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles, fear is a form of storytelling. The story that the collective fears of the captain and crew of the Essex told them was that cannibalism (even though a rumor) was the worst of all possible outcomes. Because this fear was so lurid, it caused them to underplay the very real and probable outcome of death by starvation given a 4000 mile journey.

I see a direct connection to parenting. Often we underplay very real (and probable) concerns because of sensational (and statistically far less significant) fears. Every spring, I host a college series to inform SAS parents and families about issues concerning financing a college education as well as college admissions and parenting through the process. There is a lot of hype in media about the difficulty of getting into college when in fact more than 50% of four-year colleges/universities accept 75% or more of their applicants.[1] What seems to be less talked about is not getting into college, but actually completing the college degree. It is much more sensational to talk about a handful of colleges who admit less than 10% of their applicant pool. I think a more productive conversation would start with the question, “Apart from the ability to pay, what does it take for a student to complete an undergraduate degree?” followed by the question, “What am I doing today to insure that my student has the qualities/skills that it takes to accomplish this task…preferably in four years?”

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Is Butter Back?


For years, saturated fat has been blamed for high cholesterol levels and heart attacks. This overemphasis on reducing fat intake led many people to start substituting high carbohydrate, high sugar, processed foods for fats - bye, bye eggs, hello fat-free cookies! Read More »

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Broken Heart Syndrome

Written and illustrated by Celeste Cooper-Peel.

Heart Balloon CCPAnother Valentine's Day has passed. I often wonder where the time goes. It seems like yesterday my daughter was buying those little cards and sharing cut out hearts with her peers. Now, she's 15 and this year she had fun in a different way and I was happy to be involved.  My daughter invited a couple of friends for a sleep over. To prep, we visited a popular corner store and bought some decorative doughnuts.  This way, the little princesses could wake up on the big day and over indulge on heart-shaped goodies with sprinkles. I really can't believe that we've lived in Raleigh since 2000 and this is the first time we've hand selected the fine craftsmanship of the hot, beautifully decorated dough.

This brings me to my next mention. It does involve food as many events often do.Valentines Day CCP My husband is so sweet and he gets caught up in the Valentine’s Day world of cards and candy.  Almost like clockwork, he buys me and our daughter chocolate, separate boxes of course. What’s not to like about chocolate!  I love dark chocolate, even before it was announced that it was heart healthy.

Although this day is recognized as a heartfelt day, I can’t help but think of those who don’t have a special someone or perhaps they lost a sweetheart from a break up or worse. Read More »

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Salad Dressing Shake Up


Have you ever sprinkled sugar over your salad? Probably not, but as it turns out food companies have already done it for you!

Dressings can have up to a whopping 2 teaspoons of sugar in just 2 tablespoons- that’s 1/3 of your recommended sugar for the entire day. Wouldn’t you rather spend you sugar budget elsewhere?! I know I would!! Read More »

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Actions of L.O.V.E.

It’s February, so love is in the air (or at least hearts, chocolate, and roses are lining Heart 2015 ALPthe isles at the grocery store) in the weeks before Valentine’s Day.  For the singles in the house, don’t stop here!  The stats are in, and according to the , people who have healthy, quality relationships – not necessarily romantic -  are happier.  Having someone who accepts you for the whole you is self-validating and being accepted brings feelings of stability and happiness, and according to Abraham Maslow, belonging and being loved and self-actualization are two of the tiers fo Maslow’s hierarchy of [human psychological] needs.  The great news is that it doesn’t stop there, reciprocating in this friendship also brings joy!  So, give and get!  Give joy, get joy.  And how do you give joy?  Through actions of love. Read More »

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Ready for Change

We're back and very excited to be in 2015 with big changes at the RFC with the addition of our beautiful new cardio and weight room!  Speaking of change, this week, Pam Cole discusses change - possibly the hardest part of implementing those new year's resolutions.

PamHappy New Year!  For many the New Year means new beginnings which also means change.  But change is hard.  We’ve all heard that before, yet still we’re surprised when confronted with the prospect of change and just how challenging it can be.

One of the reasons is that most of our daily activities are done on auto pilot.  In fact, research shows that 95% of our day consists of automatic behaviors and habits.  Only 5% of our day involves conscious actions and energy.  That’s the secret sauce.  Energy!  To create change – a new habit or behavior – you have to apply energy.  So change that requires constant energy is destined to fail. Read More »

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Hidden in Plain Sight

By now most of us are at least aware of the fact that too much sugar isn’t good for us.  Check out this video and learn why we might want to reduce our sugar intake and also where to find some of these hidden sources of sugar.

