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Unacceptable Levels

Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this debut documentary, one man and his camera traveled extensively to find and interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law. Weaving their testimonies into a compelling narrative, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pointing a loaded gun

Photo by Jean Sander

I spent part of the morning yesterday thinking about loaded guns. I wondered what people would think of the idea of equipping nearly every person, aged 16 and up, with a loaded gun and allowing them to do whatever they wanted with it. Of course, there would be some training, although very few regulations would apply to that. And people who were certified would conduct tests and only issue a license to carry the gun upon passing. Then there would be laws, but most people carrying the loaded guns would break some, or most, of them from time to time. 

What do you think of the idea? Do you think most 16-year-olds would be responsible enough to handle the loaded gun with the proper care? How about angry people? People in a hurry? People distracted by a myriad of things other than where they were pointing the loaded gun? Drunk people? Tired people?

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet we step outside of our homes, climb behind the wheel of our cars and head out onto the road where all sorts of people are pointing ‘loaded guns’ at us. Sometimes,  we’re the ones with the loaded guns.

On Friday, as I was driving on I-79 North on my way to a writing conference, I came upon the most hideous of scenes near the I-80 exit. Had I been a couple of minutes earlier, literally, I might not have seen the wreck; I might have been in the wreck. Today, you might be mourning the loss of me, rather than reading about my experience and the effect it is having on me.

A man from Arkansas was driving south on I-79 when, for some unknown reason, he crossed the wide sloping grassy median and crashed head-on with another vehicle … a vehicle that could have been mine, had I not stopped at a red light on my way out of town. People were pulling over, jumping out of their cars and running to help the victims. One man was on the side of the road trying to slow everyone down, before another collision occurred. Suitcases and automobile parts were strewn across the highway. And off to the right were two white vehicles – one, badly damaged and another … another.

It is hard to describe what the other vehicle looked like, although it is deeply embedded in my mind. The image will not go away any time soon, because it was obvious, seeing the mangled shadow of what was, that the person driving was no longer with us. And knowing … knowing … that white SUV could have easily been my little black Honda.

The other image I will carry with me, is that of the Arkansas driver, who was on the ground (possibly thrown from his vehicle) with blood pouring from his mouth. I cannot shake the picture of his eyes …   the confused look on his face. He had a ‘loaded gun,’ and it killed someone. It killed someone.

Oh how we casually climb behind the wheel of our cars and head out to carry on our lives without considering the power we have to rob someone else of theirs.

Was the man from Arkansas tired as he was driving? Had he fallen asleep? Was he distracted, responding to a text message perhaps? Was he reaching into the back seat to grab a snack? Was he turning the radio knob, trying to find a good station? Had he spilled hot coffee on his lap, dropped a cigarette, or argued with his wife on the phone? Did someone else pull into his lane and push him off the road? I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to cause him to careen down the grassy slope and back up again into the path of traffic going north. I just don’t know. What I do know is that he descended into the valley of the shadow of death. He survived, but someone else did not. 

Will the man from Arkansas casually climb behind the wheel of his car ever again? I doubt it. He knows the power of the loaded gun … the power to destroy an innocent life.

Our cars are weapons, folks. They serve a purpose, of course. A good purpose. But they also can be used as unintentional weapons. They have the power to change a person’s life forever. Do we blame the cars? Just as guns do not kill people, neither do vehicles. They are just weapons of destruction when put in the wrong hands. Or put in the hands of the angry. Or the tired. Or the drunk … or the distracted

Put your hands on the wheels. Put your mind on the road in front of you. Stop at stop signs. Don’t run red lights. Use caution on dark, or wet, or icy roads. Think ahead about what could be around the curve. Be considerate of others. Instruct your teenagers about what is and is not appropriate behavior behind the wheel. Impose rules … it might not be popular with them, but it just could save their lives. 

