Monday, November 30, 2009

Food allergies on the rise in children



I heard some disturbing news this past weekend. Apparently 4% of children now suffer from food allergies. This may sound like a relatively insignificant number, but when you consider that over 10,000 hospitalizations occur yearly because of food allergies in children, and that approximately 100 deaths occur because of food-related anaphylaxis (mostly children), the significance factor rises up a few notches.

The big question, however, is why this is happening.

While there are many different ideas being tossed about, one of the proven theories has to do with feeding infants solid food when they are too young to properly digest it. Let's look at some of the reasons why you should not feed your baby solid food, even cereal, before he/she is four to six months old:

First of all, young infants have not physically developed enough to properly swallow solid food. In order to swallow, you must move the food in your mouth to the back. Young babies simply can't do this without gagging.

Secondly, they're not able to break down the solid foods properly which often results in GI distress.

The third reason why experts advise against feeding babies solid foods before they are four to six months old is because doing so can lead to food allergies.

Once it's time to introduce solid foods to your baby's diet, start off slow. One small spoonful of cereal (usually rice cereal fortified with iron, but check with your pediatrician) is enough for that first feeding. Within a few days you can start to increase the amount of cereal you give your child. Mix the cereal with breast milk, which is preferable, or formula.

Gradually introduce other foods to your baby, starting with pureed vegetables and fruits. Do not introduce new foods more frequently than every three or four days, so you can see if your little one has any allergies to the new foods. Generally, it's best to start him/her on new foods early in the day so if there is a bad reaction, you won't be comforting him/her at three a.m.

Hold off on introducing meats to your baby's diet until he/she is eight months old or so, due to the high protein content.


Food allergies can be a serious, lifelong problem and your children are counting on you to do what's best for them. So, the next time you get advice from someone to start giving your one- or two-month old cereal to help him/her sleep through the night, politely ignore their suggestion. A few months of sleepless nights now more than compensates for a lifetime of grieving the loss of a child who died from food-related anaphylaxis that may have been prevented had you only held off on feeding him/her solid foods too soon.


Keeping it healthy,

Hana
 
Photo courtesy of Bethany Schad

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday...a blessing or a curse


I'm not one to rush out on Black Friday and battle the crowds for a deal. As a matter of fact, I purposefully hole up in my home on that day and avoid the malls. But I certainly don't bemoan the brave (or crazy) souls who choose to embrace the challenge of getting a good deal.

Then there are those who will complain that Christmas is too commercialized and either forsake Americanized traditions or will partake, but moan and groan about it continually. The emergence of sayings such as, "Jesus is the reason for the season," did little more than create more products to buy to advertise that very fact in your home. However, regardless of your spiritual leaning, Jesus IS the reason for the season, and no amount of commercialization can change that.

Yes, I know the day started off as a pagan holiday, but it's been transformed, shall we say, "reborn," and is, without a doubt, a day where Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Emmanuel...the day when God Himself chose to come and dwell with us.

But what about the commercialism? Hasn't that tainted a "holy" holiday?

Not in my opinion. I celebrate the commercialization. Why? For a variety of reasons.

As a Christian, I find it refreshing to hear carols wherever I go, whether I'm in the mall, a doctor's office, a workplace, a flower shop...at what other time of year do you hear the name of Christ proclaimed so unashamedly? I rejoice to hear The First Noel or O Holy Night when I'm grocery shopping or getting my hair cut. I see it as creative evangelism.

Another reason I'm all for the commercialization of Christmas is because, despite the fact that it may bring out the worst in people (particularly on Black Friday), it also brings out the best in them. There is no other time of year when people reach as deeply into their pockets and give. Whether it's giving of a present to a family member or friend, taking cookies to a neighbor, leaving a generous tip for a waiter, slipping a twenty dollar bill into a red kettle or writing a check to a charity, December's giving far exceeds any other month of the year.

Think for a moment what would happen if we eliminated Christmas as a national holiday...if we stopped the commercialization in its tracks. Within the next few years, how many of your favorite retail stores would close their doors? How many non-profits would cease to exist. How many homeless people would die without organizations like the Salvation Army offering shelter and a warm meal? It's rather scary when you think about it.

And what will happen to the Christmas story two or three generations from now? Would it cease to exist as well in the minds of the majority of Americans?

Would Christmas become a quiet holiday shared only by the faithful few who still believed the God who created the Universe would come to earth as a newborn babe? That seems like a far cry from the glory that surrounded that first Christmas as angels sang and announced the birth of a Savior and shepherds rushed to worship Emmanuel. And let's not forget the journey of the Magi -- seeking out their King and bearing gifts.

Singing. Rushing. Giving gifts. Christmas. I celebrate the birth of my Savior. And I celebrate the commercialization of His birthday. When you hear someone saying "Merry Christmas" as they leave a store or restaurant, it just might be me. It may not be politically correct, but let's face it folks...it's what it's all about.

Keeping it real,

Hana

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Psalm for Thanksgiving


Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us,
and not we ourselves;
We are His people
and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His loving kindness everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations.

                                       -- Psalm 100

From my family to yours...
wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Getting ready for Thanksgiving


I love Thanksgiving, even though I'm not a huge fan of turkey and I pretty much hate football. What I love is gathering around the table with family and talking. I love the smells. I love not having to rush around buying and wrapping gifts (not that I don't like giving gifts...I do, but it's nice to have a holiday that doesn't involve it).

We do something special as we sit around the table on Thanksgiving...and other holidays as well. It's become a tradition that used to evoke groans from the kids, but now has become an expected part of our gatherings. As a matter of fact, the first time I skipped it (because I was tired of their complaining) they groaned even louder! I guess they liked it after all.

What generated such a fuss through the years? Questions. I spend some time prior to each holiday dinner composing questions for my guests. Sometimes it's just the family gathered around the table, and sometimes we are fortunate enough to include friends or extended family.

Everyone at the table takes a question, without looking at it. As dinner or dessert is wrapping up, we go around the table, read our questions and share our answers. This allows everyone an opportunity to speak and be heard and it gives us all a chance to learn something we often didn't know about each other.

The questions are related to the particular holiday we're celebrating. For instance, my husband's brothers and their wives joined us for Labor Day one year and the work-related questions revealed so much about them that we didn't know; like how one of the brothers would have liked to have been a professional singer if he had worked his ideal job (I didn't even know he could sing!) and how his wife always wanted to work in the neonatal nursery rocking the premies.

Thanksgiving questions naturally revolve around thankfulness and sharing the feast. Here are some of the questions from past years:

If you could have anyone else here at the table with us, who would it be? Of course, this question often brings tears.

If you could have someone you've never met at the table with us, who would that be? Oddly enough, my mother said, 'Bob Newhart.' We found that amusing!

What happened during the past year that you are most thankful for? This question got my son-in-law in trouble when he neglected to mention marrying my daughter that year! He chooses his answers more carefully now!