Besides the “not so sweet” foods mentioned in the video (pasta sauce, salad dressing, ketchup, breads), other “healthy” foods that tend to be high in added sugar include:

Yogurt/Greek Yogurt

Yogurt is probably one of the biggest sources of added sugar for those people that think they are eating healthy. Most “yogurts” in the grocery store are more like pudding than yogurt.  Some can have up to 30g of sugar per container.  Get plain yogurt and mix in your own fresh fruit.

Energy bars/granola bars

Most bars are some combo of whole grains, nuts, seeds, and sugar. Sugar content can range from 5g per bar to 25g per bar. You can always make your own bars, or just toss some nuts and seeds in a small reusable container and bring along a piece of fruit for an easy portable snack that will give you long lasting energy.


Cereal is another contributor to added sugar intake.  Many of the “healthy” cereals are loaded with sugar. Some granolas can have up to 30g of sugar per serving.  Choose plain rolled oats, unsweetened shredded wheat or make your own hot cereal out of any whole grain (quinoa, amaranth, etc.).

Added sugars have been all over the media lately. One study that has been getting a lot of attention is a large, prospective study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This study reported that adults with diets highest in added sugar had substantially higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to people with the lowest amounts.  Many other studies have concluded that there is definitely a significant relationship between added sugar and cardiovascular disease, arguing that a high sugar intake is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

So, remember, the goal is to cut down your refined sugar intake as much as possible. So make sure you choose real, whole foods as much as possible, and always read the ingredients in processed foods to find those hidden sugars.

Homemade Ketchup

Makes approximately 10 ounces

This quick and easy recipe is a great way to help reduce your refined sugar intake. For a more complex flavor check out this recipe for a longer more involved ketchup (but well worth the time).




1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup water or broth
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 Tablespoon onion powder
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch cayenne
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place everything in a medium saucepan, mix well and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.   Store in refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 month.

Note: If you like your ketchup a little thinner simply add a little more water.


Nutrition Facts per Tablespoon: 10 calories, 0g fat, 65mg sodium, 2g carbohydrates (1g sugar), 0g protein


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Soft Drinks, Diet Sodas and Juices, Oh My!

Healthier Alternatives to Quench Your Thirst

water_openingWith research linking sugar to heart disease, diabetes and GI imbalances, many of us are trying to reduce or eliminate sugar. And to add salt (or sugar) to the wound, new studies are suggesting that some artificial sweeteners ALSO have negative health consequences.

When we look at the major sources of sugar and artificial sweeteners in our food supply, beverages like soft drinks, diet sodas and juices stand out as the biggest contributors for most Westerners. So, if we eliminate sugary and artificially sweetened beverages and juices, what’s left to drink?

With a little creativity and retraining of your taste buds, these 3 flavorful beverages can give you something to look forward to when it’s time to wet your whistle. And, bonus, each option offers health benefits.

Green and Black Tea


If you haven’t yet developed a taste for fresh brewed green or black tea, keep working on it. It’s worth the effort! Some health experts recommend drinking 3 – 4 cups of green and/or black tea daily and here’s why:

Green tea contains a phytonutrient called Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. EGCG is a catechin which is a natural and powerful antioxidant which prevents oxidative damage in our healthy cells. Research has shown EGCG provides anticancer and antitumor properties throughout our bodies. Green (and white) teas are highest in EGCG while black tea contains smaller amounts due to oxidation that occurs during processing which alters the EGCG.

Black tea is high in an amino acid called L-Theonine. L-Theonine has been shown in some studies to reduce the body’s response to stress both physically and psychologically. In addition, studies found that tea drinkers experienced a more relaxed mental state in spite of the caffeine found in the tea. If caffeine is particularly a problem for you, a decaf version that uses a chemical-free, super critical carbon dioxide (CO2) decaffeination process can offer similar health benefits.

Be sure to skip the processed or bottled versions of tea and brew your own (we’re talking 1 - 3 minutes here). Train yourself to enjoy it without added sweeteners. If you require a touch of sweetness in your learning curve, add a couple of drops of honey, maple syrup or whole leaf stevia.

Flavored Herbal Teas


If regular tea doesn’t float your boat, give flavored herbal teas a try. Most herbal teas are caffeine free which is a good option for those wanting to avoid caffeine.