As bad as the images are that are trying to wreak havoc with my peace, they are nothing compared to the pain of the family and fiancĂ©e of the man from Conneaut who died one ordinary day while he was driving home from work … simply driving home from work. May God grant mercy to those who are suffering.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Through the eyes of a child

 
 

There is nothing as powerful as those innocent, vulnerable little eyes to remind us of the majesty of our charge to take care of the earth. Politicians often talk about 'future generations' in a vague way, but here they are, giggling, wondering, spilling milk on the rug, and you have to stop and think what kind of air, water, and land we will leave them to grow old in. I think the example parents set is as important as anything -- picking up litter and throwing it away, recycling, speaking with respect for the farmers who make the fresh foods that go on the table -- all these things send powerful messages to children about our place in the world. Every day mothers take care to protect their children from harmful foods, toxic cleaners, harsh rays of the sun -- the earth itself needs that kind of love, and mothers can lead the way in giving it.

-- Karenna Gore
quoted from Green Babies, Sage Moms by Lynda Fassa

A Vinegar Friday, totally unrelated, giveaway!





I know it's Vinegar Friday. But I decided to host a giveaway today, instead of posting the usual VF tips. Sound like fun? 

Have you seen the movie New Year's Eve? I haven't, but Warner Brothers is releasing the DVD on May 1st and they offered to give a copy to one of you! This is a 'good mood' movie ... one that causes you to pause, examine where you're going, and reevaluate the past year. Did you make any New Year's Resolutions this year? If so, how are you doing with them four months in?

Click on the app above to take a quiz on what Resolution Reset personality you have. Or just take the Reset Quiz. Then, when you're all done with that, download the 2012 Reset Tips to help jump start your failing resolutions (unless you're one of the tenacious ones who are right on track with yours).

Usually, when I host these kind of giveaways, the prize is kid-related. Not this one. The movie is rated PG-13 and it's a treat just for you moms and dads out there. Maybe you can line up a night-at-grandmas, if you have little ones,  and snuggle up on the couch with your sweetheart for a date night at home. New Year's Eve stars Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Katherine Heigl, Sofia Vergara, Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zac Efron, Jon Bon Jovi, and Josh Duhamel!

Once again, I'm using Rafflecopter. The winner will be chosen sometime after midnight (EST) on May 3rd.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday's Truths and Tidbits

Does ingesting fluoride concern you? It should. Of course, taking care of your teeth should be a priority. Check out yesterday's post to find out how nutritional supplements are a far better option than commercial fluoride-infused toothpaste.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Is a cavity-free childhood really possible?




The flyer poses a question: Is a cavity-free childhood really possible? We'd like to think so, wouldn't we. But we're naturally concerned about the affects of fluoride, so our little ones are going without. But does that mean cavities are inevitable? Not according to the folks at The Dental Essentials.

According to the flyer that accompanied the free samples I received, "Clinical studies have shown repeatedly that with proper nutrition (through food or supplements), teeth can become healthy, well mineralized and nearly immune to decay."

Hmmm. Proper nutrition. That could get tricky. It seems like for every condition or health goal, there are different nutritional needs. It can be overwhelming at times. That's why a product like The Dental Essentials - Complete (or The Dental Essentials - Liquid) can be a life saver ... or at least a tooth saver! As the only nutritional supplement on the market right now that promotes natural remineralization of the teeth and heals tooth decay, this is a product I believe every parent should have!

While so much focus has been on fluoride's necessity in battling cavities, vitamin D has been overlooked by many for its prevention of tooth decay. In the 1920's, Dr. Edward Mellanby realized that children being treated with vitamin D therapy for the treatment of rickets, had a 90% decrease in cavities in less than six months! His wife, Dr. May Mellanby, started examining the link between nutrition and tooth decay. Through her research, she was able to identify the precise combination of nutrients that consistently resulted in highly decay resistant teeth. Lauded by the British Government as "revolutionary," her findings were published in leading journals of the day. Even better results were achieved by another researcher from the States. Dr. Weston Price added vitamin K2 to the vitamin D and the results were an astonishing 98% drop in cavities.

"The studies of Mellanby and Price demonstrated that we can virtually eliminate cavities by properly supplementing kid's diets," said the Dental Essentials founder, Melinda Friedman. "The studies published by these important dental researchers were considered epic and revolutionary."

If this is all true, what happened? 

"That's a really good question," said Friedman. "When I first came across this research, I wondered how I had never heard about this before. Following the important Age of Nutrition, which brought about cures to deficiency diseases such as scurvy (vitamin C), beri-beri (vitamin B1) and pellagra (vitamin B3) came the Age of Pharmaceuticals, and with it came the fascination with prescription drugs and a decline in interest in the role of nutrition in preventing and even healing tooth decay. Today's parents and consumers are once again appreciating the link between nutrition and health, mood and much more."