If you couldn't be here with us for Thanksgiving dinner, where would you like to be?

You get the idea. Christmas questions include: What's your favorite Christmas movie? and What's the favorite Christmas present you ever received?

Why am I including this in the Green Grandma blog? Quite simply because building stronger relationships with our kids is part of having a healthy family. And this does help build stronger relationships. Giving every child a chance to have "center stage" at a dining room table full of chatty adults can do wonders for his self esteem. Of course, there can't be any criticism or mocking of what he has to say and that guideline should be established before the questions are even passed out.

The challenge of having grown children is having to share them with their in-laws. Holidays tend to be little more than stressful days of running here and there and eating way too much. That's why we're celebrating Thanksgiving today, on Wednesday, so they're free to enjoy their Thursday with their other families. I'll find it a bit lonely to prepare the meal alone as my husband, who usually prepares the turkey, spends his day at work. But the pay off will be a relaxed group of people gathering around the table, enjoying the bounty which God has richly provided, laughing at the lovely little Lady Laura's antics, and sharing our answers once more.

It should be a wonderful evening. And this year, that's what I'm thankful for.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving surrounded by the people you love and filled to overflowing with gratitude.

Hana

A poem about my daughter, Jess

Charity

I found her sitting in front of the Christmas tree,
colored lights sparkling in her tears.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Have you finished shopping for me yet?"

I hadn't
so she asked me not to buy her anything else.

Was this guilt talking?
Had she done something wrong?

A second question came in a quivering voice.

"Can we give the money
you were going to spend on me
to the homeless?"

Immediately her tears made sense.

Here we were,
with all of this
while some people,
right here in our city,
didn't even own a coat.

Letting my own tears reflect those of my little girl's
I reached for my checkbook.


True joy was not found in the wrapped presents that year.
Rather it was nestled in the bare spots
underneath the tree.

-- Hana Haatainen Caye
    copyright 2007

Monday, November 23, 2009

Keeping it green with gift giving

As the holidays approach, I've been focusing on how to have a greener Christmas. From what to buy to how to wrap, I'll be sharing some of my ideas, and those of others, with you over the next couple of weeks.

On Sunday I taught an adult Sunday School class on this very subject. The discussions were enlightening and some of the ideas are worth noting. My lesson started off with some wonderful quotes from Christian leaders about the environment (including the one I posted yesterday by Billy Graham) and then we moved on to discussing how we can all have a more sustainable Christmas. Our first topic was Green Shopping. Below are some of the ideas shared in the class:
  • Give gifts of service
Examples included giving handmade gift certificates for babysitting, making a meal, doing someone's grocery shopping or laundry, washing someone's car, etc.

I told the story of one of my favorite Mother's Days. I was away for the day and when I returned, two of my daughters (Bethany and Jess) and one of my sons-in-law (Tom) bought the groceries and prepared a wonderful meal, served it on the patio and then cleaned everything up. Marvelous. A day I will always remember. If they decided to do that for me yearly rather than buying me presents, I'd be thrilled.
  • Give gifts of shared experiences
Spending time with someone can be the greatest gift of all. Why not buy theater or concert tickets as presents and make sure you're the one accompanying the recipient to the event.

Plan a weekend getaway and surprise a friend or family member with a mini-vacation. I've been best friends with Dawn since we started kindergarten and in a couple of years we'll be celebrating our Golden Anniversary. I feel especially blessed to have stayed close throughout nearly five decades, despite the fact we live nearly 250 miles away from each other. Last week we decided we would go on a trip together to celebrate in 2012. This gift we're giving each other is something we're both looking forward to.
  • Give gifts with a history and/or sentimental value
Put together a photo album. Give away an heirloom. Make sure you share a memory or the value of the item to you personally. While you may not be able to put a price tag on it, when you give a way something that is close to your heart, the gift is, well....priceless.
  • Give consumable gifts
So many of us have too many things already. Not that it's not nice to occasionally add a piece to a collection we have, or to be given a new item of clothing or an accessory, but don't you appreciate it when you get a delicious plate of cookies or a bottle of your favorite wine? A pound or two of fair trade coffee is a perfect gift for the java lover on your gift list.

I consider gifts that will be used up to fit in this category as well, such as flowers, candles, bath products, body lotions, etc. If these are the types of gifts you like to give, look for green options, which can be found in stores like Aveda.

One of the women in my class said she used to cut branches of evergreens and make wreaths and centerpieces to give away. What an excellent idea which I'm sure was well-received!

Another woman in the group told of how one year she took decorative boxes, filled them with birdseed and then buried money in the seed. What fun the kids had trying to find their 'buried treasure!' Of course, the birds benefited from the gifts as well.
  • Give live gifts 
Now I'm certainly not advocating running out and adopting a puppy for your grandson. This is generally not a good idea. Never give a pet as a gift to an unsuspecting recipient!

However, a live plant can be a good choice. Ask your local nursery expert which plants are easy to care for and find out the benefits of the plant you choose. For example, is it a plant that absorbs formaldehyde? That would be perfect for a new office building setting, where the air quality can actually be hazardous. Give the gift of a healthier workday with toxin-eating plants.
  • Give used gifts
This used to be taboo, but with the higher quality of goods in many resale shops now, you can find some fantastic deals on items you could normally not afford to buy new. Of course, there are things you want to steer clear of, such as upholstered furniture, throw pillows, certain clothing items, etc., but occasionally you'll stumble upon an item that is part of a collection your sister has, or a plate or bowl from your mother-in-law's China pattern. You just never know what you'll find that will actually thrill the recipient more than anything you would buy from a regular retail store. Plus, many times you'll find brand new gifts at places like Goodwill, which, if you've been following my blog, you already know I'm a huge fan of. If you know something is valued at $25 and you pick it up for $4.99, who's going to know the difference? Besides, these gifts come at no cost to the environment, which should make your eco-minded friends and family members especially happy!
  • Give gifts that are battery-free
You can read all about my thoughts on batteries on my blog post from September 14, 2009.
  • Give homemade gifts
Back in the days when being a stay-at-home mom was the norm rather than the exception, giving homemade gifts was a common occurrence. Sadly, those days seem to be fading rather quickly. But for those of you who have the time, hand-sewn, knit or embroidered gifts carry a lot of meaning with them. Hand painted furniture or knick knacks, homemade jewelry, etc. are especially appreciated when its obvious much love and thought went into the making of the gift.
  • Give charitable gifts in the recipient's name, or buy gifts from charities
Check out the gift catalogs at http://www.worldvision.org/ or http://www.samaritanspurse.org/. There are many more organizations that sell merchandise, often made by people in third world countries, or allow you to buy something, such as a goat for milk, for an underprivileged family. Giving a life-sustaining gift in someone else's name is a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas and its meaning will carry on far beyond a collection of DVDs or a new set of potholders.

