Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"I don't like my kids." Say what??

Did you ever feel guilty for not liking your kids? I know some of you are appalled I would even ask such a question. But others of you get it. For some, liking our kids, or at least one in particular, does not come easily. 

Now, keep in mind, I'm not talking about loving your kids. That's a given. And, for the most part, love is just there. But like? Not so much. If you're really lucky, you have kids that are simply delightful... they're easy to like. But sometimes there's just that one who defies you at every turn or rubs you the wrong way. Perhaps they are too much like your own unlikable side (we all have one). 

When I was growing up, I believed my dad hated me, particularly during my pre-teen and teenage years. It was a heavy burden to carry... this supposed hatred from a father... and it molded me in many ways, most of which were not good. When you believe that even your own father hates you, it's hard to find anything lovable about yourself. Bad behavior ensued. I became a bully, so much so that at one of my class reunions, a classmate came up to me and told me I was his second least-favorite person in school. Wow. What an honor. I think I redeemed myself in his eyes, but it was bothersome knowing that for years he had despised me. 

As a young adult, I started seeing my dad in a different way. He was a proud man who, at only 45, was struck down by not one, but two, major heart attacks. Doctors gave him five years at most to live. My mother was only 37. Of course, back then, there were many more restrictions for heart patients -- no physical activity of any kind. No dancing. No mowing lawns. No sex. 

I was seven at the time and lost the daddy I knew. His medications (there were many) changed his personality. At least that's what my mom said. I often wonder if it was more the loss of dreams, the loss of self, the loss of what was and what would be/should be. Death peeked around every corner. We never knew when the "big one" would strike. As it turned out, he survived 11 more heart attacks in 18 years. My childhood and early adult years were overshadowed by ambulances, CPR, and ICUs. Even after I moved 250 miles away from home, whenever I'd hear a siren, I'd think Dad was heading to the hospital again.

As I look back on his life, I have a hard time grasping what he went through. I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been had his heart not been so damaged. I wonder what kind of dad I would have had. One thing I know for sure, however, is that my dad never hated me. I'm pretty sure he didn't like me much (I was a loud, demonstrative, dramatic little girl and he was a heart patient), but I know he loved me. He loved me like every daddy loves his daughters. He loved me like only a parent can. 

And I've come to terms with the idea that my father might not have liked me. I don't know that I would have liked me if I was my own daughter. When we have children, we get what we get. And they're not always the kids we'd dreamt of having, are they? So mamas (and papas) -- it's okay if you're not liking one of yours. What's not okay, however, is making them feel that they're unlovable. That's never, ever okay. Even if you have to pretend to like them, DO IT. And stop beating yourself up for how you're feeling. 

Love them, pretend to like them (if you must), and before long they just might grow into people you genuinely do like. I know that's what happened with Dad and me. And I'll be grateful forever that it did.

Sharing a bit of my story,

P.S. Just so you know, I happen to really, really like my kids. I've been blessed.

Friday, February 3, 2017

It's Vinegar Friday! Today we're serving up a fruity vinegar drink


Today, we're talking health for the entire family with guest blogger Shelly McGraw.

Fruity Vinegar Drink

There are numerous health benefits to adding apple cider vinegar to your diet. It can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, improve “gut” health, and even help with weight loss by improving your metabolism over time.

However, if you’re like me and struggle to get it down (even when heavily diluted by water) there is hope!

Not only did I want to figure out a way to add it to my diet but I wanted to start introducing apple cider vinegar to my three daughters as well.

So, after trying different combinations of ingredients, I came up with a quick and easy fruity vinegar drink that my family absolutely loves!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need: 
  • 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother” still in it. (I prefer the brand “bragg”)
  • 3-4 large organic strawberries chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup organic orange juice
  • ½ cup of organic cranberry apple juice or organic grape juice
  • A few pieces of ice
  • 1 12oz jar or glass

Makes 12oz. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. It’s even sweeter the next day!

I start with a 12oz jar.

 Next, I fill the bottom of the jar with a few pieces of ice.

I cut up 3-4 large organic strawberries into small pieces and add those on top.

Then, I add 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the “mother” still in it.

I then add 1 cup of orange juice.

Finally, I fill the remainder of the jar with ½ cup of organic fruit juice. Use cranberry apple juice for a slightly stronger taste or grape juice for a sweeter taste. Both are delicious!

Stir and enjoy!

Left is grape, right is cranberry apple.

You now have a refreshing drink that’s super easy to make and is packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, and apple cider vinegar!