I know the Green Grandma community agrees!

"Nature has what we need to maximize the body's immunity against dental disease," she continues. "The Dental Essentials captures the essence of Drs. Price and Mellanby's research on proper mineralization of the teeth and is focused exclusively on preventing tooth decay. Our two formulas are designed to help teeth become significantly more cavity resistant."

The studies continue. In 2010, the University of Manitoba, inspired by Dr. Mellanby's research, conducted a clinical trial on mothers of babies who developed tooth decay. The results? These moms had significantly lower vitamin D levels during their pregnancies than moms of cavity-free children. Coincidence? Doesn't seem to be.

"This is important news for parents and parents-to-be," said Friedman. "Cavities have this almost enigmatic place in our lives, like they are inevitable, but the truth is, they're not. Proper nutrition is essential to good dental health and particularly important for during pregnancy for both mother and growing fetus, but as Dr. May Mellanby proved, by focusing on nutrition, including through supplementation, cavities can be virtually eliminated."

I've been taking The Dental Essentials tablets for close to a month now. I don't have a before/after dental check up to offer personal "proof" of the effectiveness of the product, but I must say, I'm happy to be adding these essential nutrients to my daily routine, including 
  • calcium
  • phosphorus
  • vitamin D3
  • vitamin K2
  • magnesium 
  • zinc
For those of you with allergy concerns or intolerance, rest assured, the product contains no sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, shellfish or preservatives.

The Dental Essentials - Complete is suitable for ages seven and up and absolutely ideal for pregnant women. The Dental Essentials - Liquid offers flavorless, odorless, and easy-to-use drops suitable for babies and younger kids. Add the drops to milk or other calcium source to reduce the risk of cavities by up to 95%. One bottle contains 1000 drops, which lasts up to 6 months for one child.

As if no cavities wasn't good enough news, I have even better news! The Dental Essentials company is offering to send a GG community lucky winner a one-month supply for mom (or dad) and child (a $60 value!).

Check out the Rafflecopter to find out how you can win!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Instilling the values of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle from an early age



Guest blogger, Darci Faiello, shares a local preschool's Earth Day celebration. I love these ideas for activities, which are both educational and fun! For more fun activities for your little ones, visit Kids Be Green.

Berkeley Hills Preschool has been helping children take their first steps in formal education for over 30 years. One of those steps is teaching the children about their environment and how they have an impact on their surroundings. The children recently celebrated Earth Day with their own Recycle Day at school! They learned the values of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle through their various activities and play.

One of the games that they played was the
Recycle Roller. They rode a little car along some tracks and picked up pieces of paper. This activity taught the children how important it is to reduce the amount of waste they create and how important it is to put trash in the proper place. It also helped the children develop their leg muscles as they pushed the car along the tracks.

The children learned the importance of reusing items as a special project. They made “Trash” using bits and pieces of leftovers from previous snacks. They used Cheese Its, Pretzels, Fruit Loops, Goldfish Crackers, and my son's favorite ... CHOCOLATE CHIPS! The first step was to sort everything into different piles and determine which pile was the biggest and which was the smallest. They practiced their sorting, counting, and pre-math skills as they prepared this yummy snack and then used their small motor skills to mix it all together. The best part was they were able to eat and enjoy the “Trash”!


The children also learned how to reuse garbage during their art project. They took empty paper towel rolls and turned them into traffic lights! They worked on their listening skills while following directions as they painted the paper towel rolls. They also worked on their fine motor skills and scissor handling while they cut out three circles and then glued them to the paper towel roll to make their traffic lights.


The recycling part was something the whole family could get involved in. The children were asked to bring in a recyclable item from home. This sparked a conversation at home as to what items we recycle, what we do with them when they are empty, and where do they go after they get tossed into the recycle bin. My son picked a Sprite can to take in for his part of Recycling Day. He played the “Garbage Game” with it and had to decide whether it went in the paper bin, the glass bin, the metals bin, or the plastics bin.