These are just some ideas for greener giving this year. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section of this posting. I'll have more ideas for celebrating a sustainable Christmas in the days to come. Thanks for reading!

Keeping it green,

Hana

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An evangelical take on the environment

The growing possibility of our destroying ourselves and the world with our own neglect and excess is tragic and very real.

-- Billy Graham, Approaching Hoofbeats, 1983

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Practice random kindness


Take just a minute out of this busy day
to practice random kindness...
Call someone "out of the blue"
to let them know you care.
Pay the toll for the car behind you.
Donate time or money to a charity.
Pass it on...it will spread.

                                                                                              -- Unknown                 

Friday, November 20, 2009

A tree hugger I'm not...redux

Since I've had so many new visitors lately, I've decided to repost the first blog entry I wrote, back in August. I just like to remind people of what the Green Grandma blog is all about.

Of course, the site has evolved somewhat since its inception, and the focus is not always on environmental issues, but also includes health-related posts, particularly in the realm of children's health. Sometimes I even deal with mental health issues.

But it can all be wrapped up in my mission statement of "combining old-fashioned ways with 21st century common sense..." Whether I write about the environment or health, it all comes down to common sense solutions to the problems.

With that said, here is a repost of my very first blog entry from August 20, 2009, with an update:

A while back, my cousin suggested I start blogging on environmental issues and call my site, Green Grandma. It took a few months of contemplating my purpose in this.

First of all, don't let the name fool you...I'm by no means a liberal tree-hugger. Politically, I lean more toward a moderate to conservative point of view. However, I get quite frustrated with the whole concept of one party over the other caring about the environment. I, for one, do care. As a matter of fact, I seem to care much more than many of the people I know who lean a different way.

That said, let me expound on why I'm starting this blog and why my cousin, Kelly, suggested the name "Green Grandma" for me.

In October of 2008, my precious first grandbaby was born to my youngest daughter. The lovely little Lady Laura has motivated me to be even more environmentally conscious than I'd been in the past. After all, this is the world we're leaving behind for her. I have to care.
Fortunately, my concern for the environment has spilled over to my daughters as well. As a result, Laura wears only cloth diapers. We will never add a disposable diaper to a landfill because it goes against everything in us.

Ewww. Many of you are cringing right now. Why? Because a parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle/babysitter might get their hands a little dirty? Oh please. Rinsing out a cloth diaper in the toilet is not all that difficult. Messy? Sometimes. But doable. And well worth it. Every time I hang diapers on the line to dry, I remind myself that I am investing in Laura's future. Maybe I don't have much money to put aside for her. But I can invest in this planet she'll inherit.

There are a lot of naysayers when it comes to using cloth diapers. People will protest and even try to use environmental excuses.

"Washing diapers uses too much water."

Well, I hate to burst that bubble, but in actuality, it takes far more water to manufacture disposables than it does to wash cloth diapers throughout the two years or so a child wears them. Plus, according to the law, it is illegal to put human waste in the landfills. Guess what that means, folks? That means disposables should technically be washed out before being thrown away! You may as well just use cloth...especially if you consider yourself a law-abiding citizen.

Let me say that I'm proud of my daughter, Jessica. She could take the easy way out. Despite her desire to be a fulltime SAHM (Stay at Home Mom), her need for benefits makes that impossible for her right now. So every morning she's up early nursing and caring for her baby and getting herself ready for work. Some mornings she drives Laura to my home so I can watch her and other mornings she hands over her parenting duties to her husband. Work is stressful and the days are long. Jess spends lunch hours standing in the Ladies' Room pumping bottles. Evenings are spent doing normal mommy things, plus washing, drying and folding diapers. It would be much more convenient to pop open some formula and slap on some disposable diapers. But who ever said life as a parent was supposed to be convenient? Like I said, I'm proud of my daughter, Jessica. In today's world of celebrities, bigger-than-life politicians and super heroes, she is my hero.  UPDATE:  Jess was able to leave her job earlier this month and, for now, fulfill her heart's desire, and be a SAHM.

Yeah, you can call me Green Grandma....it's a title I'm honored to wear.

Keeping it green,

Hana

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lead-free under the tree



What do a Barbie accessory and some Disney toys have in common this holiday season? Well, according to the Center for Environmental Health (an advocacy group out of California), high levels of lead.

Whatever Lola wants...

"A little bit of lead never hurt anybody," you may be thinking. "Besides, Lola really wants a Tinkerbell Water Lily necklace for Christmas and I hate to disappoint her."

Alrighty then. Let's just ignore the potential for brain damage that can accompany exposure to lead. Irreversible brain damage, I might add.

Several retailers received letters from Jerry Brown, the Attorney General of California, informing them they were selling products containing illegal levels of lead and instructing them to pull these items immediately. The stores involved include: Target, WalMart, Walgreens, Tuesday Morning, TJ Maxx, and Sears. The products involved include:

Disney Tinkerbell Water Lily necklace

Dora the Explorer Activity Tote

Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit

some children's shoes

a boy's belt

a child's poncho

History repeats itself

Remember the 2007 recalls of toys containing lead? There were over 2 million Mattel toys recalled alone. As a result, a law was passed in 2008 that limited the amounts of lead and other toxic chemicals that were permitted in toys and other goods for children under the age of 13. Obviously, some companies are gambling with not being caught breaking this law.

Apparently Mattel is not claiming responsibility for this "slip up." After all, they licensed the Barbie name to Bell Sports for the Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit, an older product which passed the lead safety tests prior to the passing of the law. Bell Sports claims they didn't know it was still on store shelves. Does the term 'inventory control' mean anything here?

Playmates Toys, the licensee for the Disney necklace, claims it was tested and complied with all consumer safety regulations prior to making its way to the store shelves.

So, naturally, no one is accepting blame here. But believe me, lawyers will find out who to point fingers at as soon as the first child suffers the effects of lead exposure. Just make sure it isn't one of your own little ones.

­Play it safe

Opt for non-toxic toys this Christmas. A great website for non-toxic and environmentally-friendly products for kids is http://www.planethappytoys.com/ where they carry a wide variety of brands from Germany, Thailand, China, the Netherlands, Canada, Egypt, Slovakia, Viet Nam, Peru, Guyana, Sri Lanka, UK, France, Turkey, India, Romania, and ... gasp ... the good ol' USA. Here is a list of American made brands (although some companies manufacture products in more than one country):

Barefoot Books

Camden Rose

Green Toys

Mountaineers

Pixel Organics

Sarah's Silks

The Herbalist

Xeko

You can shop for their products by category: Natural, Organic, Fairly Traded, Green, Recycled, Responsible, Multi-Use, and Phthalate-free.

This is a website worth checking out as you do your holiday shopping. And that's the Green Grandma's recommendation of the day.

Keeping it green and healthy,


Hana

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's so remarkable about Rock Port, Missouri?