You can find a variety of flavors to suit any taste buds like:

  • fruit: blueberry, apple, pomegranate, raspberry, orange
  • sweet and spicy: peppermint, cinnamon, mint
  • savory: ginger

Some of the sweet and spicy varieties are amazingly sweet without added sugar or artificial ingredients. One of my favorites is Good Earth® Sweet and Spicy Caffeine Free Herbal Tea.

Fruit Infused Waters

Infused waters have become a popular commodity for folks trying to lower their sugar intake but who struggle with the mundaneness of plain water. They are a simple, healthy way to personalize your water to the flavors you love.

Check out this video to learn how you can add pleasure to plain water.

You can use fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables like these to create endless flavor combinations:


Pair them with these complimentary spices and herbs for an extra kick of flavor:


Here are some flavor combinations that work well together:


Try this simple recipe to get started then change out the fruit and herbs as desired.

Blackberry, Pineapple and Mint Infused Water

6 cups ice
1 ½ cups unsweetened blackberries, fresh or frozen
1 ½ cups unsweetened pineapple, fresh or frozen
8 fresh mint leaves
1 ½ - 2 quarts filtered or sparkling water


  1. Pour the ice into a pitcher.
  2. Add the fruit to the pitcher and tamp the fruit with a spoon to release the juices.
  3. Scrunch the mint leaves between your fingers to release the oils and add them to the pitcher.
  4. Fill the pitcher with filtered or sparkling water.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 3-12 hours.
  6. Fill your water bottles and enjoy your flavored water all day.

Chef’s Note: You can also make flavored water in individual pint-sized jars.


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Happy Holidays from the RFC

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2014 Holiday Card Small

The RFC is closed during winter break, but don’t miss out on a chance to burn a few of those extra holiday calories with the RFC’s 12 Days of Fitness Workout by Pam Cole!  Please check with your health care provider prior to starting a new exercise routine.

Photos by Edie Henninger.

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Sweet Season for Giving


We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who donated their leftover (and excess) Halloween candy this year, you outdid yourselves!! We tipped the scales at more than 265 pounds of candy- 45 more pounds than we collected last year!

So what happened to ALL that candy? Well, we are happy to report that we were able to donate the candy to NCPacks4Patriots. The candy, along with other items such as holiday decorations, games, food, toiletries, and more will be distributed to our deserving service men and women, both local and deployed.

SAS is a Hero

CandyBoxesKeith Stallings from NCPacks4Patriots happily picked up 12 boxes of candy…yes, 12! deliver to NC Packs4Patriots. Keith later told us:

“Your generous donation saved the day! NCPacks4Patriots has received very little candy from Halloween donations this year, and the 265 lbs you donated were a welcome sight and a big hit.

We stuffed 510 stockings for military personnel stationed overseas. These particular stockings will be distributed to the crews of the USS George Washington and USS Carl Vinson, two aircraft carriers. 510 stockings for over 10,000 sailors might not sound like much, but it’s a big deal when it’s combined with the donations from other organizations. Plus, the sailors who get the stockings will share them with their teams! Trust me- you touched a lot of lives with your donation.

Thanks again for helping NCPacks4Patriots bring a smile to so many of our military personnel who will be away from home during the holidays.”


And there’s more good news! Less than half of the candy was used to create the stockings, so your donation is going to touch many, many more lives.

Once again, the SAS family has displayed a kindness that is very appropriate for the holiday season. Thank you for putting your candy to a good cause; Treats for Trade was yet again a huge success!!

Sugar Cookie Foot Scrub
Makes ½ pint
Recipe from:


Having a hard time figuring out what to get the people in your life that have everything? How about a DIY Foot Scrub that smells just like sugar cookies?!

This unique and thoughtful gift can be whipped up in minutes with just a few pantry staples. Pair it with some warm, fuzzy socks and you’ve got the perfect gift set! The holidays can be a stressful time, so be sure to save a little for yourself- your feet will thank you later!



2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1 half pint glass jar
Ribbon or baker’s twine


1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk sugars until completely combined.


2. Add olive oil and vanilla extract and mash together with a fork until all of the oil is combined into the sugars.


3. Pack mixture into glass jar.


4. Tie a decorative bow around the mouth of the jar with festive ribbon or baker’s twine. Create your own label or use this printable version. Adhere label to front of jar and/or lid.


5. Give as a gift or enjoy yourself! Stored in a cool, dry place, this scrub should last several months.

Notes: I placed a piece of clear packing tape on top of the label to adhere it to the jar. This will help make it more “water resistant” and help the label stay on the jar better.

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