The Berkeley Hills Preschoolers celebrated their Recycle Day by practicing the concepts of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. That is one of the key components of Berkeley Hills Preschool ... they learn by doing and interacting rather than by drill and memorization. They spend their day engaged in free play that is designed to develop their skills, which is then followed up by cognitive time that is designed to enhance their learning experience. It makes a lasting impression on the children, as can be seen in my son who, when asked about recycling day, said, “We have to keep the Earth clean and healthy!”

Monday, April 23, 2012

Grateful for The Sabbath Experience

My daughter, Jess, during Brighton Heights Clean-up Day

Yesterday, I was grateful for The Sabbath Experience! More than usual, actually.

Why?

Because, when I got home from church, I headed right to bed and slept for a couple of hours. And I did it without guilt! I was exhausted.

On Saturday morning, I got up early and headed out to Brighton Heights, the area of the city where we go to church. My daughter, Jess, and granddaughter, Laura, joined me, along with some other people from our church and more from the community. We were there for a purpose ... to clean up the debris littering the streets and sidewalks. Unfortunately, it was raining. And cold. And, I admit it, I was pretty miserable.

My body resisted the constant bending to retrieve the hundreds of cigarette butts, soda cans, plastic water bottles, rubber gloves, syringes (yes, I was careful and was wearing gloves), etc. My mantra became, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," as my back and legs tightened up in the damp weather. I was doing this as my contribution to Earth Day, after all.

Surprisingly, I didn't feel all that badly on Sunday morning. However, by the time I got home on Sunday afternoon, I was beat. Which brings us back to the reason I was more grateful than usual for the Sabbath. I needed to rest. Throughout the remainder of the day and evening, I was able to ignore my lengthy to-do list, and focus on one thing ... resting. Which is exactly what I did. Without guilt. After all, that is part of my Sabbath Experience.

When is the last time you focused on Sabbath rest?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Vinegar Friday

TGIVF!

What a beautiful Vinegar Friday in Western Pennsylvania! It doesn't get much better than this. I started my day by showering and rinsing my hair with the last of my citrus-infused vinegar, after I took my tablespoon of Bragg's ACV. Then I threw the bamboo bed sheets in the wash and my granddaughter, the lovely little Lady Laura added a tablespoon of Lulu's in the Fluff Glamour Wash, a detergent that is not only poses no threats to our health, but also poses no threats to the environment. I added 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar instead of bleach or fabric softener. Once the wash cycle's done, I'll let the sun and breeze do their magic once I hang them on the line. I can't wait to be enveloped in that amazing scent when I crawl into bed tonight! My all-time favorite smell!!

I'm sitting out on my porch right now, chatting with you, while Bill blows bubbles with Laura. It's a perfect day.

The plans are to return the fish to the freshly cleaned out pond, once Bill rinses off the pump (that is soaking in ... you guessed it ... vinegar). Then Laura and I are going to do some earth-friendly crafting from a kit I received from Green Kid Crafts, which I'll be reviewing sometime soon.

Tonight, I'll use apple cider vinegar as an astringent on my face before I go to bed.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because Sunday is the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day! What better day to start celebrating than on Vinegar Friday? We'll make it a 3-day event here at the Caye house. Using vinegar to replace common household toxins is just one way to honor our Creator by caring for His creation. 




Laura and I walked around the backyard this morning picking dandelions that had gone to seed, and doing what children have always loved to do -- blowing those fuzzy little seeds into the sky. As we were doing this, I showed her a still-yellow dandelion and told her it would turn into what she was holding in her hand. She looked at both and said, "I don't believe you, Green Grandma." And yes, she does call me Green Grandma!


This Earth Day weekend, why not take the opportunity to teach your children or grandchildren a thing or two about nature? Take a walk. Lie on the grass and look at the clouds. Sit by a stream. Pick up litter. Blow dandelion seeds into the air. And talk. Try to come up with a new way to care for the earth. After all, she's been awfully kind to you now, hasn't she?

What are your plans for Earth Day? Stop over at our Facebook page and share your ideas with the community!