Rock Port, Missouri
  • Atchison County
  • population slightly over 1,300
  • uses 13 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year

So what makes this small community worthy of mentioning? According to a July 16, 2008 ScienceDaily article, it's all about the farming. What are they farming? The wind.

As of the date the article was published in ScienceDaily, there were 24 wind turbines in Atchison County, 24 in Nodaway County and 27 in Gentry County. Rock Port boasts four of these and by them powers the entire town with electricity. The excess electricity is purchased by the Missouri Joint Municipal Utilities (approximately 3 million kilowatt hours/year). I don't know about you, but I think that's awesome!

The U.S. Dept. of Energy published a map indicating that this section of the state boasts the highest concentration of wind resources in Missouri. A variety of locations have the potential for utility-scale wind development success.

In addition to the tax revenue garnered by the wind farms, tourism adds an economic boast to the area as well.

Utilizing the wind to create energy. Common sense at work. That makes me happy and is the reason Rock Port, Missouri shares this month's Greeny Award with yesterday's guest blogger, Danielle Gregory.

Keeping it green,

Hana

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Breastfeeding and cloth diapering times two!

I would first like to extend my thanks to Hana for allowing me to be a guest blogger tonight. Secondly I would like to introduce myself. My name is Danielle Gregory, and I am a SAHM (stay at home mom) with twin boys, Joshua and James, who will celebrate their first birthday tomorrow!


When Hana asked me to be a guest for her blog I was both excited and a little nervous, and I thought, “These are the same two feelings I had when I found out I was expecting twins!” Great excitement, because I have always loved children, and was looking forward to having my own; but with that feeling also came a nervous, almost fearful, feeling. “Am I ready for THIS?” Thoughts raced through my head, “will my body ever be the same?” (I came to find the answer is no, BUT they were well worth it!) “How are we ever going to afford these guys? Will I be able to nurse TWINS exclusively?” It was a lot to think about, especially those last few months of my pregnancy as I laid on bed rest! I had the opportunity during that time to think through my convictions, and to educate myself about nursing, diapering, and being a mom in general.

I had decided early on that I was going to breastfeed no matter what, but some people discouraged me saying that it would be too hard on me, and that I would never be able to do it. I was a little put off by the discouraging comments, but I decided to take on this challenge. I knew it was the BEST thing I could do for my babies, even if it was just for a few months. Breastfeeding was something that made so much sense to me for sooo many reasons. First of all, (and most importantly) breast milk is the best thing you can give your child; even the formula companies tell you that! There is no question about it, “The Breast is Best,” that’s how God designed it. He designed the woman’s body to carry a baby (or in my case two), and then produce the milk for him/her (or them). You don’t have to do anything, it just happens! And it is supply and demand, so the more you nurse the more milk you make, this is how I am able to nurse two babies. It is an amazing thing. I have to eat well to keep my body nourished, which is why I also take a nutritional product called Reliv (which I used as a prenatal as well). And just think, “No bottle prep!”

After having the babies, I had many looong nights trying to learn how to nurse properly as a first time mom, and the babies were learning as well. I had read all of this wonderful information about breastfeeding, but it was still SO HARD! I wanted to give up many times, but I would lay back in bed and say, “It will get easier,” and guess what? IT DID!! After two (tiring) months of nursing them separately, with the guidance of a lactation consultant, and a double Boppy pillow, I started nursing them at the same time. It made everything so much easier! Yes, it CAN be done. I had a great sense of accomplishment being able to nurse my babies, and provide for them the best nourishment I could. They will be one year old tomorrow and I have been exclusively nursing them this whole year! We started them on organic baby food at six months, and now they eat mostly what we have for dinner, as well as me nursing them.

I did some research, and according to Kathleen Huggins, registered nurse and lactation consultant, “the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) came out with a strong statement encouraging breastfeeding for at least the first year of life — and beyond.” (http://www.babycenter.com/404_i-still-breastfeed-my-18-month-old-son-my-mom-thinks-this-is_8879.bc )-11/14/09

She goes on to say:

What benefits are there to continued nursing after the first birthday? In December 1997 the AAP reported that at 12 months, a baby's immune system is about 60 percent developed. Breast milk, which even after a year is still loaded with protective antibodies, is a nutritious, healthy snack for toddlers— especially if she's a picky eater. (reference same as above)

Also, the WHO (World Health Organization) states that:

“Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.” (http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/ )-11/14/09

As I read these recommendations I knew that nursing was not only what I wanted to do, but needed to do. You might be thinking -TWO YEARS, that is a really LONG TIME! Yes it does seem to be, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not, and breastfeeding does so much good for your child. There is a TON of information about the benefits breastfeeding beyond a year, just Google it and check it out, you might just change your mind on two years being crazy.

Another reason I chose to nurse was money, or lack thereof. I was having two babies, and baby stuff is not cheap! Especially formula! I can only imagine how much money we would have thrown down the drain had we decide to use formula. It is something I won’t even think about!

Speaking of costs; my husband and I were also looking to cut back on the enormous expense of diapers. Holy cow are they expensive! And with us, we multiply everything by two. We started off using disposables because my babies were very little when they were born, and no cloth diaper that we had fit them yet! So for the first two months we used disposables, and I did not like it much. Every time I would throw one away I would think, “This will be another thing thrown in the ground that will always be there!” I did not even think about, or even know much about all of the awful things that were in them that my children were being exposed to! So despite the initial cost of purchasing them, we started using cloth diapers around three months, and the money we saved on not buying disposables far exceeded the cost of cloth. Granted, cloth diapers aren’t as easy, but there so much better for their little bottoms! Do we still use a disposable every once and a while? Yes. There are some times I am busy (a mom of twins, can you imagine!), and I run out of cloth diapers because we didn’t purchase enough for both babies, unless I do laundry ALL the time. With that said, the babies wear cloth about 85%of the time, and my goal is to make the next size cloth diapers we buy the last diapers we buy period. Hana has written a lot about diapers that really convicted me about how much better cloth are, and I am happy that I can do the best that I can for my babies little bottoms AND the environment.

I am just a stay at home mom, with two kids, how much can I do? A LOT! Being able to stay at home and nurture them, breastfeed them, and use cloth diapers are three things that I take pride in. Not only am I able to be at home and raise my own children, but I am giving them the best nutrition, and using cloth diapers to save their bums from chemicals I wouldn’t use myself! Is it the easiest? No way! Do I struggle? Absolutely! But, is it the best thing for my children? No question! And that is why I do what I do. Now that I am a mom, it is my job to take care of my kids the best way I know how, and breastfeeding and cloth diapering are a few ways that I am doing that.

Thank you for letting me share a little of my heart,

Danielle Gregory





Monday, November 16, 2009

There are times when family's need you more than anything else. That's where I'm at now. Caring for a family member who is ill and spending all of my time with her. Therefore, there will be nothing posted today, besides this brief explanation. I know that's okay with you and trust that you'll be back in a day or two to visit with the Green Grandma.