Here are a few serving suggestions:
  • Drink whole jar as your fruit serving in the place of fresh fruit for that day. (I only recommend doing this once a week at the most.)
  • Make multiple batches and serve to your friends and family for a hot summer day treat.
  • Drink 1/3 or 1/4 of the jar with a meal as your fruit serving.
  • Take a sip each morning to help fight a cold.

I normally make this drink for my family about 2-3 times a month.

Good health doesn’t change overnight. Be patient and consistent with good nutrition and your body will gradually improve from the inside out.

Do you have a favorite way to drink apple cider vinegar? My family and I would love to try your recipe! 


A little bit about me:

I’m a wife of a great guy and a mom of 3 beautiful daughters and a handsome beagle named Rusty. I love God and I love people. For more about who I am, visit my blog called Lessons of Grace and Wisdom.

Lessons of Grace and Wisdom

Social Media:
Facebook: @shellymcgrawministries
Twitter: @shellymcgraw
Instagram: @shellymcgraw
Pinterest: Shelly McGraw


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Stretch marks -- what can you do?

Stretch marks. Some moms love them. After all, they're a sign of all they went through to bring a little one (or ones) into this world. They see them as badges of courage. For the rest of us who just might want to erase those outward signs of skin stretching far beyond what seems possible, guest blogger, Trisha Miller, returns to give us some advice.

Natural Methods for Reducing 
the Appearance of Stretch Marks

These are some of the best natural methods out there for potentially reducing the appearance of your stretch marks. With that being said, every body is different and everyone’s skin is different. I  cannot guarantee that any of these methods will work for everyone. 

Stretch marks are stubborn. They occur when skin is pushed to its absolute limit. So, please be aware that they may never go away completely, but you may be able to reduce their appearance.

Essential Oils

Frankincense is a sap derived from the Boswellia Sacra tree, used for centuries due to its healing qualities. The tree is domestic to the areas of Oman, Yemen and the Horn of Africa. It has been used for centuries due to its healing qualities. Before the use of more modern medicine, it was used in the actual healing process. It was placed directly on wounds to aid the body in healing. In current years, frankincense is used more for beauty remedies including the removal of dark spots, stretch marks, and acne scarring. Not only is frankincense wonderfully restorative, it’s also a fantastic protectant. When used on the skin, it can help remove scarring and prevent new skin damage from occurring.

How to Use: Add a few drops of frankincense to your favorite carrier oil (like coconut, avocado, or grapeseed oil) massage a small amount directly onto stretch marks and allow it to soak in completely. More essential oil does not equal better results. If you add too much essential oil to your mixture, you may experience discomfort on the skin. This is because essential oils are extremely concentrated and in most cases are suggested to be used with a carrier oil, not by themselves. Another great option is to use them with an air humidifier daily. Humidifiers are great for people with dry skin anyway. However, do not put the oils directly into the humidifier, as they could damage the unit. Rather, sprinkle a few drops of oil on a small cloth and drape it in front of the escaping steam to diffuse it into the air. A diffuser is another good option.

Aloe Vera

You may have heard of aloe vera gel being used to treat heat burns and sun burns. Like frankincense, aloe has been used for healing for hundreds of years. The aloe plant itself consists of many “leaves” that grow straight out of the stem, which lies underneath the surface of the ground. These leaves are thick and squishy and hold the actual aloe gel inside. The plant uses this gel to survive extreme temperatures, since aloe mostly grows in desert locales -- originating in places like Africa, Egypt, and the Arabian Peninsula. This plant can survive almost everywhere. It is because of this that we can benefit from the natural antiseptic that exists within the leaves. The gel is deeply reparative. When applied, it absorbs into the skin and helps it to repair itself from the inside.

How to Use: Grab your favorite aloe gel (it can be purchased in plant form or gel form -- just make sure you check the ingredients and make sure there are little to no unnecessary additives that could irritate your skin) and dab a small amount directly onto the scarred area. Massaging it into the skin is unnecessary. Once it is applied, allow the gel to fully dry. If there is any residue, remove it with a soft towel.

Castor Oil

This plant is indigenous to the Mediterranean area, Eastern Africa, as well as India. It has long been used in oil form for its medicinal properties, but other parts of the plant, including the leaves and bark, have been used for their antihistamine, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Castor oil can be purchased just about anywhere and is still commonly used for ailments such as constipation, reduction of scarring, and even to treat fungal infections (like athlete's foot and ringworm -- although I don’t suggest skipping a doctor’s appointment if you have a serious infection). Aside from all of the above effects, castor oil is thick in nature, which allows for extreme moisturization to dry, damaged skin and stretch marks.

How to Use: Castor oil can be applied directly to the skin, but due to its thickness, it does take awhile to dry. If you prefer, you can add some to another oil (like avocado, grapeseed, or coconut) and allow that to absorb for several minutes. Another option is to soak a cloth in castor oil and simply place it on the stretch marks. This makes for less of a mess and can be removed whenever you’re ready.