Keeping it green with vinegar,

Hana

In celebration of Earth Day, Lulu.com is planting trees for each author who enters their Earth Day contest. Plus, the author who sells the most books between April 18 - 25 will win a Nook and a $475 marketing consultation (1st place) or a $350 Clarion Book Review. I'd really like to win. Why not help out Green Grandma by ordering a book or two? Through the 25th, pick up a copy of Vinegar Fridays for just $10.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursdays Truths and Tidbits

My grandson, Lincoln, playing outside
Just when I thought I could breathe again (post tax day, etc.), I find myself with too much to do on my to-do list. Ever feel like that? Of course, blogging is on the list, pretty close to the top. 

But I don't have time, I protest.

Make time, Green Grandma insists.

Uh oh, my DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) is showing through!

Anyway, I came across some interesting articles while scrolling down my FB page today (you know that takes precedence!), and I thought I'd share some links with you. That way, you can read them for yourselves. Sound like a fair deal?

First of all, I was appalled by this one. Apparently, the BP oil spill in the Gulf is continuing to wreak havoc on our marine life. Eyeless shrimp, anyone?


I warned you about this before. The dangers of triclosan, especially for children, are very real. More and more experts are agreeing. Keep your kiddos away from antibacterial soap!


Do you remember when you were a kid and you spent hours outside, sometimes playing, gasp, in the dirt? Did your mommy ever rush you inside to scrub you down with antibacterial soap? Probably not. Did you die? Nope. Kids need to have time for creative outdoor play. And often, that means they're going to get dirty. Period. 
According to researchers, preschoolers “need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.” The question is: How often do they really get that?


I hope you took the time to check out the above articles. And I hope you have a marvelous day!

Feel free to post a comment linking to other articles you think might be of interest to our readers! What headlines have caught your eye lately?

More info on triclosan:


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Angry Birds never looked this adorable!

Kids love to dress up ... and quite honestly, many adults never outgrow their desire to disguise themselves as someone else for an evening! I was contacted about a month ago and asked to do a review for Costume Discounters, an online costume shop that covers the gamut when it comes time to become your favorite fantasy character! Of course, I agreed.

My 3 1/2 year old granddaughter, Laura, was thrilled when I pulled out her new mermaid costume! Unfortunately, the toddler size 3-4 was a bit too big for her, which is why I don't have a picture of her in her long green "tail" and seashell headband.

Now, if you've been following the blog for long, you know I'm not a fan of Halloween and my family does not participate in it. However, that doesn't mean I'm against dressing up and having fun with the kids. That's why I couldn't wait to give Laura her costume, and I imagine she'll spend countless hours in it over the next couple of years. Like I said, it's a big large for her right now, so I'm betting she'll be able to wear it until she's 5 or so.

Quality-wise, the costume seems to be well-made, although the fabric is a bit rough. The Lil' Mermaid Costume I bought for Laura sells for $34.99, but is currently on sale for $24.97. I found the prices to be reasonable across the board, if your kids like to dress up to play. However, I wouldn't pay that much for a one-time event, but that's just me. I know a lot of you make your kids' costumes, but if you're looking to take a break from that, I highly recommend checking out Costume Discounters. And while you're at it, head over to their Facebook page where you can find special discounts for fans!

Of course, I'm not a fan of a lot of the costumes ... I don't like people dressing up like slashers, demons or sex fiends, but, for the most part, the infant and toddler line is awfully cute! I cannot fathom why any parent would dress up their baby to look like the devil, a vampire, or a witch, but if you're looking for some pretty sweet looking animal costumes, Costume Discounters has a whole slew. Lobsters and turkeys and bunnies, oh my! The babies and toddlers in the pictures are absolutely adorable!

Life can tough. Sometimes, escaping into a fantasy world is exactly what our kiddos need!

Reviewing it for you,

Hana

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Learning to adapt ... or adapting to learn

Photo by Petr Kratochvil
 One of our community members posted her first graders report card. It was pretty impressive. But there was one grade that stood out ... a lone 'C' ... for math.

Ahhh, math. The destroyer of many a creative individual's GPA! The child I'm referring to is a marvelously creative, imaginative individual. So, naturally, math doesn't fit. It's just so ... clinical, or something like that. I mean, how imaginative or creative can you be when you're crunching numbers? And believe me, if I could have used my creativity to reduce our tax burden, I most certainly would have.