Thanks for your understanding.

Hana

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where our prosperity lies

Our nation's continued prosperity hinges on our ability to solve environmental problems and sustain the natural resources on which we all depend.

                                                         -- John McCain

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Planning ahead

                                                 

When planning for a year, plant corn.
When planning for a decade, plant trees.
When planning for life, train and educate people.

                             -- Chinese proverb

Friday, November 13, 2009

The scary truth about formula

WARNING:  those of you who have opted to feed your baby's formula are not going to like this post.

However, if you're pregnant and 'on the fence' on whether or not to breast feed or formula-feed your infant, this is a must read.


The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has released some disturbing findings after testing various brands of powdered formula. Fifteen unidentified brands were found to have been contaminated with perchlorate -- a rocket fuel component.

These findings were published in the March 2009 edition of the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. Their studies also revealed that perchlorate is "a potent thyroid toxin that may interfere with fetal and infant brain development." Oh, wait a second, while I heat up a bottle for my grandbaby....

Used in the defense and pyrotehnics industries, perchlorates have been used by the military since the beginning of the 20th century. They are actually salts derived from perchloric acid and are a component of solid rocket fuel. Yummy.

Danger!

When ingested, perchlorate blocks the thyroid gland from taking up iodine, which translates into poor energy regulation. Iodine deficiency can lead to lesser amounts of thyroid hormone in your blood, ultimately resulting in hypothyroidism.

The FDA is aware of this danger, and rather than banning the use of perchlorate, it simply requires formula to be supplemented with iodine to make up for this deficiency. However, thyroid damage in infants continues to occur due to the iodine deficiency that is a direct result of being fed perchlorate-laced formula.

Aside from not boasting the same nutritional advantages as breast milk (i.e. at least 400 nutrients in breast milk not found in formula), infant formula is simply not a safe option. As I mentioned before in an earlier post, the liquid formula generally is contaminated with BPA which leaches from the plastic lining of the can. And now I'm telling you to stay away from the powdered formula as well. What's a mother to do?

Oy! Soy!

Well, first of all, don't turn to Soy! According to countless studies, soy formula, without a doubt, will do harm your child, sometimes serious harm. This is one of the worst things you can feed your baby due to the high concentrations of manganese in soybean-based formula, which can lead not only to behavior problems in adolescents, but in brain damage in babies as well. There can be as much as 200 times more manganese in formula than in breast milk, thus it is a real danger to the immature metabolic system of infants under six months of age.

Additionally, a baby drinking soy formula on a regular basis is ingesting the equivalent of five birth control pills' worth of estrogen daily! The isoflavone levels of these infants were up to 22,000 times higher than of infants who were breastfed or fed non-soy formula.

Just a spoonful of sugar

Most logical parents wouldn't dream of giving their babies soda...although I have occasionally watched in horror as mommas have poured some of their sugared, or worse yet, diet sodas into their baby's bottles when at a restaurant, park or mall. Oh how my tongue has throbbed as I bit it repeatedly!

Most infant formulas are packed with high fructose corn syrup -- as much as, and sometimes more than a can of soda. Seriously.

So we're back to the question:

What's a mother to do?

Let's face it, there are cases in which a mother cannot breast feed, although I believe many of these mothers don't give it a fair shot. I've heard the excuses: "I wasn't producing enough milk." Nonsense. God created mothers to nurse their young. All mothers have enough milk -- sometimes you just have to give it time. As the baby nurses, more milk is produced. Basis biology.

I've also heard complaints of how much it hurts. Well, to be honest, it does hurt a bit in the beginning. But it's nothing compared to labor...or getting stitches after an episiodomy! Besides, most of the time, the pain arises from improper positioning of the baby. A trained lactation consultant can help resolve this issue. Besides, as all mothers know, trying to do what's best for our children involves pain....for many, many years!

But there are still cases, however rare, where a mother cannot nurse her baby...not to mention all of your wonderful adoptive and foster mothers out there. What are your options?

The safest option is to make your own infant formula. Time consuming? You bet. Better for your baby? Unquestionably.

There are many recipes for homemade formula on the Internet. Google it and see what you come up with. You can also discuss this with your doctor (unless your pediatrician is anti-homopathic solutions). If anyone has a tried and true recipe and would like to post it in the comments, I'll be sure to make it available to my readers.


As life gets more and more convenient, it also gets more and more hazardous to our health. Maybe our ancestors were luckier than they knew and maybe it's time for us to get back to the basics. Old-fashioned ways. Twenty-first century common sense. As long as you keep coming back for more, that's what the Green Grandma is going to deliver.

Keeping it healthy,

Hana




Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Nuk by any other name....


When my babies were small, we called pacifiers ‘nuks;’ I guess in the same vein as calling a tissue a ‘Kleenex’ or a soda a ‘Coke.’ That brand name carried the product, despite which brand you chose. I had one daughter who was hooked on her ‘nuk’ and another who preferred her thumb (and for years bore the callus to prove it).

Back then, no thought was given to the safety of the materials used to manufacture the pacifiers. Oh have things have changed! To think there actually may be toxic chemicals in our baby’s pacifiers is mind-boggling, but true. As a matter of fact, there are quite a few of them out there you should avoid. Some of these are no longer being sold, but if you have an old one lying around somewhere, it’s time to toss it. Here’s a partial list of pacifiers that can present a health hazard to your little one:

• Gerber® Natural Flex®, Round Soft Center®, NUK® Button, and NUK® Fashion Silicone. (Gerber is now producing only BPA-free pacifiers, so this list only applies to Gerber products manufactured prior to January 2009).

• Razbaby® pacifiers (manufactured prior to 2009).

• MAM -- supposedly they were to change over to BPA-free pacifiers in April of this year. I’m not sure when the change took place, but all MAM products are now BPA-free.

• Non-brand name, Dollar Store type pacifiers. If they're Made in China and don't identify themselves as being BPA-free, throw them away!!

Generally speaking, you want to avoid synthetic latex ‘binkies.’ After all, do you really want your baby sucking on nitrosamines? The fact is, this is a carcinogen. Stay away.

The pacifiers that pass the BPA-free test are as follows:

• Natursutten Pacifiers – okay, these win my vote because they are the only all natural organic binkies on the market! Not only are they BPA-free, but they also boast:

     o No artificial colors

     o No parabens

     o No PVC

     o No phthalates

     o No chemical softeners

These pure natural rubber pacifiers are molded in one piece, making them more hygienic than others as there are no joints or cracks to house bacteria. http://www.natursutten.dk/

• Born Free™ – this health-conscious company offers BPA-free bottles, sippy cups and orthodontic pacifiers. Always a good choice. http://www.newbornfree.com/

• Raz-Berry® Pacifier – what sets this 100% medical grade silicone pacifier apart is the unusual shape – it looks like a raspberry – bumpy surface and all! Particularly helpful during those difficult teething times. http://www.razbaby.com/  

• Razbaby Keep-it-Clean® Pacifier – I love this! The innovative design ensures that a protective cover will close when the pacifier is dropped! Ingenious! Also made by Razbaby.