Every person in the world is born with imperfections. Many of us develop scars, spots, blemishes, and more throughout our lifetime. The best method for dealing with the appearance of stretch marks is to have an open mind. Accept your body as it is. Sure, everyone can use a bit of improvement here or there, but no one should be expected to have the perfect body. We see some things in society as imperfections simply because we don’t understand them. If we can spread acceptance of our bodies through positivity, hopefully less people will feel the need to change what nature and real life has given them.

Trisha Miller is a freelance writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan and is committed to an all-around eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle. You can follow her on Twitter @thatdangvegan and her blog (

Monday, January 23, 2017

Jack N' Jill and Luna: A perfect match!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received product and/or compensation in exchange for this review.

You know how your kids get money for Christmas and their birthdays and you're never really quite sure what to do with it? Of course, putting it into savings is always a good choice. But if Aunt Susie really wants you to buy something for your little one, I have a great suggestion for all that unused Christmas money. 

What could be better than buying your baby/toddler something they not only like, but is also good for them? 

Jack N' Jill gift sets won my heart when I saw they included a sleepover bag, perfect for going to Grandma's! Check out what the kit includes:

I mean, seriously, look at the fun they've put into a child's early tooth care regimen! The designs are whimsical and fun. And the Stage 3 Silicone Tooth & Gum Brush is perfect for taking care of those first teeth. Plus, with the non-choke guard, you don't have to worry about baby shoving the toothbrush down their throat! 

Since pictures are supposedly worth 1,000 words, I'll just let Luna show you how excited she was to receive this kit for Christmas. And, in true Green Grandma grandbaby fashion, she'll even show you how to use both types of toothbrushes!

I know I'm biased, but... how cute is she?? And how great are these kits? If your kids have never tried Jack N' Jill toothpaste, they're in for a treat! It's natural with organic flavors. What could be better than that?

At just $36.99, the Jack N' Jill Bunny, Dino, Hippo, or Koala Gift Kit is well-worth the money!

Reviewing it for you,

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mobility issues? Trouble bending? I might have an answer in this review

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received product and/or compensation in exchange for my honest review.

As many of you know, my life took a bit of a turn last month. For the past 12 years, I've run my own business called Speechless (I put words in your mouth!), offering writing, editing, and voice-over services to clients around the world. I added this blog to the mix in 2009 and have been happily working away at my two businesses since then. 

In late November, I received a phone call that resulted in my current situation. I am now running Dignity Home Care Professionals, a home care company in Pittsburgh. It's a far cry from what I've ever done, but I am enjoying it immensely. I am working with my daughter, Bethany, who is co-owner of Dignity, and that has been a delight. Years ago, Bethany and I talked about running a business together and here we are, doing just that. It's odd how life works out sometimes. If you'd told me six months ago I would be working a full-time job managing a company outside of my home, I would have told you you were crazy!

Even though I'm pouring much of myself into this new venture, I haven't abandoned Speechless or Green Grandma. As a matter of fact, for the last two nights, I had to come home from work and do narrations. As I write this review (which is what I'm getting to), it's nearing midnight.

I was asked to review a product last week that is absolutely perfect for my other business, as it's a product that is ideal for the elderly. So perfect, in fact, that I'm giving it to one of our clients tomorrow. The client is recovering from a broken hip and cannot bend. That makes putting on shoes especially difficult. And that's where this product comes in. It's a long-handled shoe horn. 

While the picture depicts a much younger and seemingly more fit person enjoying the benefits of this shoe horn, I feel it's more accurately suited for someone who struggles with mobility due to aging, injury, or loss of flexibility. And for them, it's a must-have. 

I toyed with the idea of keeping it for myself, but decided my client would get far more use out of it. Besides, at only $12.99, I can certainly afford to buy one of my own. The Shoe Horn by Vive comes with a Lifetime Guarantee. Designed with comfort in mind, it is 24" and made of a lightweight flexible plastic. Currently, there are 621 reviews on Amazon with a 4.5/5 overall rating!

I would have to give it 5 stars. I've used other shoe horns in the past and this one surpasses them in ease of use and quality. If you struggle with putting on your shoes or boots, or you know some seniors who would benefit from having a long-handed shoe horn of their own, I cannot recommend the Shoe Horn by Vive enough. Why not show your love on Valentine's Day by gifting your loved ones with a shoe horn? It's perfectly suited for a big red bow and nothing says "I love you" like a shoe horn, right? Well, maybe that's stretching it a bit, but you get the picture.

Reviewing it for you,

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