Do your kids struggle from the same I-can't-do-math ailment? Well, that's perfectly understandable. I bet they can paint a fantastic picture or write an imaginative piece of prose! Unfortunately, man does not live on prose alone. That's why finding an intelligent adaptive learning program just might be the answer for your kiddo ... and yes, I am linking to one in particular. While I've no need of it at this point, it does look like a good one. And let me tell you, I truly wish adaptive learning was around when my girls were young. They really struggled and we found their teachers basically to be useless to them. They either didn't have the time, due to class size, or the inclination to individualize lessons to help my girls. I so regret not doing more to help my kids out when they were struggling in school and were floundering without a net.

So, what is adaptive learning? It's a way to tailor lessons specifically geared toward your child's specific problems. And it's done on the computer. 

Wait. Does this mean their teachers won't factor in to  their education? 

Quite the opposite! Since this tailored learning drastically improves each child's abilities, it frees up their teachers to be able to provide more meaningful one-on-one time with each student. It is a win-win situation!
Rather than simply being passive receptors of the teacher's instruction, kids participating in adaptive learning, are able to collaborate in their own education. And once vested in it, they are more likely to want to succeed. Make sense?

With adaptive learning, computers are able to pick up on each student's weaknesses (based on their responses to questions), and adapt a program specifically for them. The content is interactive, drawing each student in, and creating an atmosphere for success! And it is effective for elementary school-age children, as well as college-bound kids ... and beyond!

According to KQED.org, adaptive learning is on the list for the top 12 Education Tech Trends to watch this year. It's garnering attention for one simple reason ... it works!

During a parent/teacher conference when my daughter was in third grade, her teacher told me Bethany was never going to make anything of herself. Really?! How dare she!! I was furious. While Bethany, and Jessica, for that matter, struggled in school, I truly believe that intelligent adaptive learning would have been a great benefit to them. And that's why I decided to take the time to write about it for you. With adaptive learning, teachers can point you in the right direction, and then leave you to discover what you need to learn.

Do you want math lessons that are engaging and interactive? Do you want a program designed to meet your child where he/she is at right now? Don't count on the teacher to develop it. Offer your child a chance to build up their confidence and sense of accomplishment. Look into intelligent adaptive learning. You just might be amazed when report card time rolls around again!

What subject did you struggle with the most in school?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Queen of ... procrastination

I wonder how many of you knew exactly what I'd be blogging about today, after reading the title of this post? Yes, taxes. Ugh.

I got up at 7:30 this morning after lying in bed praying ... thanking God for another day, which my friend, Sharon, couldn't do, as she is being buried today. I thanked Him for my vision, which my friend, Sharon, was robbed of over a decade ago. I thanked Him for my talent, which was a common bond between my friend, Sharon, and me. I thanked Him for my friend, Sharon. And I prayed for her family and loved ones. It is a sad time for all of us.

I also planned out my morning, which included writing this blog post, doing some laundry and getting back to work on ... gasp ... taxes. 

As is par the course for a procrastinator like me, I put off the blog post (which I planned to do first) and decided to get the laundry going, since I wanted to get it all on the line before the rains moved in this afternoon. Then I emptied the dishwasher and reloaded it, made breakfast, cleaned that up, folded laundry, hung more on the line, answered emails, checked out Facebook, etc., etc. 

And now, I'm finally writing this confession of sorts. I am a procrastinator. Always have been. Change has to come one of these days, don't you think? But that's not what I'm confessing. It's just the catalyst. You see, I failed miserably with my commitment to the Sabbath Experience. I did not rest yesterday. Why? Because I'm a procrastinator. Plain and simple. Taxes were not done ... and still aren't. So, I spent my evening crunching numbers. The results are not pretty. Today, I have to examine and reexamine the forms, looking for a mistake (praying there's a mistake), and then moving on to State and Local taxes. When a person is self-employed, like I am, taxes are a nightmare. We have to keep every receipt, document every expense, and keep track of every payment made. It's not pretty. Not pretty at all. 

Of course, I've had months to organize everything and get this done. But that brings us back to the title of this blog: I am the queen of procrastination. I've always worked best under a tight deadline, which is fine, except in this case, I missed my Sabbath rest. 