• NurturePure™ Pure™ Orthodontic Silicone Pacifier & Teether – made from natural food grade silicone, these pacifiers are free of any plastic parts. According to their website, these are the products Hollywood parents are sold on....if you care.  http://www.nurturepure.com/

• Gerber® Silicone Nuk® – silicone means no polycarbonate plastics. Stay away from the non-silicone, older ones, however. http://www.gerber.com/

• First Years Soothie Silicone Pacifier -- another latex-free binky made of hospital grade silicone. The one-piece design is durable and hygienic. http://www.thefirstyears.com/  As an added bonus, these pacifiers can attach to a Wubbanub, an adorable stuffed animal that adds a whole new dimension to the benefits of pacifiers. http://www.wubbanub.com/

• Playtex® Baby Binky® Most Like Mother One-Piece Silicone Pacifier – another one-piece, medical grade silicone pacifier. It’s vanilla scent sets this one apart. http://www.playtexbaby.com/

• Avent – all of their pacifiers are now free of BPA. http://www.avent.com/

• Nuby™ -- all of their products are now free of bisphenol A, but this is a recent change, so if you’re holding on to older Nuby pacifiers, it might be time to replace them with their newer ones. http://www.nuby.com/

I am certain I am missing some, if not many, of the BPA-free binky choices out there. If you would like to add to my list, please post a comment. With such a wide choice of BPA-free options, there’s no excuse to let your child continue to suck on something toxic.

And, of course, I am neither advocating nor discouraging the use of pacifiers here. There are strong arguments on both sides. As always, I simply ask that you, as a parent, use your common sense. Research your options and choose what’s right for you and your child.

Keeping it healthy,

Hana

Drawing by Jessica Taylor

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Smart gluten-free shopping

I found yesterday's blog, by guest blogger Abby Pagliai, was one of the most informative posts so far. I asked her to send me the list she carries with her to the grocery store and I wanted to post it here for those of you who would like to try a gluten-free diet for yourselves or your children. Get ready -- it's a long one!

artificial colors                              
barley pearl
bran            
brewer's yeast
bulgur                                           
citric acid
confectioner's sugar                       
couscous
cracked wheat
dextrin foreign brands
durum                                          
flavored vinegar
flour                                              
foreign brands of caramel
graham                                          
groats
hydrolyzed plant protein              
kamut
malt                                           
malt vinegar
modified food starch                      
msg
nutritional yeast                             
oat bran
oat flour                                         
oat germ
oatmeal and rolled oats                  
Ovaltine
Postum
rusk
rye starch                                        
semolina
soy sauce                                        
spelt
starch                                              
triticale
Wheat Berry                                  
worcestershire sauce

Abby suggests you should always check the following:

bath products
any canned soups or broths
candy (it can be dusted with flour before packing
cheeses
flavored coffee and teas
glue stamps
gum
juice drinks
spice mixes
syrup
yogurts



For a more comprehensive list, visit http://www.celiac.com/.



Thanks Abby, for providing us with such vital information.



Keeping it healthy,


Hana

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gluten-free as easy as 1-2-3

I am so excited to be guest blogging on The Green Grandma! What a wonderful blog with helpful hints that we can all use to "green up" our everyday lives!

I am blogging today on a topic that is close to my heart, Gluten-Free Diets. My son was diagnosed with PDD (Pervasive Development Disorder) when he was only a year old. We went through doctors and therapists and had people in our house 30 hours a week for almost 2 years. When he was working with a new doctor - who is my savior - he was banging his head and injuring himself and we had not found a way to help him. Dr Thuppel suggested the Gluten-Free diet just as an option, but we decided to try it. Believe or not, within a week my son stopped hitting his head and has not done it since. My son also had only 3 words in his vocabulary and within a short time had developed a full vocabulary.

Please understand that I am NOT saying that the gluten free diet cures any diseases other than celiac. I do believe that children should be tested for the allergy or sensitivity to gluten, but a gluten-free diet is not a cure and it does not help all children.

According to "The kid - friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook The ultimate guide to the gluten-free, casein-free diet" there are several symptoms that can help determine if a gluten-free diet may be an option:

Fatigue
food cravings
eczema and other unexplained rashes
stomach aches
loose stools
constipation
mucus production
congestion
elevated blood pressure
abnormal pulse
headaches
ringing in the ears
depression
anxiety
panic attacks
any symptoms of ADHD

The bodies of people and kids with the gluten sensitivity or allergy can not breakdown the proteins, which results in a short circuit in the digestive process. When you are unable to digest these proteins they send the wrong messages to the brain and can cause an opiate-like effect on the brain.

Casein, Gluten and Soy are the most common proteins that can cause this reaction. Opiate peptides, for example, have been found in the spinal fluid and urine of children with autism as a result of a poor digestion process. Children also crave the food that they can't absorb, just like a drug. My son used to eat pretzels and pretzels and that was all he ever wanted as a snack, he ate them all day long, the first sign language he learned was for pretzel, and I never thought anything of it. Meanwhile his body was not breaking down the gluten correctly and it was causing a lot of his mental and behavioral problems.

Gluten is found in wheat, bulgar, semolina, couscous, wheat berries, graham flour, whole meal flour, groats, malt, oats, barley, rye, triticale, and sometimes spelt and kamut. Not only can you orally ingest gluten, but also by putting it on your skin, it can affect your body. My son used to have a rash on his shoulders and the doctors told me it was eczema, when I took him off the Aveeno products that are made with oatmeal, his skin cleared up. I know that it all sounds so overwhelming, but it is really not that hard to start the diet and your kids will have plenty to eat. I use so many more fruits and vegetables and fresh items and my family eats so much better than we did before. It is amazing, but my son knows if someone offers him a cookie that he says no thank you and asks for something else. I now take Gluten Free cupcakes with me to birthday parties or anywhere there will be cake and I always have an apple or carrots for a snack in my bag. I now offer my child better choices of food.

Prior to this, I always bought organic and all natural foods and milk, thinking that was good enough, but now I realize I was still buying a lot of the convenience items that have more junk in them than other foods. I strongly believe the simpler the foods we give our children, the less likely they will be to develop problems, such as illness, behavioral problems, asthma, etc.


I found a lot of places to shop for these specialty items, but I tend to make a lot on my own. I convert many recipes and make them gluten-free. I also make gluten-free play-dough and check out all bath products and toothpastes. Almost all grocery store chains now carry some gluten-free items and Trader Joe's is a wonderful place to go. Trader Joe's label their items as gluten-free so it makes it much easier and faster to shop. Reading the labels is the hardest part because they don't just say gluten - you have to know the other ways of looking for it, like modified food starch. I deal with this problem by bringing a notecard of the most common ingredients that contain gluten to the store with me. If I'm not sure of about a product, I check my card.