Well, there's always next week to get back on track with that. And next year, to avoid doing this tax time crunch again. Think I can do it? Only time will tell.

What have you procrastinated about lately?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hope rekindled

Photo by Michele Walters


Expect to have hope rekindled. 
Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. 
The dry seasons in life do not last. 
The spring rains will come again.

  —Sarah Ban Breathnach                               

Friday, April 13, 2012

Vinegar and honey, sorrow and inspiration


Yes, it is Vinegar Friday. But today, vinegar is taking a back seat. Like the bittersweet mixture of vinegar and honey, so is sorrow when mixed with inspiration.

On Wednesday, April 11, 2012, my friend, Sharon A. Donovan, passed away. On Monday, she will be buried. A beautiful woman who's life inspired all who knew her, Sharon fought a valiant fight after suffering a lifetime of Type 1 Diabetes. Over a decade ago, when she was in her early 40s, she lost her vision. Sharon wrote about her journey through blindness in her book ECHO OF A RAVEN. It is an inspiring story about how a young fears were realized, and how she brilliantly rose above them. If you know anyone facing diabetic retinopathy, I encourage you to purchase this book. Below is an excerpt:

As the blind man sweeps the streets with his white cane, I look away. As the blind man jingles his cup of coins on corner sidewalks, I look away. As the blind man sells his mops and brooms, I look away. 
 
“You’ll be blind by time you’re twenty-five,” a doctor at Children’s Hospital predicted. “Your blood sugars are way too high.”

I began hearing the frightening phrase diabetic retinopathy at the age of six when I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic. This condition causes fragile blood vessels to grow and rupture in the back of the eye and can lead to progressive blindness. And at the age of twelve, when a doctor at a routine visit made this prediction, his cruel words changed the entire course of my life, affecting every major decision I made for years to come.

His words haunted me. They consumed me. They devoured me. Wherever I went or whatever I did, these words echoed in my head. The only time I found refuge was through my artwork. Painting became my sanctuary, a place where I could escape to another place and time. Peace and tranquility. No more pain. But one day when painting a picturesque Tuscan landscape, the initial bout of blindness struck with no warning.

Several buses pulled up, hissing and spewing as slush and mud splashed in all directions. People jumped back to avoid the mud-stained snow. It was a 71 and it was going downtown.

As I stood shivering, waiting for people to file out, a blind woman approached the bus stop, sweeping the snow covered pavement with her white cane. Her flat, monotone voice cut through my thoughts. 

“Does this bus go downtown?”

“Yes,” I answered her. I wanted to turn my head as I’d done so many times in the past, but my heart went out to her. It was so slippery out and she was so vulnerable. What if she got on the wrong bus—or got stranded somewhere? That could be me some day. Fear welled up in my throat as I watched her maneuver her way on to the bus. She cleared each step with her cane and stepped aboard.

A man in the front of the bus stood up. “Here, miss. Take my seat.” He tapped her arm. “Behind you.”
She wordlessly took his seat without uttering so much as a thank you. I sat in the seat directly across from her, not wanting to watch her--but unable to take my eyes off her. She wore dark glasses and a blank expression, so isolated in a world of utter chaos. She pulled a book out of her bag and began feeling it. Braille, I sucked in my breath. A foreboding premonition hurled through me and I thought I might be sick. I couldn’t take this. Visions of my future flashed in front of me, filling me with an uneasiness that had me completely undone.

How could she have the patience to read Braille, feeling all those bumps. After reading small print on legal documents all day, I would never have the tolerance to learn Braille. No way. How could a sighted person adapt to an unsighted world? Would that be me some day? Or was I just hitting the panic button. Then to my horror, the words screeched in my head. “You’ll be blind by time you’re twenty-five.” 

Precisely one week later, I was down in my garage, putting the finishing touches on my painting. The rich fertile vineyards of the Tuscan landscape shrouded an inland harbor of mirror still waters. Age-old olive trees framed the hillside. Sitting back to admire my work, I smiled in eager anticipation. Just a few more strokes of the brush for fine detailing, and my masterpiece would be complete.