Also gluten-free is becoming very popular and more and more items are coming on the market and labels are being put on foods. Chex and Betty Crocker are two companies that have taken pride in helping the gluten-free community by making and labeling their products as gluten-free. I just made cupcakes with the Betty Crocker cake mix and substituted pumpkin for the butter and added some cinnamon and nutmeg and they made a wonderful after "Trick or Treat" sweet.

Raising a child and family gluten-free is not as bad as everyone thinks. My son eats the same foods as everyone else just in a different form. For breakfast, we do a gluten-free cereal, gluten-free waffle, gluten-free pancake, or egg and gluten-free toast with a fresh fruit. Lunch we tend to do salads or left-overs from dinner and a veggie and fruit. Dinner is kept simple by using fresh veggies, potatoes, corn products, meats, and gluten-free pasta and breads. Going out to eat can be a challenge, but so many restaurants now list on their websites their gluten-free options and, as always, you can bring foods with you. In the summer time if my son wants ice cream we take a gluten-free cone to the ice cream store and they put the ice cream in it. It is not difficult, but does require planning ahead.

Based on my experience with the gluten-free diet and with talking to people on the diet, I strongly believe that nutrition plays a big role in our children's development. It makes sense to me if we give our children more easily digestible foods that their bodies will function at their best. It enables them to clear their minds and let them process and understand easier. They have more productive energy and can calm themselves down more quickly. So many children are hyper-active these days and the doctors just prescribe medicine to calm them. It is really a shame that more parents don't at least try the diet to see if their children might benefit from it. We all love our children and want the best for them, so why not start them off on the right foot and try the gluten-free diet?
Thanks for reading and giving me this opportunity,

Abby P.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The frightening reality of non-stick cookware

While we might all love our non-stick cookware, the environment clearly does not. Neither do our pet birds. When heated, polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, emits toxic fumes that can kill birds...reminiscent of the days when canaries were taken down into the mines to signal a problem with toxins. If the chemicals found in non-stick cookware, like Teflon™, can release fumes into our homes toxic enough to kill our birds, what are these fumes doing to our children? Are the toxins a danger to your baby as he sits in his high chair just a few feet away from the stove where you're cooking his dinner in your non-stick cookware? It makes me wonder.

In addition to PTFE, another dangerous chemical is used in the production of non-stick cookware. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is emitted into the environment during the manufacturing process of Teflon™ and other non-stick surfaces. Early in 2006, some individual scientific advisors to the EPA voted unanimously to classify PFOA as ‘a likely human carcinogen.’ One of the goals of the EPA is to eliminate all PFOAs in products within the next six years.

Teflon™ starts to decompose at high temperatures and the gases emitted can result in hallucinations and flu-like symptoms. A study in 23 states found that 96% of children tested had traces of PFOA in their systems. I don’t know about you, but I find that statistic extremely disturbing…although not surprising. After all, who doesn’t use non-stick cookware?

So, what’s the answer? The obvious answer is to stick to stainless steel, cast iron, glass or silicone cookware (no pun intended). But, thanks to a Belgium company, there is another solution.

GreenPan™ features greener and cleaner cookware lines using hard anodized aluminum exteriors for efficient heat conduction and durability and a non-stick interior called Thermolon. Thermolon is known to be as easy to use as Teflon™ minus the safety issues – i.e. there are no PTFEs or PFOAs involved. I like how GreenPan™ sums up its products on its website: “When green becomes the standard and not an option.”

With no risk of toxic fumes, GreenPan™ cookware is heat resistant up to 850 degrees F, versus the standard non-stick cookware resistance of only 500 degrees F, and sports a sophisticated design. This alternative is not only more eco-friendly, but it also offers the convenience factor than accompanies all non-stick cookware.

The dangers associated with PTFE include:

Pizza pans
Portable heaters
Heat lamps
Stove top burners
Crock pots
Hot air popcorn poppers
Self-cleaning ovens
Bread makers
Ironing board covers
Computer printers
Some light bulbs
Household cleaners
And more….

Check with the manufacturers if you’re unsure whether or not a product is coated with materials containing PTFE. There is definitely a danger here…experts have just not yet determined how big of one. If it says, ‘no stick’ you probably should steer clear. Unless, of course, you’re opting for the Belgium line, which can be found on HSN or other websites. Make the switch…your family will be healthier for it.

Keeping it healthy,

Hana

"To waste, to destroy, our natural resources,
to skin and exhaust the land
instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness,
will result in undermining in the days of our children
the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them."
-- Theodore Roosevelt

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A mirror of ourselves





"The environment is where we all meet;

where we all have a mutual interest;

it is the one thing that all of us share.

It is not only a mirror of ourselves,

but a focusing lens on what we can become."


-- Lady Bird Johnson



Photo courtesy of Maureen Profeta
Check out her other work at http://mcpfaithwriter.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The other side of grace


I'm currently listening to Harvesting the Heart by the fabulously talented Jodi Picoult and read by the equally wonderful voice-over talent, Cassandra Campbell. At the end of the tenth CD, Picoult weaves a tapestry of grace that brought me to tears tonight.

We've all heard stories of prodigal sons and daughters. But in Harvesting the Heart Picoult addresses a less common situation...that of prodigal mothers; mothers who choose to leave their children behind. It made me wonder how many moms out there have felt like running away at some point or another. The demands of motherhood can be overwhelming and escape...any escape...is tempting. It has nothing to do with love, either. Moms that run often love their children just as much as those who stay...sometimes more. Some mothers leave because of insecurities. Demon thoughts haunt them and convince them of their unworthiness as a parent.

Have you had days like that?

Yesterday I addressed the subject of grace. But I was looking at it in reference to how it makes the recipient of that grace feel. Then I listened to part of Picoult's book today and I started rethinking the whole subject.

In the book, Paige's mom leaves when Paige is five-years-old. Twenty years pass before Paige decides to go in search of her. Their reunion does not go as she anticipated. In her nonchalance, her mother does not beg for forgiveness, nor does she provide the answers Paige is looking for.

Lying in bed that night in her mother's home, Paige recalls times before her mother left when, after her parents had argued, she would crawl into bed and cuddle up next to her mother. Two decades later, Paige is awakened by the muffled sounds of her mother's cries coming from the bedroom. She stands outside the door looking at her mother and this is what Picoult writes: "I just couldn't do it. After all, so much had happened. I wasn't a four-year-old child and she was no more than a stranger. She was practically nothing to me................Even as I crossed the floor, I was listing all the reasons I shouldn't. You don't know her. She doesn't know you. She shouldn't be forgiven. I crawled under the covers with a sigh that unraveled the years. I put my arms around my mother and willingly slid back to where I'd started."