But suddenly, a huge splattering of black paint covered my beautiful painting. Confused, I wondered how paint had managed to get all over my masterpiece. I blinked several times, but it was still there.
Slowly but surely, my brain received the message. It wasn’t black paint covering my canvas at all; it was blood covering my retina. My worst nightmare had just come true. I’d had a massive retinal hemorrhage.
Dumbfounded, my paintbrush slipped from my fingers and rolled across the floor. I felt like I was drowning, losing consciousness. I sunk into a chair, clasping my hand over my mouth. Heart-wrenching pain stabbed at my gut. Nausea threatened. Then the tears spilled. “Nooo! Not yet. It’s too soon.”



It was too soon. As was her death.

Nooo! I want to shout. Not yet. It's too soon.

It's too soon. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursday's Truths and Tidbits

Spring hit pretty early this year, at least in Western Pennsylvania. How about in your neck of the woods?


 With spring's arrival comes some safety issues we should all address in one way or another. So here are some quick spring safety tips:
  • Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Change batteries as needed.
  • Clean out the lint from your clothes dryer. Of course, you should do this after every load, but it's a good idea to go the extra mile and do a deep cleaning, both from inside the dryer and through the outside vent. There are vacuum cleaner attachments and long narrow brushes specifically designed for this purpose. Keeping your dryer free from lint buildup will serve two purposes: it will make your dryer operate more efficiently and save energy, thus saving you money, and it will help prevent a fire. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, most dryer fires originate in the lint trap or venting system. Keep it clean!
  • Check your fire extinguishers. If they're older than 15 years old, they should probably be replaced! Look to see if the needle in the pressure gauge is in the green area. Don't wait until there is a fire to see if your extinguishers are in working order!
  • Inspect your gas grill for spider webs, rodent nests or damage, or any other insect infestation. Make sure you check out the hosing as well as inside the grill.
  • Keep your kids and pets safe by making sure your window screens are secure. With warmer weather comes increased chances of kids and pets falling out of open windows.
That's it for this week. I would love for you to add your own safety tips in the comments below. Let's help each other have a safe, healthy and happy season!

Hana
 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review It Wednesday -- It's a Re-Play!


Once again, my daughter, Bethany, is offering her opinion some more eco-friendly kid products that are BPA, PVC and phthalates-free!



 
What’s green, affordable and can be found at Walmart?  How about toddler plates, bowls, no-spill cups and utensils!  I was given a few sets to try out and let me tell you, they pass the toddler and mommy test! 


 

You can purchase them in some great colors; blue, green, yellow and pink.  I love the price points on these ranging from $2.99 to $6.99 which I think is very comparable to any other kid tableware out there.  

All the products are made from curbside collected plastic such a milk jugs.  It’s all BPA free and the packaging is also eco-made from recycled paperboard.  If you would need to toss it (can’t see that you ever would because this stuff is build TOUGH!) it can be recycled!  It’s made right here in the good old USA, so that makes me happy.  What makes me even happier is that it is dishwasher safe.  It’s great to be able to throw all of Lincoln’s dishes in the dishwasher along with the rest of our plates from dinner, making cleaning up a breeze.   

So here are some of the pros and cons I came up with after a few months of using them.

PROS
  • They stack well.  This is great because they make my otherwise messy looking cabinets clean and organized. 
  • The divided plate is great -- it’s deep so it holds a lot of food and makes it easy for Lincoln, who has been learning to use a fork and spoon.  It holds the food in while he’s stabbing and scooping away!
  • The spoon has a deep scoop and the fork is durable and has rounded tips for safety.  Again, great starting utensils for Lincoln who is just learning. 
  • Lincoln can be very tough at mealtime.  He’s a toddler and sometimes he bangs, throws, steps on and puts it through the ringer.  The plates are so strong!  His forks still have all their prongs and the cups aren’t cracked!  They pass the test!!

CONS

  • Lincoln has never been great at figuring out sippy cups and the No Spill Cup was no different.  However, when we take the valve out, it works great.  It will also work without the lid when he is older.
  • As great as the recycled plastic and colors are, I find that it looks just like his play plates, bowls and utensils, also made from recycled milk jugs.  I feel like this confuses him a bit when he is playing with his play kitchen.  It might just be me.  I would actually love to have these in black, brown or silver.  It would class up our dining room a bit! 

 
You can buy them here or check out the map to see if they carry them at your local Walmart.





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