Grace. Do you see that? But Picoult made me think about grace in a different way. Sure, the grace was being extended to the mother. But can you see, in this situation, how the grace Paige gives actually provides healing to Paige herself?

Yesterday, in the grocery store, when I offered a gracious response to the harried woman, was that grace only intended for her or is it possible I needed to offer grace in order to receive it myself? On the surface, I wasn't the one in need. But after thinking about Paige and her mother, I started thinking about other situations where grace is needed. Perhaps I needed to extend grace because some of my rough edges needed softening...the rough edges of being judgmental, feeling superior, feeling justified in my annoyance...is it possible the grace I gave away was needed more by me than by her?

What about that broken vase or spilled milk? Is it possible your child is a bit more nervous and careless because of tension in the house? Did he overhear mommy and daddy arguing last night? Is mommy so absorbed in her studies for her college classes that she's not setting aside enough time for cuddling?

When you're ready to snap at your child, opt for grace. And then think about which one of you really needs it most. Maybe that's one of the things that's so amazing about grace...it works best when it goes full circle.

I hope you will forgive me for going off on this grace tangent for the past two days. I promise you some solid posts next week on healthier and greener living. As a matter of fact, I'll be featuring a guest blogger who is tackling the subject of celiac disease with advice to parents of gluten-intolerant children.

Practice grace. Your home will be healthier for it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Do unto others...

Sometimes we all need a little grace.

I was at the grocery store today and heard a woman's voice escalating in frustration as she battled with someone on her cell phone. The tone disturbed me, but not as much as the foul language accompanying her fevered pitch. As some choice 'f' words filled the space between the organic chicken and the frozen pizza rolls, I flashed a perturbed glance her way. Watching as she seemed to empty her reserve tank of the last drop of profanity before slamming the phone shut, I almost opened my mouth to let her know how unappreciated her tirade had been. But something stopped me. My irritation was replaced with something softer, kinder. Was it compassion? Empathy? Perhaps. But even more so, it was grace. This woman was hurting. She was in pain. Not the temporary, stinging kind when you bang your shin into the bottom of the shopping cart. No. She was experiencing the bottom's-about-to-fall-out kind of pain. I could see it in her eyes. She murmured an apology and I told her it was okay. And then she murmured another one. "Really," I said, "there's no need. I can tell you're hurting." A touch of relief brushed across her face...just a touch, but almost enough. I could see that what she needed at that moment was grace and for that one divine moment I allowed my judgmental, harsh, "you-shouldn't-swear-like-that-in-public" self to step aside and extend that very thing to her.

After all, isn't that what we all need sometimes? When we're not behaving like we know we should. When we let a snippy comment escape just in time to inflict a wound. When we brush off our children's curiousity. We need grace.

Remember learning the Golden Rule when you were a kid? I do. "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."

Grace. The oh-so-complicated, oh-so-simple extension of the Golden Rule.

So tomorrow, when your toddler doesn't make it to the potty on time, or your five-year-old knocks over your favorite vase, or your teenager spills the carton of milk on the pile of bills you're sorting through, stop and think for a moment. What's needed here? A carefully worded lecture, a digusted look and sigh? Or just maybe...all that's needed this time...is a little bit of grace.

Keeping it simple,

Hana

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Making a difference

One of the most fulfilling parts about having a blog like this, or even a 'voice' that people identify with, is when you realize you're actually making a difference. I'm thrilled, and humbled, when someone tells me they thought of me when making a choice that will affect the environment, or their health. That's when I realize that what I do matters. So...thank you to all of you who allow my thoughts to influence you. That means the world to me.

Tonight I discovered a review of my blog, written by Illana Glazer, which was extremely flattering. What a pleasant surprise. She mentioned that my posts are informative, and I'll apologize ahead of time that tonight's post is not going to live up to that assessment as I've just returned from a 3-day business trip and rather than researching and writing about something relevant, I'm going to shut down my computer and spend some time with my husband, the Green Grandpa.

So, in honor of healthy relationships, my advice to you tonight is to opt for one-on-one conversation with someone you love. Your computer will be there tomorrow.

Keeping it healthy,

Hana

Monday, November 2, 2009

Take All You Want But Eat All You Take



I am thrilled to feature Guest Blogger, Joy Ike, tonight. She has something to say that is sure to convict every one of us....yet one more common sense approach to living more responsibly. Thanks Joy!


I’m thinking this post will be especially relevant seeing as we’ve hit a brick wall as a nation. The unemployment rate is up to 10% and people are cutting back on vacations and spending less all across the board. The fact is, Americans are being forced to learn how to save wisely and spend wisely. My question is: why didn’t we start sooner? And does anybody else agree with me that we found ourselves in this mess because our culture is addicted to the idea of wasteful consumption? I agree with me if that means anything.

As it relates specifically to food, I have personally always been put off by how much we take what’s on our plate for granted. CNN says that “according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), if just 5 percent of Americans' food scraps were recovered it would represent one day's worth of food for 4 million people.” That’s the population of Puerto Rico! But most of us don’t need a statistic to tell us this. You and I both know how easy it is throw out those last few bites.

So why do we do it? We do it because we don’t worry about whether or not we’ll have something to eat tomorrow. We rest in the fact that there is always more. And because there will always be more, there is supposedly no need to conserve. We would willingly change this mentality if we truly understood how our excess could revolutionize another’s lack. Can you imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t know where you were getting your next meal from. Sob stories aside, there are people who actually wonder this every day.

Here are some practical ways we all can act more wisely in terms of how we eat:

Think Before You Act

Before your order a dish at a restaurant, ask yourself: “Will I really eat this whole thing?” Is this plate really worth $16?

Split It


Order one dish for two people. Seriously.

Doggie Bag It

Don’t let that waiter take your plate away unless he plans to bring it back out in a box.

Monetize It

If you’re spending $12 on a plate and you only eat half of what’s there, you’re literally throwing away $6. And $6 adds up fast!

Commit to Donating

If you’re willing to let that $6 go, then consider donating to a charity that really needs those funds. Rice Bowls (a favorite or mine) is an excellent organization that provides rice to orphans in Third World Countries.
http://www.ricebowls.org/

Consider the fact that…
…15 million children die of hunger every year

Visit Stop The Hunger for real-time statistical counters regarding issues of world poverty and American consumption.
http://www.stopthehunger.com/

Read the referenced CNN article in its entirety “Food Waste”:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/09/24/food.leftovers/index.html

Joy Ike is an independent artist based out of Pittsburgh, PA. In her spare time she plays scrabble and cooks various recipes that all taste the same. She runs a marketing blog for musicians called Grassrootsy (
http://www.grassrootsy.com/) and is a full time performer. For more information, visit http://www.joyike.com/.

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